In 1992, Emerald Heights opened its doors for the first time. Since then, residents have enthusiastically joined the community and have created a welcoming environment, including forming a variety of resident interest groups. New services and campus expansions have also been introduced over the years. However, when Tom Stoebe, a resident of Emerald Heights, was curious about how the community started, resources were not readily available.
When Stoebe and his wife moved to Emerald Heights in 2013, he became involved in the community almost immediately, first joining the Resident’s Association and then the Board of Directors. It was as a board member that Tom first started to inquire about the community’s history, but found that when he asked other board members, no one quite knew the answers to all his questions. The desire for additional information motivated Stoebe to begin a research project.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a community-wide quarantine and while some hunkered down, learned a new skill or passed the time with individualized activities, Stoebe spent his time taking what he was learning about Emerald Heights to start compiling a collection. He worked with Kay Wallin, vice president of marketing and public relations at Emerald Communities, to continue his research with the goal of sharing the findings with the entire Emerald Heights community.
Although this project was no easy mission, it was not an unfamiliar concept to Stoebe. He was once a professor at the University of Washington where he honed his writing skills and became the engineering department chairman. In that role, Stoebe was tasked with creating a history of the department, which was completed in 1993.
Thus far, Stoebe has published nine articles on the history of Emerald Heights and has given one talk on the subject. His articles mostly focused on the start of the community and the challenges the early founders faced, while trying to create one of the first Life Care communities in the Pacific Northwest. During his research, Stoebe learned interesting aspects of the history like how international banks from France and Scotland provided initial financing for Emerald Heights development.
While Stoebe’s initial focus was the history of the first five years of Emerald Heights, he has now documented the history of the community through 2015. His goal is to compile the history to current day and publish all his findings in one comprehensive document.
Current residents have loved receiving their monthly articles depicting historical moments. The collection will only become more detailed as he continues the project. Thanks to Stoebe and his dedication to Emerald Heights, residents now and in the future will have a resource available to learn about the history of their senior retirement community in Redmond, Washington.