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Horizon House CEO retires, reflects on 16 years

After almost 16 years as CEO of Horizon House, Bob Anderson announced in November that he plans to retire in June 2015 when he is 70.

He seeks to have more time with his family and his wife of 44 years, Julie, and he expects to continue as a consultant in senior services programs.

bob anderson horizon house

Anderson retires in June 2015 as Horizon House CEO. Photo courtesy of Horizon House

“I feel blessed to have good health and energy at this time to apply to future endeavors,” which he said includes becoming a grandfather in December.

He has found his years at Horizon House “the most satisfying part of my work career, being able to work close to people in this stage of life and gain access to their wisdom—listening, respecting and learning from people who have learned much from life,” he said.

Horizon House is a resident-directed community, so Bob has seen his role to be to serve people in their home and respond to their ideas and needs.

Horizon House’s mission to residents is to their quality of life and financial security.

Under Bob’s leadership since 1998, the community has done two things to reinvent itself:  It established a new health care system that includes “supported living,” and has built a new tower with 100 apartments.

Bob explained that supported living combines the former nursing home with assisted living to be a homelike continuum of care, so people make one move from their independent living apartments.

In addition, he said Horizon House offers a seven-day-a-week medical clinic with a nurse practitioner on staff, so residents have access to outpatient medical care five days a week and with a nurse on weekends.

“People can age in place in their own independent apartments because they have a medical clinic in the building to help solve immediate medical problems and to support their health and wellbeing,” he said.

In other settings, seniors have to set up a doctor’s appointment, go by car to a clinic and wait in line.  At the Horizon House clinic, the nurse practitioner can assess if more care is needed and work with doctors and specialists.

Two years ago, Horizon House formed Horizon Home Care, Inc., to provide home services to help with daily needs, such as meals, dressing and apartment chores on a temporary or permanent basis.  It serves residents, but may expand outside the complex.

“Innovations we have implemented over the years have been integrated into new care models, including the support system apartments,” he said.

Horizon House has 378 independent living apartments and is renovating eight independent living apartments to create 16 new supported living apartments, for a total of 106 by the end of next year.  It has more than 550 residents.

“An important aspect of community life is that no one has to leave because of exhausting their resources,” Bob said.  “That has been our commitment for 53 years.”

The way it guarantees that commitment is through raising $1 million a year to support its now $11 million endowment.

“It’s particularly needed today with growing demand because people are living longer and have more complex needs,” he said. “That commitment is at the root of our mission.

“As a UCC affiliated organization, we are open to people of any faith tradition.  The diversity of our community in religion and social-economic status is also part of our commitment,” Bob explained.

Entry fees range from $40,000 to six figures, and Horizon House is committee to maintain 25 percent of apartments for people of moderate to low incomes.

Another commitment is to facilitate residents being able to serve the broader community.

One way it does that is through its Community Grants Program, which supports three ventures: 1) Plymouth Church’s development of Plymouth Housing, low income housing for seniors through financial and volunteer resources; 2) Mary’s Place, a community based organization sponsored by Lutherans for women experiencing domestic violence, and 3) Northwest Center for Creative Aging, a nonprofit that partners to offers programs and services to seniors in the community to help them find greater connection through workshops, conversations and a learning day at Seattle University.

Bob said Horizon House is continually renovating its 1 million square feet of space on two-and-a-half acres in downtown Seattle.

“We are in flux to meet residents’ needs,” he said.

The facility also partners with other organizations, for example, providing Elderwise space for a day center for older adults from the community.

In 1961, the then Washington North Idaho Conference of the UCC—now the Pacific Northwest Conference—guaranteed a loan to buy the Baldwin Apartments as the first site for senior living.  While it no longer has a financial relationship, the conference minister and a member of the conference Board of Directors sit on the Horizon House Board of Trustees.

We are the only UCC-sponsored senior living center in the region,” Bob said.  “We draw people from UCC churches all over the region, including from Plymouth, University Congregational, Magnolia and some West Seattle churches, which transport members in Horizon House to church.”

Bob, who grew up Catholic and has been a member of Plymouth UCC in Seattle, estimates that of the 550 residents less than 20 percent are UCC.

Growing up in Boston, after graduating from Tufts University in Boston, he earned a master’s in public administration in 1970 at Syracuse University.  He worked as with the Illinois Mental Health Authority, before coming to Seattle in 1978.  He worked with several health care administration positions before Horizon House.

For information, call 206-382-3601 or email


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News Copyright © December 2014



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