Tuff Memorial Home History

A journey through our past

Tuff Memorial Home

The story of the Tuff Memorial Home began in September of 1957, with the reading of the Will of Gilbert Tuff. Gilbert was born in a sod house just 4 miles Southwest of Hills and for 79 years made his home in the Hills community. The Will of Gilbert Tuff left properties and $167,000 in funds to the American Lutheran Church. The Will stipulated that a Home for the aged must be built in two years or the funds would go elsewhere.

Leaders of the American Lutheran Church were hesitant to do this at first because a nursing home had never been built in such a small town. Eventually the American Lutheran Church gave approval for building a nursing home. Groundbreaking for construction of the Home began in July of 1959. The Tuff Memorial Home, named in honor of its founder, opened its 31-bed facility for occupancy on August 1, 1960. Total cost of construction, architectural fees, furnishing and equipment was approximately $263,183.00.

In 1963, Mr. William Finke, a charter resident of the Home, announced a gift of his farm, which sold for $50,000, to be used for the construction of an expansion to the Home. Mr. Finke was a former businessman and farmer of Luverne and the Hills area. He had the satisfaction of turning the first soil for the addition, which was built in memory of his late wife, Mary C. (Paulsen) Finke. The new addition that cost approximately $130,000 was opened for use on January 1, 1965. The extension increased the resident capacity to its current total of 52 beds.

In 1967 two major gifts were given to the Tuff Memorial Home to help reduce its building indebtedness. The first was made by Henry John Schloetje of Boyden, Iowa who willed $60,000 to the Home. Mr. Schloetje was little known in the Hills community, but he often visited a good friend in the Tuff Home, William Holthusen, who was a resident for several years. Mr. Schloetje was a boyhood immigrant from Germany and a lifetime farmer in Iowa. Nels O. Thompson of Valley Springs, South Dakota, gave the other major gift of $28,433. Mr. Thompson was a member of First Lutheran Church and farmed Northwest of Hills.  

In 1972, Mrs. Alfirda Tuff seeing the need for a permanent Chapel provided the Tuff Home with a cash gift. This gift was to be used to construct a Chapel in the name of her late husband, Bernard Tuff. Construction began and the dedication was held for the Bernard Tuff Memorial Home Chapel on January 3, 1973. The Chapel is currently used for weekly Sunday services, activities, films, meetings and many more functions.

When Alfrida Tuff expired on September 1, 1986, she graciously left a large portion of her will to the Tuff Memorial Home. In April 1987, the Tuff Memorial Home received these funds and the Board of Directors voted to use the $30,500 for an expansion project. This project, which started in 1988and was completed in 1989, included a food storage room, walk-in cooler and freezer, a new employee lounge, dining room expansion, dietary office and a dishwashing room.

In 1998, the Tuff Memorial Home added a new laundry, physical therapy and activity room. At the same time internal remodeling created a larger beauty shop, a larger housekeeping room, a larger administrative area, a ward secretary office, an office for the social worker, and a private office for the Director of Nursing.

Tuff Apartments

For several years the Board of Directors at the Tuff Memorial Home discussed the need for housing for the elderly separate from nursing care, but no funds were available. Then in January 1970, Mr. Martinus Viste, a former resident of Hills who had moved to Florence, Minnesota, died leaving $40,000. This was the incentive needed to proceed with the plan for building an apartment for the elderly.

The Home had previously acquired land across the street just South of the nursing home. This became an ideal place for the location of this cottage type apartment building. By 1972 Viste Manor was completed with six lovely apartments, four on ground level and two basement walkout apartments.

Because of the success of Viste Manor, another apartment building, Morningside Manor was planned for in 1976. Morningside Manor was financed through individual loans, some to be forgiven upon death, and through the Tuff Memorial Home. Individual loans forgiven upon death were as follows: Olivia Moldenhauer – $25,000; Mr. & Mrs. Guillich Sundem – $20,000; and Clara Sandager – $5,000. Individual loans were made by Pearl Hellie – $11,200; Juliet T. Rowbartham – $10,000; and Oscar Hagen – $10,000. Morningside Manor was completed in 1977 and has four ground level apartments.

In 1984, again seeing a need for more housing, Sunview Manor was built. Sunview opened in 1985 and has five ground level apartments. Two major loans were given by Herman Beyenhof – $10,000 and Rachel Bakk – $15,000 to help build Sunview Manor. Other finances were made through Tuff Memorial Home.

Tuff Village

In 1995 Arnold & Stella Swanson approached the Tuff Memorial Home to determine if the Home was interested in purchasing their home, which was located just North of the nursing home. The Tuff Memorial Home Board of Directors seeing this as a possible place for expansion quickly purchased the Swanson house in May of 1995. Also, the Board of Directors purchased the Donald & Donna Schellhouse basement house in March of 1995.

The purchase allowed the Tuff Memorial Home to get control of ½ of the block for possible development. These homes were eventually sold by the Tuff Memorial Home because expansion on these properties did not work. Eventually farmland was purchased just East of the nursing home from the Helgeson’s family for an assisted living project.

Planning for the assisted living project actually began in 1994, with the hiring of a firm to do a financial feasibility study that was conducted by Health Planning & Management Resources, Inc. This study supported development of 10 to 12 senior housing units in the Hills area. Another survey was completed in 1997, to identify whether the community was willing to make a financial commitment for senior housing. The data and results presented in the 1997 survey clearly indicated an interest in senior housing in the Hills area. A building committee was formed, and it was decided to build the first assisted living facility in Rock County. Thanks to a generous gift annuity the project was expanded from 12 to 19 units and the Tuff Village opened its doors on August 1, 2001. The 19 apartments are designed to be maintenance free and handicapped accessible. The Tuff Village is senior housing at its finest. It is a community setting where seniors can maintain an independent lifestyle and services are available to meet changing needs.

Then in 2005 the Tuff Memorial Home Board of Directors along with the administration decided to change Viste Manor from an independent apartment building to a housing with services apartment building. Some remodeling was completed to all the apartments, which included adding new carpet and remodeling all the bathrooms, including adding walk-in showers. The remodeling also included adding a central dining area for the residents.  

The Tuff Memorial Home now includes a 52-bed skilled nursing facility that is Medicare and Medicaid certified, 9 retirement apartments for independent living and 25 assisted living apartments. The continuum of care that the Tuff Memorial Home is now able to provide has been the direct result of many generous benefactors choosing to care for the community’s ever increasing needs.

The Tuff Memorial Home Board of Directors in April of 2011, decided to reduce the number of beds in the nursing home from 52 to 50 because of lower occupancy levels and to make two smaller double rooms into a single. The state of Minnesota was also closing an incentive of adding $2,080 to our rates on July 1, 2011, for each bed that was closed.