History of the Lane-Dulcenia Home

Beginnings

The Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home has its roots in two cities of south central Michigan, namely Charlotte and Marshall. There were originally two homes in those cities which were merged into one in l93l, as will be narrated later.

Sometime during the conference year of 1920-21, Rev. Andrew Hoffman, a minister and presiding elder in the Michigan Conference of the United Brethren in Christ, was visiting a retired minister, Reverend Mrs. Sarah A. Lane, residing at the Clark Memorial Home, a retirement home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mrs. Lane approached Rev. Hoffman, inquiring why Michigan Conference should not have a home for the aged. She further stated that she would be willing to give the first $2,000.00 toward purchasing property for such a purpose.

Sometime after that visit Rev. Andrew Hoffman heard of an estate property for sale in the city of Charlotte, located on the southwest corner of Pleasant Street and Warren Avenue. Upon inquiry he learned that said property was being handled by an executor, Dr. C. J. Lackey, a dentist in Charlotte. Upon learning what the purchase price was, Rev. Hoffman pursued the matter further, inviting Rev. F. W. Moxon and Rev. E. M. Wheeler to accompany him to look over said property and evaluate the findings.

At the next annual session of the Michigan Conference, held August l7-21, 1921 at the United Brethren Campgrounds near Sebewa Corners, Ionia County, Rev. Hoffman in his presiding elder's report stated as follows: "Inasmuch as we have an aged member in this conference that is planning to provide means to aid in having an old peoples' home, I think this conference should look forward to that end, and make plans for the same."

Evidently this conference session accepted and approved the recommendation in Rev. Hoffman's report, for in the minutes of the Saturday afternoon session there is recorded a motion as follows: "that the Conference Board of Trustees also be constituted a board of trustees for the Old Peoples Home."

On November 30, 1921 the above-mentioned property was purchased, and a deed was given by Clayton J. Lackey and Nettie E. Lackey to the Michigan Conference of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (Constitution of 1841), and is recorded by the Register of Deeds, Eaton County, Michigan, Liber 198, page 9.

In arranging for financing of the purchase, the gift of $2,000.00 from Rev. Sarah Lane was used, plus $500.00 which Rev. Andrew Hoffman and Mr. Clayton Petrie advanced out of their own money, to hold an option on the property until the conference could act. Accordingly, $1,600.00 additional money was borrowed by the conference, which appears to Rev. Ronald Hoffman, son of Rev. Andrew Hoffman, to complete the total amount paid for the property. At a meeting held November 13, l921 the board voted to reimburse Rev. Andrew Hoffman and Mr. Clayton Petrie their $500.00.

The first meeting of the Board of Trustees, according to the record, was August 24, 1922. At this meeting the following officers were elected: President, Rev. Andrew Hoffman; Vice President, T. E. Cheeseborough; Secretary, S. W. Smith; Treasurer, Mrs. Lillian Lash. Rev. F. W. Moxon was elected to serve on the executive committee along with the president and secretary. Other members of the board were : Clayton Petrie and Walter Holden. Mrs. Lillian Lash was engaged to be the first superintendent of the Lane Home, named in honor of the major donor, Rev. Mrs. Sarah Lane.

On September 6, 1922 the Lane Memorial Home was duly authorized as a corporation by the State of Michigan, by Act 84 of Public Acts 1921.

A deed dated December 29, 1922 was drawn up and signed by the Michigan Conference Trustees--Andrew Hoffman, Clayton Petrie, and M. F. Early--transferring the Memorial Home property to the Lane Memorial Home Corporation Trustees, who were the same persons named as board members above.

Improvements

The original home, though large, was not adequate for its intended purpose as a home for several older people. In the August 24, 1922 meeting, plans were made for a three-story addition, to be attached to the original building on the south, each of the three floors containing seven rooms. In the addition a portion of the second floor across the south end was set aside to provide a ward for sick persons who would be residents of the home.

At a board meeting September 18, 1922 it was voted to accept the bid for a new heating plant, to be installed by Charles W. Parrish for the price of $2,482.00. Mr. Noel Dunning was given the work of wiring for $90.00. At a later meeting held April 27, l923, it was discussed whether to put a sun porch on the south end of the new building. The records seem to infer that the State Public Safety Commission did not approve of this, but authorized fire escapes, which were actually installed.

On June 30, 1924 at a special meeting, Mrs. Lillian Lash tendered her resignation as Superintendent. The board voted to accept her resignation effective in September 1924. At a meeting July 31, l924 the board accepted a recommendation that Mr. S. W. Smith be named as Superintendent and Mrs. S. W. Smith be appointed to serve as matron, the couple to serve for $1,000.00 per year, beginning Sept. l, 1924. It should be noted that the salary carried with it housing and meals for the superintendent's family.

Basis for Admission

For many years the Home admitted residents either on a monthly cash basis, or in some cases they turned in their property to the Home (if adequate) for life care. This practice continued until about 1948 when changing conditions made it advisable to discontinue the practice. Accordingly the Superintendent was instructed to receive only boarders.

On June 12, 1925 Miss Mary Green of Sunfield, Michigan offered to turn over her farm (65 acres) to the Home for life care and other considerations. This offer was accepted. At the annual meeting, June 1, 1926, Rev. Andrew Hoffman recommended that the board purchase the Mary Green property, 65 acres with buildings, for $5,500.00, which offer was accepted.

At the annual meeting held June 9, 1930 the following officers were elected: President, Rev. E. B. Griffin; Vice President, Rev. J. I. Batdorff; Secretary, Rev. E. M. Wheeler; Treasurer, Rev. Andrew Hoffman. At this meeting Rev. Andrew Hoffman was chosen to serve as Superintendent and Treasurer and Mrs. Ida Hoffman as Matron, their salary to be $1,200.00 per year.

One of the goals in operating the Home was not only to provide a comfortable, wholesome home for the elderly, but to do it in the context of a Christian atmosphere. Morning devotions and Sunday services in the Home were a regular practice. Rev. Andrew Hoffman, being a minister, often conducted these; but on Sundays the local United Brethren pastor and other ministers from the city were often invited to conduct divine service in the Home.

The Dulcenia Home

On August 11, 1931 a special meeting of the board was called to consider any interest in taking over a home for the aged in Marshall, Michigan, named the Dulcenia Memorial Home. The Lane Home Board was approached to see if they would be willing to accept said home, "lock, stock, and barrel." At this meeting the board authorized the executive committee to investigate the Marshall home with a view to accepting their offer.

On September 9, 1931 a special board meeting was called, at which time it was voted to accept the proposition to receive the Dulcenia Home. The agreement was to take the ladies that were residing at the Dulcenia Home and honor their contracts. In exchange the Lane Home was to get all the property, real and personal, all investments, deposits, and cash. Due to the depression the Lane Home was not full, so the Dulcenia ladies were transferred to the Lane home. Ronald Hoffman recollects that there were about ten or eleven ladies that were transferred. Bernadine Hoffman recalls that one of the Marshall ladies who was transferred to Charlotte lived to be 105 years old.

For historical purposes it is worthy of inclusion that Mr. and Mrs. Murl DeFoe, prominent citizens of Charlotte, were instrumental in bringing the Lane Home and the Dulcenia Home together. Mr. DeFoe was a member of the Lane Memorial Home Board, and this couple were friends of a Mr. and Mrs. Miller of Marshall. Mr. Miller was the attorney for the Dulcenia Home, and it was through the intercession of the DeFoes that brought this transaction to pass, a very beneficial action for both homes.

One of the stipulations in the transfer of the Marshall home was that the name Dulcenia be included in the name of the Lane Home. Due to this union new corporation papers were required and prepared, in which the new name of Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home became official.

While the Marshall property was in the possession of the Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home, it was leased to the government for a period of time. In the latter part of 1941 the Dulcenia property was sold to an Assembly of God group.

Ida Hoffman Memorial Home

As with all public institutions, there is much regulation by the state, and about 1947 the State of Michigan required that the Superintendent and family not live in the same building as other residents. In September of that year it was voted to purchase a suitable dwelling as a superintendent's home. In accordance with the board's action a residence which joined the Home property on the west (316 Warren Avenue) was purchased.

In early October 1947 Mrs. Ida Hoffman, Matron, was taken with a stroke, passing away on October 8. Providentially the youngest daughter, Miss Bernadine L. Hoffman, a missionary in Sierra Leone, West Africa, was home on furlough. At a special meeting held by the Lane Home Board on December 3, 1947, Bernadine was appointed to fill out the remaining portion of the fiscal year as Matron, providing it did not interfere with any plans of the General Board of Missions. Bernadine served until June 1948, while also doing mission deputation.

As a memorial to Mrs. Ida Hoffman, Mrs. Clara Wolford, a resident of the Home, gave a gift of $1,000.00 to be used in the purchase of the property at 316 Warren Avenue. Also there was a stipulation of the gift that Rev. Andrew Hoffman should have life use of the first floor apartment.

Change of Leadership

With the passing of Mrs. Ida Hoffman and the advancing years of Rev. Andrew Hoffman, new leadership for the Home was sought. On June 16, 1948 at the annual meeting Rev. Ronald and Mrs. Amy Hoffman were brought before the board. After a discussion as to management and care of the Home and duties of the superintendent and matron, Rev. and Mrs. Ronald Hoffman were elected as Superintendent and Matron at a salary of $2,400.00. At the same meeting a vote of thanks was given to Rev. Andrew Hoffman and the late Ida Hoffman for their years of service.

With the change in the superintendency of the Home, it was voted at a meeting on May 15, 1950 to remodel the home known as the Ida Hoffman Memorial Home into a two-family apartment, with living quarters upstairs for the new Superintendent and wife. At the same meeting it was voted to make necessary changes in the Lane-Dulcenia Home to provide room for all boarding ladies on the first and second floors.

Sale of Lane-Dulcenia Home

Due to increasing pressure from the State of Michigan to make the Home into a nursing or convalescent home, consideration was given by the board as to the Home's future. Also the state was requiring that a registered nurse be on duty. The Executive Board met March 5, 1954 to consider what measures should be taken. Rev. Ronald Hoffman and Mr. Henry Martin were appointed to contact the Eaton County Board of Supervisors in regard to buying the Home for an Eaton County Convalescent Home. At a meeting one week later it was voted to make a proposal to the county, asking $50,000.00 for both the Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home and the Ida Hoffman Memorial Home. If this proposal were to be accepted, Rev. Andrew Hoffman was to receive cash rent instead of residency.

Evidently the county was not interested, for at a special meeting of the Lane Home Board on December 10, 1954, Supt. Ronald Hoffman was authorized to negotiate with any interested parties for the home at 322 Warren Avenue, with these stipulations: l) $35,000.00; 2) $35,000.00 with option to buy the Superintendent's home at face value; 3) Not less than $30,000.00 with no option on second house. Other terms were: one-half down; one-half on a mortgage for five years at 5 1/2% payable at $200.00 or more plus interest per month.

After Eaton County decided not to buy the Home, inquiry was made of realtors as to the selling of such property. It was projected that it would be hard to sell the property, due to the zoning restrictions put on such property by the city of Charlotte, and that it might take considerable time to sell.

The Board and the Superintendent and Matron began to make it a matter of prayer. In November 1954 the Superintendent was contacted by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Langham regarding its purchase. Consequently the sale was closed, and Mr. and Mrs. Langham took possession January 1, 1955. Thanks to divine arrangement, no realtor's fees had to be paid. Although the period of the mortgage was to be for five years, the Langhams paid off the mortgage in three years.

Due to the fact that the Langhams had bought only the property at 322 Warren Avenue, the upstairs of the memorial property at 316 Warren Avenue became the home for the business manager-treasurer and the official office of the Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home.

Assistance Gift Program

In 1956 attention began to be given to the matter of using the financial resources to provide assistance to retired ministers and widows. At a meeting of September 7, 1956, a motion was made by Rev. Moxon and seconded by Henry Martin that the Home render assistance as far as financially able, to the following persons: Rev. Andrew Hoffman, Rev. F. W. Moxon, Rev. E. M. Ickes, Mrs. Caddie Batdorff, and Mrs. Lena Jarvis." Before adjournment a real prayer meeting was held thanking God for past mercies, and asking guidance of the Holy Spirit in all the future.

In the initiating of the assistance program (1956) a specific sum was voted for each recipient. However, at a meeting dated August 9, 1957, this was changed and the treasurer was authorized to pay an amount equal to $30.00 per month for retired ministers, and $15.00 per month to ministerial widows. Subsequently the procedure was changed to pay per service year for active service in Michigan Conference. On December 5, 1959 the assistance gift was increased to $12.00 per service year for retired pastors, and $6.00 per service year for widows having served with their pastor/husbands. The rate per service years has moved up steadily from there, with $12.00 per service year being set in 1959; $20.00 per service year in 1963; and increased in stages to $70.00 per service year in l974, to $100.00 per year in 1981, and to $135.00 per year in 1991.

In 1961 a request from the United Brethren denomination was received by the Michigan, North Michigan, and Detroit Conferences to consider uniting into one conference district. This was ordered by the General Conference of 1961 and effected at a merging conference held at the campgrounds near Sunfield, Michigan in September of that year.

Harry Gage Estate

Lane Home Supt. Ronald Hoffman reports, "Knowing this, the Superintendent began praying that if it was to be, the Lord would through His Divine Providence provide the needed extra assets for the Lane Home Corporation to be able to give gift assistance to the retired ministers and widows from the other two conferences. Praise God He answered prayer and sent this estate along."

The estate to which Rev. Hoffman refers was the Harry W. Gage Estate, Mr. Gage being a resident of New York State. Mr. Gage was not a United Brethren member, but somehow had learned of the operation of the Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home. As a result he left a sizeable portion of his estate to the Lane-Dulcenia Home and likewise to the Wentworth Home for the Aged in New Hampshire.

At a meeting of the board held November 18, 1961, the following action was taken: "That George W. Watson, as attorney for Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home be authorized to act for the Home in all matters pertaining to the estate of Harry W. Gage, deceased, of Bath, New York, and to enter into any agreement with the executors of the will of said Harry W. Gage with reference to the settlement of any dispute in said estate."

Mr. Gage died in 1961, with a portion of his assets to be distributed upon settlement of his estate, and a sizeable portion held in trust for the benefit of his wife, Irene Gage, until her death. As a result the Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home received a first instalment by way of a distribution of $324,l83.70 on October 2, 1962.

Irene Gage died on October 28, 1988, and as a result the Lane Home received several hundred thousand dollars in stock in 1989, and final available cash in February 1990. These assets together with previous Lane-Dulcenia Home assets have resulted in a wonderful material blessing to retired ministers, missionaries, and ministerial widows in Michigan Conference, for which particularly the recipients give thanks.

Gift Eligibility Rules

The By-laws have been revised from time to time, which establish eligibility rules for receiving assistance. Initially assistance was limited to retired pastors and widows. In December 1957 the By-laws were revised to include missionaries in the retirement benefits. In the annual meeting held June 24, 1967 a motion was made by C. H. Hull and seconded by I. H. Osgood that ministers from Michigan Conference who had served as general officials of the denomination be included in the retirement plan.

Eligibility rules have been changed from time to time. Widows have received benefits at varying rates--sometimes 50% of the pastoral rate, sometimes 100%, and more recently the 75% rate has prevailed. Also for many years a limit of 36 years of service was used in determining benefits. However at the annual meeting of July 8, 1987 the maximum years of service to be counted toward benefits was raised to 40 years. Also, in 1981 a minimum of 8 years of service was established before benefits could be granted.

Another variation in eligibility was made on August 11, 1989, allowing for earlier retirement with reduced benefits, after the pattern of government Social Security. The following action was adopted: "That if a person retires at age 62, he/she would receive 80% of his/her assistance gift; if he/she retires at age 63, he/she would receive 86% of his/her assistance gift; if he/she retires at age 64, he/she would receive 92% of his/her assistance gift." Fractions of years are not to be counted, only full years.

Loans To Churches

Somewhere in the late 1950's, after the original Lane-Dulcenia Home property had been sold, resulting in a modest amount of cash assets, the Lane Home funds became a loaning agency to churches of Michigan Conference. This has grown from a modest beginning to a total of church mortgages receivable in 1993 of approximately $428,000.00.

This has been a blessing to many churches who have been able to borrow at a competitive interest rate, but without the usual points and closing costs accompanying commercial loans. The board of the Lane Home has been careful and conservative in its business affairs, requiring first or second mortgages, co-signing by the Conference Council, or other protections to its funding.

Sale of Ida Hoffman Memorial Home

The Ida Hoffman Memorial Home at 316 Warren Avenue continued to be used as a residence and office for the business manager of the corporation. During 1972 Rev. Ronald Hoffman was given thought to concluding his service to the Lane-Dulcenia Home, so consideration was given to disposing of the property.

On October 20, 1972 the Executive Committee met and agreed to sell the property for $16,500.00, with $1,500.00 down and the balance to be repaid with 7% interest. About this time while Rev. Hoffman was in the local utility office paying the light bill, Mrs. Elmer Conley, an employee there, inquired if the home was for sale. Upon looking at the property, Mr. & Mrs. Elmer Conley, members of the Charlotte United Brethren Church, agreed to purchase the property. This was another of the Lord's workings for the home.

Board of Directors

Through the years the Board of Directors or Trustees of the Home has consisted of seven members, usually with one or two local businessmen on the board until 1957. At the Michigan Annual Conference of 1957 the By-laws were amended to require that all board members be members of the Michigan Conference of the United Brethren Church. At this time Mr. Rice Fowler and Mr.Murl DeFoe, local Charlotte businessmen, had served on the Lane-Dulcenia Home board for many years and must necessarily be replaced. The secretary of the conference was instructed to send these men a letter of appreciation for their years of service to the Lane Home.

Another regulation affecting the board of directors was enacted in 1991. The board recommended to the Annual Conference that no recipient of assistance gifts shall be eligible to serve on the Lane Home Board. The Annual Conference adopted this recommendation, but not a second one approving a "grandfather clause" permitting present retired directors to serve on the board if they wished. As a result of this action Rev. E. O. Burk, Rev. Harold Cherry, and Rev. Robert Shellhouse were terminated as members of the board of directors.

Recent Business-Managers

Through the years the Lord has provided able business managers for the Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home Fund. Upon the sale of the Lane Home property in Charlotte and its ceasing to operate as a home for elderly persons by the Michigan Conference, the assets continued to be a fund to be managed by a Treasurer/Business-Manager and the Board of Directors.

Rev. Ronald Hoffman served from June 1948 until December 3l, 1972, serving during that time as Superintendent of the Home and then as Treasurer/Business-Manager. In 1971-72 Rev. Hoffman and wife, Amy, realized it was nearing the time when the management of the Lane Home Fund should be placed in other hands. They began making this a matter of special prayer.

At the Annual Conference of 1971 a new lay board member was elected, namely Mr. Delmer Kramer of Mason, Michigan. Mr. Kramer was serving as First Vice President of the Dart National Bank of Mason, which had provided him with considerable financial background and experience in investing. After making the matter of a successor in the business-manager function a matter of prayer, Rev. Hoffman approached Mr. and Mrs. Kramer about whether or not they might feel the leading of the Lord to lead them into this service. They felt clear that the Lord might well use them in this type of service if the board so approved. As a result the name of Delmer Kramer was presented to the Board of Directors in their annual meeting of June 17, 1972, and Delmer Kramer was elected as the business-manager of the Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home Corporation, serving faithfully until 1980.

Ronald Hoffman leaves this testimony: "Mrs. Hoffman and I thank God for His leadership, guidance, and wisdom in supervising the management of the Lane-Dulcenia Memorial Home these twenty-five years so that the Lord's servants might have extra finance to bring added comfort in their later years and that God's cause could be extended, with no burden to the Church. To God be the praise."

Other treasurer/business managers have served since that time:

It is interesting that each of the above business-managers was chosen from the board of directors. This was assuredly not to keep the leadership ingrown, but rather that experience in the operation and policy-making of the Lane-Dulcenia Home was adjudged an obvious asset and valuable qualification for higher service.

(Revised 1993)

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