Resident Spotlight: Chuck & Paula Hanson

LIVING ABUNDANTLY

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.” 

Chuck & Paula 1962

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


Resident Spotlight: Willard Bruce Powell

LIVING A CHARMED LIFE

On October 28, 1929, the worst economic event in American history occurred when the stock market crashed, resulting in THE GREAT DEPRESSION. It was three weeks later, November 20, 1929, that Willard Bruce Powell entered the world. Despite early hardships, Bruce says that he has had a “charmed” life. 

Due to the economy, Bruce’s parents lived with his mother’s parents in an apartment in Brooklyn, New York. His father worked as a projectionist at a movie theater and Bruce was allowed to see all movies for free. Although he had parents, Bruce says he was primarily reared by his grandparents. He recalls two major events which occurred during his preschool years: When he was five years old, Bruce’s grandfather took him to a lecture at Yeshiva University. Afterward, he was escorted to the speaker and prompted to shake his hand. He later learned that the speaker was Albert Einstein! Another memorable event was going with his parents to California where his father’s mother lived. They remained there a year while his father helped to build his grandmother’s new home. 

Returning to New York, Bruce attended elementary school PS 132. His parents divorced when he was about ten years old and he remained with his father. His father remarried and the family moved to Miami, Florida where Bruce attended high school, then graduated Cum Laude in 1952 from The University of Miami with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Bruce had worked at various jobs to help support himself and was fortunate to receive a full scholarship for college. 

Following graduation, Bruce learned of a two-year program offered by Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The program was designed for young engineers. Bruce was interested in power plant machinery and distribution systems so this program was an ideal “fit” for him. According to Bruce, “Allis-Chalmers treated us very well, giving us membership in their engineering society and allowing us to eat lunch every day in the Engineering Club.” They had also provided living accommodations for Bruce in a private boarding house. The lady who owned the house had a friend with an unmarried daughter. A dinner date was arranged where Bruce met Eloda Selbo. They dated for approximately a year, marrying in June 1954. 

The Korean War had been declared but the students at Allis-Chalmers were deferred from the draft for two years because they were involved in work deemed supportive of war efforts. Following his two years of deferment, Bruce enlisted in the Navy and he and Eloda moved to his first base located in California. Bruce recalls that adventure, “This girl who had never been out of Wisconsin went with her husband, whom she had only known for a year, to California. We drove on Route 66, with all of our belongings. I could barely see out the windows!” 

In the Navy, Bruce attended Officers Candidate School and was commissioned as an Ensign in the Civil Engineering Corps (Seabees). Bruce left the Navy after three years as a Lieutenant, Senior Grade. He and Eloda moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. “I immediately found civilian work with the Navy as a mechanical engineer doing essentially the same thing I had done while in the Navy,” states Bruce. 

After a few years with the Navy, Bruce learned that the United States Postal Service (USPS) was beginning to mechanize and needed engineers. He transferred to USPS and worked there for several years in management positions, primarily overseeing the construction of new buildings. On learning of another opportunity to work as the Supervisor of Shipbuilding and Quality Control Engineer, Bruce transferred back to the Navy. According to Bruce, “We built or converted a variety of sea vessels, including the famous Swift Boats that saw quite a lot of action in the Vietnam War.” Yet again, a better job opportunity became available with the USPS. Bruce and his family moved to Dallas, Texas where he filled the position of Space Requirements Officer. Finally, transferring to Memphis in 1971, he retired from the USPS in 1992 as General Manager in the Executive Service. 

Bruce and Eloda are the parents of two children, a daughter, and a son. Bruce says that Eloda “was the perfect wife for me. I enjoyed being a father and I am proud of my children and their accomplishments, especially with their own children.” There are now six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

Bruce and Eloda 1954

Bruce and Eloda moved to Kirby Pines in 2018, having made the decision to move here ten years earlier. Bruce said that Eloda adjusted immediately. However, he admits it took him a while to adjust to the changes. Also, since moving to Kirby Pines, Bruce lost two of his loved ones. First, his daughter died of breast cancer in 2020 and his beloved Eloda passed away in 2021. They had been married for sixty-eight years. Now, at age 92, Bruce lives a somewhat solitary life but enjoys the evening meals with a group of friends. As a long-time member of the Church of Christ, Bruce attends the 8 am Sunday church services and the Saturday morning Men’s Prayer Group at Kirby Pines. He is also learning to play bridge. 

Bruce says, “I have had a wonderful life and been blessed with a wonderful family. I have loved all of my work and it doesn’t seem like I have ‘worked’ a day in my life. I have lived a charmed life.” 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


Resident Spotlight: Barbara Hanrahan

AN IRISH BLESSING

We were truly blessed when Barbara Hanrahan made the decision to make Kirby Pines her forever home in June of 2019. Barbara represents a strong Irish heritage and a devout Catholic faith. Born into an Irish family, she married an Irishman and gave her two children Irish names. Since moving to Kirby Pines, Barbara has become involved in many aspects of the life here and is a “go-to” person when something is needed. She involves herself with people and is quick to volunteer with such things as assisting someone with their meals in the dining room or delivering a meal to a shut-in. Her personal life has had several sad occasions, yet, she maintains a positive attitude and a happy disposition. 

Barbara Jane Cummings was born on October 28, 1938 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was the oldest of nine children, five brothers and three sisters to follow. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom and her father worked three jobs to support the family. Her grandfather started a honey-roasted peanut business in Milwaukee which remains in business today. When asked what her family life was like with so many siblings, she responded, “It was pandemonium most of the time and we ate a lot of soup and stews!” Christmas time was very special. Barbara recalls, “On Christmas Eve Day, Dad would buy a marked down tree; then we would decorate it. After dinner, Dad got us in the car and drove around the city to enjoy all the lights and decorations. Mom stayed home to let Santa in the door as we had no chimney. Poor Mom had to get all the presents ready for us!” 

Barbara attended Catholic school in Milwaukee, grades one through twelve, graduating in 1956. College was not an option, so she looked for employment to support herself. She worked in the bookkeeping department of a dental company until her marriage to Bill Hanrahan on Nov. 8, 1958. She had met Bill in 1957 when she joined a church group organized for young, unmarried Catholics. Their first date included a visit to the hospital to greet Barbara’s new baby sister and later to a bowling alley for a game with Bill’s family. Bill and Barbara would later adopt two children, Kevin and Kathleen. Sadly and unexpectedly, Kevin died in 1984 while serving in the Navy. Kathleen, the daughter, remains close by. There are presently three grandsons and eight great-grandchildren in the family. 

Bill was employed by the Schlitz Brewery Company in the Quality Control Division and subsequently was transferred often to manage a problem. The couple’s first move was to Kansas City, Missouri where Barbara worked in a neighborhood drug store until they adopted son Kevin in 1963. Barbara then became a stay-at-home mom and continued when she and Bill adopted daughter Kathleen following their transfer to Tampa, Florida. After four years in Tampa, Bill was promoted and the family relocated to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They remained there for seven years and during that time, Barbara was Assistant to the Director of the Montessori School for five of those years. Bill was transferred to Syracuse, New York where according to Barbara, “We endured four harsh winters.” When the plant where Bill worked was sold, he transferred and moved the family to Longview, Texas. 

Barbara at Age 6

Then in 1982, the Hanrahan family made a final move to Memphis, Tennessee. Barbara was first employed by Goldsmith’s Department Store in the Children and Baby section. Following Goldsmith’s, she worked several years for Garibaldi Jewelry Store and then for Middleton Jewelry where she remained for twenty years until the store closed in 2021. Additionally, Barbara volunteered for the St. Jude-Fed Ex Golf Tournament for twenty-six years. She also volunteers at church and continues her membership at St. Bridgid Catholic Church. Barbara and Bill enjoyed many trips abroad, visiting Hawaii, Germany, Switzerland, The British Isles and the Netherlands. 

In 2012, Bill passed away after experiencing several health problems. Barbara remained in their home for seven years before deciding to make a change. “I wanted to be in a place where I did not have to worry about my future or being cared for. I chose Kirby Pines primarily because of LifeCare.” 

Barbara says, “I love living at Kirby Pines because there is so much to do. I already knew several residents because of my golf and jewelry involvement. I love making new friends!” Barbara keeps busy by going to water aerobics five days a week, plays cards three afternoons a week, staffs the Blossom Shop on Saturday mornings and sings with the Entertainers Chorus. She attends mass daily, brings communion to a shut-in and is always volunteering to serve others. 

Barbara wishes you a “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” and to share with you her favorite Irish Blessing: May God grant you always a sunbeam to warm you, A moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you, Faithful friends near you. And, whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you. 

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


Resident Spotlight: Jim Gordon

A REAL GEM OF A GUY

Yes, Jim Gordon is a gem in so many ways. He is a good neighbor who bakes cookies, a man who loves his family, and a good friend to many. The fact that he is also a jeweler makes the term seem appropriate, especially for the month of February. Jim had several other jobs earlier in his life; however, he now spends two to three days a week as a consultant and seller of jewelry, concentrating on diamonds. He and his partner’s “store” is not advertised but business thrives on word of mouth recommendations. 

James Aubrey Gordon is a native Memphian, born July 28, 1937. According to Jim, “We lived nearby and I was raised in the Union Avenue Baptist Church. I have one sister, four years older than I. We played outside with other neighborhood kids until we heard my father’s whistle. Then, we knew dinner was ready and it was time to come in for the night.” Jim’s father owned a jewelry store which influenced him in later life. 

When Jim was four years old, the family moved to the Springdale area of Memphis which remained as his family home until age twenty-five. He attended Springdale Elementary, Snowden Junior, and Central High School, graduating in 1955. As a youngster, Jim became involved with the Boy Scouts and developed an interest in hunting and fishing. When asked about dating, Jim says he really didn’t date much as he was very shy. However, he wanted to play softball on a championship team, so Jim became a member of Springdale Methodist Church which sponsored such a team. It was at that church that Jim met the “love of his life,” Marilyn Campbell. Jim was a senior in high school and Marilyn was only a freshman but he knew that she was The One. “I never dated anyone else after I met her,” says Jim. 

Smokejumper Jim

Following graduation from high school, Jim enrolled in Vanderbilt University. “It took me five and one-half years to get a degree in Economics as I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life at that time.” During two of the summers Jim was in college, he had some of the most exciting experiences of his life by becoming a Smokejumper for the US Forest Service. Based in Montana, after a thirty day orientation, Jim often parachuted from a plane with other Smokejumpers into a wilderness that had no access by any means other than by foot. After the fires were out, the Smokejumpers had to walk back. They carried with them a two day supply of rations and a sleeping bag for survival. With compasses and maps, the returning Smokejumpers could find their way to a highway where they would “thumb” their way back to base. “You had better return with your parachute!” exclaims Jim. The pay for this service was $3.50 per hour but they were paid for the walk back as well. “I made enough money to pay my tuition at Vanderbilt.”

Following graduation from Vanderbilt in 1961, Jim joined the Air Force Reserve and was activated in 1962 due to the Cuban Crisis. Fortunately, he was stationed at the Memphis Airport, assigned to Personnel Equipment. Jim had earlier asked Marilyn the “big question” and always the romantic, had placed her ring in a box of chocolates. She accepted and a wedding was planned for November. Although on active duty, Jim was granted a three day leave to get married. He and Marilyn would become parents to two “wonderful” daughters, Leigh and Nancy and now, four grandchildren have been added to the family.

Jim with his daughters

Jim’s first job was with a finance company that repossessed cars. After five years, he left for a sales position with IBM, retiring after twenty-five years. In 1991, Jim was hired to be Operations Director for the FedEx-St. Jude Golf Tournament. The tournament had been moved to a new golf course and it was Jim’s job to get the course ready. It took five years to complete the task, and he retired in 2004. Following this, Jim began his jewelry business. 

Jim loved to travel but Marilyn did not like to fly. Because of their Scottish heritage, they did make a trip to England and Scotland. While there, they talked with many natives, including a Catholic priest. When the priest heard that Marilyn was a Campbell, he exclaimed, “Faith and Begorrah, your families have been fighting for over 100 years!” Marilyn had graduated from Memphis State University with a degree in Education and a Masters in Library Science, becoming Librarian for Vollentine, then, St. Mary’s Episcopal School. The Gordons eventually placed their church membership with Christ United Methodist Church. Sadly, Marilyn succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. “We had fifty wonderful years together,” says Jim. He had provided care of her for most of the last five years of her life. 

After Marilyn’s death, Jim lived alone for seven years before moving to Kirby Pines in 2019. “I finally realized that fellowship is important. I investigated all options and chose Kirby Pines because of Lifecare and the beautiful campus. Golf is my passion and I play twice a week, weather permitting. Now, I have sharpened my billiard skills by playing with four ‘pool sharks’ here at Kirby. This activity makes for great discussions and gamesmanship,” says Jim. Don’t you wonder what those discussions are about?

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


Resident Spotlight: John Travis Thornton

A LIFE OF SERVICE & TEACHING

John Travis Thornton

During the month of November, one day is designated to honor the men and women who served in our Armed Forces. We are blessed and grateful every day for the freedom we enjoy because of their valiant service. One of the many Veterans living at Kirby Pines is John Travis Thornton. In addition to serving his country during war time, Travis devoted his professional life to teaching and leading in various educational positions.

A true Mississippian, Travis was born, educated and employed in Mississippi his entire life. The only exceptions are his service time and since his move to Kirby Pines in 2020. 

Born in Kosciusko, MS in 1933, Travis was the third child in the family with two older brothers. “We had good times and tough times together,” admits Travis. “I was constantly told, ’you’re not old enough-maybe next year’”. Travis says his early school years were uneventful. Because his father was retired from the Marine Corps, he learned geography from large maps his father posted on their walls outlining battle zones during the Second World War. During his junior and senior high school years, Travis played trombone in the band and had the male lead part in the school play “Smarty Pants”.

Following high school, Travis enrolled in pre-pharmacy courses in college. However, he changed his mind when he realized he was required to pass chemistry! He considered dropping out of college, but, the other option was to become part of the family dairy business. He decided to return to college and graduated in 1954 from Delta State University with a B.S. in Education (major: Math). 

Travis’ plan was to teach mathematics in high school. He knew it would be difficult to find a job because of the Korean War, as he was eligible to be drafted at any time. Rather than wait, Travis volunteered to have his name moved to the top of the draft list. He completed college on Friday and reported for induction into the Army on the following Monday. He was offered an opportunity to attend Officers Training School but elected to remain in basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. His advanced training was in Ordinance Supply Parts Identification. Expecting to be sent to Korea, Travis was fortunately assigned to Innsbruck, Austria. This assignment allowed him to see this beautiful country with the snow-capped mountains, a “far cry” from the landscape of Northern Mississippi! He was later transferred to the Technical Staff Office near Pisa, Italy and actually climbed the famous tower there. “It was leaning before I got there”, laughs Travis. Off duty time allowed him to visit many places in Europe while stationed there. Travis was often questioned about why his hometown’s name was of Polish origin. He says he always replied “With other Mississippi names like Hot Coffee, Possum Neck, and Why-Not, it was not that unusual!”

Following his discharge from the Army in 1956, Travis returned to his beloved Mississippi to start his teaching career. From several offers, he chose Leland, Mississippi. According to Travis, “Leland is the greatest small town I have ever known. The students, parents and school were a great experience.” During summers, Travis attended Mississippi College and graduated with a Masters in Administration (Guidance and Counseling) in 1960. Following graduation, he became a Counselor in a Junior High School in Greenville. It was here that a wise Principal helped Travis to create a firm education philosophy. That being, “We are not just educating future doctors, lawyers and engineers, but rather preparing the students to be good citizens.” His progression in jobs continued from Counseling to becoming Principal at various schools, eventually being offered the position of Dean of Student Affairs at Mississippi Delta Community College, a position he held for nineteen years. Of his time there, Travis says that a more appropriate job description for conducting student affairs for the 17 to 21 age group was “wildlife management”!

A position of Dean became available at a branch campus of Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez. Taking on this job had many challenges. There was low enrollment and classes were held in a vacant elementary school. During his six years there, Travis increased the enrollment by 400% and successfully managed to get a new academic building.

While Travis was teaching in Greenville, he fell in love with another teacher, Jenny Smith. They married in 1963 and nine years later, had their only child, Robert. Following his retirement from teaching at the Natchez campus, the family moved to Houston, Mississippi, Jenny’s hometown. Not to be idle, Travis had a wonderful experience helping with tours to parts of Mississippi, including beautiful Natchez. Travis and Jenny lived in Houston twenty-four years until her death in 2020. 

Following Jenny’s death, son Robert encouraged Travis to move to Memphis to be closer to him. After investigating several places, they chose Kirby Pines. “I moved here in July of 2020 to be free of most duties and responsibilities of keeping up a home,” says Travis. He has continued to be active, enjoying bridge, poker, exercise classes, the Poetry Club and walking his neighbor’s dog. He regularly attends the Sunday morning church services. “The most wonderful thing here at Kirby Pines”, says Travis, “is our library. Because of COVID restrictions when I moved in, it was vital to me in making the transition and to feel like Kirby Pines is now my home.” 

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


Resident Spotlight: Curt & Peggy Wilson

TALENTED AND CREATIVE

Peggy and Curt Wilson’s home is filled with objects of their creative talents. Some of the beautiful furniture was made by Curt; the wall hangings and table runner are a sample of Peggy’s quilting art. How did these two meet and decide to build a life together?

Peggy Jo Dick was born in Kettering, Ohio, on June 18, 1950. Peggy, who has an older brother, says they were blessed to be raised in a stable home by loving parents, and that, “Growing up in a small town had many advantages. I have many wonderful childhood memories of exploring woods with friends, and sledding in the winter months”.

Graduating from high school in 1968, Peggy married and moved to Beckley, West Virginia. Eventually, she enrolled in Concord College in Athens, West Virginia and made the fifty-mile commute to graduate in 1981 with a B.S. in Business, Accounting major. She completed requirements for a CPA Certificate in 1985 while working for a CPA firm. She soon moved to Atlanta where most of her career was spent in financial reporting for HMO management companies.

After a divorce in 2000, Peggy moved to Memphis to be near her brother and his family. She continued her work with HMO’s (Omnicare). Active in the church choir, Peggy was encouraged to join the Rhodes Master Singers, a community chorus sponsored by Rhodes College. “This was a great musical and social experience”, says Peggy. “We toured Italy in 2007 and my favorite concert was in a cathedral. We surrounded the pews and sang to the people who were sitting there and praying. I’ll never forget that experience!

In December of 2007, Peggy met Curt Wilson on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend. They fell in love and married on September 27th, 2008, recently celebrating their thirteenth anniversary.

John Curtis Wilson (Curt) was born August 3, 1946 in Greenville, Mississippi. For the first three years of his life, his family, including an older sister, lived in Richmond, Virginia while his father attended seminary school. “You might say I have been a life-long Presbyterian”, says Curt. Primarily, Curt and his family lived in Mississippi and Louisiana where his father had pastorates. This allowed Curt to be close to his extended family, especially his grandmother who owned a farm near Leland, MS. There, one summer, Curt and his cousin bought and trained horses, and, an uncle offered them a calf to start a cattle business. They arrived to pick up the calf in Curt’s Volkswagen. According to Curt, “The calf was a little nervous. I think it was her first ride in a Volkswagen!” Needless to say, the car needed heavy-duty cleaning before being driven again. Curt graduated high school in 1964 while living in Bossier City, Louisiana. 

Following high school, Curt attended Southwestern (Rhodes)College one year, then transferred to Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, graduating with a B.A. in Psychology in 1968. Curt then served in the U.S. Army until 1971. Entering as a private, he attended Officer Candidate School, ending his career as a First Lieutenant. During his service, Curt served as an Infantry Platoon Leader and as Battalion S-2 with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. Following hismilitary service, Curt enrolled in Memphis State University andreceived a M.Ed (Counseling major) in 1975.

In 1970, Curt married Patti Fulmer. They moved to Memphis in 1972 and enjoyed thirty-six years together until her death in 2006. Curt spent twenty-six years employed with Shelby County Government, serving as Administrator of Pretrial Services, Deputy Director of the Division of Correction, and, the Administrator of the Probate Court Clerk’s Office. Curt also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for more than twenty years where he supervised other volunteers. 

After Curt and Peggy married, it was necessary to combine their living situation, so they decided to renovate Curt’s house as it already had a woodworking shop and was much larger. Curt took on the job of remodeling. According to Peggy, “Curt and his crew did a beautiful job! I think the combining of our households prepared us for moving to Kirby Pines!”

After retirement in 2008, Peggy’s niece convinced her to try quilting. Neither had any experience and soon realized they needed to take a quilting course. “It was the best thing we ever did, especially since my niece said she did not even know how to read a ruler!” Peggy admits, “Quilting has turned into my passion and I spend many enjoyable hours making quilts.”

The Wilsons in 2008

Curt and Peggy chose to move to Kirby Pines because they have no children and knew they needed a plan for their future healthcare. “We realize that we moved in earlier than most residents, but I don’t understand why people wait so late to move here. Living at Kirby Pines is such an easy lifestyle. The residents here are so warm and welcoming and the staff does everything they can to make our lives easier. There are so many activities from which to choose.” Peggy has learned to play Mahjong, and bridge and is currently Secretary of the Advisory Committee. Curt’s hobbies include woodworking, gardening and tinkering with cars. He loves to tell everyone that Peggy’s sewing machine cost more than his (1977) Corvette!

Curt and Peggy are active members of Shady Grove Presbyterian Church. They walk regularly and you might see this delightful couple enjoying the beautiful grounds of Kirby Pines. 

