Life has given Hinsdale’s John Kayser much to reflect on. Considering he has lived six blocks from the home he grew up for the last several decades, one might think he hasn’t gone that far. But the story of how he left and came back, and the purpose he found so close to home, is one Kayser appreciates as he moves into retirement mode.
“I love to think about how I was born in Hinsdale, went to college on the East Coast, graduate school on the West Coast, worked in The Netherlands, and ended up buying a house around the corner from my childhood home,” he says. “Funny how life works.”
After a long career in the financial world and many years serving on the board of the King-Bruwaert (KB) House board, Kayser was asked to serve as the organization’s president 12 years ago. It was a challenge he happily accepted.
“As a child, I remember driving by KB and not really thinking too much about it,” recalls Kayser. “Back in those days, I’m not sure KB had a desire to be very high profile.”
But for him, King-Bruwaert House and its importance in the community became personal when his mother moved into The Woods, a well-planned, attractive, independent living community on the KB campus.
“The true beauty of KB is that one can move here and live independently,” Kayer explains. “They can then age without worry—knowing whatever needs they may have in their future can be met in this one community. It’s a real gem.”
In addition to independent living, King-Bruwaert offers assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care with a variety of programming opportunities available for all residents.
According to the King-Bruwaert archives, the history of King-Bruwaert House began with the start of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago where Suzanne King, a prominent Chicago socialite, met Francois Edmond Bruwaert who was the French Consul General to the United States. The couple married in May, 1894.
Following the death of her husband in 1927, Mrs. Bruwaert became concerned that so many women had no place to turn for care and comfort during their later years. In her hand-written will, Mrs. Bruwaert left a substantial estate for the purpose of creating a safe haven for women.
Mrs. Bruwaert died in 1928. In 1931, her trustees purchased a 35-acre land parcel on which King-Bruwaert House was constructed in Burr Ridge. The building was completed in 1933 and the first residents moved into the 80-room home in April, 1933.
In Kayser’s tenure as president, he oversaw a number of facility maintenance projects that supported the mission of King-Bruwaert House to provide an elegant environment for its residents.
“One of our big projects was to replace the roof,” Kayser says. “We were able to track down the same Italian tiles from the same manufacturer who originally provided them. The same roofing company that installed the tiles in 1933 helped us replace them.”
Additionally, in 2008, when many organizations were in danger of losing their endowments, Kayser’s oversight of King-Bruwaert House’s investments prevented them from facing a similar plight.
Kayser credits the strength of the King-Bruwaert House’s staff and nurses to the successful community it is today, some of whom he had a hand in hiring. he also played an active role in hiring King-Bruwaert’s CEO Terri Bowen. Finally, King-Bruwaert House recently entered into a partnership with Mather Lifeways where ideas are shared on how to best provide programming to residents and how to train staff and operational support.
“I think this is a trend we’ll see building over the next several years,” Kayser says. “This sharing of ideas and information will only make us all better at what we do.”
King-Bruwaert House is located at 6101 S. County Line Road in Burr Ridge, 630-323-2250, kingbruwaert.com.