Our move to Fayetteville, Arkansas was exciting because we were moving to a city where our daughter Ginny and her husband John Luther lived. With John’s parents and grandparents living there we already knew more people in Northwest Arkansas than we knew when we moved to Florida. Finding a home was very easy because we knew Ozarks Electric Company was building an energy-efficient home located in the outskirts of town not far from our kid’s home. We had first option to purchase it. When we saw the plans and the location we immediately bought the home, and it turned out to be our favorite home of all. The first week in town I interviewed with a surgical group which was responsible for managing the Wound Care Clinic at Washington Regional Medical Center. They hired me that day to begin work as soon as possible. We began attending University Baptist Church where my good friend, Dr. H.D. McCarty had been pastor for thirty-seven years, and we joined without visiting any other church. It seemed everything was falling in place, and we were confident we had made the correct decision to move back to Arkansas.
Adjusting to our new life in Northwest Arkansas was much easier than our Florida experience, because we had family there and an immediate sense of belonging. We quickly made friends through the church and immersed ourselves into an active role of leadership and teaching. We loved the setting of the University of Arkansas especially the athletics and were able to attend an increasing number of Razorback sporting events.
My work at the Wound Clinic involved a major new learning experience on my part, but with the help of the doctors and an outstanding nursing staff, I was up to speed within six months. I was working only thirty-two hours per week and earning considerable more than I earned in Florida, so financially we were more secure.
Apart from some significant problems in church which were related to the retirement of Pastor McCarty, our life in Fayetteville was good, and Cathy and I fully intended to end our journey there. Professionally I had no immediate plans for retirement as I neared age sixty-five. My health was good, and despite the fact I was one of four medical directors I was doing the majority of the work. The other directors had full-time surgical practices and were happy for me to work as often as I desired. At least I was not taking night call nor emergency room call, and Cathy and I were able to enjoy uninterrupted nights and weekends together. Our phone seldom rang at night unless it was one of our kids calling.
Cathy and I had more time to travel and were able to visit our other children more frequently. Our son John and wife Gina lived in El Dorado which is a five hours drive from Fayetteville, and we loved watching our three grandsons; Drew, Brady and Landon as they grew and matured. Our daughter Mary Kay, her husband Dave and granddaughter Rebecca lived in Branson, Missouri a short two hours drive away, and we made the trip there often. We grew to love Branson and the area of southwest Missouri, although Cathy and I were not big fans of the entertainment shows there. Ginny became pregnant with her first child not long after we moved to Fayetteville, so we were able to experience the excitement of our first Fayetteville grandchild. Claire was born in August, 2001 and any doubts of the wisdom of our move to Fayetteville vanished.
Early into our fifth year in Fayetteville I got a phone call from Mary Kay in Branson concerning a close friend of hers whom we knew well. She had a serious wound problem following an operation and needed advice concerning her further care. The solution was not complicated but required a wound specialist to manage on a weekly basis for at least three months. She asked if she could come to Fayetteville and I consented, but told her there was no need to make the long drive since there was a good wound clinic in Branson. She had called the clinic and was told the clinic had closed. I called the Branson wound clinic the same day to determine the reason for closure and spoke with the nurse manager. Their doctor had moved because her husband was transferred to another city, and the clinic was searching for a replacement. The nurse said, “Did you say you were a wound care doctor?” I responded that I was, and she said, “Would you like a job here?” I said I was not looking for a job, but would be glad to talk with their recruiter to help him find a medical director.
Cathy and I were very happy with our life in Northwest Arkansas, and were not seeking another move. The attraction of a move to Branson was the opportunity to spend quality time with our kids living there. The recruiter began calling me weekly and assured me if I came to Branson I would be the sole medical director of the clinic and could structure the clinic to my specifications. Medically this was very appealing since I did not have the same luxury in Fayetteville. Our decision for a move was brought to a head by the administration at Washington Regional Medical Center when I was given a preliminary offer to assume the sole directorship of the clinic. The Vice President in charge of all medical clinics said he would have to clear the change with administration, and I would know their decision within two weeks. I notified the physician recruiter in Branson I would likely decline their offer but would let him know soon. When I met with the official in Fayetteville, he said they had decided to “leave things as they are,” to which I responded “things would certainly not remain the same.” This was a clear word to Cathy and me a move to Branson was the correct decision.