Vivian Purvis is quite well-known around Lutheran Life Villages. She’s put in tens of thousands of volunteers hours, and at 100 years young, she has no plans to retire. WANE 15 and Fort Wayne Toyota Dealers are proud to recognize her as a Remarkable Women finalist.
“She makes people feel special. She notices them and remembers what they have going on in their lives,” Beth McCord, Director of Philanthropy at Lutheran Life Villages, said. “Vivian knows everyone, loves everyone and looks out for everyone’s well being and encourages everyone to be involved. She doesn’t just stop at being involved herself.”
Involved in an understatement. Since moving into the independent living apartments of Lutheran Life Villages with her husband Harry when they first opened 30 years ago, Vivian’s put in 30,000 documented volunteer hours for the center and probably many, many more that were never recorded.
“The volunteering here when you came in here, you hit the ground running because you were involved immediately,” Vivian said.
She addresses birthday cards for the 500 employees, helps in the office, works with kids in the Children’s Village, plays the organ and piano at chapel, organizes other volunteers to bring residents in wheelchairs to the service, and schedules the guest minister for the Friday service from one of the Lutheran Life Villages members churches. She’s also served several terms as president of the auxiliary.
“We have this beautiful chapel, so I’m glad that we’re able to use it and people get to go to church where otherwise they would not,” she said.
“She truly embodies the spirit of the people who live and work at Lutheran Life Villages,” McCord added.
But, Vivian’s life of service started long before Lutheran Life Villages.
Born in November 1919 (Yes, she just celebrated her centennial birthday last year!), Vivian grew up on a farm in northwest Indiana. She learned how to give back from her parents and mother-in-law.
“Mother and dad helped everyone. It started as a child in an old country church. My mother was one of the biggest workers and I became a Purvis and my mother-in-law was a big part of the work of the church,” Vivian said.
Vivian married Harry Purvis and moved to Fort Wayne in 1940. After the war, he worked as a druggist – now called a pharmacist – in New Haven. Vivian worked in the superintendent’s office for East Allen County Schools.
When she retired in 1992, after 34 years of service, the Indiana legislature passed a resolution recognizing her. It’s now one of several awards for volunteering displayed on her walls. In 2018, Lutheran Life Villages even created the “Vivian Purvis Impact Award” to give annually to someone who upholds the mission of Lutheran Life Villages. Vivian was the first recipient.
“That was quite an honor. Have the right attitude. Think of other people more than yourself. I think my volunteering over the years has much to do with that,” she said.
Vivian isn’t all work and no play – she takes several bus trips with Land Cruise around the region and U.S. every year.
“These bus trips are wonderful. It’s the same group of people. We’re almost like family,” she said.
“She’s 100 and she has four trips planned this year! That’s what keeps her young and vibrant,” McCord said.
Now a great-grandmother to five-month-old twins, one of whom is named Vivian, she shares her wisdom for the next generation.
“Try to enjoy life and do the things that please them, like I have done. It’s important to love life,” Vivian said.
Loving life and spreading her light, one note and laugh at a time, Vivian Purvis truly is a remarkable woman.
Watch Vivian’s interview on First News in the video below.