Resident Spotlight: Bill & Marilyn Crosby 

The Crosbys

A STRONG LEGACY TO LEAVE 

Unquestionably, Marilyn and Bill Crosby will leave a strong legacy as both have achieved much in their personal and professional lives. They have reared two sons, Chris and Matthew, who are productive citizens, and devoted their lives toward their families and helping others. 

The Crosbys are typical of many couples in the South: one born in Arkansas, the other in Mississippi, then to Memphis, Tennessee, to start their adult lives. However, to interact with this couple, you will find they are atypical in their personalities. Although both have the same persona of warmth and friendliness, Bill is more reserved, whereas Marilyn is “bubbly” and enthusiastic in her interactions with others. Both personalities have blended well, and they remain happily married since 1965. 

Marilyn Meador’s life began in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. However, her parents divorced when she was seven; her mother moved with Marilyn and her brother to El Dorado, Arkansas. Before Marilyn’s senior year in high school, her mother became ill, and it was necessary for Marilyn and Johnny to move to Helena, Arkansas, to live with their father. 

Despite a disruptive life, Marilyn thrived, making good grades and lasting friendships wherever she lived. In high school, she played French horn and was voted most friendly her senior year. Marilyn always knew she wanted to be a nurse, but she also wanted to have an opportunity to experience college. However, her father had other ideas, so she applied and was accepted into the prestigious Baptist Hospital School of Nursing in Memphis. The requirements and restrictions there, according to Marilyn, “were much like living in a convent.” Marilyn continues, “We were treated well by Baptist: everything was provided for us, and we were taken on outings and given nice gifts at Christmas. Classes were difficult, but I loved my instructors and classmates.” 

Following graduation, Marilyn immediately began employment at Baptist Hospital, relieving the head nurse on the Charity Unit. Her entire professional life was spent at Baptist working all services, and at one time becoming the youngest head nurse there. 

As a registered nurse, Marilyn set a good example with her warm, tender care of patients and employees. She retired after 35 years, but, soon began work part-time in the Baptist Out-Patient Pavilion. She worked there an additional 15 years: a total of 50 years giving nursing care! Marilyn says that the individualized care and the wonderful co-workers made this one of her most rewarding experiences. While working part-time, Marilyn enrolled in the nursing program at Union University, earning a B.S. in Nursing. 

When Baptist Memorial Hospital celebrated its 50 year anniversary, Marilyn was asked to write an article about “the early days.” The following are some excerpts from the article, The Way It Was: “Nurses have a special bond: no one can understand what is involved in nursing unless you are one. As soon as I started working in the hospital, I knew I had chosen the right career. It was great to see how my efforts could help and encourage the patients. Few professions can provide the satisfaction that nursing does. When things are difficult, the nurse must maintain the empathy and drive to provide the best care possible. As a profession, nursing is still a high calling in every sense of the word.” 

Bill Crosby was born in Greenville, Mississippi, but Bill and his three siblings spent most of their youth in Indianola, Mississippi, where their father owned a home appliance store. Their father, an entrepreneur, pioneered in the cable television industry. This venture “allowed” Bill to spend his last year in Indianola, climbing poles to hang TV cable and crawling under houses where he met all kinds of vermin. 

While in school, from seventh grade until graduation, Bill played football and whatever sport was in season. He also played football at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. There, he received a B.S. in Sociology and, according to Bill, graduated “Thankya Laude.” 

Crosby's wedding
The Crosbys 1965

Bill’s first job was with Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity Headquarters. The remaining years of his professional life were spent in property management and construction marketing: first for First Tennessee Bank, and then with various construction and hotel companies. After retirement, he was once again lured in to work 19 additional years for a renovation contractor in New Jersey. Although travel was involved, Bill maintained an office based in Memphis. 

Marilyn and Bill met at a party given by the girl who was dating Bill. Not surprisingly, Bill realized he would rather date Marilyn. Bill says it took him a year to convince Marilyn to marry him. In addition to their two wonderful sons and daughters-in-law, they have three grandchildren with which they enjoy much “grandparenting time!’ 

The Crosbys have traveled extensively, including Europe and the Holy Lands; some of it was in missionary work. They have been active members of Christ Methodist Church since 1971. Bill has served in several capacities there: as Chair of Church Council and Trustees, and assisting in establishing the Emmaus Walk in England. Bill has also coached various youth sports, including soccer, which he has never played! 

Marilyn and Bill have been at Kirby Pines for two years. Pleased with all the amenities and activities here, both enjoy the exercise programs, and Bill has developed an interest in acrylic painting. They are also happy to be here with about 20 members of their Sunday School Class. They are a great addition to our Kirby Pines community. 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.


Resident Spotlight: Hugh Gregory

The Sandersons

A MISSION OF LOVE & GIVING

Humor, hard work, clean living, and having God in control seem to be the elements that have framed the extraordinary life of Hugh Gregory. Although stories of his life may invoke similar memories in people his age, Hugh defies the odds by continuing his zest for new learning experiences at 94 years of age. 

In 1930, at the beginning of the Depression, Hugh was born in a house that had cracks large enough for snow to fall on his bed. His father was a farmer, and the family lived in a tenant’s residence on his great-grandfather’s farm. However, the farm supplied the necessities for life. Hugh had loving and godly parents; he was the only child until a sister arrived seven years later. Life was considered normal in the rural community of Auburn, Mississippi, which was the ancestral home for the Gregory family. Located northeast of Tupelo, Mississippi, Auburn had stores, a school, and several churches.

When Hugh was four years old, his parents gave him a tricycle. The house they lived in had a long porch that was unrailed and two feet off the ground. Hugh was cautioned about riding too close to the edge. The family birddog, Dan, must have gotten the message and became Hugh’s constant protector. Never leaving his side, Dan would always manage to be between Hugh and the porch edge. Another time, Hugh went for a walk and was gone for several hours. It was almost dark, and his parents were frantic. They finally spotted the top of his head in the cotton field. Of course, Dan was with him and was bringing him home.

Hugh Gregory as a child

In 1936, a devastating tornado hit Auburn and surrounding communities. There were many deaths and much destruction. The Gregory home was spared. Hugh’s father, along with neighbors, used hand saws to clear the trees that were blocking the road to the most damaged area. Six year old, Hugh went along to help. The sights he witnessed remained an indelible memory for him. Hugh’s father, then, built a nice, new house for his family.

In 1943, at the age of 13, Hugh assumed management of the farm the family now owned when his father was conscripted by the military to build structures needed in WWII. Arising at 5:00 a.m., Hugh milked three cows, and helped to feed other farm animals. At 7:00, Hugh boarded the school bus for high school in Tupelo. While in high school, Hugh played basketball all four years; however, that was not all he was interested in. A girl, Mary Curbow, had been a friend his entire life, and Hugh was interested in taking it to a new level. One day while Hugh and some friends were sitting in Mary’s yard, they learned that WW II was over. This good news prompted shy Hugh to ask Mary to the movies. Hugh had been driving his father’s school bus since the age of 12, and this was the vehicle he planned to drive on their date. He even built a stool for Mary by the driver’s seat. Unknown to Hugh, his mother had alerted all the neighbors that Hugh was driving the bus to the movies. Imagine Mary’s surprise when she got on the crowded bus! But, Mary forgave him; they dated for three years and married at age 18.

Hugh wanted to be an electrical engineer. However, he delayed college and enrolled in an electrical school in Chicago. He returned home and worked for an electrical company for two years. Surprisingly, he was offered a job with the FBI working in classified documents, so Hugh and Mary moved to Washington, D.C. for two years. In 1951, even though employed in a government job, Hugh expected to be drafted. Instead, he volunteered and spent four years in the Navy. While on active duty, he served on USS Currituck which was an AV-7 Seaplane Tender carrying supplies to aircraft patrolling the shorelines of various countries. He received the rank of Petty Officer 3rd Class.

Following discharge from the Navy, Hugh returned home and worked for an electrical company. He had been offered the FBI job but did not want to live in Washington. Hugh also enrolled in college and completed three years of study in various institutions.

In 1959, Hugh began employment with Southern Airways as a station agent. He retired after 27 years, most of that time in management positions. After retirement, he and others started an electrical testing company (EMT). For 20 years, and until retirement in 2014, Hugh’s company supervised technicians in their various jobs.

Mary and Hugh Gregory
Mary and Hugh

Hugh and Mary were married for 75+ years. They were blessed with three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. They lived in Southaven for 50 years and were members of the Carriage Hills Baptist Church where Hugh served as deacon and continues his membership. Hugh and Mary were fortunate to enjoy extensive travel including all 50 states and several countries.

In 2021, Hugh made the decision to move to Kirby Pines due to Mary’s declining health. Sadly, Mary died in 2023. “We lived a wonderful and charming life,” states Hugh.

Hugh continues to be involved in several activities at Kirby and is serving as a Wing Leader. Woodwork has always been a favorite hobby; he now spends time learning new things in the woodworking shop. “I appreciate all the people here and love all the new friends I have made. It is a great community to live in,” declares Hugh.

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.


Resident Spotlight: Leon & Marilyn Sanderson

The Sandersons

A MISSION OF LOVE & GIVING

Love and giving go together so well. So do Marilyn and Leon Sanderson, who have plenty of love to share and express it in so many ways. Their lives have been focused on giving to others: Leon as a minister in various churches of Christ, and Marilyn as an esteemed educator of the young. Both continue to share their many talents with the residents of Kirby Pines and contribute to the sense of family we all cherish.

Marilyn Cobb was born in Springfield, Missouri. Hers was a close-knit family who enjoyed simple but significant times together. She has a sister who is older, so Marilyn was “the baby” for 11 years until a baby brother came along. According to Marilyn, “I lost my status, and our family dynamics changed.” As a member of Future Teachers of America, Marilyn would have the experience, in her senior year of high school, of spending the afternoon in an elementary school as a cadet teacher. This would provide the groundwork for Marilyn’s professional career.

