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 country not far from our kid’s home, and 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 ones we owned. I interviewed the first week with a surgical group which was responsible for managing the Wound Care Clinic at Washington Regional Medical Center and was hired that day to begin work as soon as possible. We began attending University Baptist Church where my friend, Dr. H.D. McCarty had been pastor for 37 years, and we joined the church without visiting other churches. It seemed everything was falling in place, and we were confident we had made the right decision to move back to Arkansas.
Adjusting to our new life in Northwest Arkansas was much different and easier than our Florida experience primarily 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 football and basketball games. My work at the Wound Care Clinic involved a major learning experience on my part, but with the help of the other doctors and an outstanding nursing staff, I was up to speed within 6 months. I was working only 32 hours per week and was earning over twice what I earned as the Clinic Director in Florida, so financially we were more secure.
Apart from some serious problems in our church which were related to the retirement of Pastor McCarty, our life in Fayetteville was very fulfilling, and Cathy and I fully intended to end our life’s journey there. Professionally I had no immediate plans of retirement as I neared age 65. My health was good and despite the fact I was one of 4 medical directors of the clinic I was doing the majority of the work. The other directors had full-time surgical practices and were happy to have me 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 time together in the evenings. Our phone seldom rang at night unless it was one of our kids checking up on us.
Cathy and I also had more time together to travel, and were able to visit our other children more often. Our son John and his wife Gina lived in El Dorado which is a 5 hours drive from Fayetteville, and we loved watching our 3 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 2 hours drive away, and we made that drive often. We grew to love Branson and the family atmosphere there, although Cathy and I have never been attracted to entertainment shows which are in abundance there. Ginny became pregnant with her first child not long after we moved to Fayetteville, so we were able to experience those months of anticipation and the excitement of our first Fayetteville grandchild. Claire was born in August, 2001 and the joys of all those events only confirmed our certainty of being where God wanted us.
Early into our 5th year of life in Fayetteville, I received a phone call from Mary Kay in Branson concerning a close friend of hers whom I knew who also lived in Branson. She had a serious wound problem following an operation and needed advice concerning her care. The solution was not complicated but required a wound specialist to manage her problem on a weekly basis. 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 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 allow our physician recruiter to contact you?” I said I was not looking for a job, but would be glad to visit with him and could help him find a medical director.
Cathy and I were very happy with our life in Northwest Arkansas, and were content to finish our course there. The attraction of a move to Branson was we would have the opportunity to spend quality time with our kids living there so were open to considering another move. 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 operation to my specifications. Medically this was very appealing since I did not have that luxury in Fayetteville. Our decision for a move was brought to a head by the administration at Washington Regional Medical Center when I was made a preliminary offer to assume the sole directorship role of the Wound Care Clinic. The Vice President in charge of Medical Clinics said he would have to clear the change with administration, and I would know their decision within 2 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 “leave things as they are,” to which I responded that “things would not remain the same for me.” That was a clear word to me medically speaking, a move to Branson was the right decision. —-to be continued.