Resident Spotlight: Don Wiseman

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 Wiseman

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


Resident Spotlight: Raymond and Jean Harvell

A LIFE OF ADVENTURE & SERVICE

Jean and Raymond Harvell both agree that they have lived a fulfilled life. “We have a great family, and we have had so many wonderful life experiences. We are truly blessed,” says Jean. When meeting the Harvells, you can sense the joy in this couple who recently celebrated sixty-eight years together. They have one daughter, Patti, one son, Ray, eight grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren. 

Barbara Jean (Barber) Harvell was born in Covington, Tennessee in 1936. She says she had a very happy childhood. She and her brother were very close. Although her parents were very strict, “I always felt loved”, says Jean. “My father owned an old car and he would say, ‘get in the car, we’re going for a ride.’ We would all get in the car and off we would go.”

Jean’s family moved to Memphis while she was very young and her first six years of school were at Leroy Pope. Because the family moved frequently, Jean attended Messick and Humes before starting high school at Treadwell, where she was a cheerleader and a member of the National Honor Society. 

Raymond Earl Harvell, the youngest of five children, was born in Memphis in 1935. He was born twelve years after his oldest sibling and therefore was an only child for much of his young life. He attended all grades at Treadwell where he played football and basketball and was in the ROTC. He developed his love of golf when he began caddying at the Chickasaw Golf course at the age of twelve. 

Jean and Raymond met at Treadwell High. “She was the only girl I ever dated,” says Raymond. “We loved to go dancing on Saturday nights and enjoyed going to drive-in movies.” Jean adds, “As a matter of fact, we became engaged at a drive-in movie.” They decided to elope. One week following graduation, they drove to Hernando, Mississippi, and were married. They honeymooned at the Memphis Holiday Inn, and Raymond went back to work on Monday. Jean decided to inform her parents of their marriage by telegram. The telegram read: “Dear Mom and Dad, Raymond and I got married. Bye, Jean.” That telegram is now framed. 

Jean and Raymond have lived in Memphis their entire marriage except for a brief time in Montgomery, Alabama. Jean’s mother, a widow, moved in with them as a young couple. Jean relates, “I was fortunate to have my mother live with us for forty-two years. She was a tremendous help in caring for the children and the household so I could continue to work.” Raymond was a member of the Air Force Reserves for eight years and was stationed at the Memphis airport, so this did not disrupt their lifestyle. 

Jean’s off-and-on work experience was with various insurance agencies starting with E. H. Crump. She began that work as a customer service representative, eventually obtaining a license to sell property and casualty insurance. 

In 1954, Raymond started work with Buckeye Cotton Oil, before moving to Southern Bell as a technician in 1955. In 1958, Raymond accepted a job with the American Tobacco Company in Montgomery, Alabama, eventually becoming a district manager. However, according to Raymond, Jean became homesick, and they returned to Memphis. He found employment selling pharmaceuticals. Because his last two jobs involved much travel and time away from home, Raymond’s entrepreneurial idea to start a packaging company was launched. This endeavor was successful, having contracts with stores such as Kroger and Wal-Mart. After thirty-nine years in packaging, at the age of eighty, Raymond decided to retire, “I still miss it,” he admits. 

At a Shriner’s Event

Jean and Raymond’s life has been filled with adventure and service. “We have been truly blessed to be able to travel extensively, visiting many countries and enjoying several cruises,” acknowledges Jean. As members of St. Phillips Episcopal Church, Raymond has served on the Vestry and Jean as a lay reader. Raymond, until recently, loved playing golf and Jean enjoyed bowling until knee replacement was necessary. Raymond has served in several voluntary service positions. In the Al Chymia Shriners organization, Raymond served as Potentate at one time and continues his membership with them. Perhaps his most important contributions have been the twenty years he served on the Shelby County Housing Authority and the sixteen years on the Civil Service Board. 

The Harvells decided in 2011 that Kirby Pines was the place for them. According to Jean, “We wanted to make plans so that our children would not be burdened with making decisions. In 2021, we knew it was time to move in. On our first night here, as we entered the dining room, I looked around and said to Raymond, ‘All these people here are old!’ Then I realized we were probably older than most of them. I now know that everyone is young at heart and that is what makes Kirby so special.”

Since moving to Kirby Pines, Jean and Raymond have incorporated the lifestyle here. “What’s not to like about Kirby?” exclaims Jean. “The people are so friendly and kind. The grounds are magnificent; I love to walk my little dog, Precious, and I don’t have to cook! I have joined the Line Dancers with such a great group of ladies, and I have learned and love to play Mahjong. Raymond enjoys the Saturday morning Men’s Fellowship and the Garden Club.” Thus, a new chapter in a fulfilled life has begun for the Harvells. 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


Resident Spotlight: Cheryl Johnson

A DESIRE TO FINISH WELL

Cheryl Johnson became a part of our lives when she married our former and beloved Chaplain Don Johnson in May 2005. Always an extension of Don’s ministries, Cheryl continues today toward the goal she and Don shared, “to finish well.” Cheryl’s caring and positive nature reflect a life of success in having attained both personal and spiritual growth. 

Cheryl’s parents, Terry and Bobbi Stigall, and two older siblings, moved to midtown Memphis when she was a young girl. This allowed Cheryl to attend what she considered “great schools” in the area: Idlewild Elementary, Fairview Junior and Central High. The family became members of Union Avenue Methodist Church. Music and dance lessons were offered; however, Cheryl says that she was “tone deaf” and music lessons stopped. She found her love in athletics, and according to her, “To say I was a tomboy would be an understatement!” She played softball and basketball in the beginning but later added golf, biking, and tennis. 

In her senior year of high school, Cheryl transferred to White Station High and discovered acting. Her involvement in athletics, dancing and acting has continued throughout her adult life as evidenced by her current membership with the Kirby Pines Line Dancers and Ham’ateurs Group.

Cheryl chose to attend Florida International University in Miami and earned a degree in Finance. She was given the opportunity to join Citibank’s Management Training Program. Out of a class of twenty-five, there were only three women! She worked in several departments including Private and Corporate Banking, Training, and Public Relations before being selected for a new program in which bankers were trained and licensed to sell and manage investment portfolios. Cheryl says, “It was an ‘eye-opener’ to work for an international organization with colleagues from all over the world. Since I was from Memphis, everyone wanted to know about Elvis. They thought I surely must have known him.” 

According to Cheryl, “I have been blessed to have been married to two wonderful men. While living in Miami, I met and married Steven Waters, a banker, civic leader, and devout Christian. Steve practiced the teachings in James 2:24 that ‘Faith without works is dead.’ Following his unexpected death in 1991, so many shared how their life had been greatly influenced by him. Most of his work was done privately, and even I didn’t know all his acts of kindness and generosity. 

In 2000, Cheryl retired early and moved back to Memphis to be near her mother after her father passed away. In 2004, her mother, Bobbi Stigall, moved to Kirby Pines. It was at a Vespers service that Cheryl re-connected with Chaplain Don Johnson—and the rest is history! They were married in a private ceremony in the Chapel at Christ Methodist Church, where Cheryl maintains her membership. 

“It was a new world,” admits Cheryl, “being married to a pastor/chaplain who had lived his entire life in Memphis where everyone seemed to know and love him. Don was a man who had devoted his life to serving God. He knew he wanted to preach and teach God’s word since he was eight years old. It was such an honor to serve with Don at Kirby Pines and also with his Bible study group, Afterglow, Life Choices, and the National Religious Broadcasters Organization.” 

As chaplain at Kirby Pines, Don visited and checked on those residents who were ill or in need of prayer. He also conducted the Sunday 10:00 am religious services in the PAC as well as in the health care areas on Sunday afternoon, always assisted by Cheryl. Together, Don and Cheryl were a great team! Sadly, Don passed away on September 24, 2021, following an extended illness. 

Cheryl says that she has been fortunate to be able to travel to many places during her lifetime. “My parents introduced me to the joys of travel, and that has continued throughout my adulthood.” There have been cruises to Hawaii, Alaska, and the Mediterranean, but also notable adventures such as attending the Vancouver World’s Fair and seeing the Royals, riding a donkey down the Grand Canyon, horseback riding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, skiing in Park City, Utah, are among unique experiences of a lifetime. However, for Cheryl, the most memorable was the trip to the Holy Land and Egypt in 1987. 

Cheryl at 8 Years Old

Currently, Cheryl continues her ministry with Remember That Someone Cares, which is focused on remembering residents in the health care areas on their birthdays. She also keeps in touch with residents who are ill or in need of prayer and keeps others informed with emails and a published, weekly prayer list. She attends the Thursday morning Bible class and is learning to play Mahjong. “I especially enjoy walking around the beautiful grounds of Kirby,” says Cheryl. 

Cheryl has this to say about her current life: “Kirby Pines is truly a family affair as my sister, Diane Talarico, moved here in 2017. Don and I became residents in 2019, and I’m especially grateful we were here during COVID and Don’s illness. As I have often said, the very best thing about Kirby is the people—where so many are kind, thoughtful, compassionate, and caring, not to mention talented. 

Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing your story and for being such an excellent role model for all who desire to “finish well”. 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


Resident Spotlight: Berry & Betty Terry

HAPPY TOGETHER FOREVER

Betty and Berry Terry will celebrate seventy years of marriage on August 2, 2022. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age for a marriage in America is twenty years. One expert has identified the components for longevity as love + maturity + mutual respect. This is the story of Betty and Berry’s life together. 

Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Wilson was born in Keiser, Arkansas. Betty and her younger sister had a wonderful childhood. Betty took piano lessons, was active in the Rainbow Girls, Girl Scouts and church. Her mother was a teacher and was very pro-educational. She sent Betty to live with her grandmother in Conway, Arkansas to attend a private school for kindergarten and first grade. When Betty was in fourth grade, the family moved to Conway. Betty’s mother became the teacher of sixth grade and a young man by the name of Berry Terry was a student in her class. 

Berry Edsell Terry was born in Mt. Vernon, Arkansas, and the last child in a family of ten children. His parents were farmers and in their forties when he was born. Berry always worked to help support himself; however, sports and church activities occupied much of his young life. 

Although attending the same high school, a relationship with Betty did not happen until Berry was in the eleventh year of school. He first noticed Betty as she walked down the hallway at school. Berry says that he was attracted to her because of her beautiful auburn hair. Their first date was at the First Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas. On their second date, Betty asked Berry for his sports jacket. According to Berry, “I was very proud of that jacket. However, I knew it meant we were going steady and I did not want anyone else to have her.” When asked what Betty liked about Berry, she said, “Berry was smart, had good morals, and a strong work ethic. I knew he was the type of person I wanted to marry.” 

When Betty’s mother knew things were getting serious, she discouraged their dating. She had plans for Betty’s life! However, Betty and Berry also had a plan. Betty enrolled in summer classes to finish high school early. Following his graduation, Berry attended college for one year, then enlisted in the Air Force so that he could support them. After his first paycheck, Betty joined him in Biloxi, Mississippi where he was stationed. Without her parent’s knowledge, Betty planned the elopement and did not tell her family of her marriage for three days! Berry’s family was aware of the plan and insisted that they be married by a minister. Looking through the phone book, they found one who performed the ceremony in his study. 

Finding suitable and affordable housing was a problem and the couple moved frequently in a short period of time. Betty worked briefly as a salesperson but was soon employed as a secretary in the famous Edgewater Hotel in Biloxi. “It was a wonderful job which afforded me with many opportunities”, says Betty. Their first child, Laura, was born the following year. Scott, a son, would join the family three years later. 

Berry remained in the Air Force for twenty years, retiring in 1972 as a Master Sergeant. He served two overseas tours, Japan and England. He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal on three occasions. Betty and their children joined Berry for the three years spent in England. 

Laura, Berry, Betty & Scott Terry

Berry was transferred to Memphis, Tennessee where he served five years at the University of Memphis in the Air Force ROTC Department. Following his retirement, he served an additional five years with the Junior ROTC Detachment at a high school in Decatur, Alabama. 

Berry was ordained as a Baptist Minister in 1999. He was privileged to perform the marriage ceremony for all five of his grandchildren! He has served in ministerial and administrative positions in churches in Alabama as well as five years as Church Administrator at First Assembly of God Church in Memphis. Both Betty and Berry have been involved in many mission fields including Belize and Kentucky. “We are involved 100% in these ministries. Fundraising, as well as continual support, is our mission,” states Betty. 

Betty and Berry have enjoyed extensive travel by train and cruises. The trip through the Panama Canal and a twenty-day visit to Israel and Jordan are among their most memorable. 

The Terrys moved to Kirby Pines in August 2014. Berry has served as Director and Secretary/Treasurer of the Psalms Board since 1994. He serves in the same position for The Farms at Bailey Station. Berry is also currently in charge of the Sunday morning worship service at Kirby Pines. 

Betty discovered her love for cooking at an early age. In 2011, she won first place in the Fund Craft Recipe Contest and her recipe is published in their cookbook. The recipe for key lime coconut cake is now being served by the Chef at Kirby Pines! Besides cooking, Betty also enjoys reading and the Book Baggers Club at Kirby. 

The things Betty and Berry enjoy most about Kirby Pines are the friendly people, the outstanding staff of employees, and the beautiful campus. What an asset to Kirby Pines is this couple. As they celebrate their seventy years together, let us join their family, which now includes fifteen great-grandchildren, in wishing them many more healthy and happy years together.

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines


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