When Gail and I moved into Epworth Villa from Arkansas over nine years ago, we knew no one here. We selected Epworth because we were impressed with the friendliness of the residents. We thought, “that’s the atmosphere we want to live in.” And we have not been disappointed!
We found such an exciting variety in the residents, people from all walks of life; they were friendly, open, engaging, and down-to-earth solid citizens. Over the years we have come to know many residents and are amazed at so many lives well lived. Their impact on their profession, their community, and our society has been highly impressive. They are skilled in the medical field as well as having a rewarding career diving 18-wheelers across the country; they have taught at all levels in the educational system as well as having a wonderful and fulfilling life as homemakers. They have fought in world wars and served as nurses in our hospitals. They have ministered to their congregations and served on the mission field. As youth, they picked cotton with their family in southwest Oklahoma; as adults, they owned 1,000-acre wheat farms. As businessmen and women, they have started businesses, banks, and agencies. A few even played football for OU! They have been of the “Greatest Generation” as well as the one following. As a summary statement, they have been tine people to get to know. Let me share a few such residents.
We’ve had our War Heroes. As a WW II Marine pilot, he flew Corsair fighters in the South Pacific and closed out his life as a Prayer Warrior at Crossing Community Medical Clinic. You’ve heard of the Battle of the Bulge; how about being the soldier who drove the jeep for the forward observer, directing tanks to their forward positions? One of our past residents parachuted behind German lines on u-day at Normandy. As a Cold War warrior, we had a Vice Admiral who served as the commanding officer of nuclear submarines. We have several residents who served in Vietnam. Included in the group, is an individual who was the nurse on planes evacuating the wounded from Vietnam.
Then there is the school nurse who spent 20 years in the frigid temperatures at Fairbanks, Alaska. And missionaries; we have those who served on the mission field in Russia, Africa, and Taiwan. One resident I really came to love was a little old lady with a warm, beautiful smile and a sparkle in her eyes; she was from Cushing. In her younger days, she loved ballroom dancing; you could picture her out on the dance floor enjoying life to the fullest.
We had a lady here who was the epitome of grit and determination. What an example of how to live out one’s life! She was a champion collegiate swimmer having established the women’s swimming program at Duke University and later coached that team. She arrived at Epworth with a rare form of Parkinson’s disease. It was very debilitating, but she would swim and swim and swim. When we first knew her, she was doing 100 laps at our pool per day; then it dropped to 75; then 50; then 30; and even after she went to AL, they still rolled her to the pool. She swam until she was gone.
We had a lady who served as a switchboard operator in Kansas City during WWII. A young man she had yet to meet, was working as a travel agent, arranging train schedules for soldiers traveling around the nation. During that time frame, they met, fell in love, married and, when the war ended, they established a travel agency. Among other events, they arranged train charters for OU fans to travel to the annual OU-Texas football game.
We have our share of doctors and attorneys. Included in that group was a District Federal Judge appointed by President Carter. In the medical category, we’ve had hospital executives and one individual who was responsible for establishing the stroke center at Mercy Hospital; the center is recognized as one of the best in the country.
And the list goes on. Every new resident brings a life full of adventure and stories; some beautiful; others tragic; some tales that make your head spin; and others who have just lived the enjoyable simple life our Lord has given them.
These men and women, and many more, have served to enrich our lives at Epworth Villa. With enough “digging”, you too can discover and enjoy the “Gems of Life” who live here and are your neighbors!