Shelley Holden, Northfield Retirement Community vice president of housing and community outreach, in an NRC hallway early last week. This is the organization’s 50th year of existence. (Sam Wilmes/Northfield News)

In 1969, Northfield Retirement Community was established with 80 beds.

Today, the facility is celebrating its 50th anniversary, having significantly increased the number of beds it has and serving more seniors than ever.

Back in 1969, NRC was founded by its parent company, Lutheran Homes of the Cannon Valley.

“It was basically a place for the elders of those communities to be able to come and live out their life,” said Shelley Holden, vice president of housing and community outreach.

Today, NRC includes on-campus independent living, assisted living, memory care, a nursing home and short-term care, with 19 congregational members as board delegates. To Holden, the fact that NRC has been around for 50 years is a testament to its oneness with the community.

“It shows that we are community-based, that we take care of folks in Northfield and that we are truly known for our homelike setting,” she said. “I think that we are kind of a continuation of community, and that’s really kind of a cool thing.”

Despite the changes, the facility has only had three non-interim CEOs: the Rev. Gerhard Nygaard from 1969-1989, Emelda Rasmussen from 1989 to 2001 and Kyle Nordine, who has been CEO since 2002.

The first additional building built on-site was Northfield Manor in 1981, which consists of 64 units of Section 8 and senior housing for residents. A chapel was then added. The NRC initially consisted of 36 acres but has since been reduced to 30 after 6 acres of land were sold for the six-story Kildahl Point, which opened in 2007

At any point, NRC holds up to 400 older adults, and the needs of their residents have substantially increased. There are now 250 employees and 230 apartments for housing.

“Out of need,” Holden said of why expansion has taken place over the last 50 years. “Because the demographics of our community is aging, not just our community, but the whole country is aging. The baby boomers are a huge demographic of folks, and they are all rising into that age level who will be needing help. By 2030, we will double our number of folks who need assistance.

Celebrations are planned over the next few months, and have included the annual Golf Classic, which included special events for residents, families and staff. Additional events are expected to be announced in the future and incorporate NRC residents, workers and volunteers and the greater community.

To Holden, although other similar facilities also care about their residents, NRC and the greater Northfield community share a bond that has helped keep the facility around for 50 years.

“We have a home-like feel,” Holden said. “People say that it’s a continuation of a home for them. We’re like a little city under one roof. I think Northfield in general does a really great job of caring for older adults.

“It’s the people. It’s our caring staff. I think that’s a big thing. We have a really great staff. A lot of people who really care very much for it.”

NRC President and CEO Nordine called the anniversary “a major milestone in the history of any business as it is for NRC.” He said the anniversary shows the success of the founding members of the organization.

“When I think of this time, I am reminded about the residents and their families that we have provided services for during this time and the lives and emotions we have all endured in getting to know these persons and their life history,” he said. “The experiences that they lived and the sharing that they gave to me and to our staff. We have become an integral part of their families and a part of their life experience. It means so much to me and to our staff that these important people chose us to trust the care of their dear loved one to be served by this fine organization.”

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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