Brewster Place was founded as The Congregational Home for the Aged in 1958.
The cornerstone idea for Brewster Place was conceived in the 1950s when four Congregational churches came together to make life better for seniors. Topekan, Frances Engler and her husband Roy, wanted to provide a comfortable, convenient home for Frances’ aging aunt. The couple took their idea for a senior care home and offer of ten acres of farmland to their pastor, Reverend Ned Burr McKenney.
McKenney worked with the three other Topeka Congregational churches to establish a corporate charter for The Congregational Home in 1958. Though the official corporate name remains The Congregational Home, in 1962 the property became known as Brewster Place to honor early Congregationalist, William Brewster. Brewster, a Mayflower pilgrim and Plymouth Colony leader, was known for his compassion and faith.
Five decades later, compassion and service to seniors is witnessed daily on our beautiful 35 acre campus. Brewster proudly offers nearly 400 residents a wide array of activities, amenities, and innovations to make a positive difference in their lives.
Turn the page and write your next chapter in the Brewster storybook of senior living.
Groundbreaking ceremonies and construction begins
Brewster chartered as the The Congregational Home
Brewster Executive Team
“I want to help people pursue their calling, to find meaning and purpose, and to enjoy being valued as a member of the special community that is Brewster.” -Joe Ewert
President & CEO
Joe Ewert is only the fifth President and CEO in Brewster’s history. His devotion to senior care was inspired by his dad, who worked as a nursing home administrator, and his mom, who was the director of nursing at a care facility.
“As a child I always wanted to do what my parents did,” Joe said. “They were very passionate about their work, and I always enjoyed spending time with them at their workplace. The residents always treated me so well and made me feel special.”
After serving in the U.S. Army, including a deployment to Iraq, Joe graduated from the University of Kansas. Through various business ventures, Joe never felt the pull to join the senior care industry until he spent a month developing business skills and serving residents in a senior care home in Manhattan, Kansas.
“I felt like I had found a home,” Joe said. “I had indeed found my calling.”
Since then, Joe has served seniors by certifying care facilities at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services and in government relations for LeadingAge Kansas.
As CEO of Brewster, Joe is committed to growing the care and service offered for the community. More than anything, he loves connecting with the residents and is always helping solve problems, getting to know residents, and sharing stories or a laugh.
“I will use my skills as a leader and a businessman to help continue Brewster’s successes into the future, but I derive the greatest pleasure through the relationships with people here at Brewster.”
“As much as I enjoy working in the world of finance, accounting, computers and spreadsheets, it is the daily encounters with the greatest generation and seeing the Brewster culture demonstrated by staff that brings me the most gratification here at Brewster.” -Larry Riggins
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Larry Riggins joined the Brewster team in 1999 after working many years as a financial officer in the agriculture commodity industry. He was delighted to transition to the non-profit healthcare sector and serve the residents at Brewster.
As Brewster CFO, Larry is responsible for Human Resources, Accounting & Finance, Information Technology, and Environmental Services departments. His tenure at Brewster includes overseeing eight bond issues for debt refinancing, campus expansion, and ongoing improvements.
Larry gained a new perspective as a family member of a resident when his dad moved into Brewster Independent Living.
Larry and his wife, Lartrell, have one daughter and three grandchildren. They enjoy traveling and have been to Israel, Britain, Ireland, and several other European countries. They also make spring break visits to Florida for the beaches and summer visits to Colorado for “stress test” mountain hiking.
“Serving others is my passion. I am honored to serve the residents and staff here at Brewster. Brewster is a community like no other and I love being a part of this great big family.” -Lea Chaffee
Vice President of Operations
Lea Chaffee serves as the Vice President of Operations. Lea is passionate about serving others and working with older adults. She fell in love with helping others at a young age and has worked in the aging services field for over 20 years. Lea obtained her bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Gerontology from Kansas State University. Lea worked as a social worker during her early career and in 2011 obtained her Adult Care Home Administrator’s license. Since then, she has focused on creating a culture of support and person-centered living. When she’s not having fun at Brewster, Lea can be found working with the color guard for Washburn Rural High School’s marching band, hanging out with her family at the lake, or playing music for anyone who will listen. Her greatest joys are her husband, Luke, and two children, Nick and Tessa.