Elevating the Post-Acute and
Long Term Care Profession

Pioneer Award 2007 - Don H. Wessell

Don H. Wessell Pioneer awards The OHCA Pioneer Award is designed to recognize Ohioans influential in the development and advancement of long-term care programs, education, professionalism or ideals. The Awards honor the commitment of these individuals to excellence in long-term care services.


Don Wessell has devoted his life to caring for the elderly, a love passed down from his mother and father. Welcome Nursing Home in Oberlin, Ohio began its second generation of family ownership when Don and his wife Theo purchased the 33-bed facility from Joy and Henry Wessell in 1967. In 1982 Wessell and his wife Theo purchased Tressies Nursing Home, and merged it with Welcome in 1991 to realize their goal to operate a 100-bed facility. With the opening of their largest addition, Welcome was a 100-bed facility with 5 additional rest home beds.

Don Wessell was one of Ohio’s first licensed nursing home administrators in 1970, and was instrumental in the development of the Core of Knowledge. He soon became a preceptor for others interested in licensure.

Throughout his career, Wessell has worked hard as a crusader for the industry, involving himself in the regulatory and legislative process as a member of the Ohio Health Care Association committees and Board, and serving as President of OHCA from 1975-76 during a period of some of the greatest change facing nursing facilities in Ohio. As President, Wessell was instrumental in the passage of legislation requiring sprinklers in Ohio facilities – as well as payment for the improvements.

Don’s vision at OHCA and the American Health Care Association has also helped foster improvements in continuing education and workforce development; he was instrumental in the initiation of the EFOHCA Scholarship program, which has awarded 460 scholarships totaling $600,000 since 1989.

Welcome Nursing Home is now operated by the next generation of Wessells, and Don and Theo are proud that their work and passion will be continued.

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With Support from OHCA Champion Partners