3 2 1 Liftoff Amelia Wigton, Headliner News
Sitting on the floor in the spare bedroom, Ozark resident George Baldwin pulls out book after book, picture after picture and even framed dollar after dollar from one of two steamer trunks. Each book, picture and dollar has a story to tell.
“We would take dollar bills, roll them up and put them in Thermo-Shrink. Then we’d tie it to the wire bundle under the head rest,” he said while showing the framed dollar bill with the handwritten words, “Accompanied Glenn in Friendship 7 Feb. 20, 1962.” Baldwin signed his name on the bottom of the bill and astronaut John Glenn signed his name to the left. Read More...
Damon Thomas: Big Man With a Big Heart By Jim Nelson
Damon Thomas was big even when he was little. He weighed 16 pounds and 15 ounces when he was born, which is large even by Texas standards. Damon said he was something of a miracle baby. His mother was advised by a doctor in Shreveport to have an abortion. She told the doctor that she would have the baby even if she died.
His shepherd’s heart was big enough to minister to 11 congregations through the years in his native Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. In Missouri, he served as pastor of Baptist churches in Crocker, “where the people treated me like royalty,” Halltown, where he received a unanimous call, and at Immanuel, Springfield, where he labored for over two decades before retiring in 1998. Damon knows the exact length of his ministry at Immanuel. “Twenty years, eight months, three weeks,” he said. “The first time we walked into the auditorium at Immanuel, I had this feeling---‘We are home.’”
Home for Damon has been The Baptist Home at Ozark since December 29, 2006. He called it “the best move I ever made.” Even though he is a double amputee, Damon is still able to live in the independent living apartments with his fellow “Outbackers” as neighbors, thanks to the grace of God and a high-tech electric wheelchair for which he is grateful to Medicare.
Adversity came Damon’s way long before he faced his first amputation. While he was pastor in Longview, Texas, his first wife Lois was stricken with cancer. What struck me as he told me about the ordeal of losing her was his lack of self pity. Instead, he mentioned a host of people who helped him. There was the surgeon who waived his fee and told Damon, “you do the preaching and I’ll do the doctoring.” There was the bank officer who loaned him all the money he needed for the hospital fees when Damon admitted he had no collateral for the loan. Damon expressed gratitude to a fellow Mason who asked him if he would “please use my credit card when you travel to Houston to the hospital. If I don’t get some charges on there, they’ll take it away from me,” this gracious man told Damon.
Damon’s son, Brad, was nine years old at the time. He wrote his mother a letter while she was in the hospital in Houston. When Brad became a man, Damon showed him the letter. He did not remember it even though he cherished the memories of his mother. Today Brad is Vice President and General Manager of Silver Dollar City, a member of Second Baptist, Springfield, and a Sunday School teacher.
Damon is especially grateful to the current pastor of Immanuel, B. J. Chapman. On November 20th last year, B. J. invited Damon back to preach the morning sermon. There was a full house. The sign out front said “Welcome, Damon Thomas.” Damon was overwhelmed by the reception. “I have never seen that many people in the church. It was a tremendous reception. I am still awed by it,” Damon said.
That it was the Thanksgiving service was surely not a coincidence.
Damon asked to be remembered in prayer. In addition to numerous health problems he deals with, he recently learned that his kidneys are failing. Then the big man with the big compassionate heart smiled his best smile and said. “Either way, l’ll be OK. I know I’ll be taken care of,” Damon said.
"Best Kept Secret in Missouri" is Out of the Closet By Jim Nelson
Thelma “Nib” Reeder is probably crazy like a fox. She keeps calling the Arcadia Valley campus of The Baptist Home the ‘best kept secret in Missouri’ in order to help her good friend and campus administrator Sherri Snider draw more residents to the campus. It seems to be working, too. The campus has seen a build up of residents in the last year or so. In what may have been an exercise in preaching to the choir, Nib and several other residents of the campus in Arcadia Valley shared stories of how they came to live in this beautiful place at the quarterly meeting of the trustees in December.
Nib has been a resident in one of the independent living apartments since July 2007 and calls it “the best decision I ever made. I was folded into the family here so quickly. The residents were so friendly and the staff so helpful…kitchen staff reminds me to eat my banana daily and the housekeepers keep my apartment free of contagious germs,” Nib said.
While Nib came to The Home from nearby Farmington, Lee Truax came over 6000 miles from the Ukraine to the campus. It is a long story, but president Steve Jones and advancement officer Roger Hatfield found Lee working as a missionary at a long term care facility in the Ukraine even though she was well past retirement age. “I think you are supposed to come live with us at The Baptist Home,” Steve told Lee.
“As an old geriatric nurse who has worked in Montana, Mississippi and California, I can tell you that The Baptist Home is not perfect, but it is the best I have ever seen,” Lee said.
A retired missionary who served in Africa, Ruth Ann Short is also a great advocate for “the best kept secret.” Ruth Ann talked about how she and her late husband, James “Doc” Short, loved to fish when they first came to campus. Later the main pond in front of the Riggs-Scott building became so clogged with lily pads and debris that it became unfishable. So Ruth Ann touted the renovation of the ponds, the new aeration system and fountain and how the fishing had been restored. She enjoyed telling tales from the fishing derbies and how much some of the residents enjoyed being able to fish in the pond, some for the very first time.
Carolyn Gerheauser, who shares a hallway with Ruth Ann downstairs in Burney I, also shared her story. Her pastor and an advancement officer for The Baptist Home, Ron Mackey, was instrumental in getting Carolyn relocated from Imperial to The Baptist Home. She has taken up the autoharp and sings with the Ensemble and the Arcadia Valley Community Choir. “I am very happy to be here,” Carolyn told the trustees. “We sang ‘In the Garden’ for Chapel service. That really makes my day when we can sing.”
Beverly Goss told the trustees how pleased she was with the care her late mother received at The Baptist Home in Chillicothe. Even though Beverly did not feel she needed Intermediate Care at The Baptist Home, she feels good about being on the Goodwin wing. “I really like the larger room I have there plus I feel like I can minister to some of the residents on my wing who need lots of care,” Beverly said.
Wanda Purvis, a member of Patterson Baptist Church, told the trustees how quickly she came to love The Baptist Home even though she has only been on campus for a few months. She has become a welcome ambassador to other new residents and has endeared herself to all with her sense of humor.
Another resident Sherri Snider introduced to the trustees that day was a former trustee, Lois Waltrip from Bloomfield. Lois did not speak to the trustees but has shared many of her paintings which are currently displayed along the halls at Burney II and III. Lois learned to paint from an art teacher at the same school where she taught in Missouri’s Bootheel.
Lois and her late husband, Jimmy, are long time friends of and major donors to The Baptist Home. The Arcadia Valley campus has always been close to their hearts. Lois had planned for a long time to come to Arcadia Valley and affirms that she made the right decision to come when she did.
Helen Wilkinson “Very Happy” at The Baptist Home - Chillicothe By Jim Nelson
My wife, Sharon, sometimes travels with me to The Baptist Home campuses. When she traveled with me to Chillicothe recently, a couple she knows in Moberly told her to be sure to look up Helen Wilkinson at The Baptist Home.
Later, I was able to meet this lovely and gracious resident of our independent living apartments and arranged an interview with her on my next trip to Chillicothe.
Helen believes strongly in Providence although she never used that word. She traveled with her late husband Kenneth to Southern Seminary in Louisville, to Elvins Baptist Church in the Park Hills area, to Second-Poplar Bluff, to Viburnum, a mission of Flat River Baptist Church (where Baptist Home Director of Development Virgil Vaughn was serving as pastor) and to Immanuel Baptist Church in Moberly where Kenneth was pastor for four years.
Helen had enough elementary education hours to teach school and, like so many women of her generation, went to summer school to finish up her degree. When she finally completed her degree at the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1972, she almost graduated with one of her sons.
While Kenneth was working full time at the prison in Moberly and Helen was playing the organ at First-Moberly, they learned that the Ballwin company was letting people sell organs and pianos from their home. So they started a music business with organs and pianos and added guitars, sheet music and other instruments through the years. Eventually they had a place where the music showroom was downstairs with living quarters upstairs. That took care of most of the overhead so the business was able to prosper. Helen called it “the way the Lord provided.”
They sold the music business in 1988 and became active with Campers on Missions which led to their next ministry opportunity as full time volunteers at Windermere.
Kenneth died of pancreatic cancer in 1999, and in 2005 Helen moved to Rolla to live with her daughter Rebecca. Helen also has two sons. Terry lives in Iowa, and David in Oregon. When Rebecca and her family relocated to the St. James area, Helen began to check out The Baptist Home at Chillicothe. Things either fell into place or “it was the way the Lord provided.” An independent living apartment opened up just when she needed it.
Helen is excited about learning to paint. She showed me several paintings and was proud that she felt she was making progress in her new craft.
“I’m very happy here,” Helen said.
Nib Gets A Nibble
Four hundred fifty-three fish and counting have been transferred from the smaller spring fed ponds to the large pond at TBH-AV. After the large pond was drained, reinforced and cleaned the pond needed to be restocked. This task was taken on by Mrs. "Nib" Reeder with the assistance of Administrator Sherri Snider. Amongst the cypress trees Nib would sit and literally reel them in one by one to be released into the other pond. Nib enjoys the cool breeze and shade despite brutal summer heat. When asked about her favorite bait she quickly states the fish like real worms the best. She turns and dips her reel in the water before casting again. She says it was a trick her mother taught her - it keeps the line working smoothly and not catching in the reel. Nib goes on to say she remembers her grandmother fishing and she preferred to squat at the edge of the pond so she could quickly stand up if she got a nibble. Despite her grandmothers technique Nib preferred her comfortable lawn chair. Like any good fisherman she told stories throughout the afternoon that are mostly just stories but none the less entertaining.
Planning for Tomorrow
Dale and Pamela Benton first became acquainted with The Baptist Home while visiting Dale’s aunt. They noticed the facility was always clean and nice, and his aunt was in “first-class condition.”
Recognizing the value of planning ahead, the couple decided it was time to make preparations for their later years. And, based on their previous experiences with The Baptist Home, they knew it was the place to go.
They found an Independent Living option that made good financial sense and moved into their new patio home which included 1,850 square feet, three bedrooms and a two-car garage. With this move, they secured themselves against future surprises without sacrificing the quality, comfort or even the size of their home. In fact, the Bentons were so pleased, they showed off their new place to over 30 friends and family members in the first two months!
As members of the Ozark family, Dale knows Pamela will be safe and in good care should anything happen to him. Both know they are welcome at the campus’ main facility, should it become necessary, and both are happy to have saved their children the difficulty of trying to make such important decisions for them.
The Baptist Home is Second Best
Hugh Painter says The Baptist Home is second best, second only to staying in your own home. Hugh, an independent living resident at Chillicothe, was part of a Second Baptist - Liberty presentation at his home church where he praised The Home for the care received by his wife, Evelyn, who has Alzheimer's. Chillicothe campus administrator Lynn Jackson presented an appreciation plaque to pastor Jason Edwards for the church's support of The Home. Lynn expressed special appreciation for the many late and current residents the church has sent to the Chillicothe campus and mentioned each by name.
In addition to Hugh Painter, other members of Second up front for recognition were trustee emeritus Bill Riggs, grandson of the founders of The Home, and current trustees Mike Lassiter, an associate pastor of the church, and Ken Chatlos.