Resident Spotlight: Betty Phillips, Ken Lewis, Lenora Smith & Jim Stafford


Thirty-eight years ago, the doors of Kirby Pines were opened to its first residents. Since then, thousands have made their home here. Four residents have agreed to share their experiences of living at Kirby Pines: 

BETTY PHILLIPS – Betty is the youngest of the group at age eighty-seven. Yet, she has lived here the longest – twenty-five years! Betty says that an offer for a free lunch resulted in her move to Kirby Pines on March 21, 1997, along with her husband John. 

After moving to Kirby Pines, Betty was a Wing Leader for five years. She soon became known for her baked “goodies”, especially peanut brittle. Caring for her husband John became a full time job until he passed away in 2016. She continues to frequently serve as a representative at the “Lighting of the Lake” ceremony. 

According to Betty, Kirby Pines was quite different when she and John moved in. Structurally, she remembers when the second floor of the main building was completed. She was the first person to descend the beautiful winding staircase that adorns the lobby. A picture of the event remains on the “King and Queen’s” table. According to Betty, “everything has continued to grow and improve to make this a better and more beautiful place to live”.
Today, Betty is thankful for her daughter, Sandy, and the employees of Caring In Place and Environmental Services for helping her remain in her apartment. “Kirby Pines is my home” states Betty, “and the people here are like my family”.

KEN LEWIS – According to Ken, “In 2007, as I was leaving my house, I noticed the grass had gotten tall, the weeds were having a holiday, and, the leaves had made my gutters their permanent home”. Ken realized he needed to get away from all these responsibilities. After researching a place to live, he decided that Kirby Pines was THE MOST. He moved in March 2008. 

Since moving to Kirby Pines, Ken has been “a cog in the wheel that keeps everything turning”. Perhaps, he is best known for the many times he has been “married” since moving to Kirby Pines. Being active in our Ham’ateur Club, Ken has been the groom in three mock weddings. When asked if he would like to marry again, his answer was “I don’t think so. They can’t find a woman who wants to marry a 99 year-old man!” 

Seriously, Ken has served us well in his thirteen years at Kirby Pines. He has been a member of the Advisory Committee, President of the Resident’s Association, and, was elected as King for one year. Line dancing, golfing and many activities are no longer possible. He currently attends the Men’s Christian Fellowship and keeps us all smiling with his wonderful sense of humor. 

LENORA VINER SMITH – Twenty-two years ago, at age seventy-two, Lenora made the decision to move to Kirby Pines to relieve her family of decisions later on. Always one who loved working in the soil, and moving from a home that had won many “Yard of the Month” awards, Lenora brought her gardening talents to help the beautiful sixty acres at Kirby Pines. On good weather days, one can find Lenora on her knees “playing” in her yard. “This is my therapy”, says Lenora. “I smile”, she recalls, “remembering the many times I have been on the ground pulling weeds and people driving by have rushed to help me, thinking I had fallen”. Recently, she was in the yard when the sprinklers came on. “They completely drenched me before I could get in the house. I now know the sprinkler schedule”! 

With only a small piece of land to care for, Lenora volunteered many hours and participated in many activities such as Line Dancing, Marketing events, the Blossom Shop and as a greeter for entertainment venues in the PAC. She was Queen for one year. She utilizes the Oasis and walks daily. 

Lenora’s proudest moments are when her great-grandsons and great-granddaughter come to Kirby Pines to perform on piano, cello and violin. The great-grandson has been performing here on piano since he was FOUR years old! He is now winning all kinds of awards. 

Lenora believes that living in a congregate environment leads to a more productive and longer life. “We are stimulated, supported, entertained and well-fed!” 

JIM STAFFORD – In his early life, Jim made four goals: go to college; own a business; have a family of his own, and, one day retire to a community with a larger family. Having accomplished all of these, Jim smiles and says, “Look where I am now!” 

Jim’s business, Memphis Wire and Iron Works, kept him working until a year ago. At age 93, Jim decided to finally retire. Work did not prevent Jim from participating in many activities for the twenty-two years he has lived at Kirby Pines. Line Dancing and ballroom dancing were his favorite things to do but he also volunteered for many activities. He has been a Wing Leader, President of the Resident’s Association and is currently serving as Chairman of the Advisory Committee, an assignment he has had for the past eight years. “I have really enjoyed everything I’ve done”. 

Jim and his wife, Arweda “Weda” moved to Kirby Pines in 1999. Sadly, “Weda” passed away in 2008. Two years later, Jim married Irma, a widow he had known for some time. Irma passed away in 2013. He says he is frequently asked why he doesn’t get married again. “I tell them no”, says Jim, “I don’t want to give up one of my closets!” I have many good friends here at Kirby and I hope the good Lord lets me stay around a little longer. It’s a great place to live.” 

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines