Beatrix Wall Kernan was born on Aug 22, 1918 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the second youngest of five sisters. Their mother, Alice, was from France. Their father, Benjamin Wall Kernan, was a prominent lawyer and professor of law at Loyola University.
In 1928, when Bea was only nine years old, her father died suddenly. It was right before the Great Depression hit. Her mother lived to be 92.
Bea started working for the New Orleans Public Service Office and was set up on a blind date. Bea and L.C. were married on April 29, 1941. Together, they had four children and loved to travel. Bea was only thirty-five and had four young children under the age of ten when L.C. suddenly passed away.
Newly widowed, Bea decided to go back to work for the Public Service office. In 1965, she met Julian Lorenzen, “Big Daddy”, and fell in love again. They moved to Bay St. Louis, MS and had many friends and threw lively parties. They loved having their children and grandchildren visit during the summer. They would go crabbing and fishing together. They would also go down to the beach and watch the fireworks. Sadly, Julian passed away in 1986 from pancreatic cancer.
In 1987, Bea and all of her five sisters traveled to Medjugorje to see the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Mount Podbrdo. She also took a cruise to Hawaii with her sister, Margie, in 2009.
Bea has survived two hurricanes; Camille in August of 1969, and then Katrina on August 28, 2005. Katrina destroyed her house and sucked it into the Gulf of Mexico. Even after losing everything, Bea continues to live with a joie de vivre. She keeps her spirits up and always chooses to look at the bright side.
Since Katrina, she has lived in Henderson, Nevada, Dallas, Texas, and Plano, Texas. She jokes that she’s a Texan and she’s, “rooting for the Cowboys unless the Saints are playing!” Bea is a true southern lady and is thankful for all the blessings God has given her. She is always put together, gracious, and she loves to socialize. She enjoys happy hour and loves to see her friends while enjoying a glass of wine. Her fun loving and infectious spirit follow her everywhere she goes.
Bea celebrated her 101st birthday on the 22nd of August with family and friends around her.
Many people wonder what her secret is. She’ll tell you that she follows the same philosophy as her now 104-year-old sister..the 5 Fs: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, and Fun! (Also, one drink a day never hurt.) Sweet Bea makes 101 look fabulous!
Bea now has four children, eight grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. She is living life to the fullest.
Don was born in Oklahoma City in 1930. His mother was from Illinois. She met her husband, Don’s father, in high school. She was two years ahead in school and was a social worker until they were married. Don’s father ran a mattress factory.
Don had a huge love of airplanes. He owned his own plane at 18 years of age. Because of that, he decided to train as an aircraft engine expert at Pratt Whitney where he was taught about jet engines.
At age 16, Don and his friend started playing tennis together. At first, Don didn’t have the hang of it; he played incorrectly. Soon, however, he rose to be number two on his high school team. He went on to play as an amateur, internationally. At one time, their team beat the NCAA Champions. In 1965, their team played in the International Tour in Copenhagen and Don won the first tournament. Unfortunately, their team ultimately lost the tournament.
In 1961, at 31 years of age, Don met Evelyn at a teaching conference in San Antonio. The first night they met, he asked her to dance. He then asked her if she loved him and she responded, “I don’t know.” Don says Evelyn is, “4’11”, but she’s feisty.” The couple dated for one year before getting married. Evelyn had one son from a previous marriage; he was 3 years old when they married. In the 56 years since, they have had 6 children! They now have 20 grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren.
During his career, Don worked for TWA/American as a Service Manager. He wrote the regulations for the Service Managers for American. He was a graduate assistant in French at the University of Oklahoma and also taught Latin and French in Oklahoma City. When he retired, American gave Don a brick that is currently in the DFW Air Museum. In 1952, during the Korean War, Don was drafted into the Army.
As a retired senior, Don loves to travel. He speaks Spanish, French, and Italian! He also loves crossword puzzles. When you ask him, he believes that “the secret to a happy life is your attitude. It’s not so much about what happens to you, but how you react to it.” Also, having a job you like is very important. Be adaptable and always look at the bright side.
