FAITH, FAMILY & COUNTRY
The men and women who have served in our armed services are given special recognition during the month of November. Don Wiseman is one of the many veterans who live at Kirby Pines. During his tenure in the Army, his contributions were exemplary, rising from the rank of 2nd Lieutenant to Captain. Don is also a man with a strong religious faith who loves his family and his country.
Don’s life began in Memphis on August 5, 1939. Although he was an only child, Don says he was never lonely. “There were several children my age that lived on our street, and I spent more time with them than I did at home,” admits Don. He attended Rozelle and Bethel Grove Elementary schools and Fairview Junior High where he was elected president of ninth grade. Don graduated from Central High School in 1957. He doesn’t remember being very active during his high school days, devoting his time to study. However, he was a member of the football team, but according to Don, “I wasn’t good enough to play with the team and mostly kept the bench warm.”
Don chose to enter Mississippi State University beginning with a major in engineering but he soon changed to accounting, graduating in 1961 with a BS degree in Accounting. It was during his senior year that he met his future wife, Ann Cook, on a blind date. She was a senior at Mississippi State for Women (“The W”), and they were married in August 1961, following their graduation.
During the nine months following his graduation, and until induction into active duty with the Army in 1962, Don was employed with Humble Oil in Houston, Texas. Through the ROTC program at Mississippi State, Don was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He attended Artillery Officers Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and graduated first in his class. He was then assigned to the Army Basic Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, where he served as an Executive Officer of a basic training company and then as Assistant Adjunct of a training brigade. Don received a Commendation Medal for his services and ended his army career in 1964 as a Captain.
Following his discharge from the Army, Don, and Ann moved back to Memphis, residing in Whitehaven for several years before moving to Germantown, where they lived for thirty-five years. Always employed as an accountant, Don’s second job was with W. R. Grace Chemical Company for five years, followed by another five years with American Electric in Southaven, Mississippi. His last move was to Langston Companies, where he retired in 2005 after thirty-one years. Ann worked as an assistant to the Headmaster at Whitehaven Presbyterian School and later at St. Mary’s Episcopal School.
Don and Ann have two sons, Darryl and Michael, and five grandchildren. As an active member of Bellevue Baptist Church his entire life, Don served ten years as a Deacon. He enjoyed playing golf until his car was stolen and, of course, his golf clubs were in the trunk of the car. That ended golf! Don also enjoys watching all sports on television, especially the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Don and Ann have also had the good fortune to travel via several cruises and tours. Once on a trip to Amsterdam with friends, they were on a trolley with all of their baggage. When they got to their stop, all got off except Ann. It seems that she had gotten so involved in a conversation with a group of ladies that the door of the trolley closed, separating her from her group. She continued on in the trolley! In a panic, Don and his friends managed to get to the next stop where they found a shaken Ann waiting.
Two of their most notable trips were organized by two pastors at Bellevue Church, Adrian Rodgers, and Steven Gaines. The one led by Dr. Rodgers was a tour through Germany and Austria which included the Passion Play held every ten years in Oberammergau, Germany. The trip led by Dr. Gaines traced the missionary trips of the Apostle Paul, including a visit to the Isle of Patmos. For years, the family made an annual trip to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains to see the “changing of the leaves.”
Don and Ann moved to Kirby Pines in 2019 when it became apparent to Don that Ann’s illness of dementia required more care than he was able to provide. She now resides in The Manor where Don visits her three times a day. “It is so convenient to visit her with both of us under the same roof”, says Don.
Don says this about living at Kirby Pines: “I love the friendliness that resonates through the halls and the willingness of others to help anyone and everyone in their time of need. I enjoy playing bridge and participating in the 10 a.m. worship service each Sunday as well as the Men’s Saturday morning Christian fellowship group. I continue to meet with my Bible Study group at Bellevue at 8 a.m. each Sunday.”
Don’s favorite scripture is Isaiah 40:31 which reads: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” According to Don, this is the foundation for the strength, hope, and encouragement he needs to sustain himself.
Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines