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Brooke Grove’s visionary founder was a woman who led by example

by Dr. Ted Howe

Brooke Grove Foundation Inc. was begun by my grandmother, Eleanor Howe Marston, RN, in April 1950.   She was in her early 50s and recently divorced from my grandfather, Julian Howe, MD. She remained actively involved in the day-to-day operations of Brooke Grove for the next 15 years, then turned over the operation of the foundation to my father, Carl Howe, and moved to Thurmont.


Eleanor Howe Marston (left) is pictured on the day of the first open house at Brooke Grove in April 1950. Pictured with her are her niece, Barbara Roberts, and her sister, Jane Roberts.


Now 67 years later, it is appropriate for one to ask, “If Eleanor Howe Marston attended the upcoming celebration for the new state-of-the-art rehab addition at Brooke Grove Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, would she recognize this organization as her own?”   I believe the answer is “Yes” in several important ways.    My grandmother believed that the setting and environment are important to promoting health and recovery. Many people have commented to me that they begin to relax as they leave Route 108 to enter our campus and begin the drive through the woods on Slade School Road.

In good weather, when I see extended families sitting or strolling together out of doors, I know that they are experiencing the benefit that my grandmother imagined.
My grandmother led by example. She was a registered nurse, but there was never a task that she was unwilling to do. She worked right beside the nursing assistants and other nurses, trained the cook, and oversaw the maintenance and grounds work. She was able to do this because she knew how to do all of these things.
She was a seamstress who made most of her own clothing. She was an excellent cook. As a young woman, she taught high school math and physics, so she understood building construction and infrastructure.
Today, Brooke Grove’s leaders also have broad experience and talents. Most of them worked in multiple departments before advancing to their current responsibilities. The belief that “no task done by the front line staff is below the supervisor to do” is still a part of Brooke Grove’s ethos.
My grandmother would not be surprised that Brooke Grove Foundation has grown slowly but steadily since its inception. Her greatest gift to this organization was to form it as a charitable foundation, an enterprise that existed not to benefit her, but rather to benefit those who came to it for help and assistance.
She always thought of this organization as “the Lord’s work.” She believed it existed only because of His blessing and that it would prosper only if those who operated it would continue to humbly seek “to know God’s will.”
My grandmother was an individual who drew lines to include rather than exclude others. I believe she would be pleased to note the diversity that is present among the individuals who work together at Brooke Grove. She would celebrate those Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Christians and individuals of other faiths, who demonstrate by their example that compassionate caring is a tradition and practice common to all persons of good will.

Fully dedicated to short-term rehab, Brooke Grove Retirement Village’s new state-of-the-art rehab addition at Brooke Grove Rehabilitation and Nursing Center is scheduled to open this spring. Professional open houses for physicians, care managers and other senior service providers will be held 2-4 p.m. May 9 and from 4:30 to 7 p.m. June 13. The public is invited to tour during a Community Open House planned 2-5 p.m. May 25. RSVP to Toni Davis at
301-388-7209 or [email protected].

Dr. Ted Howe completed a Fellowship in geriatrics in 1986, is a Certified Medical Director and is board certified in hospice and palliative care medicine. He has been medical director of Brooke Grove Foundation Inc. for the past 30 years. He was awarded Medical Director of the Year in 2016 by the Mid-Atlantic Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

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