Edward C. Weeks spent his career coming up with ways to better care for the elderly afflicted with illness and dementia.
So it was with a bit of cruel irony that Mr. Weeks relied on that same care at the end of his life.
Mr. Weeks – a longtime nursing home administrator who developed the area’s first continuing care retirement community – died Wednesday in his Buffalo home from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 80.
“It was kind of an irony for us,” said his daughter, Patricia O’Connor. “A man that spent his career doing and caring for people with this was then struck by that disease himself.”
Mr. Weeks lobbied for state legislation to permit operation of life-care communities, which resulted in him developing Canterbury Woods in Amherst. The project introduced the area to continuing care – ranging from independent living to skilled nursing – located all on one campus.
“I think he did a lot of things that nobody here in Western New York had done prior,” said Michael Helbringer, president of Bristol Home & Bristol Village. “He was sort of ground breaking in that sense.”
Mr. Weeks’ daughter said that her father remained in good physical health in recent years.
“It was the mental challenges that were the problem,” she said. “We’re fortunate that he was able to stay home in the least-restrictive environment for as long as possible.”
As the former administrator of the Episcopal Church Home on Rhode Island Street, Mr. Weeks established the area’s first respite program, as well as the first adult day health care program, his daughter said. Under his leadership, she said, the Episcopal Church Home also began offering long-term home health care to people, known at the time as the state’s first nursing home “without walls.”
“He was definitely an innovator and always looking at what better ways we could care for the aging population,” O’Connor said. “I think at that time he became an administrator was also a time nursing homes were at their lowest in terms of their quality.
“He wanted to change all that,” she said. “He knew there was a better way for caring for people.”
After serving in the Army, Mr. Weeks worked as a physical therapist at Niagara Lutheran Home, where he was persuaded to move into an administrative role.
After three years at Niagara Lutheran, Mr. Weeks became administrator of the Carlton House Nursing Home and later the Newfane Health Care Facility. In 1976, he took over as administrator of the Episcopal Church Home, where he rose to president and chief executive officer.
Mr. Weeks was among the first to see the need for more nursing home facilities in the suburbs where the population had shifted, said Helbringer, who credited Mr. Weeks for helping him when he was breaking into the business 20 years ago. “I had the utmost respect for him,” Helbringer said.
“He spent a lot of time with me guiding me through the process and helping me,” Helbringer said. “He was a great guy.”
Mr. Weeks received numerous awards, including the highest honor bestowed by the New York State Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
Born and raised in Lockport, Mr. Weeks graduated from Lockport Senior High School in 1953. He went on to attend the University of Buffalo, where his football career was cut short by injury and he served as the managing editor of the school newspaper. He graduated in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy.
Mr. Weeks served as a physical therapist in the Army from 1958 to 1960 at the 98th General Hospital in Neubrucke, Germany.
He was an avid golfer and a member of the Cherry Hill Club. He also enjoyed sailing.
His first wife, the former Margaret M. Reddington, died in 1979.
Mr. Weeks is survived by his wife of 18 years, the former Alana Parisi; two sons, Sean and Mark; another daughter, Bridget; five stepsons, Jason, Cale, Aron, Matthew and Ryan Parisi; a brother, William; two sisters, Marie Louise Spencer and Paula Watson; and nine grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, 128 Pearl St.