At the core of her being Mary Bickford had happiness coursing through her. She gave beauty and strength to everyone around her. She enriched their lives in every possible way. And the Bickford Family Tree that sprang from the seed of her life continues on with the self-same purpose, the core running throughout every aspect of what we do, enriching happiness in the lives that become intertwined with ours.
Her Life Song
Mary Bickford was born in Wichita, Kansas. She learned to play the harp and continued to play throughout her life for 57 years. In 1943 she married her husband Christy and together they raised two children – Judie and Ralph. As a mother, she lived by the motto: whatever it takes to make you happy.
A Haunting Refrain
In the early 1970s, Mary’s life took a dive. Her son Ralph was killed in Vietnam, her husband died of a heart attack and she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mary’s behavior began to change and her family became increasingly worried about her. Judie took her to see a doctor where she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
A Disturbing New Melody
After Mary’s diagnosis, Judie and her husband Don Eby began looking for a new home for Mary. The options offered too much or too little assistance – none met her needs and nothing felt like home. Since they couldn’t find what they wanted they decided to create what Mary needed.
Her Song Becomes a Seed
Don employed his extensive business skills and knowledge, driven by the love he had for his mother-in-law. The song of Mary’s life became a seed. The seed was planted and in November 1992 the Bickford Family Tree sprang forth with the opening of one of the first assisted living residences in Kansas. This Branch became Mary’s new home.
The Growth of The Bickford Family Tree
What has sprung from Mary’s life continues to grow. Our philosophy of care is based on the foundation of our Bickford Family Tree: It was created to care for our family, devoted to serving yours. Our experience led us to connect with so many other families who were going through similar experiences.
Rooted in Family
Don’s lifelong dream to have a family business became a reality when his three sons became involved in the business. He instilled his boys with his vision and Bickford's core values which they were determined to continue. Don Eby passed away March 25, 2010, but his legacy to give everything we have, every day, lives on in his sons. Bickford continues to be a family owned and operated business.
Bickford currently operates 65 Branches in 11 states with additional Branches in development. Our approximately 2,500 Bickford Family Members (our employees are family to us) love and care for nearly 3000 residents.
While seemingly impressive, growth and size has never been our goal. At the end of day, all that matters to us is the happiness of the sweet little lady in apartment 406, because nearly 30 years ago that “someone” was our Mary Bickford.