Resident Spotlight: Don Wiseman


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


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


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


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


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


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: Billie Jean Ratliff


The nurturing and caring instincts which are requisites for being a good mother usually come into play when a woman gives birth to a child. Sometimes fate steps in and requires those skills before that occurs. Such was the case with Billie Jean Ratliff. She was the first to be born into a family with six brothers and two sisters to follow her. Because she was the oldest child, she was cast into a maternal role at an early age. This experience would help her later on when she had her own children. 

Billie Jean Dawkins was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Memphis on November 23, 1934. Her parents married before completing high school and both found it necessary to work outside the home to support their growing family. For four years, Billie Jean’s father served in the military and his absence made it necessary for the family to live with relatives. 

Billie Jean’s paternal grandfather built several malls in the Memphis area and after leaving the military, Billie Jean’s father opened a grocery store in one of the malls on Getwell Road and eventually at two other sites. All the children, at one time in their lives, worked as cashiers or stockers in the stores. Billie Jean remembers vividly being at the store on an infamous day in 1950 when a Chicago and Southern airplane crashed near Getwell Road and their store. “My mother and I were standing at the front window of the store” recalls Billie Jean. “We watched as the plane crashed near us. My father was the first one to reach the site and pulled all passengers out to safety! The Commercial Appeal featured a nice article about him.” 

The role of Billie Jean to be the homemaker and caretaker of the younger children began when she was eight or nine years of age with her responsibilities increasing as she reached junior high. Usually, the parents did not get home in the evening until seven or eight o’clock. So, she learned to cook, clean the house, wash clothes and supervise homework. Billie Jean says that this seemed like a normal life, but she missed many of the opportunities to become involved with the extra-curricular activities enjoyed by her age group. However, she was a majorette in her high school band for three years. One of Billie Jean’s granddaughters related this about her, “I believe that the circumstances of Grandmother’s early life are responsible for the strength, resilience, courage, stamina, loyalty, and humility that made her a good mother and person.” 

Billie Jean in HS

Billie Jean attended several different grammar schools and graduated from Messick High School in 1952. She enrolled in Memphis State University (now The University of Memphis), and after one year, met and married Jimmy Ganong. They were married for seven years before divorcing and had four children in those seven years. This meant she had multiple children in diapers at the same time. Fortunately, her Mother-in-law was available to help. Billie Jean says, “It was great when they all got to secondary school and were all participating in sports and activities together.” 

Two years after her divorce from Jimmy, Billie Jean married her high school sweetheart, James Gordon Tobias, a Lieutenant with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Billie Jean and “Toby” had one daughter, giving them a fifth child. According to Billie Jean, “We had forty-three years together! He was a wonderful father and person and instrumental in starting ballparks throughout our neighborhood.” Unfortunately, “Toby” died of a heart attack in 2006. 

Billie Jean is extremely proud of her children, all of whom graduated from college and built successful lives and careers. One daughter, in particular, Cheri Ganong, is well known for advancing from a “Pom Pom Girl” at Memphis State to Director of the program, then leading the University’s group to ten continuous years of national championships. 

In addition to being responsible for rearing five children, Billie Jean worked for ICI Americans Chemical Company for thirty-seven years. The company was bought by Humko and according to Billie Jean, had five name changes during her employment. “I thoroughly loved working with the people there,” says Billie Jean. “They treated me like family.” 

In 2012, after seven years of widowhood, Billie Jean married Barney Ratliff. They had known each other for some time through mutual friends. Together they made trips to Scotland and Ireland and many trips to Pickwick Lake and the University of Alabama to visit grandchildren. Unexpectedly, Barney passed away in 2018. According to Billie Jean, “We had six wonderful years together and after his death, I knew I did not want to live by myself or with my children, so, I started investigating, and because I already had friends living at Kirby Pines and with help from Marketing, I made the move to Kirby Pines in 2018.” Billie Jean enjoys having her family close by which now includes twelve grandchildren and soon four great-grandchildren. 

Billie Jean continues, “I have always loved my church, Highland Church of Christ and I’m so happy to have the 8:00 am church services available here every Sunday. I have loved every minute of living at Kirby Pines. I play cards in several groups, work in the Blossom Shop and enjoy meeting so many people. Kirby Pines has the most wonderful people!” 

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines

Resident Spotlight: Joe & Geneva Jackson


A beautiful fourteen-year-old girl with brown hair and lovely blue eyes enrolls in high school and meets a seventeen year old handsome young man who is President of the junior high school class. They fall in love and elope as soon as he graduates, and she has completed her sophomore year in high school. 

Today, that couple, Geneva and Joe Jackson are still deeply in love and will celebrate their sixty-seventh wedding anniversary in May. When asked what attracted them to each other, Geneva said, “I just liked the way he looked.” Joe said, “It was her beautiful eyes.” This is their story:

Geneva Gilliland and Joe Jackson were both born to farming families and lived in neighboring counties of West Tennessee. Geneva was born in 1939 in a community called “Frog Jump” in Crockett County, the last of five girls. “I was supposed to be a boy and I had already been named ‘John Wayne’. I think my father was so disappointed he wanted to pinch my head off,” says Geneva. Geneva laughs when she says this and relates that she had a very happy childhood and a loving family. She was given the opportunity to study piano, played piano at church and for a quartet that sang every Saturday morning on WTRV in Ripley, Tennessee. 

Joe was born in 1936 in the “Nankipoo” community, Lauderdale County, completing a family of four boys and one girl. They would later move to Halls, Tennessee when Joe’s father bought a combined grocery store and service station. Geneva and Joe’s families were members of the Methodist Church. It was at a church gathering that they actually first saw each other. Both would attend high school in Halls, Tennessee; Joe became President of his senior class and their romance blossomed. 

Geneva 1957

It was 1955, at the end of the school year, when Geneva and Joe decided to elope. With two friends accompanying them, they traveled to Holly Springs, Mississippi and were married in the study of a Methodist minister. The next day, they traveled by train to Flint, Michigan. Joe’s parents had moved there previously, and Geneva and Joe made their home with them for one year. During that time, Geneva completed requirements for a high school diploma. 

Returning to Memphis in 1957, Geneva worked as a nursing assistant in the OB-GYN area of Baptist Hospital. She completed a laboratory course and was employed in an OB/GYN physician’s office for six years. When their first son Tim was born, Geneva became a stay-at-home mom welcoming son Robin five years later. 

Joe was first employed by Purity Products, a candy wholesale company. He completed a William R. Moore and Dale Carnegie course, then decided to start his own business, Jackson Vending Company. Geneva managed the office and counted what she called “dirty money” in the literal sense! After ten years, the business was sold and Joe bought a Western Auto store in Trenton, Tennessee. During the six years there, the area suffered a tremendous flood when several area dams broke. According to Geneva, “It was an awful time as property and lives were lost. Business and interest rates were bad, and we decided to move back to Memphis.”

Returning to Memphis, Joe again began a vending company, Spartain Automatic, which he managed for twelve years before selling. Joe’s last job was in Public Relations for Car Wash USA, a business started by their son Tim. 

Following retirement, the Jackson’s took two cruises and enjoyed their family life. Both played golf and were active in church. Joe also played baseball while Geneva loved singing in groups, cooking, and antiquing.

Joe 1957

According to Geneva, “In 2009, Joe and I started looking for a place that was like home. We looked at three other places and didn’t like any of them” Laughingly, she adds, “We had known Nancy Pence a long time, even before she wed George! Knowing Nancy and others who lived here and working with Pat Mills in Marketing—this was our ticket to buy in.”

In 2016, Joe was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After eight weeks of radiation, he was cured. However, the need to make a change resulted in the decision to move to Kirby Pines in July, 2017.

Geneva assists with the memorials held at Kirby Pines, cares for Joe and plans to sing with the Entertainers Chorus. When asked what she likes best about Kirby Pines, Geneva responded, “I like everything (except COVID)! I especially like being near all of our church friends from Christ United Methodist Church who live here. I love the atmosphere and the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in our Lord.” Their two sons live close by, and the four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren make for frequent happy family time.

Joe and Geneva Jackson are a unique couple. To know them is to love them and they seem to love everyone. Geneva has an infectious laugh which is easily identifiable. Joe entertains us by mimicking Chinese and telling tall tales. Both Geneva and Joe hope they will be together for a long time, in love, even into eternity. 

Wrtten by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines

Resident Spotlight: Barbara Hanrahan


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


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