Memory Center at St. Bernards Villa Will Be Known as the William I. Rainwater Memory Center

Published on Wed, October 08, 2014
Memory Center at St. Bernards Villa Will Be Known as the William I. Rainwater Memory Center

A topping out ceremony was held Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the construction site of St. Bernards Villa, a Level II Assisted Living facility with a separate dedicated Memory Care unit. The ceremony celebrated the completion of the first phase of construction of the facility being built on 28 acres of land at 2217 West Parker Road in southwest Jonesboro.

At that event, St. Bernards Healthcare President and Chief Executive Officer Chris B. Barber announced a significant gift to the capital campaign that is underway to fund construction of the memory care section of the Villa, adding that it will be named after the late William I. (Bill) Rainwater, longtime St. Bernards board member and businessman.

The Rainwater and Cox families have made a generous gift in memory of Bill Rainwater, who gave freely of his time and efforts in support of St. Bernards and many other organizations and causes. Born and reared in Lawrence County, he was an engineer, a farmer, a banker and an entrepreneur. An exceptionally successful businessman, he developed and operated hotels in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Among those were the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express in Jonesboro, holdings that were sold a number of years ago. Rainwater put as much effort in giving back to the communities, organizations and causes that shaped him as he did his “work.”

Members of the Rainwater and Cox families were in attendance for the announcement.

Charles Nabholz, chairman emeritus of Nabholz Construction, spoke briefly, explaining the significance of topping out a construction project. The ceremony is a kickback to a centuries-old Scandinavian tradition of placing an evergreen tree on the highest point of a shelter or home upon its completion.

In the 19th Century, as many people from Northern Europe came to America, many of them worked as construction craftsmen, bringing with them not only their construction skills but also their customs. One in particular was the topping out of a new building with an evergreen tree, a symbol of growth which typically is said to bring good luck.

Though the meaning of the ceremony has changed a little over time, Nabholz continues the tradition as a way to celebrate the completion of the most dangerous phase of construction and symbolize thanksgiving for a safe project.

Often those participating in the ceremony sign a beam that is hoisted to the highest point on the superstructure, but because of the type of construction at the Villa, participants had opportunity to sign a sheet of decking, which was then hoisted into place above the memory unit entrance.

The Villa will be a residential complex for seniors requiring a higher level of assisted living care than is available at St. Bernards Village as well as a secure memory care community for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.

A $14 million project, it will be a single level structure with safe, comfortable home-like accommodations in a beautifully landscaped setting.

Two sections in the stand-alone facility will be for assisted living residents. Residents in the Level II units will be able to choose from one- or two-bedroom apartments, and the building will include spacious lobby areas, parlors, dining rooms, an exercise room, an activity room, an outpatient physical therapy clinic, a beauty shop, a spa, a chapel, a theater built to safe room standards, space for healthcare provider visits and more. The initial phase will include 45 Level II apartments.

The William I. Rainwater Memory Center is a separate and secure facility specifically designed for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. It has a separate entrance and will be operated by a staff specially training and certified as Alzheimer’s caregivers. It will be divided into two “neighborhoods” of 15 apartments each, so residents can live and function within a cluster of small nurturing groups to foster a sense of community and encourage involvement of family and friends. The memory unit will have its own gardens, lobby areas, dining rooms, activity rooms and offices.

Designed as a “sister” facility to St. Bernards Village, the complex will be licensed for a total of 116 beds. The exterior of the Villa will incorporate red brick, natural stone, buff-colored siding, gabled rooflines, white accent fencing and screened porches. Grounds will be well manicured with inviting landscaped garden areas, courtyards and walking paths.

The Villa is the only facility in this region that offers a dedicated memory center program within an assisted living facility. It is expected to be ready for occupancy in April, 2015.

Architect for St. Bernards Villa is Jimmy Hudspeth of West Memphis. Nabholz Construction is serving as general contractor. Landscaping will be provided by Bennett’s Nursery and Landscaping.

Additional information may be secured from Brian Rega, director of senior services-housing for St. Bernards, at 870-932-8141 or or by checking the web site