XENIA — As a former resident of the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphans’ Home, Leo Lundgren always came back to Xenia for the annual reunion.
A few weeks ago he made it a permanent homecoming.
Lundgren and wife, Virginia, were the first to move into the new 51-apartment midrise constructed at Legacy Village where the OSSO Home/Ohio Veterans’ Children’s Home once was.
“Coming here to live seemed natural and familiar,” he said via email.
No doubt it did.
Lundgren and his five siblings were raised on the campus after their parents divorced. He lived at the OSSO Home from 1938 until graduating the campus high school in 1946. Lundgren learned about the metal trade and also played football and ran track. He was in the school’s band as well, according to archives.
While residents at the home, the boys stayed on one side of the campus and the girls on the other, Lundgren recalled. Each a year apart in age, the siblings didn’t reconnect for some time after moving out but have since maintained regular contact despite living in different states.
Lundgren moved to California and joined the Navy after graduation. He served by decommissioning ships, then lived on Eniewetok island in the Pacific Ocean for the remainder of his Naval term. When he was discharged, Lundgren moved to Youngstown where his family was from and met Virginia.
The couple moved back to Xenia where Lundgren opened Leo’s Furnace, which he ran in the 1950s. A few years later the Lundgrens and their five children moved to Chillicothe. Years later, Lundgren made a career of leasing land for cell towers and lived all over the country. In 2000 he retired and the Lundgrens purchased a home in Nevada and one in Mansfield. But that travel became burdensome and they sought to live an easier life.
“When I found out Legacy Village Independent Living Apartment was being built, we both felt good about downsizing,” Leo said.
Lundgren also felt good on the drive from Mansfield to Xenia for move-in day as it brought back memories of being 9 years old and riding in a car with his siblings.
“I was the only one who stayed awake for that long drive from Youngstown,” he said.
Instead of long drives, Leo and Virginia now take long walks around the 250-acre campus where they have enjoyed meeting people and look forward to meeting more, he said.
That opportunity should arise as National Church Residences has invested nearly $18 million in the apartment building and in 15 new patio homes.
The expansion is aimed at better serving seniors “who desire to still live independently, without the associated burden and stress of maintaining a household, (like) maintenance, lawn care, etc.,” according to Director of Public Relations Todd Hutchins.
Legacy Village Retirement Center was built in 2009 with National Church Residences assuming ownership in 2011. The campus itself dates back to 1869 when the orphans home was established for children who lost their father in the Civil War. It became the Ohio Veterans’ Children’s Home in 1978 and stopped handing out high school diplomas in 1996.