We should all have an attitude like Don and we’d probably be a lot happier. Definitely wise words to live by.
Emily has had an amazing life of travel and has seen many things along her way. In her younger years, she and her husband decided they would travel to two countries every year. Because of this, she has traveled to every country in the world! She believes that the secret to living to her age (97) is to “participate in everything” therefore, she is an ambassador at the community where she lives and an encourager to everyone to get involved.
Emily was born in Hawaii; she comes from a family of 6, and she is the youngest. When she was 19 years old, she witnessed a huge tragedy that would affect her and Hawaii for years to come. Her morning on December 7th, 1941, started off like any other day. She woke up and went to have breakfast with some friends who had just arrived in town. As they were eating, they heard some blasts that they brushed off as training at the Air Force Base nearby. The noises got louder and they climbed a mango tree to try and identify where the commotion was coming from. They were too far away and not in the right direction to see Pearl Harbor, but they could see the air attack going on above Hickman AFB. They turned on the radio and they were told, “This is the ‘real McCoy’, the ‘Japs’ are attacking Pearl Harbor; take cover!” They climbed the tree again so they could get another look at what was happening.
Emily describes the scene when they got up there as “Just at this moment we saw a plane nearby headed our direction and soon it was near enough for us to see the sun emblem; as we watched, we saw the Japanese pilot looking down, and it was that moment that he pulled a lever and we saw a bomb falling”. She describes thinking the bomb was going to fall close to where they were in the trees and they quickly scrambled down to get away. Turns out the bomb dropped a few blocks away. The teens ran to the scene and were astonished to find the damage and disarray. “We witnessed a holocaust” as Emily describes it. The town was ablaze and there were bodies everywhere. She recalls seeing that the owners of the local drug store had “perished in the rubble of their store”. There were four waves of attacks, and it lasted about an hour. The radio was all they had to get updates on the state of their homeland.
That night was almost worse, people hid in their homes, afraid that at any moment they would hear a bomb go off. The news was full of falsities and there were stories circulating of the Japanese parachuting to various locations around the island. They weren’t allowed to use phone service during this time and they were all worried about friends and family on the other islands. Finally, on December 9th, two days after the attack they were allowed to make calls (under strict censorship) to tell their loved ones they were okay. They were relieved to hear that no further attacks had been conducted.
Emily went to the University campus to help care for evacuees. There was a shortage of blood so the community came together to give blood. The lumber yards had turned into coffin makers and delivered truck load after truck load to Pearl Harbor. There were mass immunizations happening to guard against typhoid, diphtheria, and smallpox. Their currency was all stamped with “Hawaii” so that if attacked again, their money would be useless.
The Navy lost 1200 men, most of which happened in the first 10 minutes of the attack. The marines lost 109 men, and the army lost 218 men that day. Thousands more were injured. 68 civilians died and more were injured. 18 American ships were sunk or damaged and 200 planes were destroyed.
Hawaii was not the same for a long time there was a curfew of 6:00 pm that was enforced. Everyone who was able worked seven days a week for ten hours per day. People spent their free time with patients in the hospitals. Emily recalls writing letters to victims’ families and was a friend to burn victims who were suffering with pain. The beaches were barb wired and there was an influx of government workers and military personnel in Oahu. Mail was censored for a time as well. Emily’s worst memories were the temporary graves being exhumed and bodies washing up months later in the ocean around Pearl Harbor. On September 2, 1945 the war was over and they witnessed the V-J Day Parade!
This cowboy aficionado hails from Gilbert, Arizona. His family is Irish, but John was born in May of 1946 in Jasper County, Indiana. You’ll have to look up his boyhood hometown on the map because you probably have not ever heard of it…Rensselaer, Indiana. Trust me; it’s on the map…I looked.
His birth father was an outlaw and John didn’t share the details. However, his stepfather is the person who raised him, and that’s whom he refers to as his “dad.” His mom, Christina, married Ronnie when John was about five, and he was his dad from that time on.
John has two sisters, Bonnie and Linda, and three brothers, David, Kenny and Jimmy. Having a big family isn’t foreign to John; growing up, he was the oldest among 60 grandchildren. Can you imagine those family reunions? What fun!
In 2020, John will have been married to his wife, Pat, for 50 years. They met on a blind date. It was at a country western bar in Indiana where they were set up by a childhood friend. There was dancing involved. She was a “city girl” and he was a “country boy.”
When they got married, Pat had three children from her first marriage and they had one child together. Now, all these many years later, they have twelve grandchildren and 9 great grand children. He also has three cats who claim him: Sebastian, Megan and Simone.
Indiana was their home, but Arizona was their “adopted” home after health issues and job opportunities brought them to Phoenix. John worked in the grocery business. Once, when he was working at a Circle K, John was robbed by 10 men. That was the day he decided to pursue another line of work. He actually became a security officer. It was a highly stressful job, but it was an avenue which introduced him to high profile folks such as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Senator Dennis DeConcini and Senator John McCain. He had a security detail at the Wrigley Mansion where he met Alice Cooper and the band, Nine Inch Nails.
The work also introduced him to the cowboy scene where he met many famous cowboys, such as his favorite, Gene Autry. He also came to know the son and daughter of another favorite, Roy Rogers. He was in Arizona for about 6 months when he met one of his best friends, Rodd Wolff, a movie stuntman. They became friends for life.
At one time, John owned a salon close to where they lived. They catered to many celebrities. He met Peter Graves, Marie Osmond, and many others. It was during this time that Rodd introduced John to a cowboy festival in Scottsdale. There, he met local celebrities, Wallace and Ladmo, and even ended up appearing on their tv show!
Because John became so connected to celebrities and famous cowboys, a hobby just kind of happened…he became a collector of cowboy memorabilia. Pat had been collecting movie star clippings for clients for years, so collecting was something fun they could do together. At one time, John had over 8,000 items he took to schools, libraries, and roadshows.
So John has many “claims to fame” and he has the scrapbooks to prove it. He was on the front page of the “Grit” newspaper in 1982. He came in third in a guitar contest at the Granada Hotel in Phoenix in 1983. He started the “Arizona Cowboys Club” in 2002 — Buck Taylor from Gunsmoke was a member. He’s written and published a couple books and has one on the way. He also writes and recites poetry…a man of many talents, for sure!
When spending time with John and Pat, you’ll find that you feel like you’ve known them forever. They are easy to talk to and their home has many conversation pieces: scrapbooks, collectibles, photos, etc. You can tell that John enjoys reminiscing about the “old days.”
This Italian sweetheart is 98 years old; she will celebrate her number ninety-nine on September 29th. She is one of nine children, with six sisters and two brothers. She recalls that the home they grew up in had only one bathroom. We can’t imagine how that worked with eight girls in the home! She was born in Midland, Pennsylvania where she was the first of the children to be born in the United States. Her mother and father both spoke Italian, but her father could understand English. He worked in the mills and did odd jobs on the river; her mother was a stay-at-home mom. Evelyn’s dad came to the United States from Italy at the age of 17 and he had big dreams. He wanted a home, big enough for everyone with a large garden. As his family grew, he purchased two pieces of property at the edge of town. They had a fabulous garden where they grew their own lettuce, tomatoes and onions. That home would be the place her parents would live for the rest of their lives.
When Evelyn graduated high school she couldn’t afford to attend the college she wanted. She decided to get a job to make herself some money. She found a grocery store in their town and introduced herself to a clerk. He introduced himself as the owner of the store and gave her a job. Although she had no experience working in a grocery store, she did very well. At one point some Italian business men visited the store and she was able to translate for them. Eventually, she was promoted and worked there for seven years. During this time, She attended a live concert where she met a man. She noticed he kept dancing and talking to the same two women. She later found out they were the wives of the band members. It was a Friday night and she had to work the next day but he came to visit her at the grocery store. They were married in 1945 and had three sons. After having their second son, her husband told her he thought she should quit at the store and stay home with the boys; he even went to the store himself to tell her boss.
When one of her sons was two he was hit by a car and badly injured. They drove him to the hospital in Pittsburgh. He is now 60 years old and bears a scar from the accident.
All of Evelyn’s sons grew up and had their own children; three sets of twins, giving her six grandchildren! When her husband passed away in 2010, Evelyn moved to Texas to be near two of her sons. Her other son still lives in Pittsburgh. She lived with one of her sons in Texas and helped out by doing everyone’s laundry.
When asked the secret to a long life Evelyn replied, “I have no idea.” She still makes her own Italian meatballs and she used to even make her own clothing. She bought herself a car at one point, a blue Chevy. She later decided to purchase a Cadillac instead. Evelyn is one significant senior.
Born in Olney, Texas in 1937, Jan is an only child. Her biological father worked in the oil fields and was divorced from Jan’s mother early on. Her mom enrolled her in Catholic boarding school in the third grade. The nuns took her in at the Academy of Wichita Falls and she stayed there until she was 13 years old. The school cost $60/month at that time. Her mom later married an Air force pilot and they moved around a lot. She attended four different high schools in four different states. After graduating, she decided to go to a business college in Delaware.
This smartphone-savvy-senior is very outgoing and extremely social. She loves to tell jokes and even told me a couple while we were in the middle of our interview. Jan is extremely generous and often brings food to other folks in the community she lives in who are sick or not able to get out.
Previously, Jan worked as an office manager of an insurance company. One of her good friends was Bernice Moncrief, the founder of Hospice. They traveled on the QE2 together through England, Morocco, and Spain. While on this trip she met her future husband, Jim; he proposed to her on the second night after meeting her. She told him, “We’ll consider this.” Jim worked for the State Department at that time. In order to convince Jan to accept his proposal, at each of the ports he would send her flowers and cables saying, “I love you” and “Marry me.” I guess it worked, because they were married in 1984. His nickname for her was, “Angel Face.” Following the cruise, Jim met up with Jan at La Guardia Airport and asked her to come meet his friends in Washington, DC. They got married three days later. Jan moved all her things from Houston and started working for the State Department as well. She worked there for 16 years. One of her favorite projects was the one where she worked with a team that built the Embassy in Moscow. Unfortunately, Jim passed away in 1991 due to cancer. She buried him in the Arlington National Cemetery alongside her parents.
In 1998, Jan was still in DC working in the antique dealing business. She would buy and sell at antique shows, but she never had a shop. It was here that she met a man named Joe through a dating service. Joe worked for IBM at the time. They decided to move to Texas because her kids were there. She moved to Grand Prairie and bought a house; Joe followed soon after. He was a very loving husband. Every night, Joe would take her hand and say “thank you for everything you did for me today.” Jan refers to him as a sweet, sweet man. Jan decided to retire in 2000 and after two years in Grand Prairie, the couple decided to relocate to Florida to Port St. Lucie. When Joe got sick in 2012 they moved back to Texas to Robson Ranch. In 2013, Joe passed away from Alzheimer’s.
Jan had a dog named Samantha who was her best friend for 13 years. One day, in a vicious dog attack, Samantha was killed. Jan broke her arm and knee trying to save her. After that, Jan decided it was time to move into a senior community.
Despite the tragedies Jan faced: losing two husbands to cancer and one to Alzheimer’s and losing her sweet dog, Samantha, Jan is happy and has a positive attitude. Her advice to others is to “do good and be good and be kind to each other.” She said that she “can’t be ugly to anyone.”
Jan has a daughter in Watauga, a son in Cedar Hill and another daughter near Corsicana. Jan is a true believer of enjoying life and she told me that “If you can do something and indulge yourself, do it. Life is too short to wait. After all, you’re dead a long time.” One of her favorite indulgences is Pappadeaux cheesecake. She also loves their steak and lobster.
Jan stays busy spending time with friends and family. One of the things she loves to do is put together style shows in the community where she lives. Through that, she gets to work with local designers and boutiques which she enjoys. Spending an afternoon with Jan is both inspiring and motivating; she embodies a spirit of fun and adventure and it is a joy to be around her.
When you meet this smart-phone-savvy senior, you can hardly believe he is going to turn ninety at the end of the month. Accomplished Air Force pilot and author, Jack was born during the Depression. Jack’s dad was a carpenter and his mom worked at home for many years, but retired from Sears in her latter years. Around the time Jack was born, his parents were having a tough time financially and they moved in with his maternal grandparents which was on a farm in Edgewood, Texas. He spent five years there. The farm consisted of 400+ acres of corn, cotton, and sugar cane; it even had a sugar cane mill. There were two families from the Civil War who were living on the farm, each on one acre. Jack’s grandfather had given them the land and he would go to the store once a week for them on Saturday. Everyone on the farm had to pitch in; they would kill and clean the chickens by hand, even the children were involved. Every day, they would eat fried chicken, which they considered a “staple” and they always had some left over. The adults (parents and field hands) ate first and kids ate second. Usually, by the time the kids were able to eat, everything had been consumed except for the chicken. Jack still enjoys fried chicken to this day. He thinks the best is Church’s Fried Chicken because of its seasoning. At 62, Jack’s dad died in his sleep. His mom lived to be 83. His paternal grandfather lived to be 85.
Jack moved to the Dallas area at age 6. In 1946, he graduated from Hillcrest High in Vickery, TX. He decided to go to Texas Tech for college, and at that time tuition was only $25 per semester. Jack attended Texas Tech for 3 years and was a “starving” student. Later, he moved to Oklahoma State University and traveled 75 miles, 3 days a week to finish his business degree.
While Jack was in college, he met a beautiful sixteen-year-old named Carolyn. Jack was actually working for her dad at the time who was a district manager for a company that sold stainless steel cookware. They would have dinner parties for potential customers in order to sell the cookware. One night, he was cleaning up after a party, and in walks Carolyn. He said to her, “Where have you been all my life?” That line was the winner as they were later engaged and then married.
In 1950, Jack was about to be drafted into the military. Instead, he entered the Air Force as an enlisted man where he attended pilot training school for one year. When he finished, he came out as a Second Lieutenant with his pilot’s wings. He spent twenty-one years in the Air Force where he flew a total of 100 combat missions. In Korea, he was promoted to Lieutenant.
Jack was engaged to Carolyn during the war, but he didn’t make the first wedding date due to his deployment. They did finally “tie the knot” on August 22, 1953. The couple lived in Yuma, Arizona and from there went to France and Spain. Jack was a test pilot for a Spanish aircraft company that inspected and repaired aircraft for the Air Force. When Jack returned from Spain, he was an instructor pilot where he taught college graduates how to fly airplanes in the military.
Of course there are gorgeous children in this story. Jeff and Suzanne were both born in Yuma. Son, David, was born in Texas. Suzanne is actually the one credited for her dad writing his book as she had asked him to write down some of his stories. They also have two “adopted” children who belonged to a close relative. Their dad was an Air Force pilot who died in Viet Nam when they were ages two and four.
1956 was a great year and a tough year for Jack. D uring the same week, his son was born, he made Captain, and his dad died. He had to fly his own plane to Dallas for the funeral. I can’t even imagine what that flight was like, thinking about his wife at home with the new baby and then what was in store for him in Dallas as they laid his father to rest.
At age 42, in 1971, Jack decided to retire from the military. He had several “post military” jobs, including working for some high school friends at a leasing company. He did that for about five years. He also worked for a recruiting company who hired agricultural chemical salesmen. Later, he got back into leasing, and recruited big money customers for Mellon Bank. He helped broker 57 Burger King deals, a 707 airplane for Caroline Hunt and a $30 million stack of papers which were related to contracts for a security monitoring system. That was the biggest deal he ever brokered. He wrote a book titled, “Life on a Short Fuse” which was about a dramatic cover-up during the Vietnam War. He and his wife, Carolyn, traveled to Lions and Rotary Clubs to share their story. In fact, he would speak to anyone who would let him share about his book and his military career.
Eventually, Jack became a volunteer chaplain at an osteopathic hospital in Fort Worth. He has officiated over 50 weddings (his favorite) and 12 funerals (not his favorite). When asked about the most wild wedding he officiated, he was quick to share the story of a wedding on Lake Grapevine that was delayed by two hours because the flowers hadn’t yet arrived. Meanwhile, there was an “open bar.” By the time the ceremony took place, the entire wedding party was inebriated. The bride’s father paid Jack twice because he was so grateful to have it over with.
Carolyn had a long and successful career as well. She was a dental hygienist for 30+ years, mostly working with periodontists.
Since the couple has been married over 65 years, I felt it fitting to ask their best marriage advice. Here is what Jack shared:
“Don’t ever hit each other” (they expected that from their children as well)
“You are responsible for each other and you want the best for each other; always have that in mind”
“Being faith-based is important; know the scriptures. God knows how marriage ought to be”
“Give your children a faith-based start to life”
Carolyn and Jack’s children graduated from Bell High School and in total they have 13 grandkids and 8 great grandkids with one on the way. Their oldest grandchild was married in his “Papa & Mimi’s” house, in front of their fireplace.
Jack’s favorite color is blue and his favorite song is “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe. His favorite thing about the USA is that as a nation, America is the world’s greatest role model, even with its faults; he loves the diversity America offers. Jack has a great sense of humor and he told me that he prayed to God for wisdom and he got it. However, now, nobody wants it. If you get a chance, read his book. It is truly a gripping read.
Elmo was born in Abilene, Texas. Elmo and Marian met when they attended Abilene High School together. Marian enjoyed school and loved English class. Upon graduation, they both decided to go to McMurry University in Abilene. They got married during Elmo’s senior year of college. In high school, Elmo was on Abilene High School’s “team of the century” and played the position of “center.” Because of that, he received a full football scholarship to McMurry under Coach Grant Teaff.
Elmo and Marian had three beautiful children and they were all born in Abilene. Marian had a variety of jobs over the years — West Texas Rehabilitation Center, credit businesses, and she was a journalist for a literary club. Elmo owned his own business, so all of their work, along with taking care of the three children, kept them very busy. Elmo didn’t have much time for hobbies, but thankfully he really enjoyed his work. He and Marian were able to travel to many wonderful places for business. Marian says they are “traveled out” now. Marian enjoyed playing tennis which she played for 35 years.
In 1974, the family relocated to Plano because Elmo received a great job opportunity and they were thrilled about that. They were equally as excited about the schools in Plano and the education that would be provided for their kids. They joined Custer Road United Methodist Church which was really growing at that time.
In 1998, the couple bought a lake cabin and they eventually renovated and built it into a house their large family could enjoy. Eventually, their son Trey expressed that he would like to purchase the lake house from them. Marian decided that it was time the couple moved closer to their doctors and their children in Plano. People have expressed to them that living on the lake would be hard to leave but Marian assured them that they have both felt so much peace and accomplishment with the move.
Marian and Elmo watched as many of their friends struggled with traveling back and forth to ailing parents (including Marian’s). They realized they did not want that for their own children. The couple realized they needed help from their children but, why not make it as easy as possible?
They were able to find a senior living community that really felt like home. They say that they’re so busy enjoying all the activities and amenities that it’s hard for their children to find them! Their decision did take their son Trey by surprise; he didn’t know his parents were thinking about making a move back to Plano. In Marian’s words, “What makes their kids happy makes them happy.”
When Marian was asked who had influenced her life the most, her response was,”My husband of 60 years, Elmo.” She also mentioned that she doesn’t believe in a perfect marriage, but knows it takes two people to be committed to the marriage. The happiest moment of Marian’s life was when her three children were born, and then her grandchildren, and great grandson. She feels very proud about her children’s passion for education.
Marian feels like the most important lesson in life is patience. She admits she’s still working on that. Her favorite thing to do is get together with family and she enjoys playing Bridge. The world event with the biggest impact on her was 9/11. Marian wants to be remembered as a good mom and wife, and from what we have seen, that won’t be hard, she has excelled at both!
This seventy-two-year-old was born in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his mother and grandmother who had great pride in being African American. Alan incorporated that sense of pride throughout his life. At that time, there was some segregation in neighborhoods, however schools were integrated. He can remember way back when a homeroom teacher, Mrs. Irmiger, made him feel important. He gives her credit for making him who he is today. When Alan was in his last semester in his senior year of high school, the Museum of Science and Industry needed people to work, especially people of color. Working there really opened Alan’s eyes to the world. He later studied marketing at the University of Illinois and graduated in 1968.
Affirmative Action was in full swing at this time and Shell Oil had a position available in Marketing. Alan worked there for one and a half years, but his real dream was to be his own boss. So, in 1969 he bought a gas station in his home town where he ran the station and also pumped gas and worked on cars.
After a while, Alan came to a realization that he didn’t want to pump gas for the rest of his life and he heard about a dealer development program for minorities being offered by General Motors. In 1975, he was accepted to the program, Class #10. During this training, the company trained him on all aspects of owning a dealership which could ultimately result in the opportunity to buy a dealership, if one were to be available. He sold the gas station and was put through training for all dealership departments in Flint, Michigan.
In 1979, Alan went to work for a dealership in Chicago, in the Sales Department. He got the opportunity to buy a dealership in Lincoln, Nebraska in the Fall of 1979. It was an interesting interaction because the owner actually met him at a hotel to discuss the purchase then later, after the dealership closed (around 10:00 pm), he was able to have a tour of it. He later found out, the owner didn’t want folks to know the dealership was being sold to a man of color. In October of ’79, he sent a letter to every employee to assure them that he would do everything possible to make them successful at the dealership. He was the only black employee for two years. The establishment did very well; he even received a Key to the City from the Mayor.
In 1985, General Motors approached Alan with an offer to buy a dealership in Texas. In 1989, he picked up a Pontiac franchise in addition to Buick. In 1998, he picked up a GMC Franchise which included trucks. At this time, business was fair to good.
In 2008, the economy went south; GM was closing dealerships and not doing well. In 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy. In late 2008, GM bought out and closed Alan’s dealership. In 2009, Alan got involved in a used car lot which he eventually sold.
Alan has three children from his first marriage which ended in 1993. Alan married Alistair in 1995 who he knew through a mutual friend. Their first date was memorable, as she asked him out and told him she was going to pay for the date. However, during the meal, she realized she had forgotten her wallet. She told him that if he would pick up the check, she would pay him back, and she did soon after. Alan was very impressed with her moral character and that made him want to go out with her again. He bought tickets for them to attend a Luther Vandross concert and they have been together ever since. Ali REALLY liked Luther Vandross!
In 2011, the couple wanted to buy a franchise and they prayed fervently about it. At that time, Alistair’s mother was aging and they had brought her to Texas from Topeka, Kansas after her husband passed away. She was a former nurse who worked for the VA for years. She had taken care of her husband who suffered from complications from Congestive Heart Failure. She lived with Alan & Ali when she later developed pancreatic cancer and vascular dementia. They learned a lot about caregiving during this time which resulted in a desire to buy a senior home care franchise. Because she was a caregiver herself, it made Ali better able to relate to the caregivers she was employing and it gave her a greater empathy for the families she was serving. Ali trained and worked with the caregivers and Alan did accounting and bookkeeping. They sold their business in 2017 due to personal health issues.