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


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

KIRBY PINES FABULOUS FOUR 

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


Resident Spotlight: Richard & Arrena Cheek

A Recipe for Happiness

They were the same age and had known each other since elementary school. How could Richard make Arrena really notice him? The story unfolds:

Arrena Andrews was born in Columbia, Tennessee, the middle of three girls known as “The Andrews Sisters”. They actually sang on a local radio program! Her father was a physician and her mother was “into everything”. She was in the fourth grade when Richard moved with his family from a 96 acre farm in Pottsville, Tennessee, to Columbia mid-way his fifth grade. In Richard’s previous school, the decision was made for him to omit first grade because his mother, a teacher, had taught him at home. This decision was not ideal for Richard socially or physically as he remained the smallest boy in his class. In high school, the popular Arrena caught the eye of Richard and he asked her for a date. “After our one date, she ignored me”, says Richard. He adds, “As a senior in high school, I was five feet, two inches tall and weighed only 98 pounds”. Then, Richard went away to college and during his freshman year, grew twelve inches in height and gained to 135 pounds. When he returned to Columbia and Arrena spotted him at church, she asked, “is that the Cheek boy”? The rest is history.

Arrena had a very happy childhood and was known as a “tomboy” who loved to play “Roy Rogers and Dale Evans”. She and her family were active in the Presbyterian Church. She was a cheerleader in elementary school but chose to play saxophone in the band in high school. Following high school, Arrena entered Vanderbilt University and earned a B.A in Business. She was active in Chi Omega Sorority and continues in the Memphis Alumnae Chapter.

Richard obtained a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville as part of the Co-Op program with Monsanto Chemical Company in Columbia. During their college years, Richard often visited Arrena at Vanderbilt and romance was born. However, Richard decided to give up engineering, applied to University of Tennessee Medical School, and enrolled in September, 1961. Arrena was not pleased that Richard chose medicine over engineering. “I had always said that I would never marry a doctor. My family life had always centered around hospital visits and sick people.” Nevertheless, after five years of dating, their love for each other was secure. They were married in June, 1962, and made Memphis their home. While Richard was in medical school, Arrena taught school. They have two children, a son John, deceased, and a daughter Lucy who lives in Arizona. They have three grandchildren. 

young couple
Sigma Chi Ball 1958

Graduating from medical school in 1964, Richard was first in his class and was inducted into AOA Honorary Society. He chose John Gaston Hospital for his internship and declared a residency in general surgery. He achieved the rank of Chief Resident and completed his residency in 1970. He also served in the 330th General Hospital Unit of the Army Reserves, achieving rank of Captain. 

When Richard finished his residency, he joined the staff of the UT Department of Surgery and taught there until 1980. During this time he was part of the team that performed the first kidney transplant in Memphis. He also published several articles in medical journals, authored chapters in two surgical textbooks and authored a monograph of carcinoid tumors. In 1980, he left teaching to enter private practice. At Baptist Hospital, he performed the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy. He closed his private practice in 1997 but took a part-time teaching position at the Memphis VA Hospital until his complete retirement in 2005. 

For Richard, his skill at surgery was possibly due to his ability to work with his hands. He is an accomplished wood master, having made many things, such as violins. His other hobbies include fishing, reading, and playing pool. He loves to sing in choral groups and has been a member of the Entertainers Chorus, and, a frequent soloist since moving to Kirby. 

Arrena loves cooking, gardening, photography and reading. She has devoted much of her time to community activities such as Woman’s Exchange. She served as a core leader of the non-denominational Bible study group, Community Bible Study. “This was my priority” says Arrena. “I dearly loved studying with such knowledgeable ladies”. Both Arrena and Richard have been members of Christ Methodist Church since 1985. “We both love the church”, says Arrena. “We try to never miss a Sunday and we are committed to the Lamplighters Sunday School Class and the 11:00 service”, adds Richard. 

The Cheeks moved to Kirby Pines in 2017. They were familiar with several people who lived here and were anxious to downsize. “The people here are very special. They care for one another and step up when someone is in need. It is a great place to spend the last chapter of our lives and God has blessed us with this beautiful place”, agree both Arrena and Richard. 

Having a couple like the Cheeks, who are so talented, compassionate and friendly is what makes Kirby Pines the special place it is. Both Arrena and Richard agree that the following recipe is the foundation for their life: 

Recipe For Happiness – First: Serve God; Second: Remember decisions, not circumstances, determine the flavor of your lives; Third: Live each day so you’ll never be afraid of tomorrow, nor, ashamed of yesterday. 

