The Wings of Ave Maria was founded as the Ave Maria Guild, Inc. in early 1950 by a small group of Catholic women, who recognized the need for a home for the aged men and women in the Memphis community. In March, 1950, the Guild applied for and was granted a Charter under the laws of the State of Tennessee. Mrs. George Tidwell was named the first president.
During the three-year term of Mrs. Tidwell, a 9 ½ acre tract of land on the Charles Bryan Road was purchased. Toward the later part of her term, Austin K. Hall, architect, drew up plans for the home. Mrs. Foster A. Jones was elected president in June, 1953 and during her tenure the actual construction got underway. In December, 1955, Charter was granted by the State of Tennessee for the Ave Marie Home for the Aged, Inc. Mrs. Charles Walsh was elected the first president of the newly formed corporation.
On June 3, 1956, The Most Reverend William L. Adrian, Bishop of Nashville, officially dedicated the Home. Until July 1, 1963, the Home provided only residential care but on this date it became a licensed nursing home. At the time, there were 36 residents, which was capacity. In February 1965, the Home was renamed The Ave Marie Guild Home, Inc. This was done as a lasting tribute to the women who founded The Guild. Also in 1965, a permanent endowment fund was established under the Home Governing Board. Mr. J. Don Blakenship was president at this time.
2018-19 Board of Directors
President – Donna Grimm
Vice-President – Mary Webb
Secretary/Treasurer – Linda Aljundi
As interest in the Guild grew, the membership increased so that many circles were formed within the framework of the Guild. In the past, there were as many as six circles: Lourdes, Rosary, St. Anthony, St. Elizabeth Seaton, St. Joseph and St. Catherine. After consolidating, there were three circles: St. Anthony, St. Catherine and St. Francis of Assisi. Beginning in January 2005, all circles were dissolved and turned their treasury over to the Ave Maria Guild. All active members work together under the leadership of the guild president. In 2006, there was a name change to the Wings of Ave Maria, in order to present a more up-to-date and current understanding of the work of the group supporting the Home.
There are 25 members of the Home Board who meet monthly and guide in the operation of the Home. In July 1971, construction began on an addition, which would accommodate an additional 37 residents. The Reverend J. Leonard Oglesby is the Spiritual Director of the Guild. On December 3, 1972, the new wing was dedicated and there are now 73 residents. In 1982, for reasons of clarification, the name of the Home was changed to Ave Maria Home, Inc.
Currently, there is a capital campaign underway that is bringing the Home into the 21st century by completing 5 homes on the existing property of the Ave Marie Home. The homes will provide more dignified and personal care for those residents who are now in the nursing home side. Wings of Ave Maria is making a $50,000 contribution over the next five years to this campaign.
The purpose of the Wings of Ave Maria is the same as it was when the Charter was granted in 1950, to help maintain the Home and furnish care for men and women of all faiths.