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Born on the 4th of July

It’s a day every American has celebrated the past 240 years (and counting). We’re talking about Independence Day! The Fourth of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. While this day has huge significance for the history of the United States, it’s also a day held special for many people because it’s their birthday - a birthday shared with the likes of talk show host Geraldo Rivera, writer and playwright Neil Simon and five-time Wimbledon doubles champion Pam Shriver.

Born on the 4th of July

Mildred Vandeburgh

Mildred VandeburghMildred VandeburghOne of our firecrackers, Mildred (Spangler) Vandeburgh, a resident at Grace Living Center Buffalo, was born on July 4, 1919 making her 98 years young this year! Just think, she’s lived through 18 different presidents, watched on TV as the first man walked on the moon and saw The Beatles make their debut! She was born in Beaver, Oklahoma and experienced the Dust Bowl. “Her family had a good house so it didn’t fill up with dirt as a lot did during that era,” said Mildred. She has seen so much throughout her life, but has managed to keep a good sense of humor. Happy Birthday Mildred, we hope your special day is full of many blessings!


Billy Dinwiddie

Billy DinwiddieBilly Dinwiddie loves to show his patriotic side especially since he shares his birthday with Independence Day! When asked what it’s like to have a birthday on the day we celebrate our nation’s independence. He had a one-word response. “Booming,” he said. The retired Marine always enjoyed the fireworks that were a part of his birthday celebrations each year. “If you didn’t see fireworks on my birthday, there’s something wrong with you,” he said with a chuckle. “You could shoot off all you wanted to out where we lived, whatever you could afford.” Billy was born in 1935 in Chickasha, Oklahoma making him 82 years young this year. Happy Birthday Billy, we hope this year’s celebration is booming at Grace Living Center El Reno! 



Goldie Pettie

Goldie PettieGoldie Pettie

Our next firecracker is Goldie Pettle, a resident at Grace Living Center Clinton, who was born during World War I in Bessie, Oklahoma back in 1918 when Woodrow Wilson was president. She has seen a lot during her 99 years, such as women getting the right to vote, the computer being invented and the polio vaccine. Goldie graduated from high school in 1936 and college in 1941 then married the love of her life, her husband Cecil, on October 24,1941. Goldie went on to get her Masters in Education at the University of Oklahoma in 1956. She then taught all grade levels for the next 42 years before retiring in 1981 from the Clinton School System where she had taught for 35 years. She was named as Teacher of the Year by the Clinton Public School System in 1979. Besides molding young minds, Goldie has enjoyed traveling and seeing the work with her husband throughout the years. Happy Birthday Goldie, we hope this year is the best yet!


Music and Memories for Dementia Care

June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

Continuous education is in our DNA at Grace Living Centers as we strive each day to help lead those on the Alzheimer's and dementia journey with love and dignity. Currently five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is only expected to skyrocket over the next three decades, reaching as high as 16 million people, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. If that’s not enough of a jaw dropper, it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. As people age they tend to become more forgetful but Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. This devastating disease worsens over time robbing individuals of their memories. 

“The person you see before Alzheimer’s is not the person you will see now. This disease is so traumatizing to everyone involved,” stated Tiffany Samples, a longtime Activities Director and now Payroll and Human Resources Director at Grace Living Center Tahlequah University Northwest.

Right now there is no cure, but there are programs to help bring joy and comfort to those with this devastating disease. One of the programs taps into the power of music. Music & Memory is a program that helps to deliver the healing power of personalized music. It can be very moving to watch as someone connects with his or her special song.

“While there have been some huge responses to music, like singing and dancing when remembered music is playing, there have also been more subtle reactions." said Angie Sharp, Social Services Director at Grace Living Center Tahlequah University Northwest. " One resident in particular stands out to me. She stops wandering, starts tapping her feet and moving her head in rhythm. The reaction is visibly more subtle, but the recognition of the music and enjoyment of the songs is just powerful."

The power of music with the help of this program moved resident Bonnie Cole to dance around our hallways at Grace Living Center Tahlequah, University Northwest to the song “Johnny Be Good.”

YOUTUBE VIDEO : https://youtu.be/rT2rCq6i2kA

Our staff strives to go above and beyond -- to do more for our residents by providing compassionate care. Recently members of our care team at Grace Living Center Tahlequah University Northwest attended a full day program learning about the progressive brain disorder from one of the world’s leading advocates and educators, Teepa Snow. “During the program, I learned how differently they see the world then we do,” stated Ms. Samples. Snow’s motto, "until there’s a cure… there’s care!"

Grace Living Center Tahlequah University Northwest Team with Teepa Snow, Dementia Care Educator


Grace's Bregett Conway - Oklahoma's Shining Star Nurse of the Year

Happy Nurses Week! A week dedicated to hardworking, compassionate nurses everywhere.

We’ve been very blessed with many angels on our nursing staff who are dedicated to making sure Oklahoma seniors are not only well cared for, but also loved. This year, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has designated 2017 as the "Year of the Healthy Nurse” with a theme, “Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit.”

As we celebrate those who help heal, listen and encourage among the dozens of other things they do in a day to bring comfort to those in need. We wanted to introduce you to one of the angels on our nursing staff, Bregett Conway. She is an LPN and the Wound Care Nurse at Grace Living Center Chickasha. Bregett was recently recognized for her compassion and dedication to Oklahoma seniors by being chosen as Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers’ Shining Star Nurse of the Year. “I was shocked. I was thinking it was something for longevity not for Nurse of the Year. I was overjoyed inside, and so happy I had family there to support me. My daughter said to me I should of seen my eyes and my smile because they were so big. I’m thankful. I feel blessed,” said Conway. 

Bregett started at Grace Living Center Chickasha in December of 1995 as an aide to provide financial stability to her family as a single parent. Soon after, she was introduced to the nursing field by a friend. And that as they say, the rest was history. Now more than 20 years later, Bregett has ladder climbed with the help of Grace Living Centers Educational Fund to become an LPN. “I had an LPN that was younger than me when I went to CMA class who was also my charge nurse. I thought if she could do it than I can do it. That’s what pushed me to go a back to school,” stated Conway. Her drive along with a four letter word has helped fuel her passion for long-term care for more than 2 decades. “I’m a god fearing woman. I was always taught to respect the elderly and no matter what to show them love. Jesus is love and if everyone loved a little more, the world would be a better place. Love is what I continue to give and that’s what keeps me motivated because I love the elderly,” said Conway.

For those of you thinking about a career in nursing or long-term care, Bregett has these words of wisdom for you, “I would encourage any CNA or CMA to progress. I think they should all ladder climb because it makes you a better nurse.I give a special thanks to Grace Living Centers because of them I’ve increased my knowledge of the medical field and grown as nurse with their educational fund. They’ve been behind me every step of the way, always offering opportunities.” 


Physical Therapy Success Story: Georgia Buchanan

A story of triumph for one Oklahoma senior whose path to recovery at Grace Living Center El Reno is inspiring others!

A medical setback couldn't keep Georgia Buchanan from reaching her goal of walking again. This isn’t the first time she’s worked with the skilled therapy team at Grace Living Center El Reno. A torn ligament in Georgia’s knee is why doctors recommended she get surgery. “It was because I fell so much,” stated Ms. Buchanan. 

She first worked with Physical Therapist Assistant Leigh Ann Griffith after undergoing a partial knee replacement, but the surgery didn’t hold forcing her to have a second correction surgery. Now, back on the road to recovery at Grace Living Center El Reno, Georgia is making great strides in physical therapy. “She has gone from not being able to walk to walking up to 50 feet now. She’s really shown good progression with the medical difficulties she’s had,” stated Griffith.

Besides working on rebuilding strength during her physical therapy sessions, Georgia is also working on balance to help her accomplish every day tasks such as standing at the sink to brush her teeth or making something to eat in the kitchen. “Georgia is one of our shining stars. She is always smiling, always talking about her friends and family and how much she enjoys her therapy,” said Griffith. All of her hard work in physical therapy is paying off and helping to get her closer to her goal of walking and ultimately becoming independent again. 

“They make me laugh and they help encourage me to keep walking and to keep doing my exercises too,” said Ms. Buchanan. While Georgia has been thankful to have such a great support system in place with her skilled therapy team by her side throughout this journey, it’s also been an emotional one. “I wouldn’t put any weight on this leg. And, I told my family that I would walk for them. My family tell me they’re proud of me,” said Buchanan with tears in her eyes. Grace Living Center El Reno has proved to be a home away from home, both Georgia and her family have enjoyed. “My family wants me here because they’ve been taking really good care of me,” said Ms. Buchanan.

[Click on thumbnail to enlarge photo.]


Lasting Love

Stories of lasting love can capture your heart and make you feel fairytales aren’t just for story books! As we celebrate the month of love, all you have to do is believe as some of our residents share their stories of true love. You may want to grab a tissue before reading any further, these stories each one beautiful and unique will not only inspire, but melt your heart!

The Brookfield Assisted Living (Claremore)

Bill and Jean MossBill and Jean Moss have been married for 70 years! They met on a blind date when Jean was still in high school and Bill had just returned from the war. From there, their love story began. They were married on August 19, 1946 in Tulsa, Oklahoma (after getting permission because Jean was only 17). Shortly after, Bill went to Seminary school in Dallas. Then after graduation he served as Pastor all over the state until finally settling down in Claremore, Oklahoma. Bill was the Pastor for many years and was responsible for the building of the new First United Methodist Church in

Claremore from which he retired. Jean says “they still love each other." Today Bill resides at the Claremore Veterans Center. Friends from Church bring him to The Brookfield every Monday to spend time with Jean and play Bingo. The couple still attends Church together each week at First United Methodist. Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Moss for sharing your beautiful story! 

Plantation Village Nursing Center (Altus)

Suzie WhittmerSpring bloomed on the outskirts of Paris in 1950 and among the beauty was Suzie Whittmer, a resident at Plantation Village Nursing Center, who was working as a waitress at a small restaurant in the castle of fellow frenchman Napoleon Bonaparte. At the time, her goal was to finish business school. However, those plans changed when U.S. Airman, Larry Whittmer asked for directions and swept her off her feet! Though it was a fairly tale meeting, Suzie never planned to marry an English speaking, red head, but found herself flying to America on June 25,1952. Just two days after arriving on American soil, Suzie married Larry on June 27, 1952. The couple traveled the world. And, after 63 wonderful years of marriage, Mr. Whittmer passed away. She still gushes when she tells the story of how she met the love of her life. A true story that reflects trust and courage!

The Springs (Muskogee)

Johnnie and Lizzie ToddMr. and Mrs. Todd met when they were 18-years-old thanks to family. The two dated for 6 months before saying “I do” in 1951. Now nearly 66 years later, they’re offering up this piece of advice for a lasting marriage, “love each other to the fullest, don’t give up when things get hard and always be 50/50 in everything,” they said. We couldn’t agree more, Mr. and Mrs. Todd!

Grace Living Center Norman

Joe and Marion CokerJoe and Marion Coker have been married for 67 years. The couple wed on August 27, 1949 after meeting one summer while Joe was working at his family’s car dealership. Joe states when they first met it was, “love at first sight.” He recalls asking her if he could have a date every night until the summer ended and he went back to college. She agreed. Marion said she had promised her parents she would finish school before she got married and kept her promise. Now nearly seven decades later, Marion comes to see her, “first and only love,” every day at Grace Living Center Norman. The pair still act like teenagers in love. Joe told us, “I’ve never loved anyone else,” while Marion sat by his side smiling!

Grace Living Center Chickasha

Elvie and Hazel MandrellAt the young age of 15, Hazel White, a resident at Grace Living Center Chickasha, was working as a waitress at the Sayre Oklahoma Bus Station when she saw a young Airman walk in and sit down. She later found out his name was Elvie Mandrell. At the time he was in the Air Force and was traveling to a base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Elvie ordered a huge steak dinner with all the fixings and by the time he had finished his meal he was flirting with Hazel so much he left without paying his check. Elvie saw Hazel two more times and by that point was head over heels in love with her. When Elvie got back to base in Albuquerque, he borrowed enough money from the Red Cross to buy a bus ticket and sent it to Hazel to come see him. Hazel packed her bag and headed to Albuquerque, but she didn’t tell her parents where she was going. Hazel later sent a letter to her parents explaining she would be coming back to Sayre, but was first going to get married. Together they raised three children, one son and two daughters. Hazel said Elvie spoiled her in every way and that he was the best man she has ever met. Their son Gerald was visiting when she was telling us her love story. Gerald said his Dad was an amazing man who taught his children to respect others and the morals they live by today. Hazel said she couldn’t have asked for a better husband. Hazel is pictured with her son while holding her favorite picture of Elvie. Hazel said that’s what he looked like when we first fell in love. She said everyone thought he looked like Jimmy Stewart, and sure enough he does! Hazel, thank you for sharing your fairly tale romance. It certainly swept us off our feet!  

Grace Living Center Tahlequah (University Northwest)

Thelma and Atha MeigsThelma Meigs, a resident at Grace Living Center Tahlequah, University Northwest married her husband, Atha on October 2, 1948. The couple first met at a church revival in Santa Paula, California in 1947. Thelma told her future husband, “when you ask me to marry you, I want a Christian household.” And, he provided that. The secret to ever lasting love, according to Thelma, is God and a lot of patience. Great advice, Thelma!