Resident Spotlight: Phyllis Mitchell


In November of 2020, Phyllis Mitchell realized it was time to “let it go” and moved to Kirby Pines to begin a new phase of her life. From humble beginnings, she lived in a beautiful home for 25 years which she personally designed and decorated – a home filled with life’s treasures and memories. Located on beautiful acreage, the home had served on many occasions to host weddings, rehearsal dinners, and celebrations for family members. It was difficult to think of leaving! However, Phyllis and her husband, Jim Mitchell, had discussed and planned an eventual move to Kirby Pines. Unexpectedly, Jim passed away in August 2020, and Phyllis made the necessary decision. 

According to Phyllis, her move to Kirby Pines has been a blessing. “I was welcomed by everyone and quickly became friends with a group who laugh, love, and have fun. I’ve even found someone who loves to shop and someone who has renewed my interest in crafts. I meet with the Advisory Board every Wednesday as we discuss ways to improve Kirby Pines. But best of all, I meet with a group every Monday to discuss scripture and our ongoing relationship with God. I couldn’t be busier or happier.” 

Phyllis’s life began in a small town in Virginia located in the Appalachian Mountains. One can only imagine the beautiful scenery of such a location. Phyllis describes her home as being on a dirt road with a creek nearby and beautiful mountains surrounding them. There were many relatives living in the community, many of whom worked in her father’s construction business. Phyllis had several brothers and sisters; her grandparents and many cousins, aunts, and uncles came by their house often to play, visit, or help with projects. Her father played stringed instruments and taught the children how to sing the various parts. There were always many activities enjoyed by the entire family. This closeness, according to Phyllis, “Gave me a sense of security and belonging in my life. I was truly blessed to be surrounded by this simple lifestyle and by this supportive extended family. My parents set a Christian example both in and out of church. They loved us enough to make many sacrifices to provide us with everything we needed.” 

Phyllis’s parents encouraged and supported her religious activities as well as her pursuit of a good education. During high school, Phyllis was voted “most studious and most dependable” by her classmates. She was Valedictorian of her class which enabled her to get scholarship aide to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. She graduated with a double major in Psychology and Elementary Education. 

While attending school in Charlottesville, Phyllis met “the love of her life,” Jim Mitchell, and they married following her graduation from the university. Joining their family was a daughter, Mary Beth, and a son, Chris. There are two grandchildren to love. According to Phyllis, “Jim and I had 55 years together, and our lives were built around our love for Christ and our families.” Due to Jim’s employment, the family moved from Richmond, Virginia, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and finally, to Memphis, Tennessee. Jim had worked in banking, pharmaceutical management, nursing home management, and finally to the Farms at Bailey Station. 

Phyllis taught elementary education until her children were born; then, she became a stay-at-home mom. As the children became older, and “to test her brain cells,” Phyllis looked for opportunities such as substitute teaching which kept her current and allowed her to be at home when the children were there. For seven years, she was the Christian Education Coordinator at Central Church, a contributing writer and seminar leader for Gospel Light Publications, and a volunteer Bible study leader and adult Sunday school teacher. 

Jim Mitchell’s success while working for Rorer Pharmaceuticals awarded Phyllis and Jim the opportunity for several trips to Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, Canada, Bermuda, and several cities in the United States. On their own, they traveled to Israel, Greece, and Ireland. “As a girl growing up, I never dreamed of being so blessed,” admits Phyllis. 

Mitchell's wedding day
The Mitchell’s Wedding Day

In a philosophical mood, Phyllis describes life as one ages: “I have decided that ‘LET IT GO’ should be the mantra or theme song for seniors. ‘Letting go’ prepares us for something much better. God gradually simplifies our lives, and as our health, strength and energy decreases, He introduces new options and situations to keep us productive. We learn to prioritize relationships over material things. I have found that ‘better’ here at Kirby Pines.” Phyllis says that being at Kirby Pines is almost like getting back to her roots, surrounded by a family and friends who can empathize with her “aches and pains.” On a more serious note, Phyllis expressed her appreciation for her safety and security here at Kirby Pines. “The security here is unmatched by most private homes,” states Phyllis. 

Finally, Phyllis says, “My children don’t have to worry about me. I have a new home, a new place to serve God and others, and good people all around me. I feel so blessed to have the freedom to worship and to be with believers from so many denominations and religions. My greatest desire now is to do my part in serving and making my new home a place of hospitality and love for years to come. I have ‘LET IT GO.’ ” 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines.