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Mindy and Brian Kleine have taken over ownership of The Villager, a retirement home that’s been in Castle Rock since 1974.

Roger Werth, The Daily News

Just because The Villager is under new ownership doesn’t mean much will change.

And for new owners Mindy and Brian Kleine, that’s a good thing. The two Castle Rock natives and high school sweethearts took over the Castle Rock retirement home, which was built in 1974, this September and have no plans for major changes.

“We don’t want to fix what’s not broken,” Mindy Kleine said.

They consider The Villager a respected Castle Rock landmark that’s provided continuity for the community and the home’s residents over the years.

Mindy Kleine, who is a registered nurse, said she has dreamed of owning The Villager since she was a little girl. She walked past its colonial facade every day in middle school and started volunteering there when she was in sixth grade. Three years ago, she became administrator under former owners Nori and Scott Murray, who retired.

“I’ve always loved taking care of people and the elderly specifically,” she said. “I find their life stories to be fascinating. They’re the grandmas and grandpas of the world. Who doesn’t love spending time with grandmas and grandpas?”

The home isn’t licensed to take care of developmentally disabled seniors but can take care of patients with mental health problems. It also specializes in dementia care and provides hospice care. Though the home is licensed for 35, the Kleines have 33 residents now.

Although the Kleines don’t want to change the facility much, they are proud of having upped the number of caretakers from 13 to 16 since taking over.

Brian Kleine, who does maintenance and bookkeeping at the home in addition to working as a county road crew member, takes just as much pride in the work as his passionate wife.

“It’s rewarding,” he said. “When I was little, not a lot of boys think they’re going to grow up and own a building like this.”

He and Mindy, both 36, cared for his grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, for 10 years. They cooked and cleaned for her, bathed her and took her to the doctor.

“That’s when we knew that this was 100 percent,” Mindy Kleine said. “I had that dream in sixth grade, but coming together as a husband and wife, we want to take care of people’s grandparents because we know as a family what a stress that is to have somebody who has Alzheimer’s and dementia and trying to keep them in their home. You don’t know how stressful that is until you’re living it.”

“It means a lot to us to us to let families sleep at night because we’re caring for their loved ones,” she said.

For the Kleines, owning The Villager also is a way to give back to the town.

“That’s the biggest thing for us: small-town feel and a lot of love,” Mindy Kleine said.

“We want to care for the town,” Brian Kleine said. “We want to care for the locals. We pride ourselves in the locals staying in Castle Rock. We don’t want Castle Rock people that have been there for 40 years, 50, 60 years, whatever, to go to Longview. ... We want the people we went to school with, (their) parents and their grandparents.”

It’s a point of immense pride for Mindy Kleine to take care of Malvern Rose, the man who built The Villager in 1974 with his late wife, Norma Rose.

“It’s an honor to care for him. That’s the kind of thing you want. And to see the look in his eyes, when he looks around, it’s familiar for him. And that means a lot to me. You can see the wheel just a turnin’. You can him reminiscing about when he and Norma Rose built the place,” she said.

Inside the home, photos of residents hang on the hallway walls upstairs and downstairs. Across from one collection of photos hangs a map of the United States showing where the residents come from.

On one bulletin board full of photos hang two obituaries published in The Daily News — former residents.

It’s difficult to lose any resident, Mindy Kleine said.

“You deal with people’s lives. You fall in love with them.”

Contact Daily News reporter Lauren Kronebusch at 360-577-2532.

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