In 1966, Marilyn graduated from Harding College (University) with a B.S in Elementary Education. She says her college years were very enjoyable, but most exciting was the time she spent singing with two elite groups of singers from the college. During her junior year, one group spent five weeks traveling in the Eastern part of the United States which included singing at the World’s Fair in New York. 

In 1966, Marilyn began her teaching career in Long Island, New York. It was a different culture for her, but she enjoyed the nearby cultural venues. During this time, she and a friend spent eight weeks in Europe, traveling by Eurail and staying in pensiones.

In 1969, Marilyn returned to Harding College and earned an M.A. in Teaching. She moved to Memphis to teach in the city schools and was assigned to teach fourth grade in a school with all African American students. “This was again culture shock,” admits Marilyn, “but that class became one of my all-time favorites!” However, after one year, she was persuaded to teach at Harding Academy, one of the largest private schools in Memphis. She remained there for 39 years, as classroom teacher, principal, and eventually as Director of Elementary Education for Harding Academy.

Leon Sanderson was also born in Springfield, Missouri. His only sibling was an older sister. His father and mother were involved in church work over the years. Leon’s families were musicians; his father wrote the words to several published hymns. So, music was a large part of their family. At a young age, Leon joined his father in teaching in music schools and worship leadership.

Despite occasional re-locating, Leon had a happy childhood. He recalls playing kick ball, riding his bike, playing “catch,” and making model cars. His favorite was a blue, 1904 model Oldsmobile with seats covered in burgundy velvet – a contribution from his mother. His school years were good, and he sang with all singing groups in school. He also played the tuba in the marching band during his high school years.

Having decided to become a minister of the Gospel, Leon entered Harding College in 1950 and graduated four years later with a degree in Bible and Speech. He continued his studies at Harding, earning a graduate degree in Ministry. He would then move to Memphis for his first position with a church.

Although both Marilyn and Leon were born in the same city and attended the same college, they did not meet until Leon accepted an associate minister position in the church where Marilyn attended. Together, they would become an integral part of that church’s mission to serve not only the church members, but the non-members of the community around them. 

To better prepare himself to serve, Leon became a life-long learner. Since moving to Memphis, he has earned two additional masters degrees and the Doctorate of Ministry from Harding School of Theology. He has the distinction of earning the most degrees of any student in the school’s history! He has used his musical talents in various ways, leading singing as well as teaching others to lead songs in church. He has written several hymns with special attention to setting scripture to music. Blessed with a beautiful voice, Leon sang for several years with an elite musical group in Memphis.

The Sandersons wedding
Wedding Day

The Sandersons have three children, nine grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. Twice a year, at Thanksgiving and in June, 22 family members meet for a reunion – a 25 year tradition. Travel continues to be a significant activity for the Sandersons. They have visited all 50 states; Leon has been to 33 foreign countries and six continents, and Marilyn has visited 40 countries and five continents. 

Since moving to Kirby Pines in September 2021, both Leon and Marilyn have become vital members of the Kirby family. Marilyn enjoys The Bookbaggers and Mah Jongg. Both serve as Wing Leaders, sing in the Chorus, visit residents in the hospital, and attend various Bible studies. Leon participates in Vespers, conducts sing-a-longs, and reads the Bible to residents in the health areas on a regular basis. Both are members of Germantown Church of Christ where Leon serves as a Worship Leader. 

The Sandersons say that they are very happy in this loving, family atmosphere of Kirby Pines, and getting to participate in the myriad of activities. Both admit, “We think we made a good decision to come here!

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.


Resident Spotlight: Joy Wernet

A BUNDLE OF JOY

In 1926, a “bundle of joy” was born to Joe and Kate Bennett. This baby daughter brought such delight to their lives, they named her Joy. She would be the only child born to this couple who lived in a rural community near Paris, Tennessee. There were many cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, so Joy was never lonely or unloved.

Joy was born at the beginning of the Great Depression, and her family struggled like most families. To improve life, Joy’s parents moved to Illinois when she was two years old. Unhappy with the location, they moved back to their community. Joy says, “This was when my memory ‘kicked in.’ I remember crossing the Ohio River on a ferry, and I was cold and afraid. We were dressed in our Sunday clothes and traveling in a little green Chevrolet roadster with a cloth top and side curtains. This car would be our primary transportation for many years.”

The Bennetts were fortunate to find a nice house in their former community that was close to a school, church, a store, and good neighbors. Joy’s father returned to farming, and life was good.

One incident Joy vividly remembers happened when she was around two years old. Her grandfather kept bees. When no one was looking, Joy took the hearth broom and attempted to sweep all the bees off their hives. Her screams quickly brought her father, and holding her between his legs like a vice, he removed the stinging bees. “Somehow, I recovered,” remembers Joy, “but I started wearing a hat like the ‘flappers,’ and if anyone yelled ‘bees,’ I would grab my hat and run for cover!” Joy also remembered riding along with her mother in their little green Chevrolet to take the 1930 census in part of Henry County. They would make many life-long friends with this venture.

Joy as a child

In 1932, Joy started school but was placed in the second grade because her mother had home-schooled her. She lived a mile from the school, and her parents took turns walking her to and from school. During “muddy” weather, her father would put on boots and carry her across a field to avoid roads. Because of her advanced placement in school, Joy always felt the age difference as her friends were older. However, she excelled in school, graduating high school in 1943 at the age of 16 as Valedictorian of her class.

The week following graduation, Joy started work in Paris as a cashier and bookkeeper for a ready-to-wear store to help with college expenses. The following Fall, the shy “country girl” Joy enrolled in Murray State College in Murray, Kentucky. She says, “I never dreamed that I would be invited to join a sorority or become a campus favorite.”

After three years of college, Joy returned to work in Paris to help with college expenses. Soon Joy began dating Jim Hunt, Jr., a returning Veteran. Both their parents owned farms in the same community and attended the same Baptist church. Soon, a wedding was being planned. It would be 20 years before Joy returned to school, graduating with a degree in Business Administration, with majors in Accounting and Economics, from Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee. 

Joy in the office
Joy Hard at Work

After marriage, Joy and Jim continued their jobs in Paris. Later, they decided to try farm life. “At first it was fun,” says Joy. The couple had invested their money in dairy cows for their farm. They were members of the Home Demonstration Club, and Joy did some auditing for them. They participated in the county fair, winning prizes in many categories. Their only child, Joe, was born in I950. However; things didn’t work out as expected, and the “fun in farming” was waning! Jim started a new business, and when Joe was three years old, Joy returned to work, beginning a career in Accounting.

Joy’s first job was with the newly built hospital in Henry County. She became their first Chief Accountant. Just as the hospital was succeeding and expanding, the hospital administrator suddenly died. Joy says, “Most of his work fell on me, temporarily. Three months later, Jim had a fatal accident. It took all the ‘grit’ I had to make it through this ordeal.” Joy survived and became an active participant in the state and national organizations of the American Association of Hospital Accountants. She was editor of the state newsletter and wrote a paper which won first place and a trip to the National Institute as well as having her paper published in their national magazine.

In 1966, Joy’s life changed when she met and married Bob Wernet of Memphis. She acquired two more children, with whom she remains very close. Bob was a successful businessman, and soon Joy was working with him. They were active in many social organizations, and together, they traveled all over the world. “As much as we traveled, I never visited New York City,” admits Joy. After retiring in 1994, they bought a second home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and lived there and Memphis for the next 20 years, spending six months in each location.

In 2014, as their health continued to fail, Joy and Bob made the decision to move to Kirby Pines. They quietly celebrated their 50 year anniversary. Sadly, Bob passed away in January 2017. Joy has continued to be involved in activities at Kirby Pines, especially playing bridge. Joy says, “I’m glad to be living at Kirby Pines!” 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.


Resident Spotlight: Philip & Pat Slate

A RICH AND FULL LIFE

It is unusual for a person to decide as a teenager what his mission in life is to be. At the age of 16, Philip Slate knew he wanted to become a preacher of the Gospel. When he met Patricia (Pat) Finch, he found her to have a strong faith with similar goals. Together, they have served 72 years in mission work and teaching, and Philip is continuing that work. According to Philip and Pat, “Our work with churches, our experiences, and our family have given us a rich and full life.”

Pat Slate was born in Old Hickory, Tennessee. Her only sibling was an older brother. When she was born, Pat says, “My brother wanted a brother but got me instead. Because my father had died when I was 15, I asked my brother to ‘give me away’ at my wedding. His response was, ‘Yes, I’ve wanted to give you away ever since you were born!’ ” 

Pat attended the DuPont schools in Old Hickory and was a cheerleader, active in drama, and an honor student. She chose to enter David Lipscomb College (now University) following graduation. It was there she met Philip Slate, a junior, on a blind date.

Philip Slate was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the oldest of three brothers. His father worked on road construction, so the family moved often. Philip reports that during his first year of school, he attended five schools in three states! There were other moves and different schools, mostly in the mountainous areas of East Tennessee. Philip says he enjoyed the country living, camping, hiking in the hills, and swimming in the water hole made by “damming” up a creek. He played baseball and basketball, learned boxing, and qualified to become a lifeguard. The family moved near Nashville, Tennessee, just in time for Philip to enroll in David Lipscomb College for high school and college. 

While in high school, Philip continued to play some sports, even boxing one year in the Nashville City Tournament. He began scholastic debating, which continued for five years while at Lipscomb, and preached at every opportunity. As a Speech major in college, he continued preaching each Sunday at a rural church. When he and Pat began seriously dating, she would accompany him on Sunday with her mother’s approval. “Most of our dating,” according to Philip, “was confined to group activities, and the time together on Sunday allowed us to know each other better.”

When Philip graduated from college, he and Pat married and moved to Wichita, Kansas, for Philip’s first pulpit position. “It was a wonderful church, and we loved the Midwest,” says Philip. During the years there, they welcomed their first daughter, Karen Marie.

Returning to Tennessee, Philip enrolled in Harding School of Religion(now Theology), earning a master’s degree. Then in 1961, the Slates were asked to go to London, England, to plant a church. They remained there for 10.5 years. Another daughter, Carla Joan, and a son, Carl Philip, were born there. Pat was involved by teaching classes and directing the Bible correspondence program. Philip was accepted to Oxford University where he did his doctoral research toward a Doctor of Missiology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1975.

In 1972, the Slates returned to Memphis when Philip was invited to teach at Harding School of Religion. He would remain in that position for 21 years while he and Pat would also teach and minister to five different churches of Christ during that time. Philip describes those years as “very rewarding.” Pat’s classes on “Fascinating Womanhood” were taught in many churches. In 1983, Pat surprised everyone by deciding to try sky diving. “It was exciting, but once was enough,” says Pat.

The last six years of Philips academic career were as Chair of the Missions Department of Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. Following his retirement, he and Pat served as mission trainers, consultants, and encouragers in both the United States and abroad. As a result of their mission work, Phillip has visited 40 , and Pat has visited 25!

Regarding their work, Philip has this to say: “God opened many doors for us to serve. The best positions were those we did not seek.” Philip has also served by authoring or co-authoring six books and many articles.

The Slates at their wedding
Wedding Day

The move to Memphis was the Slates’ final move and became home. All of their family live in Tennessee, which now includes eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. The move did not really mean retirement for Philip. He continued to serve churches wherever he and Pat lived, and he continues since moving to Kirby Pines through Zoom and e-mails.

In 2021, the Slates moved to Kirby Pines because they recognized the advantages and knew many people here. “We enjoy the amenities,” states Philip, “but we also enjoy conversations with the diverse and interesting people who live here.” 

Due to Pat’s health, her activities are limited. However, Philip says he enjoys the Oasis, attending Bible groups, and classes. They worship at Germantown Church of Christ where Phillip serves in many areas. He has served as speaker for Vespers on occasion. Philip has found the Bistro an interesting place to meet others, and he loves walking around our beautiful campus. “The flowers and trees help to create a nice ambiance in this place,” says Philip. Both he and Pat agree, “Moving to Kirby Pines was the right move for us.” 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.


Resident Spotlight: JoAnn Ginn

LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM

Is it possible to develop an addiction at Kirby Pines? “Yes,” admits JoAnn Ginn. “I have become addicted to having fun: playing games, and especially playing mahjong with such a fun-loving and intelligent group of Christian women.” 

Fortunate enough to have had a happy and supportive life as a child and an adult, JoAnn was pre-conditioned to the life she now enjoys at Kirby Pines. This is her story in achieving the American dream. 

JoAnn Godwin was born in the small, neighboring community of Fisherville, Tennessee. Her father was one of seven siblings who were given family land to build their homes. As a result, JoAnn acquired many cousins who were like siblings because of their proximity and time they spent together. “We all attended the Baptist church there,” according to JoAnn, “and many of our activities centered on church.” JoAnn was the oldest of three other children in her family: two sisters and one brother. As the oldest, JoAnn said she took charge, “But they didn’t always appreciate my ‘bossiness,’ ” she admits. “Like most country people, we always had plenty to eat, but sadly,” Joann remembers, “sometimes we had our ‘pets’ for dinner!” 

Christmas was always an exciting time. According to JoAnn, “Christmas was much simpler then. We cut our tree from our land and searched Sears Roebuck catalogue for our wishes. We would have very few gifts under the tree, but we always had Santa because of the younger kids. Christmas was special because we only got gifts on birthdays and Christmas.” 

For high school, JoAnn attended the one in Collierville. Once again, the class was small, and everyone enjoyed being together. JoAnn was involved in several clubs and was editor of the year book her senior year. 

Graduating from high school in 1958, JoAnn enrolled in Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She admits, “I was there for two years but traded my degree for a Mrs.” She married John Ginn whom she met when she was a freshman. John had enrolled at Union with a scholarship in Track. 

After their marriage, JoAnn and John moved to Memphis which became their permanent home, although they would spend time in other cities when John was transferred. John had found employment with General Foods Corporation, starting in a minimal paying job. He would eventually become manager of the Memphis branch as well as other locations. 

However, as JoAnn and John welcomed their four children- Donna, Bobby, David and Phillip- JoAnn became mostly a stay-at-home mom. “This was a wonderful time in my life. I loved being a mom”. 

After the children were grown, JoAnn took the opportunity to travel with John and visit the various sights in the cities he visited. John’s last transfer was to Chicago, Illinois, where he retired after two years, and he and JoAnn returned to Memphis. “I was so glad to leave there,” says JoAnn. “I was afraid I was going to freeze to death!” 

With retirement, JoAnn and John were able to spend time with family, which includes seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, and the opportunity to do the things they felt called to do. In addition to extensive travel and cruises, JoAnn and John were able to extend their missionary work to China and Turkey. According to JoAnn, “Our faith was at the center of our marriage. John and I had always been involved in church and community work wherever we lived and were needed.” 

Retirement also allowed time for hobbies. JoAnn chose art work, and John loved restoring old cars. “As a matter of fact,” says JoAnn, “restoring cars became a family affair. It was not unusual to find both of us lying under a car pulling out a motor or putting on brake liners. Surprisingly, most of the time, we agreed on what we were doing.” 

In 2017, JoAnn had heart by-pass surgery and was hospitalized for three months due to complications. In 2018, JoAnn and John began thinking of finding a place with few home responsibilities as well as a place where they would always be together. They had heard about Kirby Pines and made an appointment to learn about Life Care. “We had no intention of making a decision that day,” says JoAnn, “but after our visit, we signed a contract immediately. Unbelievably, we sold our house, had an estate sale, and moved to Kirby Pines in less than a month!” 

The Ginn family
The Ginn Family

JoAnn says that Kirby Pines felt like home immediately. “Everyone seems to truly care about and help each other,” says JoAnn, “and there are more activities than you can possibly participate in.” JoAnn had the opportunity to experience the caring at Kirby when John became ill and died in January 2021. “Those were difficult days,” remembers JoAnn. “I had my family, along with church and Kirby families, to support me. It is a comfort to my family to know that I am in a safe place doing the things I love to do.” Those things include an assortment of card games, working in Michael’s Gift Shop, and participating in Kirby Theater productions. 

When asked about her favorite Christmas, JoAnn, without hesitation, relates the story of a grandchild born in 1999 with only one-half a heart. Unexpectedly, in the second week of his life, a heart transplant became available on December 23rd, which saved his life. “Another Christmas miracle,” says JoAnn.” 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.


Resident Spotlight: Hugh & Banky Wilson

THE FORTY YEAR BREAK

Forty years is a long time between “going steady” and getting married. The story of how that happened to Banky and Hugh Wilson reads like a Hollywood script. Separated after high school, the inevitable happened. Both found different interests and career paths. However, fate stepped in, and their story has a happy ending, just like in the movies. 

Ruby “Banky” Godhold’s young life was sometimes difficult; but despite overwhelming obstacles, she says that her childhood was a happy time, and she always felt loved. Born in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, her family moved to Houston, Texas, but eventually returned to St. Louis. Banky remembers that while in Houston, she had her picture taken with The Cisco Kid. At age six, while visiting her family in Tunica, Mississippi, she became paralyzed for three months due to encephalitis. 

Banky sometimes missed school, especially during the fifth and sixth grades. She loved the solitude of home while her family was away. During one report, she was absent 23 days! Despite this, she maintained good grades. When Banky was nine years old, her parents divorced. She and her brother returned to Tunica to live with her grandparents, aunt, and uncle. There, life was good. In high school, she met and began “going steady” with Hugh Wilson. She was a cheerleader, was active in many organizations, and voted Class Favorite by her classmates. 

Following graduation, Banky enrolled in the University of Mississippi, becoming an honor student in the School of Business. She received majors in Business and Education in 1963. While at Ole Miss, Banky was a roommate with Lynda Lee Mead, who would be chosen as Miss America. 

Banky returned to Tunica and taught school for several years. She married a local farmer, and they would have two sons, Sterling and Bryan. Banky became a stay- at- home mom. She was a Cub Scout den mother, played guitar in a band, and eventually started and managed the Hollywood Café that she and her husband owned. After her children were grown, Banky divorced and moved to Memphis for six years. She returned to Tunica so that she could have a horse and animals she loved. She worked as an Outreach Aftercare Counselor with Region Mental Health which included weekly visits to the county jail to counsel inmates. 

Hugh Wilson is a native of Tunica, Mississippi and has one sister. During the 1940’s and 50’s, Hugh worked in the Blue and White Café which his parents owned. According to Hugh, “I was well known as a ‘short order cook,’ and my famous double cheeseburger, ‘the Hugh Jr. Special.’ ”

In high school, Hugh was active in all sports, played trombone in the band, was class vice-president, and was a Senior Honor Student. As President of the 4-H Club, Hugh took great pride in owning and showing the Grand Champion Steer at the Mid-South Exposition in Memphis! 

Following graduation from high school, Hugh entered Mississippi State University where he elected to study Accounting. He was actively involved in several organizations including the Air Force ROTC. Upon graduation in 1964, Hugh was acknowledged as a Distinguished Military Graduate which enabled him to get a regular commission in the U.S. Air Force. 

Hugh’s military career is quite impressive. He served five years in the Air Force including one tour in Vietnam. He was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross for a night-time medical mission during a typhoon. He was also awarded The Air Force Commendation Medal. Fortunately, he survived a crash that destroyed his aircraft! Following active duty, Hugh served five years in the Ready Reserve, and 20 years in the Air National Guard in various leadership positions, including Commander with rank of Colonel. A specialty in the unit he served had eight KC135 refueling aircraft. At retirement, Hugh was awarded The Legion of Merit. 

Hugh also had a civilian career in aviation. In 1969, he began flying for TWA, and flew all of their aircraft except the DC-9 and B-747. He retired in 2002 as an international B-767 Captain. Between his military and commercial aviation, Hugh has flown extensively all over the world! 

The Wilsons eating wedding cake
Married After 40 Years

In 2002, Hugh was living in St. Augustine, Florida, and decided to make a trip to Tunica. There, he became re-united with Banky, and according to Hugh, “Long story short, we realized we still loved each other and soon got married. We tell everyone that we just took a 40 year break.” 

Continuing to live in Tunica, Banky and Hugh enjoyed retirement. As members of the Episcopal Church, both served on the Vestry, and Hugh as president of the Rotary Club. They heard about Kirby Pines from the Dazeys, whom they met at a luncheon. After one visit to Kirby, they returned for a second visit and put down a deposit. They moved to Kirby in 2021. 

Banky is limited in physical activity but enjoys meeting with the Needle Art Group. Hugh is involved with the Ball Room Dancing Group, the Photo Club, and the Theater Group. He has also been Master of Ceremonies in two Kirby entertainment venues. 

“Since moving to Kirby Pines,” both agree, “we have met many wonderful people and made many new friends.” Banky recalls that while in Rehab, she had a birthday and received over 100 cards! Both are appreciative of the health care benefits, and declare, “Moving to Kirby was a ‘Godsend’! ” 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.


Resident Spotlight: Elsie Bloodworth

THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT

To know Elsie Bloodworth is to know someone who is friendly, always smiling and humorous. She is a person who can brighten your day with an encounter.

Elsie is always busy. Since moving to Kirby Pines in 2021, she is the “go-to” person if you want something done in the creative or artistic realm. This could describe her entire life, especially as she was a pioneer in paving the way for women to become recognized as being capable of becoming leaders in the business world. The accomplishments in her life are amazing. How could a girl born and raised in a small, rural community in Mississippi achieve the ultimate personal and professional life?

Elsie Stafford was born and raised on a self-sustaining farm in Winona, Mississippi. Life was simple and good. With great parents and grandparents, good food, three siblings and a helpful community, Elsie’s life was ideal for creating her personality and strong work ethic. According to Elsie, “I could write a book about all my experiences growing up. We grew all of our food and preserved it for the winter. My father provided the meat. Our cows produced milk for our family and supplied a source of income. Hog killing was a big event. Breakfast was always a big meal, and not unusual for our family to have quail, hot biscuits, gravy and rice along with jellies and jams.”

Elsie loved school and was very social. She had the same classmates for all 12 grades. “We had good teachers, and although I maintained a good average, my brother won many math contests,” says Elsie. Elsie’s leadership skills developed early as she served as captain of the basketball team and president of the 4HA club. She also ran track and sang in the glee club.

Elsie could not afford to attend college, but she learned of the Draughon’s Business College in Memphis. So, following graduation in 1945, Elsie moved the 125 miles to Memphis and lived with friends while she attended Draughon’s. 

Shortly after coming to Memphis, Elsie met and began dating her future husband, a college student. “We didn’t have any money to afford entertainment,” admits Elsie, “But we both loved to play tennis. We would go to the tennis court, and if it was dark, we spent a dime to turn on the electricity and played until the lights went out.” The courtship was brief, and they married three months after meeting.

It would be seven years before the first child, Steven, was born. He was followed by Terri, and then Scott. Elsie loved being a homemaker and mother. According to Elsie, “Our home was a ‘hangout’ for our kids and their friends. Each child owned their own horse, and I think the happiest time in their lives was riding in horse shows, such as the one in Germantown.” The family lived in mid-town Memphis and attended Eudora Baptist Church.

A Younger Elsie

During the seven years before her children came, Elsie worked at various jobs, including secretarial work at Western Union, selling real estate, and as executive secretary to a vice-president of First Tennessee Bank. As Elsie’s children became older, she had the desire to return to work and obtained employment with Innkeepers Supply, a division of the Holiday Inn chain. After seven years, she took the big leap and became a partner in Mid-America Hotel Furnishings which sold furnishings to hotels. “We helped the hotels put the total package of furnishings together,” states Elsie. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of the Branson, Missouri “boom”, furnishing 25 hotels and several theaters including those of Ray Stevens, Andy Williams and Wayne Newton. Her company also was involved with the Hampton Inns and other hotel chains. Eventually, Elsie sold her partnership but continued to work on commission. “I made more money working on commission than I did as a partner, and I didn’t have the worry of managing the company,” admits Elsie.

In 1995, Elsie and a friend started the Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E) golf tournament with participants from the hotel industry, many of whom were from other countries. “Our money went to the Hemophilia Foundation. Through the years of the tournament’s existence, we donated more money to that foundation than any other donor in Tennessee,” reports Elsie.

One of Elsie’s favorite hobbies was gardening, and she became a Master Gardener, donating her time to help the various local gardens. Elsie also enjoyed travel, and in her work, she traveled the United States and to 13 foreign countries.

If there was such a thing as retirement, Elsie enjoyed playing golf several days a week and played in several tournaments. Her favorite was The Golden Girls Tournament. Elsie enjoys time with her adult children, her six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Elsie says that living at Kirby Pines has been an adventure. She is involved in many of the activities provided at Kirby, including the Art Club, Bible study, church services, various card games, and currently as Wing Leader. She visits residents in other areas of Kirby as well as being a part of the production staff for the Kirby Pines Theater Group.