Having a passion for health, Ali became a certified yoga instructor and lifestyle coach. She works with clients on health coaching for the mind, body, and soul. She is also part owner of a healthy food truck that provides catering and healthy food options at events. Ali is also a dementia practitioner where she trains caregivers in all aspects of caring for patients with dementia.
Alan is tenacious about his health also, playing tennis regularly which he has done for years. He also loves yoga, the treadmill, bike, weights. He says his eating habits are a “work in progress.” He has an Amazon store which keeps him busy day-to-day.
For fun, they go to dinner and a movie every weekend. They also love travel, especially cruising. They’re also kept busy with their six grand kids. In February of 2020 they will have been married 25 years! Alan’s favorite vice is chocolate-covered marshmallows and Ali’s is salt & vinegar chips.
Miss Myrtle is a kind lady with a gentle spirit and a secret knack for humor. She grew up on a 200 acre farm in Oklahoma. Her family raised turkeys, chickens, hogs and cattle…they also grew vegetables. Myrtle admires her parents, and says they were a large influence in her life. Being a black family in a time where segregation was a way of life was difficult for their family, especially daily activities like taking the school bus or seeing a doctor. Myrtle’s parents never made segregation seem like a big deal. They would share vegetables from their garden with their neighbors who were from all different ethnic backgrounds. All the neighbor children would play together and Myrtle remembers her father telling her and her siblings to treat people with kindness and generosity despite their differences. One thing Myrtle remembers her parents saying was, “You see how the cats and dogs get along? They don’t fight…we don’t either.”
As a young girl, Myrtle was a tomboy who loved to play outside. She had dreams of being a librarian or a doctor, and she grew up being told that she was not allowed to say the word, “can’t”. She was encouraged to go as far as she could with her schooling, and her parents were able to provide that for her. As she loved math and science, she decided to pursue her dreams. Myrtle obtained three degrees, including a master’s, a doctorate, as well as library and teaching certifications.
Myrtle began teaching in Oklahoma where she taught high school students. At this time, segregation was still going on. Eventually, in 1954, the Supreme Court finally deemed that segregation was unconstitutional and banned it. For the first time, Myrtle was hired on as a counselor at a bi-racial high school. The change wasn’t easy, but with her upbringing of compassion and understanding Myrtle knew how to handle the conflicts that were thrown her way. She worked as a counselor in McKinney, and for over 30 years, she worked in Plano ISD as a diversity counselor. At that time Myrtle introduced different initiatives which included diversity programs — along with the district’s first diversity committee.
Myrtle has introduced countless programs and events to the Plano community, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day Annual Breakfast occurring annually for 35 years. She was also awarded the Drum Major for Justice Award that was established by Dr. King himself to honor those who have dedicated themselves to community service.
Myrtle is an amazing woman who has accomplished many things. We are proud to know her and to have been able to hear her share her story. She spends her time in retirement playing bridge, and continuing her passion for learning and knowledge by reading. She loves the color lavender and loves her sweets.
When you speak to folks about Myrtle, they are quick to share about her impact and just how terrific she is. Here are a couple of quotes from folks who know her well:
Myrtle has spent her entire life educating others… and not just students. I have known her for 40 years and learn from her each and every time we meet and visit! Her belief in the good of each human being shines through and the lessons learned reflect this attitude. I am blessed to call her “friend”. ~Florence Shapiro
“Phenomenal Woman”, “Dr. (blank)”, or simply “Mom”, as I call her is my angel. She has touched and impacted my life in ways I can not express. Our lives collided and it was all to my advantage. She assisted me in finding and using my voice to make my community and the people in it stronger. She has this ability to make everyone around her feel special. She made me better. I know that I can never repay her for what she empowered and encouraged me to be, but I plan to honor her in all I do and say forever! ~Trish Patterson