LeadingAge cofounder Howard Washburn dead at 89

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LeadingAge cofounder Rev. Howard Washburn, 89, has died.

A New Jersey native, Washburn was one of a small group of individuals who founded the American Association of Homes for the Aging (which became AAHSA, then LeadingAge) in 1961, in New York City.

Win Marshall, the immediate past chair of the Board of Directors for LeadingAge, said the organization benefited from “his wisdom and foresight.”

“Not many ideas or associations grow and thrive over 50 years, but ours has very much because of Howard's vision,” Marshall said. “Howard was indeed a pillar, holding up the association enabling LeadingAge safe passage throughout our continuous journey."

After serving in World War II, Washburn said he felt called to ministry while sitting in church, and completed his degrees through the GI Bill. He became a pioneer in resident-centered care and served in leadership positions around the country that included CC Young Memorial Home in Dallas and the General Board of Hospitals and Homes (later the United Methodist Association). He spent 25 years working for Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices in St. Marys, OH, where he lived after his retirement.

Washburn told McKnight's last year that he hoped everyone in long-term care felt inspired by a higher power in his or her work.

“I feel there was a religious reason for doing it, I hope for everyone, but certainly for me,” he said.

His hobbies included fishing, rooting for the Chicago Cubs and playing golf. Otterbein Homes presents the Howard W. Washburn Cup to the first place winner of its Dilgard Open golf outing each year.

Washburn was preceded in death by a son, Mark, his brother and his sister. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; two sons, Jim and John, and several grandchildren.

A memorial was held for Washburn on Saturday morning at Otterbein St. Marys Senior Lifestyle Community. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Otterbein St. Marys Benevolent Care Fund.