When asked what she liked about living at Kirby, Elsie replied, “The residents are caring, and the staff is efficient. The food is outstanding, and I don’t have to wash dishes! I no longer call Kirby ‘home’; I now call it my resort!” 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.


Resident Spotlight: Steve & Linda Tittle

The Tittles

NEW LIFE – DIFFERENT GOALS

It was as though a “breathe of fresh air” came when Linda and Steve Tittle moved to Kirby Pines. Their youth and joyful spirit were a welcome addition to our community. After losing their only child, Brian, at the age of 26 to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), the Tittles were finally able to transition from life focused on survival to one of a “normal” existence. How did this couple who seem so compatible meet? Well, they lived only three houses apart!

Linda (Lott) Tittle was born in Selmer, Tennessee, in 1946, but her family moved to Memphis when she was one year old. They moved again when she was in the sixth grade, a move that would later become an important one.

Linda graduated from Kingsbury High School in 1964. She was a member of the Latin Club but admits she was not involved with many school activities. As an only child, she welcomed the opportunity to play with the neighborhood kids, occasionally babysitting with some of the younger ones.

Following graduation from high school, Linda enrolled in Draughon’s Business College and worked in secretarial jobs until her son, Brian, was born. Following Brian’s diagnosis at the age of three years, Linda (and Steve) cared for Brian until his death. According to Linda, “Everything centered on Brian’s care and comfort.”

Steve Tittle was born in a small town in Alabama in 1942. Steve describes life there as resembling the song words, “Coal mine, moonshine, or move on down the line.” Soon after Steve’s birth, his father was called to serve in WWII. Steve and his mother lived with his father’s parents; life with his grandparents was good. Steve was three years old when he was re-introduced to his father. 

Steve and his family eventually moved to Memphis, three houses from the Lott family. Steve graduated from Kingsbury High School in 1960, and then spent three years in the Army as a Specialist 4th Class, stationed primarily in Germany. Following his return to Memphis, Steve attended Memphis State University for one year. Unable to decide on a major, Steve chose to enlist in a steamfitter school sponsored by the Steamfitters Union. For 35 years, Steve worked as a steamfitter. According to Steve, “I enjoyed working with my hands, doing construction in chemical plants, installing air-conditioners, building boilers, and running natural gas lines for heating equipment.”

While Steve was in the Army, Linda became acquainted with the Tittle family, occasionally babysitting Steve’s younger brothers. The difference in their ages and the Army service kept Linda and Steve from meeting. According to Steve, this is how they finally met: “I had just returned from the Army and was talking with a neighbor in the front yard. He asked me if I had met the young lady who lived up the street, who, at that moment, was playing ‘stick ball’ with neighborhood kids. I told him I had not noticed her. He said, ‘Do I have to tell you what to do?’ I left my neighbor standing there and hurried down our street to meet a very pretty young lady named Linda.”

Linda and Steve dated for two years before marrying in 1966. Their first and only child, Brian, was born three years later. When he was diagnosed with DMD, Linda and Steve knew that there would be limited time for Brian to have a normal life. “When we found that his fate was sealed,” admits Steve, “we vowed to make the most of his early years. We went to every theme park you could name, visited museums such as the Smithsonian, attended special celebrations, and, of course, Tiger basketball games! We went until he couldn’t.” 

When Brian became homebound, a friend from church who was a nurse came to their home and stayed with Brian one afternoon a week, giving Linda freedom to leave her responsibilities for a few hours. That nurse is now Kirby Pines resident—Sylvia Statham! “She was our angel,” declares Steve. Sylvia became a good friend to Brian and, knowing that his favorite band was Chicago, arranged for Brian to attend a concert in Memphis AND visit with the band afterward. “Brian was on ‘cloud nine’ and refused to wash his hands for a week,” laughs Steve.

The Tittle’s Wedding Day

It was time for rebuilding for Linda and Steve following Brian’s death in 1995. One life with all the struggles and dreams had closed, and a new life with different goals began. According to Linda, “We became roller coaster fanatics; we rode the biggest and best. We were also heavily into line dancing, attending classes twice a week.” Steve adds, “We are past that now and hoping to make the grade as ballroom dancers.”

For 14 years the Tittles occasionally visited Kirby Pines. “One day, while visiting the new ‘L’ Wing, we loved one of the apartments and decided this was no longer a dream,” states Steve. “We moved in, we love it, and we have never looked back,” he adds. They are now involved in many activities of Kirby Pines, including the Theatre Group. 

When asked to summarize their feelings about life at Kirby Pines, both Linda and Steve agreed: “Not until we moved in and met the residents did we realize that Kirby has a hidden quality—special people live here! They practice the ‘Golden Rule.’ We were accepted immediately and made to feel like family.” 

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines.


Resident Spotlight: Phyllis Mitchell

STARTING A NEW PHASE OF LIFE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mitchell's wedding day
The Mitchell’s Wedding Day

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

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

Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines.