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In a historical document written by an early group of our Independent Apartment Resident Council at White Oak Estates (Spartanburg, SC), they asked “Mr. Kent” (as the residents and staff knew him) why he chose the symbol of a white oak tree for the logo. Southern trees were a small passion of Mr. Kent’s. His quick response that the white oak stood for strength and sturdiness. The apartments’ council members added:
“To us, the residents of the apartments, White Oak also means safety, comfort, a place of caring friends, and HOME!”
This is the spirit in which the family and the White Oak staff strive to instill in each of our campuses on a daily basis.
History of White Oak Management, Inc
White Oak Management, Inc. was founded by Oliver Kent Cecil. Together with his wife Bettye, they created a family of dynamic and inviting homes for the aging population. White Oak Management has been a private, family-owned business specializing in quality, individually-directed care since 1964. White Oak of Spartanburg was the first location in what has expanded into an operation of 15 healthcare facilities in North and South Carolina. Each have Skilled Nursing Centers, four have Independent Living Apartments and two have Assisted Living buildings. All provide Short-Term Rehabilitation.
The most recent addition to Spartanburg’s White Oak Estates is a state-of-the-art Wellness Center. It has been extremely well received by the community.
The original company, Cecil Associates, was an architectural firm created by two of the Cecil brothers, Kent and Bill. They became involved in building and operating nursing homes in the early 60’s when the city planners of Spartanburg, SC approached the Cecil brothers to design and build a medical facility for older people. The original intent was to sell that first nursing home, but no buyer was found, so they decided to operate it themselves!
A new mission was created to provide care to the frail aging population in surrounding communities. Their long term care management company was known in those early days as MGR, Inc. In 1986, Kent and Bettye Cecil bought the company in whole and it has transitioned to its present day name, White Oak Management, Inc.
Kent designed each nursing home to be comfortable for the residents while meeting the requirements for medically assisting those residents. For over 30 years, Kent made routine walks throughout his communities, carrying with him a notepad in his pocket and a soft place in his heart for the folks who lived in his buildings. Residents and employees alike have always known him as “Mr. Kent.”
Bettye Cecil, the wife of Kent Cecil, was officially named our first Activity Director after spending several years engaging the residents in social and therapeutic activities. She later became a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and Activity Consultant. During her years of service, Bettye was very involved on a regional and national level. Her passion was to promote the professionalism of conducting meaningful activities not just in our nursing homes, but in any nursing home. She was instrumental in developing a national learning tool called the Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals (MEPAP). Activity Directors still use this tool to advance in their profession. Bettye’s influence and inspiration through her twenty years of time spent with the residents was invaluable to Kent in his management of the business.
Second Generation Involvement
Following the death of “Mr. Kent” in 1996, his wife took the reins of leadership with sons Oliver and Doug continuing their roles in the upper management of White Oak. Both had first worked in the homes in a variety of capacities and become licensed administrators some years before Kent died. Their sister, Beth, also a licensed administrator, followed and currently serves as one of our in-house consultants for all of our locations. It was important to Kent that each should work in the facilities for an extended period of time before moving into the corporate office. This has given them the ability to truly understand the challenges our employees meet on a daily basis. The company continues to grow with the oversight and direction of the family’s second generation of management and leadership, along with a seasoned corporate office staff located in downtown Spartanburg, SC.