The seeds of Rich Schutt’s professional career were sown when he was a sophomore in high school. That’s when his cousin, who lived down the street of the same southwest Chicago suburb, asked the 15-year-old if he’d like to work part time in the maintenance department at the nearby Rest Haven nursing home.
Schutt took that maintenance job, hitching rides from his uncle to get there. Just a few years later, he became a Rest Haven administrator. Before long, he was named a regional manager. He now has been at the helm of Providence Life Services (PLS), formerly Rest Haven Christian Services, in Tinley Park, IL, for over 30 years.
“I didn’t really script my life, but it has pretty much followed out in a marvelous way, because I’ve always had the opportunity to grow, and as the organization has grown, I’ve grown,” says Schutt, 65. He’s helped the organization, which provides a wealth of aging services, expand from three to 10 facilities and into three states.
The current chair of the Global Ageing Network and a past chair of LeadingAge (formerly the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging), the ever-smiling Schutt needs no introduction among the greater long-term care community.
“He has the combination of being a visionary, being a smart businessperson and being kind,” says Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge.
He is “as well-rounded, principled and successful of anyone in his era in our field,” points out Larry Minnix, who led the national association while Schutt served as chair. Minnix counts the quality movement as one of Schutt’s main accomplishments during his chairmanship, along with the birth of the Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST).
Schutt is a “man of great faith and wisdom with a wicked sense of humor,” adds Dan Reingold, president and CEO of RiverSpring Health, which includes operation of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.
Schutt says his strong Christian faith has allowed him to help PLS “hold the center,” and he considers his work life and family life to be seamless. He likens his work-life arrangement to a family farm, like the one his grandfather operated when he was a child.
“You do what you have to do to farm,” he explains. “Everyone chips in and understands that you defer what you like to do because of what needs to get done, because you enjoy it.”
Not surprisingly, Schutt’s devotion to his family, which includes his wife, Linda; three grown daughters, Jennifer, Bethany and Allison; and five grandchildren, is a major component of his life.
When he is not at PLS or traveling to a LeadingAge or Global Ageing Network conference with Linda, he might be doing a family activity with his grandchildren.
Schutt also serves on the boards of a Christian school and local church. He says he has no plans to retire from anything. After more than 40 years at the same organization, he still loves his workplace.
When he visits residents “and they throw their arms around me and say it’s a great place to live, that totally fuels me,” he says.
Resume: 1976, Takes position as administrator of the newly built Rest Haven South, a 166-bed nursing facility in South Holland, IL; 1977, Graduates with BS in business administration from Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL; 1980, Receives MS in health services administration from Governors State University; 1983, Works as adjunct faculty at Governors State University; 1984, Named regional manager at Providence Life Services (PLS); 1986, Becomes CEO of PLS in Tinley Park, IL; 2001, Elected board chairman of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (LeadingAge); 2019, Starts two-year term as chair of the Global Ageing Network