Cecil at home with nursing home job

If anyone was born for their job, it’s Dave Cecil.
The son of two nursing administrators, he grew up in the homes they managed in California and Colorado,
taking over as a teen when they left on vacation.
Even then, Cecil had a good feeling that it was what he wanted to do, and much of it comes from his early
experience in that environment.
“We actually lived right on site, ate our meals in the dining room, interacted with the folks,” said
Cecil, who retired last week as administrator of Wood Haven Health Care, the county’s nursing home.
“I think I interact better with the elderly than I do with anyone else. It’s just kind of in my nature.”

His family lived in the superintendent’s quarters starting in eighth grade, which brought about other
opportunities, too. They didn’t have their own television, but Cecil recalls heading down to the lounge
on Saturday mornings and asking the people there if he could watch cartoons.
“It was always just kind of a normal thing to be around folks and their stories and their histories. It
was really great.”
From early on Cecil would help with operations, contributing to everything from meals to maintenance, and
eventually even the more detailed facets of the business.
“My folks took an extended trip when I was 17, and I was kind of in charge of the place,” he said.
“I had already been involved in some of the various business aspects. I took care of all their
responsibilities — making sure we had the staff we needed, did payroll, handled accounts payable. We had
a death in the facility that had no family, and we actually arranged and had the funeral right there in
the facility.”
“It was kind of normal. I just did those things like it was second nature.”
Cecil recalled one particular resident who, at nearly 100, had been born the day Abraham Lincoln died.

“He would come down to the dining room always wearing a suit and tie. He’d adjust his tie at the mirror
before he’d go into the dining room. A very stoic gentleman.”
Cecil already had an idea to make a career of nursing home administration, but his early focus was
quickly thrown off track.
“I got a letter from President Lyndon Johnson that kind of changed my plans.”
Cecil was drafted into the military from 1966 to 1968, after which he worked as a teacher, coach and
administrator at Heritage Christian School in Findlay. He eventually got back into nursing home
administration, completing his training in Nebraska and working at homes in Kansas before an opportunity
brought him back to Ohio, and eventually to Wood County.
“This has been a great place to be,” he said, emphasizing the county commissioners’ support of Wood
The county nursing facility became such a home that Cecil’s mother even became a resident after his
father died.
“She was here for four years, got excellent care, and was very content,” he said.
Always an car fanatic, Cecil said he plans to spend more time in retirement collecting automobile
memorabilia — after going somewhere warm for a few months, of course.
He said he has thousands of tiny cars, which he buys and sells at shows and flea markets. “I have no idea
how many, but it’s a lot.”
“I might try to do that a little bit more now that I have the time.”