A new style pervades the public areas and corridors of Friendship Village Sunset Hills, or FVSH.
James T. “Terry” Walsh, retired Army colonel and former chief operating officer at Ascension Health Senior Care, took over this month as executive director of the senior living community.
Lydia Seibert, chair of the local board for the two Friendship Village communities in Chesterfield and Sunset Hills, praised Walsh for his leadership qualities and expertise at every point in the continuum of care.
“His passion for providing the full spectrum of senior services to the St. Louis community and his vision for the future of Friendship Village inspired us from his first interview. He is committed to expanding the mission and vision of the Villages,” she stated in a news release. “Terry knows how the health care and senior living fabric fits together. He will seek partnerships and develop programs to meet the demands of a changing senior health care industry. His first priority will be to serve the residents of Friendship Village and their surrounding communities.”
In assuming the post, Walsh makes a point of interacting with residents by having coffee with them every morning and moving through the dining room in the evening before he heads home after a long day.
Born in Evanston, Ill., Walsh moved with his family to the Lake of the Ozarks area, where he grew up and went to high school. He graduated from Westminster College in Fulton on an ROTC scholarship and there met his wife, Christine, a Kirkwood native and fellow Westminster student.
Their two sons, Nathan, 16, and Jon, 13, attend school in Town and Country.
Walsh holds a master’s degree in strategy from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Penn., and a master’s degree in health care administration from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
At 53, Walsh declared the post as executive director of FVSH the “best job I’ve ever had. The quality of the job satisfies me as does its intrinsic reward in working with the residents in a meaningful way.”
Walsh retired from the military in 2007 after 22 years and answered his wife’s desire to live in St. Louis so that their boys could be close to their grandparents. In his previous roles he managed both hospitals and non-acute care facilities.
“However, at the corporate level, I wasn’t able to reach into the communities,” he stated in the release. “That’s why I find Friendship Village so meaningful and rewarding. My time spent in the Demilitarized Zone in Korea while in the army resonates with the many veterans at FVSH who fought in the Korean War.”
With the changing demographics of senior living and the current economic climate, Walsh sees opportunities to integrate the programs and community of the Villages and to expand the brand throughout metropolitan St. Louis.
“At FV we want to build on our incredible brand, build on our name and the recognition of our care so that we get our product and its quality to more of those who need it,” he stated. “Even if someone does not live in the Villages, we can expand into the community, reach them and give care beyond our physical space.
“Most people want to live at home longer. We at FV can help them do that. It’s simply a question of how we provide them with home health care, how we consistently reach them in their homes so that they can stay at home.”
On a personal note, Walsh said he enjoys his work at FVSH. as well as regular walks with his family’s Labrador, his boys’ sporting events and cooking.