CROWN POINT | The late Mary Bickford was a concert harpist with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra in Kansas.
When Bickford began showing up at performances in strange clothing and mismatched shoes, her husband Don and daughter Judy, like so many others, were in denial, at first chalking her actions up to artistic quirkiness.
After Bickford was diagnosed with dementia, her family couldn’t find a place in Kansas which met their standards of care for their mother.
“So they built it themselves,” said Tony Ughetti, director of the Crown Point facility that bears Mary Bickford's name. “They opened their first facility in Kansas which was called Mary Bickford’s Cottage.”
Bickford of Crown Point Assisted Living and Memory Care at 140 E. 107th Ave. is No. 46 in that concept, Ughetti said.
“We are still trying to live every day as if we are treating her,” he said. “Everybody is treated with that same level of family love that Mary’s family would like her to be treated with. The centers were created to take care of their family but now they are going to take care of the families of Crown Point.”
Mary Bickford’s grandsons Andy, who is a former pro football player, Joe and Mike Eby now run the day-to-day company operations.
The $4.5 million Bickford of Crown Point facility is expected open Oct. 15 with about 45 employees. Position applications will be posted online mid- to late September.
The 33,000-square-foot facility has a showcase event scheduled from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and is now open for tours, which can be arranged by calling (219) 663-0972.
Bickford has 58 private apartments including a 16-apartment memory support unit called “Mary B’s Neighborhood.” The memory care center will feature a wide variety of “cuetivities,” which Ughetti said, are more than an activity.
“It is coaching or guiding a person with memory loss to where they are doing the activity,” he said.
Bickford’s mission, Ughetti said, is exemplified by the company’s web address www.enrichinghappiness.com.
“That speaks for itself,” Ughetti said. “We are constantly trying to find out what people’s happiness point is. If you like cruises we would probably decorate your room with a porthole and books about island life, things of that nature that would make you feel very happy in your interest area.”
“Mary Bickford used to say ‘whatever it takes to make you happy,’” Ughetti said. “We are going to be constantly trying to find out what people enjoy doing and there is no dream too big.”
Bickford is in a centralized prime Crown Point location just north of the Strack & Van Til plaza and within walking distance to the grocery store with a Centier branch inside, three restaurants, a Walgreens, a gift and card shop, a yogurt café, an ice cream shop, and a fitness center.
Ughetti said Bickford’s grandsons chose Crown Point because of its strong community involvement and its close-knit, small town atmosphere.