Usually one thinks of a slowing down of life when moving to a senior living facility such as Kirby Pines. Many of the residents here, however, continue a very active lifestyle because of the numerous and varied activities available. That is certainly the case of Paula and Chuck Hanson. Both have had outstanding careers and reared two sons who are successful professionals, one a pediatrician and the other, Head of a University Department. Chuck continues a consulting business and he and Paula stay busy contributing to activities in their church community as well as those at Kirby Pines. As their story unfolds, only a sketch of their abundant life is possible.
Both Chuck and Paula (VanEaton) were born in 1941, she in Newbern, Tennessee and he at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Memphis. Paula’s family moved to Memphis when she was in the seventh grade. She graduated from Messick High School, then, enrolled in Freed Hardeman College, earning a B.S. in Elementary Education from Memphis State University in 1962. Chuck graduated from Frayser High School and then enrolled at Freed Hardeman College. He and Paula met as freshmen and the romance bloomed. They were married in August of 1962 during Chuck’s senior year at the University of Mississippi where he graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. The Hansons will celebrate sixty years of marriage this year.
While Chuck was completing his senior year at Ole Miss, Paula started her career in Yocona, Mississippi as a fourth and fifth-grade teacher in the elementary school. According to Paula, “both grades were taught in one room of a run-down, unpainted, wooden building with a coal stove for heat and a see-through floor!”
When Chuck graduated, he and Paula returned to Memphis and have lived here ever since, moving four different times. Following the birth of their two sons, Paula was a stay-at-home Mom until both entered school. Then, she became a third-grade teacher at Harding Academy where she taught for eleven years. Paula says, “I retired when my first granddaughter was born. Our family now includes two great daughters-in-law and three granddaughters.”
Chuck’s entire work history has been with Velsicol Chemical Corporation, a company headquartered in Chicago, IL. He started as an engineer in the Research and Development Department, later holding management positions in Environmental Health and Safety, Product Safety and Risk Management. The work in his later career was spent in international travel. According to Chuck, “The time which brought me the greatest satisfaction was as a technical advisor to the United Nations Environmental Programme in Geneva and Rome. During that time I worked with governments, including China, India, Brazil, and Argentina in the development of processes for the management of risks associated with the use of chemical products.” Chuck retired in 2008 from Velsicol after forty-five years with the company. However, he created his own consulting business and remains very active.
Together Paula and Chuck have enjoyed traveling to many places around the world. They list as the most memorable, Sorrento, Venice, Florence Italy, the Great Wall of China in Beijing, and London. However, their traveling has not always been international as boating became their favorite hobby. According to Chuck, “We enjoyed cruising our offshore cruiser down the Tennessee Tom Bigby Waterway to Mobile, Alabama and on to Carrabelle, Florida via the inland waterway and then on to Sarasota, Florida by the open waterways of the Gulf of Mexico. We have taken this trip three times!” Their other hobbies have varied over the years but include metal working, foundry and metal lathe, and ceramics.
Paula and Chuck have been active members of the church of Christ for many years and both have been involved with a ministry to Southeast Asians in Memphis for the last forty-one years. Both are currently teaching a Sunday morning class to those members at Germantown Church of Christ.
The move to Kirby Pines came in 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. They knew about Kirby Pines because Paula’s mother lived here for the last thirteen years of her life. “We already had first-hand experience with Kirby Pines and knew personally the quality of care provided here.” Both continue, “We enjoy the Christian environment and the peace of mind afforded by the concept of Life Care.”
There are many activities in which to become involved at Kirby, so Chuck and Paula have had no difficulty in finding something to do in their spare time. Paula enjoys playing Mexican Train Dominoes, gardening, arranging flowers, and participating in the production of The Sound of Music. She also loves reading and is a member of The Book Baggers Book Club as well as volunteering for the Marketing Department. Chuck enjoys Mah Jongg and singing with the Entertainers Chorus. He is frequently a soloist with that group being blessed with a beautiful tenor voice. And last but not least, they serve as Wing Leaders for both K and L Wings! According to Chuck, “We both have a list of things we would like to do when we get the time.”
Chuck feels fortunate to be the third longest-living member in his family for five generations and hopes to set a record. Fortunately, Chuck and Paula chose to be a part of the Kirby family. Hopefully, they will both continue in good health and have many years to enjoy all the things on their “bucket” lists.
Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines