Jackie Wagner Long is a wife, mother, business coach, and global entrepreneur
Jackie Wagner Long started working from home with Rodan + Fields skincare company after her first child Lucyanne was born. That was nine years ago. Since the pandemic, Jackie’s husband Eric has made himself more available at home to equally share household responsibilities. As a result, the additional home time has brought the family closer together and provided “the best year ever for R + F,” said Jackie.
As a reward, the family is building a ‘COVID’ pool. It’s the pool everyone 'rushed out' to get last summer and has since been on backorder. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, families wanted a pool to stay cool during the dog days of summer. It was unclear whether or not public pools would be open. With pools in high demand, some had to wait a year to build their concrete pond. This is the Long's year.
Whatever the case, swimming is a wonderful summer sport/activity and the Longs are conditioned to be active and moving. In the early years, Jackie was a competitive swimmer and won numerous awards. In fact, during middle school, she participated in both swim and track. At age 13, she decided to compete in track only.
Jackie started cross country running in the sixth grade competing at the high school level and joined the St. Mary's High School track team. She won her first state track championship while in the 6th grade in the 3200 meter. Jackie said, “I thought it was the coolest thing ever, being so young and around high school kids.” This was only the beginning of an incredible career in cross country running.
In high school, athletics was Jackie’s jam. Make no mistake, she was a smart cookie too graduating with honors. During her tenure, she won 16 KHSAA State Championship Gold Medals. Four times she was selected by KTCCCA (Kentucky Track and Cross Country Coaches Association) as Class A runner of the year. Two years ago, she was inducted into their hall of fame.
During the early years of her success, Jackie’s mom Becky Bowers was there for every meet, award, and accolade. Part of Bowers support was to encourage Jackie to personally and publicly thank the coaches and others that helped Jackie reach her goals. “I was expected to make speeches thanking my coaches. It was uncomfortable, but I did it. Mom made me get up and present. This was her expectation.” said Jackie.
As a successful athlete, Jackie could write her ticket to the college of her choice. And she did. The University of Kentucky offered her a full athletic running scholarship to run for the UK Wildcats women’s track and field team. It was a dream come true.
After running for over a year, Jackie decided she no longer wanted this dream. She wanted to rush Chi Omega sorority and be a regular college student. “I was just tired of running.”
Burnout can easily happen to cross country competitors. The constant pressure to meet goals, schedules, and keep pace with other runners was intense. Paying close attention to your body and keeping it conditioned to avoid injury was exhausting. The repetition of running the same miles day in and day out was colorless. This type of regimen could lead to burnout for anybody.
However, Jackie thrives in this environment. She’s a goal-setter, an overachiever, it's in her wheelhouse. But, it was time to hang up the running shoes. “I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I know that’s sad but I didn’t.” After she quit the team, Jackie played every intramural sport available on campus and was team captain for many events. Though she gave up running she never gave up the thrill of competitive sports.
Four years of college had passed and Jackie received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Integrated Strategic Communications. Amazingly, there was no ‘big plan’ after graduating. Jackie didn’t have a job lined up and her parents ‘begged her to come home’. Against her preference to move away from the watchful eye of her parents, Jackie returned to Paducah and started knocking on doors looking for a job.
After returning home, jobs were scarce. Bowers told Jackie to start going door to door until someone let her in. She hit the streets and landed her first career job. David Long with Image Graphics hired Jackie, even though he wasn’t hiring. She handled the marketing for two years then left to work in the family business.
The Wagner family has several businesses in Paducah. They own Wagner Moving and Storage, a couple of Smoke Shops, and later Wagner Wine and Spirits. Jackie started managing the Subway at the Smoke Shop by the Brookport Bridge. It was here where she wore many hats from payroll to custodian. She really worked hard wanting to prove herself to the men in the family.
After Wagner Wine and Spirits was established, Jackie worked on the weekends at wine tasting events. The sampling was a social affair that invited patrons to taste various wines. It was here that she got to show off her marketing, PR, and sales skills learned while at college.
The wine tasting was a great addition to Wagner's Wine and Spirits 'softer side.' It complemented warm summer nights and longer days. Another way to experience the evening was to head downtown to one of the local watering holes.
It was a clear night and Jackie was ready to unwind after a hard day's work. She met up with friends at Fat Moe’s on Broadway. Fat Moe’s had a great outdoor garden with a bar, plenty of seating, and cornhole.
During this particular gathering, Jackie played a game of cornhole with Eric. “I thought he was cute and he must’ve thought I was cute too because he gave me his number,” said Jackie. Eric wrote his name and phone number on a plain, white napkin and asked her to give him a call. Two days later, she did.
The two started dating in 2007 and got engaged nine months later. Eric proposed to Jackie on a scrapbook page. Scrapbooking has been around for centuries and it's a way to record special memories through pictures, newspaper clippings, small trinkets or priceless knickknacks. Jackie was big into scrapbooking around this time. Though not a scrap booker himself, Eric crafted his own special page with the words, “Will you marry me?” Jackie said she doesn’t remember how he got her to look inside the memory book but he did and from that moment forward, everything changed.
Nine months later, Jackie and Eric were married. The wedding and the reception were held at St. Thomas Moore in Paducah. The honeymoon plan was to fly to Cabo San Lucas the day after the wedding. Jackie’s dad, Russell Wagner didn’t think it was a good time to be in Cabo and strongly suggested they alter their plans. So, it was off to West Palm Beach, Florida.
After working in the family business for three years, Jackie decided it was time to look for something else. She wanted to be taken seriously as a professional woman and thought a job outside the family business was the best option. She went to work at USEC, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, as an administrative assistant. “It wasn’t fulfilling at all. I made a lot of money to sit in a trailer with a bunch of men all day and answer the phone,” said Jackie. So, she left USEC in search of the career she desperately wanted.
Jackie’s true professional calling would be discovered with the next position. At American Home Patient, she would work outside sales. As an outside salesperson, she made her own schedule, set competitive goals, and was in charge of her own potential income. While at the medical home supply business, Jackie had her first child and went part-time. Eighteen months later, she left the workforce to be a full-time mom.
The couple had financially planned for the day they would start a family. Eric had joined his Dad’s law practice, Long & Long after receiving a law degree from Northern Kentucky University. The firm, located in Benton, Kentucky handles real estate, business, probate, and estate planning. After Eric’s dad retired, he maintained his client list as well as his dads.
Jackie started getting stir crazy. She was ready to make her mark again in the workforce. “I missed having something for myself,” she said. A Facebook friend invited her to listen to a presentation on a new skincare line. A group of kindergarten teachers in Benton, KY booked a room at a local restaurant to hear about a new venture. Jackie admits, “I had no clue what they were talking about. I’ve never used skin care, sometimes didn’t even wash my face.”
After returning home, Jackie told Eric about the meeting, he brushed it off and suggested she forget about it. Jackie couldn’t forget about it and three weeks later invested in R + F’s biggest package. The cost was $1,000. Jackie said, “Eric told me it was a pyramid scheme and I was going to blow our money. All he wanted me to do now was earn back the money spent.”
A month after starting the business, Jackie found out she was pregnant with baby number two. ‘This would work out,’ she thought. Jackie was extremely organized, driven, and had a plan. When the children napped, she would work. When the children went to sleep at night, she would get on the computer. When the children were having ‘down time’ she would work on client contacts, make phone calls, whatever needed to be done.
Eric picked up the slack. He could see that the business was growing and wanted to help. He started doing the dishes after dinner so Jackie could get on the computer. There were other small gestures too. During summer months, they hired part-time help for the kids while Jackie worked from home. “It had turned into a serious business and I wanted to treat it as such,” she said.
Jackie’s R + F business has grown to a team of 1,500 consultants in four countries with annual sales of four million dollars. Jackie has won numerous sales awards and been granted trips to Cabo, Cancun, Hawaii, and other places stateside. The trips are great, "but I'm more grateful for the long lasting friendships the business has provided," said Jackie. Once consultants start pulling in $100K a month in team sales, a stipend is granted for a car. Right now, Jackie drives a white Mercedes along with four other car achievers within her team. Yeah, baby.
Jackie said, “I’ll continue to ride the wave as long as it lasts.” The R + F line has been in business for 12 years. Mary Kay Inc. has been in business since 1963. Rodan + Fields is in four countries and plans to be in 150 countries. It does appear there’s room to grow.
“While I work, the kids are old enough now that they don’t need me all the time,” said Long. “Their time is very structured and they’ve adapted. There’s study time, play time, craft time, snack time, and rest time.”
Lucyanne is nine years old and Bode is six. This was the first year the children were going to be in school full-time. Then, the pandemic struck. The Longs opted to participate in online learning. “Both have done very good at home with their virtual learning,” said Long. Thanks to the R + F income, Eric has the freedom to be home more during the day. “He’s doing as much as I am,” said Jackie.
The Longs reside in Benton, Kentucky where Eric’s law firm is located. Both are dedicated to family, work, sports, and playtime. Jackie said, “I’m blessed with everything I ever wanted and I’m achieving everything I ever dreamed. Life is good and I'm forever grateful."
This is Jackie's unique story. For more information please search "Rodan + Fields, IDS'
The morning drive down old US Hwy 45 S between Paducah and Murray was hampered by a drizzling rain. Due to the continuous pour, standing water created unfavorable driving conditions. That day, June 12, Nancy Dew-Garland had made a commitment to volunteer at a Special Olympics event to be held at Murray State University. After all, her plan after graduating high school was to attend MSU and major in special education. On that early morning drive to the event, life would change forever.
Being a giving person has been part of Nancy’s nature since she was a little girl. She was the youngest sibling out of four and everyone in the family doted over her and she returned that love with a glad heart. In fact, family life could be compared to the television drama The Walton's, the show that aired in the 70's. Not based on financial struggles or hardships but as a loving family unit that looked after one another.
Nancy had many friends at Clark Elementary, Brazelton Junior High, and Paducah Tilghman High School. Growing up in a small town, many of your friends journey with you through the various stages of life that include adolescence, puberty, and the tumultuous teenage years.
The accident that happened in 1982 played a principal role in Nancy’s life moving forward. “It affected my life in every way,” she said. On June 12, only a few weeks after graduating high school, it was early in the morning, the roads were wet, and her car hydroplaned. As she lost control, the car hit a ditch. On impact, Nancy was thrown out of the car landing on her face. She had a broken cheek bone, missing front teeth, and an incredibly swollen face. Nancy said, “I was so swollen I looked like a mongrel.”
From the initial exam, Nancy had facial injuries, a compound fracture of her arm, and broken ribs. There were countless lacerations on her face and head that required stitches and her arm received 13 screws. Four days after the accident, she asked if she could see a mirror. After viewing her facial injuries, Nancy asked if the staff wouldn't mind covering all the mirrors in the room.
Shortly after returning home to recover, another injury was discovered. “After being home for five hours, I tried to eat. My sister and nephew were at the house to lend a hand. I remember scaring my nephew to death because I didn’t have my front teeth,” said Nancy. “Right at that moment, I started throwing up blood, a lot of blood. My mom had an apron on and without hesitation lifted it up to catch most of it before it hit the floor.” Nancy was immediately taken to the hospital where they found a liver laceration.
So, they sewed up the liver lac and took out her gallbladder. The surgeon on the case was Dr. Wally Montgomery, a well-known and respected surgeon in the area. The general practitioner was Dr. Richard Smith. Nancy trusted both of these doctors and said she 'couldn't have made it through if it hadn’t been for these two.'
After surgery, Nancy remained in the ICU for nine days and on the tenth day was given a regular patient room. “They always say 10 days is the magic number,” said Nancy. After waking up on the 10th day, she looked down and discovered she was lying in a pool of blood.
Nancy was a daddy’s girl. Ray Dew was one of the nicest men anyone ever met and he loved his family. Ray had just walked in the door of their home when the telephone rang. The family lived on Forest Circle in Paducah which is about 10 minutes from Baptist Health. Before Nancy was wheeled into emergency surgery, her dad was by her side. “I saw my Dad crying and I told him I wasn’t going anywhere.”
As she was being wheeled to the operating room, her body was hemorrhaging which is life threatening and one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Before reaching the OR, they were administering intravenous Vitamin K, fresh frozen plasma, blood and platelets. Once stabilized, doctors could locate the bleed. During this emergent situation, Nancy was still talking. She said, “I never lost consciousness. I kept talking. Even asked what my blood pressure was.”
Nancy said, “When I was in the throes of the hemorrhage, my relationship with God was everything. I didn’t stop talking. Never panicked. There was a calmness. I knew God was in control.”
“I saw myself overhead going through this. God didn’t let me die. There was peace about it,” Nancy continued. "I was in the ICU and saw that I was hooked up to everything. God spoke to me saying, ‘Do you see you now? You’re going to be ok.’ It was an out of body experience." she said.
Nancy was in the ICU for a month in a private room. After such a frightening experience, her family took shifts looking after her. She was never left alone.
It had been a year since the accident and Nancy was ready to go to college. She started at Lambuth University, a liberal arts school in Jackson, Tennessee. After the first year, she transferred to MSU. She chose to continue studying special education but admitted, “At first I thought God was calling me to be a nurse.” Since she had lived through a tragic accident, she thought maybe she could help others. Ultimately, Nancy decided it was too painful to relive the accident over and over again in a hospital environment.
Nancy’s first husband was in the military and was given an assignment and stationed in Hawaii. “Living in Hawaii was like living in paradise,” Nancy said. “It was beautiful. The ocean breeze and the smell of flowers was absolutely stunning. It would’ve been terrific if I hadn’t been so homesick.”
Two wonderful fraternal twins were the result of two years living in paradise. Nancy said the twin girls are “as different as humanly possible to be born in the same minute.” Becca and Sarah are 31 years old and live in close proximity to their mom. Becca works as a nurse for a general practitioner in Mayfield, Kentucky and Sarah is going to cosmetology school. She has a degree in education but decided it wasn’t for her.
Nancy divorced and remarried. She was introduced to Tim Garland by her brother Steve Dew. Steve and Tim worked together at Chester Mechanical and Steve thought they would hit it off. Tim was a good Christian man with two sons from a previous marriage and Nancy had the twins and a strong faith. After meeting for the first time, they married six weeks later and have been together for 24 years. Nancy said, “When you know, you know.” Nancy's stepsons are Nathan, 31 and Chris, 33.
The Garlands started a heating and air business shortly after being married. As a couple, they built the business and have worked side by side for nearly 20 years. Nancy would’ve continued working at her husband's side but a stroke prevented that from happening.
After the accident, Nancy has suffered with pain. She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia years ago and has suffered with leg, back and arm pain. She and Dr. Smith traced the source back to the accident. Nancy said a lot of people who experience traumatic injuries are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a common condition that affects your bones and muscles.
Nancy’s first stroke happened approximately two years ago. Prior to the stroke, she had neck surgery on C4 and C5 of the spine and was in a neck brace. The stroke caused Nancy to lose peripheral vision on her right side. It also left her with short-term memory loss.
The second stroke happened early 2020, around the time the pandemic hit western Kentucky. After returning home from a quick trip to the heating and air business, Nancy had a headache. She had encountered a stressful situation while at the office and couldn't get it off her mind. She called her daughter and Becca immediately thought she was having another stroke. Nancy believes the stressful situation led to her demise.
During this time, the no visitors policy was initiated at Baptist Health. Tim was upset and concerned that he couldn’t be with wife. “He slept in our van the whole time I was in the hospital.” she said. “That man knows what marriage is supposed to be. I’m so blessed."
The girls have been a big support system for Nancy. “They’re amazing, a God send,” she said. "We're very close. It might've been those years prior to meeting Tim when it was just the three of us. My sons are a blessing too. I've raised them since they were ages seven and nine. What a gift they are to me."
Nancy’s daddy died on January 3, 2019. It’s been very hard for her. She said, “I miss my daddy.” On that day when Nancy was rushed to the OR for emergency surgery to save her life, she decided right then and there, “I was going to stay here to pester him for the rest of his life.” And she did.
Due to the effects the stroke has had on Nancy’s short-term memory, she engages in art therapy. In fact, she’s converted her formal living room into a craft studio. One of her latest art interests is acrylic pour painting. She’s experimenting with this new technique and likes it. She also enjoys decoupage and paper crafting such as cards, journals, and memory books.
Nancy is blessed to have such an amazing family. The twin girls, two step-sons, a Christian husband, a large extended family, and grandchildren all make it worthwhile. It’s hard to understand why bad things happen to good people. Nancy noted that many years ago, one of her long time friends, Alan Haws said, “I never understood out of all of us why it happened to you.” This is the mystery of life. Nancy believes that one of the reasons she survived the accident was to give birth to her twin girls.
That’s the question of the day. Why do bad things happen to good people? Nancy is a good person. Though she is homebound for the most part, she reaches out to others through Facebook, a phone call or text, and through prayers. It’s not a small thing to continue to pray for others. All of us have our purpose in life and Nancy has made peace with hers.
A perfect body is meticulously chiseled. There’s no magic bullet or easy formula to erect a successfully crafted human machine. It’s an astounding work of art created by our Maker and sculpted by sweat, toil, obsession, and passion.
Sarah Wood has always advocated for physical fitness. During her middle school and high school years, she was on the cheer squad and the Cheers Elite travel team. There were countless hours spent in the gym practicing tumbling moves and preparing for competitions. A healthy body required nutrition, hydration, movement, activity, goal-setting, and mindfulness to be at your best everyday.
Physical fitness was only part of the well-rounded education Wood pursued in high school. She was a member of the FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) a student organization that promotes family as the basic unit of society. She also earned her own spending money and learned the value of a dollar by working part-time after school at Chong's Restaurant in Paducah, Kentucky.
Being at your physical best requires energy and the ability to set goals, focus, prepare, and practice. This was Wood’s approach in all things as she matured and grew into a fabulous role model for her children, young mothers, and working women.
After graduating from Lone Oak High School in 2004, Wood began her studies at MSU (Murray State University) in Murray, Kentucky. Majoring in both Spanish and German, she jumped at the opportunity to study abroad in Germany and Costa Rica once opportunity knocked.
While in Germany, she visited Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic known for its bohemian lifestyle and love of the arts, architecture, music and history. In Costa Rica she improved her Spanish, studied the culture, embraced the lifestyle, and participated in sports like surfing. The opportunity to study overseas ignited a passion for travel and a desire to see the world.
Her laser focused psyche continued as Wood made her way through college. She continued to work at a local Chinese restaurant close to campus and started teaching at Lakewood Gymnastics, the home of the Cheers Elite competition squad. Lakewood was known for its championship teams and its ability to produce gymnasts and college-level athletes.
The MSU Racer received her Bachelor of Science degree in 2008 and left her ‘old Kentucky home’ to reenact the role of LouAnne Johnson in the movie ‘Dangerous Minds’ starring Michelle Pfeiffer as the English teacher at an inner-city school in Palo Alto. For Wood, it was a high school Spanish teacher in Memphis, Tennessee. After a ‘brief stint’ in the jungle (as it was called in Dangerous Minds), she returned to Kentucky to continue her education and work.
After returning back home, Wood spent several years teaching gymnastics and earning a paralegal degree. Always on the go, she picked up running. There was also time to explore other interests. “I was single and loved to travel,” she continued, “Any chance I got I’d jump on a plane and go see the world.”
To improve endurance and stamina, Wood hiked the trails of Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky and climbed the hills at Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. After a ‘hard days work’ from teaching, studying, or exercising, “You might find me at a local bar on the weekends with my girlfriends,” said Wood.
“I met my husband on Facebook,” she said. Mike and Wood had a mutual Facebook friend, Susie Foreman. Susie worked with Wood’s mom and Aunt Kristen in radiology. Susie’s nephew was Mike’s roommate. One day, Mike was scrolling through Susie’s friends list and saw Wood’s picture. They chatted via Facebook and decided to meet up. Wood said, “When we met there were zero expectations.” Obviously, there was something to it.
Mike was in the Army and a pilot stationed in Florida. On a trip to Kentucky, Wood invited Mike out for drinks with friends to celebrate a birthday. After that, the couple started dating. Then, Wood packed her bags, moved to Tampa, Florida, secured an apartment, found a job as a paralegal, and started life.
It was during this time that Wood started training for half marathons. She joined a running club and absolutely ‘loved it.’ As her fitness efforts continued to refine, so did Wood’s body. She added weight training to the routine in the pursuit of better definition. Wood said, “It felt like family at the gym and I loved it.” As the workouts advanced so did the love between Wood and Mike. After a year of dating, it was time to try cohabitation. Shortly after moving in together, the two got engaged and wedding bells were about to ring.
Picture a ceremony with a beautiful girl in white wedding dress, military men in full uniform, swords drawn, a glorious ship, and it's not a fairy tale...it's a wedding extravaganza. The Woods had a beautiful church wedding in South Tampa followed by the ceremony of ceremonies. The reception was on the S.S. Victory, a WWII cargo ship.
There was an arch of swords ceremony, an old English and American custom, which gave a symbolic pledge of loyalty to the newlyweds from their Army family. Only the newly married couple were allowed to pass under the swords. After walking through the tunnel of soldiers with officers holding swords high, they were met up with a surprise, a ‘Welcome to the Army’ sign. “And I got swatted on the rear,” said Wood.
Being ‘in the Army’ secured Wood’s desire for travel. After getting married, the couple traveled to Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Belize, Vietnam, and Japan. After extensive travel, Wood started a graduate program to earn a Master’s degree in adult education and human resource development.
After making a life in South Tampa, Wood was content and happy. After all, she was in school again, there were lots of friends, and a new running group. In 2014, Mike received orders to move to Fort Worth, Texas and immediately after the move was to be deployed. Wood said deployments lasted anywhere from nine months to a year. She decided to stay in Florida until it got closer for Mike to come home. One week after deployment, Wood found out she was pregnant.
The next nine months were spent alone without Mike during the entire pregnancy. When he returned, Wood had packed up the Florida house, bought a home in Texas, and was about to give birth to their firstborn Fiona.
As part of the graduate program, Wood did an internship in Human Resources. Her plan was to go back to work when Fiona was six months old. Surprise, baby number two was on his way.
As a stay-at-home mom, Wood had to figure out her next move. At one point, she sold makeup and an athletic leisure wear online. She wanted to get back into her workouts. Wood joined a Fit4mom program that was a fitness class for moms and babies. Mike received orders again and the next destination was Largo, Florida.
There was no Fit4mom fitness program in Largo so Wood bought a franchise and started fitness classes. Wood said, “I’m hooked on fitness. I feel weird if I go more than a day without a good workout.” And this workout ethic shows in her physique, attitude, and approach to life. “I enjoy physical challenges. I enjoy reaching goals. I love my friends and love how I feel.”
Then, the pandemic struck. “When COVID hit, I had to shut down Fit4mom due to the numbers allowed at gatherings,” said Wood. This is when she moved fitness training to the internet to help people get fit and stay active virtually.
Along with coaching online or offline, Wood partnered with an athleisure line and a fitness nutrition line. The income source helps maintain Wood's fitness requirement costs without a brick and mortar storefront. And let's not forget, she works part-time as a litigator paralegal at a local law firm to help the family's bottom line.
Wood's children Fiona (5) and Emery (4) enjoy watching mom move. Fiona is active in gymnastics and likes unicorns and Emery infiltrates enemy territory by way of his ninja warrior classes or maybe a dinosaur or two.
No surprise, the family enjoys outdoor activities. They swim, bike, kayak, paddle board, hike, if it’s outside, they’ll try it. Wood said, “However, when dad’s gone, the whole dynamic changes from a two parent home to a one parent home.” The kids act out because they miss him and when he returns there’s a ‘whole learning curve to get acquainted again.’ It’s all part of military life.
Wood said the highlight of her day is reading to her kids and working out. You can catch Wood on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.ramage.77 If you’re looking for a workout coach, give her a shout.
Start spreading the news. I'm leaving today. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York...
If I can make it here, I'll make it anywhere, it's up to you, New York, New York.
Byron Hoover's first taste of New York City was during a high school journalism trip. A select group of seniors got to participate in a scholarship journalism conference held at Columbia University. Staffers on The Tilghman Bell were there to receive an award for the paper. “I was blown away by New York City,” said Hoover. Years later, he would move to ‘The Big Apple’ to experience all the magnificent city had to offer.
Hoover was raised in western Kentucky and attended several schools in McCracken County. He made the rounds at Reidland, Lone Oak, and finally the Paducah City Schools. Once in the city school district, Hoover attended McNabb Elementary, Jetton Junior High, and Paducah Tilghman High School.
While in high school, Hoover participated in Key Club, The Tilghman Bell, concert choir, swing choir, and ‘Another Shade of Blue.’ Musical performance at PTHS was a big deal. “Loretta Whitaker, the director of the choral program, instilled in me great appreciation for music that I carry with me to this day.” said Hoover.
Not only did Hoover share the stage in song and dance but in academics. He was one of three Valedictorians at PTHS. The other two were Mary K. (Dyer) Hinkle and Ann-Margret Rehberg.
The next choreographed move was to matriculate at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where Hoover would study economics and political science. Two alumni from the class of ‘82, Hinkle and Amy Bright Ouellette, attended Emory as well. Hoover said, “It was a wonderful school and I loved being in the big city of Atlanta.”
After graduation, Hoover was off to the U.S. Capitol. He worked in Washington D.C. as a legislative assistant for Kentucky Senator Wendell Ford serving on a committee for Rules and Administration. “I had a strong interest in politics and thought I would go to law school,” he said. “Though I was a lowly junior staffer, I loved being close to the action and feeling like I was part of history in some small way.”
Hoover’s original plan was to become a lawyer, but his dream was to have an international career and live overseas. As a matter of fact, one of Hoover’s mentors made a suggestion that would change his life and help to make his dream come true.
Senate Legal Counsel Mike Davidson advised Hoover to go to business school. By altering his educational plan, he could achieve his dream job. Hoover followed this sage advice and after a year in D.C., left for Cornell University to get his MBA.
“Business school at Cornell was intense,” said Hoover. Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Notable alumni include Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ratan Tata, Indian industrialist, philanthropist, and head of Tata Sons, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
After the first year at Cornell, Hoover was accepted into an international exchange program with Belgium's KU Leuven, one of the oldest universities in Europe, studying management. One year later, Hoover took an internship position in brand management with Procter & Gamble at the Brussels office. Then, it happened. “My dream came true and literally changed my life,” said Hoover. After the internship, he was offered a full time job with P&G.
The next 10 years were spent in Europe. There were six years working with P&G at their Brussels and Frankfurt, Germany offices. Then, another four years working in a marketing role for the Disney theme park in Paris, France. “I felt unbelievably blessed and lucky. Here I was a kid from Paducah who spent summers on his grandparents dairy farm in Graves County living in Paris, France and working at the happiest place on earth.” exclaimed Hoover.
In 2000, Hoover moved back to the U.S. and started working for a digital marketing agency in New York. Shortly after, a referral was made on Hoover’s behalf that introduced him to the wine and spirits industry. The referral came from a college friend and set him up for international travel.
The company was Jose Cuervo, the largest tequila company in the world. As marketing director, Hoover’s role was global. “I think the industry is fascinating,” said Hoover. “You have brands that are over 150 years old but also a lot of innovation for new products.”
Jose Cuervo is a family-run business that has 225 years of distilling experience and is the number one producer of agave by-product in the world. During Hoover's time with the company he helped to expand the brand into over 40 countries, created a global ad campaign, and launched new products like a ready to drink margarita.
After tequila, came whiskey and the move to Chicago, Illinois. Hoover went to work for Beam Suntory as vice president in charge of a global whiskey portfolio which included ‘flagship brands Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam.’ As a marketing guru, Hoover said, “The ability to tap into emotions and insights around consumer behavior is what I love most about marketing.” He said that marketing spirits did just that. It places people in social experiences that are happy, fun, and carefree.
Obviously, Hoover’s career has been the focal point of his life, however, he continued to look for opportunities to perform musically. While at Emory, he was in the glee club. In Europe, he participated in community choirs. In New York, there was the community choir affiliated with The Juilliard School. “There were cool things like performing with the Philharmonic and singing at Carnegie Hall,” said Hoover. It was activities such as these that kept the passion alive.
Since arriving in Chicago, there’s been no singing or dancing. However, he did meet his husband which put a spring in his step. The two met in 2010 only months after Hoover arrived in the Windy City. In 2013, the couple had a civil union before same-sex marriage was legal. In 2015, they were officially married.
Hoover loves Chicago. It offers all the things he loved about New York with less hassle and half the cost. He said, “There’s a sense of community...feels like a small town where everybody knows your name.”
Since moving to Chicago, Hoover has returned to Paducah more frequently. His dad, Jerry Hoover passed away last September. Jerry worked in state government in Frankfort before retiring. He worked in city government in Paducah and was the Executive Director for the Chamber of Commerce for many years. Hoover’s mom, Kathy Wood, is retired from the English Department at WKCTC. She currently resides in Symsonia, Kentucky with Hoover’s stepdad.
After leaving Beam Suntory, Hoover became an independent consultant in the wine and spirits industry. His focus is marketing but assists some of his long time clients in whatever they need. Hoover said, “I embrace a servant leadership. I’ll assist clients, leverage my skills to help non-profits, or support a friend.”
Hoover said, “There have been some ‘what if’ moments for me. What if I hadn’t turned down that job offer or stayed in Europe?” Through it all, he’s lived the dream of having an international career. He’s visited 50 countries. His latest trip was a year ago before COVID to New Zealand.
Hoover’s other love is performing. After COVID, he may join another community choir. So, "Start spreading the news...He'll try it again. He'll make a brand new start of it. Once again."
“Overall I feel grateful to have had all the experiences I’ve had, the accomplishments in my professional and personal life, the ability to travel and see the world, and a wonderful network of friends and family to enjoy all of it." Byron Hoover
A father's intuition during a decade of change prepares his daughter to inherit a real estate dynasty
The sixties was a decade of change. The country was encountering the Civil Rights Movement, anti-war protests, 'free love,' and an influx of women in the workforce. Due to the change, an economic ‘boom’ was shaping up. Demands for labor increased and so did women in the workplace. Joe C. Marshall, a savvy businessman in the 60’s, took note of the paradigm shift and put his middle school daughter, Mary Marshall Hoy to work during summer vacations.
“The summer my dad told me I had to work, I asked why?” said Hoy. After all, her friends were heading to the lake, playing tennis, doing all the fun stuff kids do when they’re not in school. He explained that women were working now and having careers. He had the foresight and confidence in his daughter that she could do anything a man could do.
Hoy was raised in Paducah, attended city schools, and was proud of her ‘long, blue line’ (Go Big Blue). While at Paducah Tilghman High School, Hoy was in the PTHS choir, Spanish club, and was one of five Valedictorians from her 1973 graduating class. This honor was shared with Rick Straub, Rick Lefebvre, Janet Dodson, and Rob Rhodes.
Hoy and John met their Junior year of high school. In fact, Jon introduced himself to the smart girl with the pretty face during a casual conversation over needlepoint. "We met in English class. Jon said he liked my long hair and my wooden purse with the needlepoint stitching. It had a 'cool' saying on it that I stitched myself." said Hoy. Interestingly, the two were in concert choir together too but had no idea the other took the class. "Back in the day, the number of choir students was very large." she said.
After graduating in 1973, Hoy attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Centre was a top-50 liberal arts college founded by Presbyterian leaders. Hoy graduated with a Bachelor of Science in economics and management and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Shortly after graduating, she went to work for a company in Lexington that managed small businesses.
During the fall of 1976, Hoy and Jon got engaged. After a couple of months, they married on New Year's Day. Celebrating big events on the first day of the year was a tradition in the Hoy and Marshall families. Jon’s mom, Shirley was a New Year’s baby and Hoy’s parents, Joe and Eleanor were also married on January 1st.
The wedding was held at The Presbyterian Church in Paducah. Hoy said, “It was a typical church wedding.” However, the church itself, was far from typical.
The First Presbyterian Church that stands today is the third structural building since its inception and has quite a history. It was founded in 1842 after the Paducah city streets were laid out by William Clark, the brother of George Rogers Clark. George Rogers Clark became the highest-ranking American patriot military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. The first church was erected in 1848 and located on Third Street near Kentucky Ave. The second church was completed in 1888 and is the present site at Seventh and Jefferson. The second structure was destroyed by fire so a third was built as it stands today.
The rehearsal dinner was the first event for the Ninth Street House in Paducah. “My in-laws and the Grace’s were dear friends. Curtis and Norma worked it out.” said Hoy. If you're from Paducah or anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, most that loved delicious, artfully sculpted food, knew the name Curtis Grace. He opened the restaurant in an old Victorian-style home located in downtown Paducah in the 70’s. It was fine dining at it’s best. Hoy said the event was ‘magical and delicious.’
The couple moved to Hollywood after the wedding for Jon to earn a degree in audio engineering. While Jon was in school, Hoy worked for California Federal. “At the time, it (California Federal) was the largest federally chartered S & L in the nation.” she said. Hoy worked for the head of the escrow department. “In the day, we made and processed loans and sold them on the secondary market too.”
After living in Los Angeles for a couple of years, the couple moved back home to be with family. In 1979, Hoy got licensed to sell real estate and joined her father’s company, Joe C. Marshall Realty, a.k.a. Marshall Realty.
The real estate world wasn’t new to Hoy. Remembering those early days working for her dad, it seemed a natural career path. “I worked summers at my dad’s company from when I was 14 to 19 years old,” said Hoy. At the time, she didn’t have an appreciation for time spent learning the business, however, she does now. In the late 60’s, “Not many daughters did that years ago," said Hoy.
Joe Marshall started his company before Hoy was born. “Not only did he sell houses, he owned a mortgage and insurance company too.” said Hoy.
Additionally, Marshall managed the Guthrie Building for the Guthrie’s, a prominent family in Paducah. Today, the Guthrie Building is a historical landmark. According to the historical marker, it was established in 1897 and was known as the Fraternity Building during WWII. It was home of the Paducah-McCracken County Draft Board. Nearly 5,000 men and women from the Paducah area served in the war. It was designated a Kentucky landmark in 2002, and is now used as an office building.
Hoy’s father died in 1990 and left the business to Hoy. The Guthrie building was sold and the office merged with Coldwell Banker. Hoy was a broker with Coldwell Banker/Marshall Realty for 25 years.
An award was established in Hoy’s dad’s name, the Joe C. Marshall Distinguished Service Award. The award represented those that contributed to community service beyond self. Hoy won the award as well as realtor of the year as a broker. She’s also held every office at the Paducah Board of Realtors and Western KY. Regional MLS.
Hoy and Jon have three children; Hannah (40), Zach (38), and Sam (36). Hannah is a second grade teacher at Clark Elementary in Paducah, has three children and is married to Andrew Hammonds. Hammonds is originally from New Zealand and owns a farm in Lone Oak, Koru Gardens. The farm is 21 acres of land dedicated to growing natural and sustainable produce delivered to your table.
Zach is a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist in Nashville, Tennessee affiliated with Tristar Centennial Medical Center. He treats children with a broad array of diseases caused by germs, viruses, and fungi, ranging from flu to hospital acquired infections to pneumonia. Zach's uncle and Hoy's brother is a retired surgeon and lives in Floyd's Knob, IN. The Marshalls are an intelligent clan.
Both Hannah and Zach attended Centre College like their Mom. Hoy said, “When my children went to Centre, both the professors remembered me from those days.” During Hoy’s summers at Centre, she worked for a couple of professors brushing up on her typing skills. “I typed a Quantum Mechanics book and a statistics book.” she said.
Sam graduated from the University of Louisville. Currently, he works with mom selling real estate and appraising property. Hoy said, “Business has been booming. I thought COVID might ruin real estate, it’s done the opposite. Interest rates are historically low and homes are selling fast."
Though business is good, the negative effects of the virus does take its toll. Hoy said she’ll feel better about it all when there’s a herd immunity. “I’m a mask wearer. I’ve never been too concerned in western Kentucky because we tend to follow the rules, however, I miss seeing my friends.” Hoy said a reunion had been planned for this summer with some of her high school girlfriends. “We planned a trip for turning 65. We had to cancel. It was the right thing to do.”
Hoy and Jon are still able to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes, golf. The Hoys have played golf for eight years and they love it. They’re members of Drake Creek Golf Club in Ledbetter, Kentucky and play courses all over western Kentucky and southern Illinois.
In addition to golf, the Hoys like to travel. Hoy has a sister, Jane that’s 14 years older and lives in Montana. When Hoy was younger, summer trips were spent visiting Jane. She lived in Seattle for a long time and taking trips out west has been missed.
Other fun destinations the family enjoys are trips to Florida and Point Clear, Alabama. As a side note, travel worth mentioning includes New Zealand and Spain.
The young girl that worked summers for her dad, is now a successful businesswoman, actively selling houses and appraising property at Century 21 Service Realty in Paducah. Jon is a media specialist at CSI (Computer Services Incorporated). Hoy has many, many friends that go ‘way back’. They dine, laugh, and share the best of times. With a thriving career, successful adult children, and husband Jon of 44 years, 65 is looking better and better all the time.
Three, two, one, Happy Wedding Day! The New Year rang in a highly-anticipated 2021 as well as a new beginning for Greg and Melanie Greenlee Godec. Social media has gotten a 'bad rap' as of late, however, if it hadn't been for the forum, the happily married couple might still be single.
The two knew each other while in high school but ‘never hung-out’ said Melanie. Both moved away after graduating but called Paducah their hometown. Melanie is class of ‘83 at Paducah Tilghman High School and Greg is class of ‘81 at St. Mary’s High School. Though they didn’t run in the same circles, the pair lived within a mile of each other growing up.
Fast forward nearly four decades, Melanie and Greg reconnected via Facebook. “We had been Facebook friends for years and Greg found out I was single and looked me up.” smiled Melanie. She said they started dating in September 2017 and shortly thereafter ‘took a break.’
After ‘the break’ the couple started dating again in March of 2019. We can all agree that everybody deserves a second chance and this time Greg wasn’t going to repeat the Beyonce’ Knowles scenario, “If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it.”
A trip to Shell Key Preserve took their relationship to the next level. If you’re unfamiliar with the underdeveloped barrier islands located in the mouth of Tampa Bay, it’s a secluded spot where locals and tourist enjoy wildlife, fishing and boating.
While at Shell Key Preserve, Melanie said, “We were at Shell Key Beach and Greg popped the question. He put my ring in a shell and got down on one knee as we were walking on the beach at sunset. It was so special.”
Greg proposed in May 2020 but there's no way the two were celebrating a wedding anniversary with the date 2020 attached. Melanie said, "We got engaged in May but didn't want to get married in 2020 so we picked the first Friday 2021 and it happened to be New Year's Day."
The beach wedding took place on Redington Beach at the private resident’s area. There was a pre-wedding celebration complete with fireworks, grilling, and good old-fashioned fun. Family and friends took to the air and road to participate in the wedding weekend. Temperatures were in the upper 70s under a mostly sunny sky. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for outdoor festivities during a worldwide pandemic.
The wedding party consisted of Melanie’s daughters, Samantha and Emily as maids of honor, Greg's brother Danny as best man, brother-in-law Andy Gilland as groomsman and Melanie's great niece Halle Grace (11) with Greg's great niece Ava Grace (4) as flower girls. The girls scattered seashells instead of flowers.
Of course, we all wanted to know the wedding attire. Melanie wore an off-white beachy dress and the girls wore dusty blue dresses. Greg wore a white linen shirt and khakis. The guys wore navy blue patterned shirts featuring a hint of dusty blue to coordinate with the girls’ dresses.
After the ceremony, the wedding party headed over to the Godec’s home for a catered surf and turf wedding day reception. “The honeymoon will have to wait ‘til spring. We’re very busy at work,” said Melanie.
General surgeon Dr. Kristen N. Williams said, "I fell in love with surgery and I never looked back." Raised in Paducah, Williams and husband John were ‘counting down the days’ to return home to raise their two children, Juliet and Reese, be closer to extended family, and start building a practice.
Becoming a surgeon and surrounding herself with loved ones was Williams' idea of perfection. As a person with many irons in the fire, Williams is extremely focused with the uncanny ability to compartmentalize daily activities. In fact, sister-in-law Ashley Williams Lambert said in a recent Facebook post how typical it was for Williams to keep everything together despite the chaos.
Having the best of both worlds sometimes comes with a price. Williams said, “ My husband John always reminds me that quality time is what’s important.” After leaving behind 80 hour work weeks as a resident, joining the Surgical Group of Paducah with more control over scheduling was a true blessing.
As a young girl, Williams was educated within the St. Mary School System. She attended the catholic school from preschool through 12th grade taking advantage of every opportunity. “One of the things I loved about St. Mary was being involved in a variety of extracurricular activities.”
Some of those activities included four years of varsity cheerleading, three years of varsity soccer, French Club, National Honors Society, class secretary, and choir. Though the schedule was busy, it never kept Williams from one of her most treasured pastimes. “Reading is and always has been my escape, my ‘me time’. Harry Potter is my all time favorite series and I try to reread it once a year,” she said.
After graduating in 2007, Williams attended the University of Louisville as a GEMS Scholar (Guaranteed Entrance to Medical School). After U of L Medical School, she matched with the residency program in Cincinnati, Ohio at TriHealth (Good Samaritan and Bethesda North hospitals).
The plan for Williams was to work with children. “I actually went to medical school wanting to be a pediatrician. The only thing I was sure of was I was NOT going to be a surgeon.” After clinical rotations her third year of medical school, Williams discovered she was NOT going into pediatrics.
In the Grey’s Anatomy episode “Hope for the Hopeless”, Meredith Grey is in a conundrum. She’s a fifth year intern and hasn’t declared a specialty. Williams had a leg up on Grey, she was only in her third year but it didn’t keep her from contemplating ‘what will I pursue?’
It was January, the weather was gloomy and dreary, and the surgical rotation was the one Williams was dreading the most. She said, “I just knew I would hate it. The long hours, frequent call shifts, high stakes operations, in a traditionally male-dominated world...” she continued, "after all, it was eight weeks of my life." However, after only two weeks, she came home and told John she wanted to be a surgeon. She ‘fell in love’ with surgery and never looked back.
As a general surgeon, Williams said she gets the best of both worlds. Surgeries are designed for both instant gratification and long-term rewards. In the short-term there’s appendectomies, gallbladder surgeries due to cholecystitis, and other procedures. In the long-term, special relationships are formed between patient and surgeon. She said you may follow breast cancer patients for years and the bonding that occurs is truly special.
Williams met her husband John in the fall of freshman year at the University of Louisville. Williams pledged a sorority and John a fraternity. At the time, her sorority ‘big sister’ was dating John’s fraternity brother. Soon, 'big sis' introduced Williams and John and they started 'hanging out'. Over Christmas break, both went home for the holidays, spent more time together, and returned to campus as a couple.
Interestingly, Williams said, “Funny story...my dad actually tried to introduce us before I left for college as he knew John’s grandfather (John Williams, Sr.) through CSI (Computer Services Incorporated). John, Sr. is the founder and chairman of CSI, a company in Paducah that provides integrated and streamlined technology solutions.
As expected, Williams turned down the offer to be introduced thinking it was ‘lame’ to be ‘set-up’ by your dad. In the end, once the two started spending time together, a relationship forged and they never looked back.
The two got engaged after graduating college in 2011. After a two year engagement, they were married in Paducah at Broadway United Methodist Church with a lovely reception to follow at The Carson Center. Both were still in school. Williams was in her second year of medical school and John was finishing his MBA.
After leaving TriHealth, Williams, John, and their two children moved back home. Now, the girls were born in Louisville. Williams gave birth to Juliet during her fourth year of medical school, six weeks before starting residency. “Juliet was 4 lbs. 12 oz. when we took her home.” said Williams. John stayed home with their infant daughter and the couple decided to complete their family while Williams was still in residency. Twenty months later, Reese was born.
The return to Paducah was a homecoming. It was the place where they wanted to raise their children and be close to extended family. Both Williams and John have an appreciation for the local arts, the public parks, the great school systems, and “all of it,” she said.
The girls started at St. Mary in August of this year. Juliet is in kindergarten and Reese is in three year old preschool. Since COVID-19, there have been plenty of interruptions with school activities. John has stayed home with the girls and will continue to do so through the pandemic. Balancing career and family “would’ve been so much harder without my husband John,” said Williams.
When it’s family time, there are activities like playing with the dogs, going to the park, arts and crafts and trips to the downtown farmers market in the summertime. The family also likes to cook and bake.
Recently, Williams signed up for a Sara Bradley cooking class. Bradley is a “Top Chef” runner-up and owner of the Freight House, a local Paducah restaurant. Williams said, “I loved Sara’s cooking class and I’m already signed up for another.” Once signed up for the virtual classes, participants receive their prep list of ingredients and a link to the Zoom meeting. During Williams’ first cooking class she said, ‘the girls barged in but were very helpful.” Plans are being made for a ‘Mommy and Me’ class.
A career goal of Williams’ is to build the robotic program at Baptist Health Paducah. Robotic surgery allows doctors to perform many types of complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with conventional techniques. Williams said, “I truly believe that every patient and every operation is different and a surgeon must choose the appropriate approach based on the needs of the patient and the situation.” Currently, Williams is performing robotic surgeries for colon resections, hernia repairs, gallbladder removals, and other procedures.
COVID-19 has played a big role in the way physicians, patients, and family members interact before, during, and after surgeries. There have been times during the pandemic that the hospital enacted a no visitors policy. From Williams perspective, “Family support is so important when a patient is dealing with a medical or surgical challenge,” she continued, “It’s very difficult when you cannot discuss the situation with family members in person and when that patient is alone in the hospital. It’s (the pandemic) truly changed our lives.”
Another side effect of COVID-19 is the anxiety and depression that goes along with the isolation and all the restrictions from the pandemic. The toll that it takes on patients and their family members is devastating. “I’ve also seen colleagues and friends lose relatives to COVID and it’s heartbreaking. They don't get the opportunity to say goodbye or to comfort their loved ones,” said Williams.
Because of these hopeless moments, Williams was more than ready to get the COVID vaccination and bring back Hope. “Hope that we don't lose more Americans to this deadly virus, hope that less people will suffer from long term complications of the virus, hope that my kids can hug their great grandparents, and hope that we can end this pandemic.” she said.
Post-COVID Williams has aspirations in the works. “I plan to take my family over to John’s grandparents’ house so we can all hug each other. We (myself, my husband, or my children) haven’t gotten to hug them since we moved home last June. Then, we’re going on a trip.” Recalling both she and John’s reason for returning back to Paducah, Williams said that even with COVID, “It’s been amazing to be near family and share a bubble.”