A partnership between local community and university faculty was critical to the success of research endeavors. From these two university-community partnerships it is possible to derive important lessons regarding the utility of community-based collaborative efforts for the field of rural health and aging research and policy development. Community-based research laboratory arrangements can benefit from infrastructural arrangements which visibly give local community groups the sense that a tangible investment has been made by a “distant” university with a greater-than-short-term interest in the health and well-being of local citizens. T. L. Whitehead immersed himself completely in the day-to-day life of the county, especially among its non-white population. By attending as many neighborhood and community events as possible, he established a relationship among community residents based on familiarity, common interest, and mutual concern for a number of issues related to health.