Robert and Clara Milton
A Vision for Aging with Dignity
He was a well-known, highly respected South Bend druggist. She was lauded for her community involvement and philanthropic nature. Robert and Clara Milton had a vision of providing a safe, secure home for elderly citizens in the mid-1920s, well before the era of full-care nursing care facilities.
During their lives, the couple—who had no children—made provisions for their assets to be used to make this dream a reality after their deaths. In 1931, Robert Milton passed away, leaving $100,000 for construction of the home. Clara Milton died in 1942, at the advent of World War II. The war put a stop to any hope of building “an old people’s home,” as it was referred to in Mrs. Milton’s obituary, so the Milton funds were invested by the National Bank to await construction. Following the war, the Milton Home was built; the first resident came to live there in 1951. The home operated under a life care concept. Under this plan, residents, who were between the ages of 65 and 85 when they entered the home, assigned their assets to the Milton Home Corporation. In return, the Milton Home made sure all their housing, medical, nutritional and financial needs were fulfilled.
The Milton Home Corporation was dissolved in 2002, following the passing of the last Milton Home resident who had entered the home under the life care plan. At that point, the board was left to decide how best to use the remaining funds to carry on the Milton’s vision.
Half the assets were invested with the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County. Today, through the Community Foundation’s Robert P. & Clara I. Milton Fund, the Milton’s generous bequest is still being dedicated to meeting the needs of our community's seniors in ways that promote dignity, independence, and quality of life.
This profile is excerpted with permission from the Center for Hospice Care's 2012 summer newsletter, with thanks to Bob Cleppe.