The Circle of Life–Foulkeways at Gwynedd
By Nancy Nolan
Photography by Jim Greipp / Pau Hana Productions
In early 1986, Douglas Tweddale came to Foulkeways at Gwynedd, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania,to fill an opening for an Administrator, vacated the previous year by Michael Peasley. Twenty-eight years later, on January 3, 2014, Michael Peasley stepped into the CEO position, surrendered by Douglas Tweddale upon his retirement. Ah, “The Circle of Life” and how it unfolds.
Looking back, the lives of D. Michael Peasley and Douglas A. Tweddale have intertwined, merged, conjoined and crisscrossed for years! Both are Quakers, and members of Gwynedd Friends Meeting. Professionally, they have served on numerous boards together. Each became the CEO of a Quaker based retirement community; Mike as Executive Director of Medford Leas, in Medford, New Jersey, and Doug as the CEO of Foulkeways at Gwynedd. In 2000, while Doug was doing volunteer work as a Site Surveyor for the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (CCAC), he was sent to evaluate Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury, in Winchester, Virginia. Want to wager a friendly bet as to who was serving as their President/ CEO at the time? Yep, you guessed it; it was Mike! Mike ALSO served as a volunteer surveyor for CCAC, but was never sent to survey Foulkeways. (Are you beginning to notice a pattern here, as each man moves in and out of the other’s life?)
Doug and Mike were both influential in the formation of the Peace Church Risk Retention Program, a self-insurance organization established by members from Continuing Care Retirement Communities affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, the Mennonites and the Quakers. Both men attended the same national conferences on a yearly basis, representing the interests of their separate communities, and invariably setting time aside to share their favorite cuisine, Moroccan!
Both Doug and Mike are highly motivated, well-educated professionals, who are considered experts in the field of senior living and share a passion for excellence. In 2006, Mike was asked to join the Board of Trustees at Foulkeways at Gwynedd. His history with the community had begun even before it officially opened in November 1967. He had spent many weekends during his youth in the sales office of Pennsylvania’s first Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) and the first Quaker CCRC in the country. In 1965, as his mother, Gina, handled inquiries from potential residents, she explained her son’s presence by deeming him the “sample grandson” in the “sample” apartment.
In 2009, Doug and The Foulkeways Board, now under Mike’s Chairmanship, completed a major construction project that included new dining venues, auditorium enhancements, a new greenhouse, and improvements to the infrastructure of the original community center building. As Mike stepped into Doug’s vacated position in January of 2014, a new building project stood ready in the wings. This Campus Renewal Project, as it has been named, includes building 24 additional independent living apartments and 20 new personal care suites, the razing and rebuilding of two existing apartment buildings, construction of an expanded physical therapy space, the relocation of the Resident Care Services office, expansion of the existing Fitness Center, and the relocation of the Housekeeping Department.
Meanwhile, on another part of the 110-acre campus, a historical home called Beaumont House has been weaving its way in and out of Foulkeways’ history, in much the same circular pattern as Doug and Mike.
Beaumont House was originally part of a 64-acre parcel of land bequeathed to Gwynedd Friends Meeting in 1946. This unexpected bequest was destined to become Foulkeways at Gwynedd, the first Quaker CCRC in Pennsylvania, and the culmination of the Meeting’s dream of establishing a life care community, “where people could retire and live independently and happily, and where they could be taken care of when necessary.”
Charles Beaumont had willed the property to Gwynedd Meeting Friends as a memorial to his wife, May Foulke Beaumont, whose grandfather, Dr. Antrim Foulke, was the great-great grandson of Edward Foulke, who came from Wales in 1698. Included in the bequest were two houses and a 64-acre parcel of farmland. An imposing stone house, built in 1817, dominated a triangular portion of the property where Meetinghouse Road and Route 202 in Gwynedd, Pa., converged. The house became known as The Beaumont House and was filled with antiques.
For twelve years, members of Gwynedd Meeting deliberated over various ideas for uses of the Beaumont Property. While their discussions lingered on, it was decided that the Beaumont House should be converted into two apartments and rented out to help defray the costs associated with the land. Young Quaker couples were encouraged to inquire. Martin and Margie (Margy) Trueblood, current residents at Foulkeways, were one of several young couples who raised their family in this picturesque landmark. Margy has fond memories of walking her baby carriage across the open fields that would one day become her retirement home, long before the community became a reality. In fact, by the time Foulkeways officially opened its doors in 1967, Beaumont House had been sold.
In 1964, Gwynedd Meeting directed their Trustees to lease the Beaumont farm to Foulkeways, Inc., for 99 years. Beaumont House, however, was no longer a part of the Beaumont Property. It had been sold in 1963. A 2005 PennDOT proposal to widen Route 202 and relocate the intersection at Meetinghouse Road prompted the Foulkeways Board of Directors to begin negotiations to purchase BACK the Beaumont House. Thoughts of converting this grand old house into multiple guest rooms filled the air. Days after the sale was finalized, PennDOT issued their final proposal: re-routing would bring traffic right through the middle of the house! Ah yes, “The Circle of Life” is sometimes a circuitous journey.
To preserve the historic and sentimental value of Beaumont House, the Foulkeways Board decided to have their 550-ton beauty lifted from its foundation and relocated to a new support base, 150 feet away from the road. And so, on April 1, 2006, in front of a cheering crowd, the house was painstakingly moved, inch-by-inch, to its new setting. Two of the people in the crowd were Doug Tweddale and Mike Peasley. They were busily talking to Martin and Margy Trueblood about the house, its early history, and how this distinguished house kept entering and exiting Foulkeways’ storyline.
Today, seven years later, with the help of Lower Gwynedd Township, Foulkeways Board of Directors and Administrators, PennDOT, RLSP Architects, and Berks Ridge Construction Company, Beaumont House has been re-opened for use by Foulkeways residents and their family members.
Call it déjà vu or coincidence, but D. Michael Peasley, Douglas A. Tweddale and The Beaumont House have been linked to Foulkeways for years—randomly, deliberately, personally and professionally. One can’t help but see the parallels and similarities; there are far too many for even the most casual observer to shrug off as “chance.” There’s obviously something significant going on here.
Some on lookers will label it “fate” or “destiny.” Others might reference “The Circle of Life,” but the residents, staff and Board of Foulkeways at Gwynedd all agree on one thing, “It is most certainly our GOOD FORTUNE!”
Nancy Nolan is the Director of Marketing & PR at Foulkeways at Gwynedd.
Published: April 2014