Beecher Hunter, president of Life Care Centers of America since 2006, is retiring, and he will be succeeded by Todd Fletcher, vice president of Western Division Operations for Life Care. Those administrative changes were announced Wednesday by Forrest L. Preston, chairman and CEO of the company.
Effective date of the transition in responsibilities will be Monday, Nov. 2. Mr. Hunter will continue in an advisory and support role until Dec. 31, Mr. Preston said.
Both individuals have long tenures with Life Care. Mr. Hunter caps a 34-year career, having joined the company in 1986 after 20 years with The Cleveland Daily Banner. Mr. Fletcher’s service began in 1990, coming directly out of college, when he was named executive director of Rimrock Villa Convalescent Hospital in Barstow, Ca.
“Beecher came to us on March 3, 1986, as vice president of communications, and he didn’t even report to work at the office on that first day,” Mr. Preston said. “Instead, he met me at the Cleveland airport for a three-day trip to visit facilities in Kansas and Missouri.
“Since then, he has been a faithful advocate of the highest quality of care for the men and women we serve, and a leader in recognizing and praising the work of their caregivers, whom he calls God’s chosen angels to deliver His message of love and compassion.”
As vice president of Western Division Operations, Mr. Fletcher has had responsibility for 84 skilled nursing facilities in three of Life Care’s divisions – Northwest (31 facilities), Mountain States (30 facilities) and Southwest (23 facilities).
“From his very first day on the job, Todd has shown natural leadership abilities, honed by valuable experience in his relationships with residents and their families, and deep appreciation for the passion and commitment of his co-workers for the mission to which they are called,” Mr. Preston said. “Not only does he bring talent and energy to his new assignment, but he also has a genuine heart for those he serves and leads.”
Mr. Hunter is a 1961 graduate of Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee, with a B.A. degree in English. He and his wife, Lola, moved to Cleveland in 1962, when he accepted a job as news and wire editor of The Banner. He was promoted to editor of the newspaper in 1973.
He is a former president of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce and the Cleveland Family YMCA and is currently a member of the board of trustees of the Tennessee Aquarium. He has been a member of the board of directors of the Better Business Bureau of Chattanooga since 1983. He received an honorary fellowship from the American College of Health Care Administrators in 2012 for “distinguished service in the field of long-term care.” The Hunters are members of First Baptist Church of Cleveland.
“I have had the blessing of two careers – in newspapering and for the past 34 years with Life Care – that I have enjoyed,” Mr. Hunter said. “It’s hard for me to put into words the love and respect I have for the people I have met and worked with – residents like Gen. Robert Copsey, a confidante of Charles Lindbergh, or Mary Denton, the woman featured in the Life Care logo, or Mr. Life Care, Claude Ogle, whose wit and wisdom were infectious.
“Then there are thousands of associates across the country – certified nursing assistants, nurses, workers in housekeeping, laundry and maintenance, activities directors, administrative leaders – whom I look into their faces and see the earnestness of their desire to serve our Lord by caring for others. I will miss them all, but now I owe Lola and my family more opportunities to travel and explore what else God has in store for us.”
Mr. Fletcher steps into the role of president with extensive knowledge of the company and its philosophy.
“In 1970, Forrest Preston founded and created the legacy of Life Care Centers of America based on his vision and commitment to serving seniors,” Mr. Fletcher said. “Mr. Preston established high standards of leadership and a legacy of unmatched courage.
“For over 34 years, Beecher Hunter has made an invaluable impact on Life Care with his authentic and unique brand of servant leadership, particularly in his role as president of the company for the past 14 years,” Mr. Fletcher continued.
“Beecher’s compassion and genuine empathy for our residents and associates over the years has left an indelible mark on our company,” he added. “I am honored to continue this legacy by serving our Life Care Centers of America family and leading with the same compassion and excellence that have become our cornerstones. We have challenging times ahead, but we also have a strong foundation to draw from. I believe that if we can continue to focus on our calling to serve our residents and associates selflessly and with excellence, we will overcome.”
A 1989 graduate of Walla Walla University in College Place, Washington, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Mr. Fletcher went on to Southern Adventist University in Collegedale to earn a degree in long-term health care management.
His career has included an appointment as executive director of La Habra Convalescent Hospital in La Habra, Ca., and later Life Care Center of Bothell and Cottesmore of Life Care, both in the State of Washington. He served as a senior executive director, regional vice president and vice president of the Northwest Division before accepting the leadership of Western Division Operations.
Mr. Fletcher and his wife, Cheri, will be relocating from Auburn, Wa. to Cleveland. The couple has three children.