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


Resident Spotlight: Lyle Hendrix

A Humble Servant

A life-long career that provided a unique service to the community, a father of two successful children and a life devoted to serving others and God are words that describe the life of Lyle Hendrix. His humble attitude reflects a man who is confident and comfortable with self. His early life, with many challenges, reminds us of what is so familiar to many: determination and hard work can provide a better life. 

Born in Gibson County, Tennessee in 1932, Lyle Hendrix was the last of six children born to parents who were farmers. Farming required that every hand available was given chores and being the last child provided few favors for Lyle. However, he recalls that one older sister became his second “mother” and he was somewhat spoiled by her. 

By the time Lyle was twelve years old, all the older children had left home and farming became impossible for the family. They moved to Trenton, Tennessee where his father was able to support the family as a trader of cattle. According to Lyle, “My Dad wanted me to stay out of trouble and he insisted I get a job delivering newspapers for the entire town. I had to fold the papers and learn to throw them, with either hand, from the street to the front porches.” This skill helped him become a member of the high school basketball team because he could shoot with both hands! While in high school, Lyle also started working in the meat department of the local grocery store on Saturdays. This experience would have a lasting impact on his life. 

United States Navy 1953

During Lyle’s senior year of high school, he was elected President of the Student Council. Soon after graduation in 1951, enrollment in business school proved impossible because of the hardships and complications it imposed. He left school, joined the Naval Reserve, and was soon called to active duty because of the Korean War. Because of his experience in working as a meat cutter, he was stationed at Bainbridge, Maryland as a Commissary Man-a fancy name for “cook”, according to Lyle. He was released from active duty in 1954 and promptly enrolled in an eight week course offered by National Meat cutters in Toledo, Ohio. 

Following school, Lyle moved to Memphis and became employed as an apprentice in the meat department of a small grocery store. The titles of various positions in the meat cutting industry are controlled by the Meat cutters Union; apprentice being the beginning position. 

Soon after moving to Memphis, Lyle began to attend gatherings of single young people from the local Churches of Christ. It was at these meetings that he became acquainted with a young lady name Oconee Henry. Their first date was to a movie at the Orpheum Theatre. After dating for six months, they married on February 26, 1956. Together they would have two children, a son and daughter. There are now four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Lyle remains very close to his family. 

Following marriage, Lyle realized that he would need to find better work. He moved to the meat department of Kroger and remained there, at various locations, for eleven years. He then worked for the Fred Montesi Stores for seventeen years, followed by sixteen years at the Piggly Wiggly Stores. He would become Manager of the Meat Department at all of these. 

In 2000, Lyle retired from meat cutting and took a part time position with White Station Church of Christ as Facilities Manager, caring for the building and grounds. The Church at White Station became an integral part of the Hendrix family when they purchased a house in the White Station area in 1958, and the family began worship there. According to Lyle, “although we enjoyed family camping, our social life revolved around church activities. We formed many great friendships that last until this day”. His wife, Oconee, taught a children’s Bible class for over forty years. Lyle had the daunting task of being an Elder of the Church for thirty-five years. Both Oconee and Lyle served on the Missions Committee and in that role, visited many missionaries in foreign countries and throughout the United States. 

In 2018, Lyle’s wife passed away after a long battle with an auto-immune disease, scleroderma. During her last three years of life, Lyle stopped all work to care for her. After her death, Lyle sold the house they had lived in for sixty years and moved to Kirby Pines in February, 2019. Lyle says, “I chose to move to Kirby Pines because of the LifeCare concept and so that my children would not have to worry about my safety and care”. Lyle also offers this, “I had friends who already lived at Kirby and they have helped greatly with my transition. I have made many new friends since moving here and treasure them very much. I have enjoyed living here! 

Lyle is a member of the Garden Club, and before COVID, was a part of the group that popped popcorn on Saturdays and distributed it to the Health Areas. Presently, Lyle serves as a greeter and facilitator for the 8:00 am Church of Christ services on Sunday morning. 

It has been said, “a deed is not a good deed unless it is done anonymously”. Lyle, in his own words says, “I want to be the person behind the scenes, helping someone else out”. Lyle Hendrix, a true humble servant. 

Happy Father’s Day to Lyle and all Dads at Kirby Pines! 

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


Resident Spotlight: Wynanne Dierssen

Celebrating a Nurse & Mother

During the month of May, two special groups are celebrated: MOTHERS AND NURSES. Wynanne Dierssen, a “happy” resident of Kirby Pines, can claim the honor of being both. As nurses today are struggling and dying in caring for COVID-19 patients, Wynanne’s life as a nurse was always in areas where nursing care was most challenging. Her early life was a happy one but full of challenges as well. This is her story:

Wynanne was born and reared on the North side of Chicago. Born during the Depression, her family struggled. Yet, she had a happy childhood because many members of her extended family lived in the same apartment, and, there was an amusement park nearby. Her only sibling, a nine year older brother, often “scoffed at the idea of having to babysit his sister”. Wynanne feels fortunate that she was always able to attend parochial schools.

Wynanne in Nursing School

Wynanne chose nursing as a career because of the encouragement of her mother. According to Wynanne, “Mother said nursing was a noble profession and one could always find a job”. She took her mother’s advice and was accepted into St. Xavier University, Chicago, graduating with a B.S. in Nursing in 1957. Wynanne says this about her studies: “Those were hectic years and I often wonder how I managed to graduate. I had lost my mother to heart disease in 1953. My father and extended family supported me for those four years. School was very difficult. We attended classes in the day time and spent evenings and nights providing nursing care to patients. We hardly ever slept!” Of course, studies and work didn’t interfere with dating! In 1955, Wynanne met her future husband. They married on October 12, 1957.

Wynanne’s first job was with the City of Chicago as a Visiting Nurse. Her job was high risk, visiting tuberculosis patients in their homes and assisting them in following their medical program. On learning she was to become a mother, Wynanne left this position and practiced private duty nursing for her remaining pregnancy. She temporarily left nursing to care for her children. According to Wynanne, “my family grew from one son to an additional two daughters-three fun, smart, and rambunctious kids”. Soon, however she returned to a part-time job at an outpatient clinic in Chicago. One of her most pleasant surprises was to meet the “Hamburger King”: the founder of McDonald’s who had availed himself of their services.

In 1977, Wynanne’s husband was transferred to Memphis. This was an exciting time to be in Memphis. Elvis Presley had just died! Wynanne took another hiatus from work as she stayed at home to help her children adjust to their many challenges from the move. In 1979, Wynanne was offered a job with a home health agency. This was a new and growing area of nursing and says Wynanne, “it was exciting to be able to bring ‘solid’ nursing care to patients at home”. This experience led to her move to the new rehabilitation and extended care offered by the Memphis Veterans Hospital. The laid back and relaxed atmosphere promoted, allowed nurses to wear jeans and tee shirts. According to Wynanne, patients sometimes asked, “When am I going to see a nurse?” When the VA decided to open a home health agency, Wynanne was one of four nurses selected to practice there. Wynanne ultimately became the Director of Home Based Primary Care, an innovative, interdisciplinary approach involving all branches of medical services caring for over 100 homebound veterans.

In 1992, the HBPC was honored to receive the Federal Executive Public Service Award. In 1996, Wynanne was recognized as one of the “Excellent Eleven” during the Celebrate Nursing Ceremony in Memphis. In view of this experience in developing a new role for nursing, Wynanne encourages all nurses in this way, “Don’t be afraid to create your own nursing job built around your own needs that coincides or expands those of your employer”.

Since retirement from nursing, Wynanne has stayed busy. She volunteers for the Germantown Community Library. Pre-pandemic, she tutored kindergarten students at Sherwood Elementary and was a greeter at Church of the Holy Spirit. She formerly collected “primitive” antiques and currently enjoys reading, theater, movies, concerts and “praying for the resolution of the pandemic”. Laughingly, Wynanne says, “I think the word ‘panDAMic’ is a better description”.

Wynanne has traveled extensively in this country as well as France and Greece. “I would love to travel again. I have mini-trips planned to see my daughters and grandchildren in St. Louis and friends in Atlanta ASAP”. Wynanne moved to a Garden Home in October, 2016. Her reason for choosing Kirby Pines was the Life Care Concept.

In a tribute to Florence Nightingale, Wynanne recalls, “Nurses honor her each year during Nurses Week, May 6-12. Nightingale, born on May 12, 1820, established a NOBLE profession by introducing care that would revolutionize nursing. Nightingale’s ‘Notes on Nursing’ became the model for the education of nurses throughout the world. Today’s nurses are having life changing experiences and many have died providing care for COVID patients. Those of us who are nurses understand the nature of nursing and what it means to be an integral part of a team sacrificing to save lives and provide security to those in crisis. To the Kirby Pines Nurses, I say, you are ALL honored during the month of May. You most emphatically deserve it. Be Proud!”

Thank you, Wynanne and all twenty retired nurses who are residents of Kirby Pines, for your years of service!

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines