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Carol L. Chur, 80, helped build ElderWood into major health care company

Carol L. Chur, 80, helped build ElderWood into major health care company

March 18, 1943 – Aug. 1, 2023

Carol L. Chur, who with her husband built one of the most successful private health care companies in New York State, died Aug. 1 in her home in Clarence after a short illness. She was 80.

Born in Imperial, Neb., the third of seven children, Carol Lorene Jaeger was salutatorian of her high school class and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1965 from the University of Nebraska.

She went on to Syracuse University, where she completed a master’s degree in journalism with a specialty in mental health communications.

Mrs. Chur won a Journalism Gold Key Award at the University of Nebraska and a fellowship grant award at Syracuse University. She was a member of Theta Sigma Phi, the national professional fraternity for women.

At Syracuse, she met Robert M. Chur, son of a nursing home operator in East Aurora, who was studying for a master’s degree in business administration. They were married on May 17, 1967.

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They lived in New York City, San Francisco and Napierville, Ill., where she was the school board reporter for the Napierville Sun, before they moved to Western New York to assist in her father-in-law’s nursing home operation.

In 1978, they founded Heathwood Health Care Center in Amherst, which became the foundation for ElderWood Affiliates. When ElderWood Senior Care was sold in 2013, it had grown to 19 facilities in Western and Central New York employing 2,900 people.

With ElderWood, Mrs. Chur served on the board of directors as vice president and secretary while working day-to-day as vice president of communications and administrative services. She created the company’s brochures and guidebooks and oversaw the external design of its first few new facilities.

After the sale, the Churs retained the original Heathwood Assisted Living location in Amherst and a second one in Penfield, outside Rochester. Their daughter, Carla Chur Suero, who joined them in the business in 1994, became Heathwood’s president and CEO in 2016.

Mrs. Chur and her husband established the Chur Family Foundation in 2014 to provide assistance to non-profit organizations.

An ardent supporter of the women’s movement, she was a charter member of the National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C.; a longtime member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and a member of the American Association of University Women.  

In the 1990s, she was active with the Clarence League of Women Voters and served as its spokesperson.    

Mrs. Chur completed a master’s degree in art history at the University at Buffalo in 2005, with a thesis entitled “The Raquette River Quilters: A Case Study of Cultural Biases and Contemporary Quiltmaking Production from a Feminist Perspective.”

She donated her art history thesis research to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain, where it became the basis for an exhibition of Adirondack quilts.

She was a longtime member of the American Quilt Study Group in Lincoln, Neb., collected quilts made in the Adirondacks and Bermuda and had a commemorative quilt made to celebrate the sale of ElderWood.

In addition to her husband, survivors include two daughters, Carla Chur Suero and Kelly Henry; two brothers, Sidney Jaeger and Duke Jaeger; a sister, Sheila Johnson; and four grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday in Clarence First Presbyterian Church, 9675 Main St., Clarence.