Our History

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The Legacy of John & Florence Thomas

Willow Valley Communities owes much to the legacy of John and Florence Thomas. In the 1940’s, while selling poultry and eggs in Lancaster County Farmer’s Markets, this hospitable Mennonite couple earned a reputation for crafting delicious meals and baked goods. Then, in 1965, the Thomas family opened a 30-unit motel and 100-seat family restaurant, the Willow Valley Inn and Suites. This was the start of the Willow Valley Corporation. As it expanded into the new idea of creating a senior living community, the spirit of hospitality and the nature of service continued as exemplified by the Thomas family.   Willow Valley Living, a development and management company was created, and the not-for-profit Willow Valley Communities was formed.

Willow Valley Communities’ first Lifecare community, Willow Valley Manor, opened in the spring of 1984. It soon set a new standard for senior living. Over the years of hard work and dedication to delivering only the finest amenities, services and residences, many new communities were added, and Willow Valley continues to thrive and grow.   Today, Willow Valley Communities is home to more than 2,500 residents from 39 states.

With the success of Willow Valley’s two senior living campuses, the forward-thinking leadership team began to look for ways to serve more members of the Lancaster community. Willow Valley embraced the concept of Lifecare at Home and created SmartLife VIA Willow Valley, Lancaster County’s only Life Plan at Home program. SmartLife is an innovative long-term care plan which brings Willow Valley’s brand of excellent care and services to seniors who want to remain in their homes. This comprehensive plan shares the same tradition of excellence so many have come to expect from Willow Valley Communities.