By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Ire and Brimstone
The article "In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Wholly Owned Subsidiary" (Terry Greene Sterling, May 22) was very slanted and misleading. I am an heir to the equity of my mother's life estate, which she knowingly purchased in 1985 from the Conservative Baptist Retirement Community, Inc. Her contract, which I am sure was the same contract which was entered into by Lena and Lonnie Davis, referred to in the article, is and was very clear to her and her family that she was not purchasing real estate, but the right to live in her apartment for the rest of her life as long as she remained able to care for herself independently. (One would have to be very naive to believe that a document clearly titled Endowment/Equity Agreement would be a real estate contract, especially former homeowners.)
The contract would give her a 70 percent guaranteed return of her equity in this life estate (10 percent was an entrance fee, and 20 percent was an endowment deposit refundable on a pro-rata basis if the resident moved in less than five years). In return, she had a beautiful, comfortable apartment which she decorated herself and was home to her. Her utilities, except for telephone and electricity, were provided, and transportation to and from shopping were also provided. She knew that a nursing home was a planned future endeavor of the retirement community, but it was pointed out to her that it was not part of her contract that it would be completed. Everything in her contract was known to her and accepted because she took the time to research other retirement communities, she had a lawyer review the contract, and she read her contract.
Although this financial arrangement and contract referred to here may not be for everyone, it was not a fraud. These people were told that a profit would be given if and when their life estate could be sold at a profit. That was not to be at the time of my mother's death, but we all take risks on potential investments. After my mother passed away in 1995, I tried to sell her equity interest in her life estate and was unable to do so because of the bad publicity of this lawsuit. But the equity which was a guaranteed return is being paid to me in monthly installments, and I am assured that this will continue until I am paid in full.
Not all retirement arrangements are bad. Elderly people who are willing to pay the cost for more security and for help that can be provided to them can enable themselves to live a life with quality and independence. If it were not for the life estate my mother was enjoying at Baptist Village, she would have had to live with her children after her partially paralyzing stroke.
I acknowledge that I am not privy to everything that has transpired in this controversy, but I do know my mother's contract, and I believe in the integrity and intent of both Baptist denominations addressed in the article. There is another side to this story: the one of the majority. It would be nice to see it addressed.
The article "In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Wholly Owned Subsidiary" was not only very well-written, but accurate in its message! My congratulations to its writer, Terry Greene Sterling.
As a plaintiff involved in the ongoing lawsuit with both the Conservative and Southern Baptist groups, I am glad to see some publicity at last exposing the misdeeds of the happenings at Paradise Valley Estates.
My aunt owned a PVE apartment since 1985. She died in 1991, and the apartment has been for sale ever since. In six years, there has not been a single offer made on the purchase of it, nor an attempt by either Baptist group to return her equity to her estate--only an offer to lease which wasn't acceptable!
My hope is that Greene Sterling's article will bring attention to the wrongdoings involved with PVE and result in an acceptable settlement offer by the Baptist groups. Thank you.
Terry Greene Sterling's article was right on the mark in exposing Paradise Valley Estates for fraud! In 1988, my mother, Louise, a recent widow, fell under the spell of sweet-talking Reverend Robert Lindstrom. He promised her jolly outings, meals when desired, a beauty salon, nursing facilities eventually and a "deluxe" apartment with a view. No lawyer need be involved.
Sadly, the transportation was an old, yellow Baptist school bus with no air, and her "deluxe" drapes arrived after the summer heat, three months later.
As her daughter, I took the "drapes problem" to Reverend Lindstrom. He told Louise that I would be "banned from the grounds" and couldn't visit her if I continued to cause trouble. She wasn't a Baptist, and nobody would like her, he implied.
There were no social activities, except for praying that the apartments would be sold, so Louise started a singing group, planned holiday parties, directed little plays and helped with the "newsletter." She worried constantly about the monthly dues but dared not question the constant increases and even fewer services.