In two-and-a-half months, Cherika Johnson will graduate from the University of Cincinnati School of Pharmacy in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Having classes online since COVID has been difficult,” said Cherika. “I had a few months online and then started clinical rotations at local pharmacies and hospitals. Some externships were virtual while others were in-person wearing PPE.” Since the pandemic, Cherika has performed rapid testing on patients and administered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to eligible patients that live in the Cincinnati area.
This is the way Cherika does life...Fast and Furious. Friends and family joke about her activity level. She’s always busy and sometimes too busy.
Born in Paducah, KY, Cherika has strong family ties to the area. Parents, Mario and Angela Johnson were high school sweethearts and graduated from Paducah Tilghman High School. “Almost all of my family lives in Paducah,’ she said. “I have a brother that’s two-and-a-half years younger than me and lots of cousins.”
Cherika’s family are parishioners at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Paducah. The historic church was established three-quarters of a century ago and landed in its current place in the late 70’s. Cherika’s dad is a deacon there. The family remains faithful servants of the Lord and part of the flock shepherded by Pastor Dr. Calvin Cole, Sr. and First Lady Fannie Cole.
The Johnsons moved to West Paducah when Cherika was in middle school. While attending high school, the main focus was academics. She was a member of the National Honor Society and President of FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America) her senior year. During her junior and senior years, Cherika worked part-time at GoPerformance & Fitness SportsPlex spending the summer before going to college working at Rick’s Pharmacy at 3001 Schneidman Road.
After graduating from Heath High School in 2013, Cherika left for the University of Kentucky in Lexington to study nutrition. “I changed majors several times,” she said. “After taking a general nutrition class, I realized how much I liked it and how well it would enhance my knowledge as a future pharmacist.” Cherika said she always knew she wanted a career in healthcare.
Some people have a natural drive and work ethic that presses them to push the envelope. Outside of regular college classes, Cherika conquered more than academia. She was a RA (Residential Advisor) for three years as an undergraduate. Cherika served two years as President of the National Residence Hall Honorary and organized the largest UK residency hall banquet both years. She was a member of the first black Greek letter sorority in the country Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and served as the treasurer, chaplain, and co-service chair.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. began with nine college students on the campus of Howard University in 1908. Howard University is a private, federally chartered historically black research university in Washington D.C. Since the sorority’s humble beginnings, it has expanded into a worldwide organization of nearly 300,000 members. The sorority is empowered by sisterhood and commitment to a servant leadership domestically and internationally. Vice President of the United States Soror Kamala Harris is a member of the dynamic sisterhood. With renewed vigor, this organization is making things happen.
Cherika understands the concept of servanthood and the idea of making the world a better place. She’s a person that forgoes spring break to help those in need. During her freshman year, she opted for an alternative service break trip to Washington D.C. to help the homeless.
After graduating in 2017, Cherika was accepted to the University of Cincinnati School of Pharmacy. “School was difficult; we learn everything that medical students learn but with more emphasis on how the various treatment options/medications for disease states work in the body and how they can affect the body.”
During all four academic years in the professional program, Cherika worked as a Kroger Pharmacy Intern. “While in pharmacy school, we were encouraged to work as interns,” she said. “I also worked for one year at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center as an Inpatient Pharmacy Intern.” Ultimately, being able to work in two very different settings of pharmacy care, Cherika preferred the hospital over retail pharmacy. She hopes to work in either a hospital or primary care setting after graduating.
“The role of a pharmacist in healthcare is changing,” said Cherika. “In many states, pharmacists work with physicians to decide best treatment options or will manage certain patients with disease states like diabetes or hypertension.” This type of care is Ambulatory Care Pharmacy.
Cherika likes working alongside physicians and being involved in the ‘continuity of care’ for patients. “My best friend was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare childhood cancer, at 16. She fought her cancer for over four years and passed away in 2015”
For this reason and others, Cherika’s passion includes more involvement with patient care as the driving force in her decision to seek the new direction as a pharmacist. Losing your best friend during adolescence is shocking and confusing. Being involved in not only the medication aspect of patient care but the more personal approach to treating the whole person is where Cherika believes she can make an impact.
For fun, Cherika enjoys traveling, trying out new restaurants, visiting museums, and working jigsaw puzzles. Two of her favorite travel destinations are Spain and Australia. She also likes to pack a punch at the local boxing gym. And it’s no wonder, Dad Mario Johnson is a performance coach and has always been on the cutting edge of helping local athletes improve their skills. The Johnson family embraces the love of sports.
Cherika is a hardworking, dedicated, and motivated young woman who enjoys exercising in the morning, making a positive impact on patient lives, and hanging out with friends, family and her dog. As she prepares for graduation in 2021 as a PharmD candidate, her sights are set on North Carolina. Her ideal career involves collaborating with physicians on best treatment options for patients when prescribing medications for various illnesses. Life is just beginning and what a beautiful life.
"As the eagles soar and the birdies fly, this golfing duo share days gone by"
February is here and it's brought a friend, old man winter. With the mix of snow and ice, the frigid temperatures continue to keep its grip on middle America and the Northeast. At a time when COVID-19 continues to affect our way of life, a sudden blast of arctic air adds to the isolation and uneventful daily routine. Adding insult to injury, Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter on February 2 after seeing his shadow. Everyday DOES seem like groundhog day.
Same day same way. We eat, sleep, and pass the time scrolling through our phones or watching reruns on television. There are so many streaming services, limitless cable channels, numerous movies on demand, the list goes on. It's time for a little romance, we think. It's time to forget our troubles, we believe. It's time to make a detour and escape reality, we silently shout. Suddenly, you land on the Hallmark channel.
Hallmark movies are our guilty pleasures with fairytale endings. Most movies are easy to predict, and the plots are quite similar, but we don't care. The problems are identifiable. And nine times out of ten it’s about lost love.
These romantic trysts are mainly set in small town USA where traditional values are the cornerstone to long-lasting relationships. Maybe there’s a death, a bitter divorce or possibly bad choices. The point is, something good will come out of something not so good.
This love story dates back more than 60 years in small town USA Ridgely, Tennessee. If you’re unfamiliar with this community of southern folks, it’s located in the northwest part of the state and minutes away from Reelfoot Lake State Park. After the 2010 census, population was recorded at 1,795 residents.
One of the perks growing up in this area was enjoying Reelfoot Lake. The lake holds a lot of appeal to those in the surrounding community. As recorded history states, a massive earthquake along the New Madrid Fault in 1811-1812 produced the formation of the 20 miles long and seven miles wide natural wonder. The upheaval caused the land on the east side of the Mississippi River to sink, causing a hole to form and water to rush in. And, the old wives' tale circulating suggests those living on the land got swallowed up by the earth never to be seen again.
If you haven't been to this neck of the woods, it's worth a visit. The lake is primed for fishing, boating, hunting and once upon a time, sunbathing on the sandy beaches.
The setting is the early 50’s when life was simple. In Ridgely, many were farmers, factory workers, or employed by one of the local small businesses on the downtown square. Parents didn’t have the same fears they do today. Children would leave in the morning to play outside and would show up for supper as it turned dark. Most of the children’s activities revolved around playing street ball, tag in the cotton fields or playing on the school yards playground. Games included football, basketball, jumping rope, hopscotch, maybe even a little kick the can.
Margie Davis Fields and David Fields’ friendship goes back to this simple time. The two started off as playmates. David said, “Two childhood friends had the time of their life.”
“Margie was the tomboy and loved hanging out and playing ball with me and my pals.” said David. It was more of a sibling friendship than any that resembled a physical attraction. “During the early years, Margie Gale was like my little sister and I dated EVERY single one of her friends,” chuckled David.
Before entering first grade, David, his sister, and mom moved to Memphis, Tennessee. Since David’s grandparents lived in Ridgely, he would spend each summer and winter vacationing in Ridgely at their home. Luckily for Margie and David, the relationship continued to be nurtured throughout their high school years.
During the 50’s, Ridgely had as much to offer as every other little town in America. In fact, Reelfoot Lake had three of the best beaches around. Kids and their families would go to Sunkist, Edgewater and Magnolia beaches to enjoy swimming, water slides (playground slides attached to floating docks), sandy beaches, and concession stands. Kids could get Coney dogs, ice-cold Coca-Cola, cotton candy, or any tasty carnival treat. Any kid would love to live in this time and place.
Margie and David remained friends through high school. “We went off to college, married another, and started families...and our story should have ended here,” said David. Fifty years later, David succumbed to social media pressures and joined Facebook. David isn't proud of this. He’s never been fond of computers and only jumped on the internet if it was necessary. Obviously, Facebook wasn’t necessary but for their love story, it’s a good thing he did.
“Little did I know my life was about to change,” said David. Margie had been on a trip to Florida with several of her girlfriends from high school and posted pictures of the vacation on Facebook. The pictures represented a trip down memory lane for David and he thought, ‘I know those girls’ so he posted a comment to one of the pictures. “As luck would have it, Margie Gale was the one that responded and we decided to meet for dinner,” said David.
The two hit it off right away. The conversation flowed and the good old days were reminisced. “Fifty years had passed and that same ‘little sister’ rapidly became my ‘little sweetheart.’ We dated for two years and decided to complete this Hallmark movie and get married. It didn’t snow but it sure was a happy ending.” said David.
This particular Hallmark movie, not surprisingly, ends like all the rest that have come before it. The two enjoy hanging out together and doing much of the same thing like golf, and golf, and golf. The perfect ending for these two is an eagle on the 18th hole. Ba Da Ba!
It’s hard to shine when the light is so bright all around you. It’s one of those, “You know you’re from Paducah when’ moments as someone mentions the Shumpert family name. Their legacy precedes them and rightfully so. 'Making the cut' in this talented clan could be overwhelming. But, Chelsey Shumpert carved out her niche to find her place in athletic royalty.
Everything the family does is a competition from athletics to singing contests. Just ask Chelsey’s parents, Ann and Junior Shumpert. Both played sports in high school and college and still compete on some level even today.
But the thing about the Shumperts is they leave it all out on the playing field and only bring back love and support to their home. The family is truly special and ‘all in’ for Chelsey.
Chelsey has always been very passionate about sports. Her focus for many years was finding the athletic activity she excelled in the most. “I was best at basketball and had a passion for it.” So, playing hoops became the dream.
Since seventh grade, basketball has been the focal point. During her four years at Paducah Tilghman High School, she was MVP and part of the All-Purchase girls basketball team. Chelsey held the title of most points ever (men or women) in the region with a mind-blowing 3,000 points during her high school basketball career. That record stood until 2017. In addition to personal success, Chelsey helped the Lady Tornadoes become district champs for three years running.
Other than playing on three different basketball travel teams during her high school years, Chelsey stayed in close proximity to her family. “I didn’t really do much besides hang with friends. The majority of my time was spent with my sisters. They made it fun for me.” Chelsey has two sisters, Natalie and Iesha and a boat load of cousins. There was always plenty of family to keep the games going.
It’s no surprise, Chelsey was offered a basketball scholarship to the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. When discussing collegiate basketball, Chelsey said the practices were ‘long and hard.’ It’s a whole new level of play. “It was something I eventually adjusted to but it never got easy.”
All the hard practice paid off. The teams Chelsey played on continued to win. While in college, the 'Scrappy Mocs' won three Southern State Championships and were a top 25 NCAA team. And if being awesome at basketball wasn't enough, Chelsey made the Dean’s list too. She received her Bachelor's Degree and majored in college sports and leisure.
After graduating from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Chelsey pursued a Master’s Degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee 2017-2018. She would play her fifth year of college and continue to excel. During this time, Union won a championship ring - Gulf South Conference, the NCAA South Region Tournament Championship, and made it to the Elite Eight. Chelsey continued to receive awards such as Player of the Year, Tournament's Most Outstanding Player and many others.
“One of my dreams was to play overseas,” said Chelsey. Because of her efforts, the dream came true and she became a Nottingham Wildcat playing in the WBBL (Women’s Basketball British League).
Chelsey’s first season of play (2018-2019) had its highs and lows. From a basketball perspective, it was a high. She was the leading scorer her first year. The low was missing her family.
“My first year I got homesick. I was a rookie and it was eight months straight.” She spent much of the summer of 2019 in the states and was able to visit her parents and other family members. Being able to catch up and be around her supportive family helped Chelsey rally the troops for the upcoming season.
The 2019-2020 season would prove to be a difficult one. During this season, COVID interrupted play and Chelsey experienced her third knee injury.
“COVID has changed a lot about practices and games. I could have two games one week and not another for three weeks. As many know, regular routines are needed for the body to function. The recovery was off so it gets tough,” said Chelsey.
Players have to get tested three times a week which cuts into practice time. Chelsey said, “I’ve been on lockdown for four months. There’s no outside activity besides the gym. So, it’s about mental space as well.”
Regarding Chelsey’s injuries, she said, “I’ve had injuries in every level of play. Injuries have occurred in both my ACL and MCL.” The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) keeps the shinbone from sliding forward and the MCL (medial collateral ligament) keeps the femur from sliding side to side. Her last injury while playing professionally was a lateral meniscus tear to the knee joint. “I still battle the lateral tear because I just came back from it,” she said.
With some hesitancy, Chelsey said COVID has provided a positive change in the way she approaches living a healthier lifestyle. In a recent interview with Sportsbeat, Chelsey discussed cousin Mookie Betts and the influential role he’s played as of late in her personal and professional life. Betts is a World Series two-time champion and right fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Since COVID, Betts has been more available. Chelsey reached out to him for advice and he made some solid recommendations. “I’m taking better care of my body, eating good, and staying ready for the moment.” She’s investing time and effort to pursue a couple of new interests. Activities such as practicing yoga for mind, body and spirit and working puzzles to keep from going stir crazy.
As far as her love for basketball, Chelsey said, “I love that I can be myself and do what I love to do everyday. With basketball, I’m always competing at a high level and being able to reach some of my weekly and monthly goals makes me love what I do even more.”
When it comes to league play, Chelsey said she’s keeping her options open. “I like being in a different country, learning more about myself, and meeting new people.” She lives in Nottingham England and visits London and Manchester often. Unfortunately, the pandemic limits her ability to sight-see.
Chelsey is in her third season with the Nottingham Wildcats and the hope is for more points on the board and more championships in her back pocket. This hometown hero and incredibly focused young woman will achieve all her dreams, no doubt about it.
Dana Sowash Edwards and husband Duane are making it in this crazy world as a team
Dana Sowash Edwards has always been an incredibly responsible young woman. She’s the girl in high school that earned her own money, helped tend to her younger brother, and was there for her older siblings and parents when needed. As the tables turn, Edwards’ children are there for her offering words of encouragement and support as she tackles career, family, and personal goals. It’s one of those lovely blessings bestowed upon those who put positive energy out in the world and in turn receive it back.
As it stands, Edwards is on the cutting edge of a drug development company that collaborates with leading pharmaceutical and biotech corporations. Avillion LLP partners with companies across the globe providing financial and swift solutions to get products to market. It’s a very efficient organization established in 2012 and based in London England. Edwards fits perfectly into this environment as a tenacious and hard-working young woman. Her efforts are a testament to her true character.
Edwards was a student in the McCracken County School systems K-12 in Paducah, Kentucky. While attending Lone Oak High School she played softball for the high school team and played on an American Softball Association (ASA) team winning the 16U state title in 1996. In addition to academics and extracurricular activities, she was always juggling two or three part-time jobs.
After graduating high school in 1997, Edwards attended Union University in Jackson, Tennessee earning a Bachelor of Science degree in social work. In 2001, she continued to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee and received a Master's Degree in social work with a concentration in clinical practice. As in the earlier years, keeping money flowing was a must, so she continued to hold down two jobs to make ends meet.
During Edwards' last year of school in Memphis, she participated in an internship program with Youth Villages, a nonprofit organization that helps treat emotionally troubled children and their families. Upon graduating she was hired full-time at the Department of Preventive Medicine at UT Health Science Center in Memphis. as a Research Specialist in the Outcomes Evaluation and Research Department. Edwards worked this position as she pursued her master’s degree.
As life and career advanced, tragedy struck the family. Edwards’ niece was killed in a car accident and the family encouraged her to move back to Paducah. “My niece died when my daughter, Mia was 12 days old. My family thought it would be helpful to have my new baby girl around to help ease some of the grief. I didn’t want to leave Memphis but I did it for them,” said Edwards.
Upon returning to her hometown, Edwards accepted a position at Four Rivers Clinical Research under Dr. Bent Ibata. For the next 10 years, she stayed in Paducah.
Four Rivers Clinical Research, located at the Mercy Health Medical Pavilion, conducts clinical trials for various pharmaceutical companies to discover new treatment options. Edwards began as a research coordinator and gradually climbed the corporate ladder. She was promoted to Lead Clinical Research Coordinator and finally as Director of the organization after the departure of Dr. Ibata.
In addition to career, Edwards participated in Leadership Paducah Class #26. She was a three-year board member of Family Service Society. This nonprofit organization provides help to families in McCracken/Paducah that need assistance with basic needs such as food, clothing, and other essentials. She also served as a volunteer orientation trainer for the American Red Cross.
After living in Paducah for over a year, Edwards made a friend on the internet. Duane Edwards was soon to play a key role in her life. The two chatted via the web for some time before deciding to meet in person. “Our first in-person meeting was in the Memphis airport when I was traveling for work.” said Edwards. The two struck up a friendship and started officially dating in 2009. After a two-year courtship, they got engaged and married in 2012.
“It’s funny,” said Edwards, “We later found out we had a mutual friend that tried setting us up on a blind date a few years earlier. The same friend, along with his wife sang at our wedding.”
After living and working in Paducah for 10 years, Edwards was offered an opportunity in Nashville, Tennessee. The family moved in 2017 where Edwards worked for a Site Management Organization (SMO)/Contract Research Organization (CRO) called Sarah Cannon/HCA Research Institute. SCRI formed in 2004 as a joint venture between Tennessee Oncology and HCA Healthcare. The research organization performs community clinical trials in oncology, gastroenterology, cardiology, and other therapeutic areas.
Edwards was responsible for starting, building, restructuring, and maintaining cardiovascular research programs at several HCA Healthcare hospitals across the country for both medical devices and pharmaceuticals. HCA operates 168 hospitals and over 2,000 sites of care and is based out of Nashville.
After leaving SCRI, Edwards went to work in her current role at Avillion LLP. She has a home office and travels extensively for clinical trials. Over the past year, COVID has really altered Edwards’ work routine. ”Because of travel restrictions across the country, my travel schedule was super slow in 2020.” Edwards admits there have been positive outcomes from the restrictions placed on the world due to the pandemic. She said, “Spending more time at home with my family has been really nice. I’m thankful for it.”
As a Senior Clinical Trial Liaison Manager, Edwards' career has given her the ability to work on many clinical trials in many disease states. One area she hasn’t dipped her toe in is infectious disease. In fact, her aunt and uncle were two of the first in western New York State to receive the monoclonal antibodies therapy that helps immunocompromised patients better fight the effects of COVID. Thankfully, Chris and Sheryl Balisteri were able to lessen their symptoms with the treatment and stay out of the hospital. Their story made the Buffalo News.
There are perks other than a career to living in Nashville. Edwards said, “It’s a big city with a small town feel.” She said they live in Williamson County and the school systems are top-notch. Edwards has four children: Mia (13), Carter (11), Tyson (6), and Miles (4). Mia likes school, friends, modeling and acting. Edwards said, “Mia enjoys working hard and making her own money too.” Carter is a dear, sweet boy much like Edwards. And the boys, Tyson and Miles are active in sports and other activities.
“There’s lots of entertainment for the kids.” said Edwards. The family enjoys everything that Nashville has to offer such as hiking trails, visiting parks, and frequenting museums. “We have a great church family too. And, we’ve made lots of friends,” said Edwards.
One of the family’s most favorite things to do is travel. “I’m very passionate about exploring the world.” Edwards said. “Our goal is to buy a vacation home in another country when we retire. So, we’re visiting as many as we can now.”
”We are huge beach people too.” said Edwards. “We’ve been to Jamaica, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Barbados. I’ve been to Trinidad and Tobago. We’ve also been to England, Ireland, Canada and have plans to visit Grenada soon.”
There’s more to this vacation home plan than meets the eye. Edwards said, “My ultimate goal is to be able to offer a place for other families to vacation with their kids for free. I never got to vacation growing up because we couldn’t afford it.” She continued, “ I’m sad that I don’t have those memories with my family. I want to see others have those memories. I’d like to offer a vacation home to families that otherwise couldn’t afford one.”
With four children, a budding career, and an MBA in the works, Edwards keeps a very busy schedule. She and Duane tackle this crazy life together. Edwards said, “We’re master jugglers.” Duane’s position as a Safety and Operations Manager requires lots of SkyMiles too. Edwards said, “We’re partners in life.” It takes two to make this family run.
The children are Edwards’ greatest cheerleaders. They offer encouraging words and share with mom how proud they are of her accomplishments. Mia is especially proud. “I try to keep everyone on a schedule, get them where they need to be, and get to my job done with the highest quality. I’m glad my daughter gets to see that she doesn’t have to choose family or career. She can have both if she works hard,” said Edwards.
When asked about career goals Edwards said, “I’m so blessed to have made it this far in my career. There was a time when you didn’t see many women working for sponsor companies. I was fortunate to have women before me take their time to train, mentor, and believe in me. I want to continue to work hard and share my knowledge with others.”
Edwards’ idea of the perfect day includes, ‘Sleeping past 6 am and having nothing to do at all. No work. No practices. No games. Just a day of nothing. Sounds amazing.’ And, well-deserved.
Cruising Cardinal Point at 28th and H.C. Mathis Drive was ‘the big thing’ to do as a teenager before smartphones and social media. It was a combination of the ride, the flirt, and warm summer nights. If you watched the classic movie, American Graffiti with Richard Dreyfus, Ron Howard, and a host of big name celebrities, it wasn’t too far off point. It was a small town in the USA, tunes on the radio, and the reality that life was just getting started.
Though the movie was set in 1962, not much had changed in 20 years. There was the introduction of MTV. The 80's proved itself to be quite the fashion statement with parachute pants and mullets. Music artists included Madonna, U2, and the Rolling Stones. And a new form of dance called Hip Hop popped on the scene.
As the story goes, two best friends, Tammy Waggoner McKinney and Keri Gill McKinney were circling the parking lot at ‘the point’ when they stopped to introduce themselves to a group of guys. The two Paducah Community College (PCC) students were very interested in two particular young men. In fact, it was twin brothers Scott and Todd McKinney. Later, this flirtatious impromptu drive-by would result in two long-time best friends marrying identical twins and becoming forever sister-in-laws.
Tammy moved to Lone Oak when she was five years old. Most people in this tight knit community grew up together attending the same elementary, junior high, and high school. One might say, these are the ties that bind.
At Lone Oak High School, Tammy played the trumpet in the marching band. “The band director, Gary Crisp, sure knew how to teach and write winning competition pieces,” said Tammy. Much of her love for the marching band could be attributed to the unique opportunity to travel and the over-the-top performances. While Tammy was in high school, they marched in the Disney World Parade, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., and attended several competitions in Florida. She also participated in the Annual Staff and the Beta Club.
After graduating from high school in 1982, Tammy spent her first two years of college at PCC, now West Kentucky Community & Technical College. During this time she worked part-time at J.C. Penney and spent summers at Paducah Bank. It was her sophomore year that she met Scott.
Once Tammy received her associates degree, she transferred to Murray State University. After graduating with a marketing degree, Scott and Tammy got engaged.
Scott didn’t propose by having a plane skywrite ‘will you marry me’ or display a banner from its tail. It was a simple proposal with a lot of heart. Scott got down on one knee at Tammy’s home. The two went for a quiet dinner. Then followed-up with a glass of champagne at Scott’s parents house for a final toast. Family is everything to the McKinneys.
Wedding bells rang December 26, 1987. “Yes, we were crazy for choosing the day after Christmas to get married,” said Tammy. Crazy or not, it was a honeymoon in Vegas! How perfect is that. Tammy said she likes life big, loud, and full of excitement.
Shortly after being married, the family started to grow. The first of three sons was Ryan, now 31. After Ryan was born, Tammy stayed home until he turned one. After his first birthday, she went to work for Page Enterprise.
Everyone in Paducah remembers the royals of the local fast food chains, Jim and Dorothy Page and son Tony. They owned seven restaurants; Noble Park Dairy Queen, Griff’s Burger Bar, Church’s Chicken, Pizza Inn, two Ponderosas, and El Chico. Tammy was the office manager and bookkeeper for four of the seven.
While working for the Pages, Tammy and Scott welcomed two more sons into the world, Blake, now 28 and Zach, 26. The couple decided Tammy should stay-at-home with the kids until Zach entered kindergarten. After which, Tammy worked for the McCracken County Schools as a substitute teacher. She was later hired as an assistant kindergarten teacher and remained in that role for eleven years.
In 2014, Scott was offered a position at USEC’s Portsmouth, Ohio plant. It was the second time he had been courted by the corporation to help run the operation. Since their youngest Zach was graduating high school, the time was right. In 2016, the government shutdown the Ohio plant, so it was off to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The nuclear power plant in Tennessee is located in the far eastern part of the state, 25 miles from Knoxville, and at the base of the Appalachian mountains.
“We’ve settled into our Knoxville life,” said Tammy. “We find ourselves loving the mountains, our church family, and new friendships. We’ll always be Kentucky Wildcat fans and will always love Paducah.”
Tammy said, “It hasn't been easy making friends after 40. The boys kept us busy all the time with school, activities, and friends." The McKinneys were always involved with the boy's friend's parents in some form or fashion. It’s the empty nest syndrome times three. No kids. No church family. New town. The transfer was rocky at first but now its home.
The boys have their careers and two of three are married. Tammy said, “Our boys got married in reverse order.” Zach, the youngest is a mechanical engineer living in Lexington, Kentucky and married to Alex. Blake is married to Kierstyn, lives in Lexington, and is a computer engineer. Ryan, the oldest, is a chemical engineer at Westlake Chemical in Calvert City and is in a relationship with girlfriend Lizzie.
The McKinneys love to get together as one big family and travel. Their last ‘big’ family trip was to Banff Canada. “What a beautiful place,” said Tammy. “We hiked, white water rafted, visited the Glacier Ice Fields…it had the most beautiful lakes and the bluest water ever.”
The family gets together every year and rents a house for the CMA (Country Music Association) Fest in Nashville, Tennessee. They spend four nights and four days in the Music City listening to live country music performances, meet and greets, and exclusive artists experiences. The 2020 event was canceled, however, this year it looks like a go! “The best part of these trips is being with the boys and their girls,” said Tammy.
Tammy and Scott do find time to vacation, just the two of them. Their favorite trip of all time was visiting Israel. “To walk where Jesus walked and see historical places in the Bible was eye opening.” said Tammy. There have always been regular trips to Destin, Florida. Now, that they’re around the mountains, lakes, and hiking trails, they’ve found a new place to explore. “We’ve always been an ‘on the go’ couple,” said Tammy. So, why stop now?
They’re in the beginning stages of building a place of refuge. Nestled away in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, Tammy and Scott are building a cabin. It will be used for vacationing and as a rental. In addition to the cabin, they bought a Jeep. “We bought it so during COVID we could drive through the creeks and trails in the mountains of Knoxville.” said Tammy.
Since COVID, things have been different. There’s not as much travel and Tammy hasn’t been home to Paducah to see her parents in a while. “Both of my parents are immunocompromised and they don’t get out and go anywhere,” said Tammy. “They haven’t gotten out for family events either.” She’s looking forward to coming home soon to give them a big hug.
The family hasn’t been untouched by COVID. Tammy’s sister, Stephanie was one of the first to be sick during the pandemic and was on a respirator for eight days. “It was the scariest eight days. Stephanie was in the ICU with COVID in Indianapolis. She does have some lasting effects from the virus but not too serious.”
When asked what Tammy’s ideal day would be she said, “I’d start with a dose of God and Jesus, read the Bible, and have a daily devotional. If it was a Tuesday, I’d be volunteering at Random Acts of Flowers. It’s where volunteers arrange flowers and distribute them to nursing homes and hospitals to patients that don’t get visitors. Then, I’d go to lunch with my girlfriends, work in the afternoon at my little part-time job at the golf course, and spend the evening with Scott.”
Tammy has a smile a mile wide and a strong faith that gets her through the tough times. As long as she has Jesus, family, and travel time...she’s good to go!
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
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.”
“I have grown in Christ, healing and healed my brokenness, learned to serve others and love like Christ.” Ayrie Crump
As the former ultimate ZUMBA instructor in the Paducah area, Ayrie Crump began each ZUMBA class with a prayer circle inviting each person to focus on the positives in life and pray for those in need. Through Christ everything is possible including good health, happiness, and inner peace.
Church was a huge part of Crump's life growing up. She and her two brothers were raised in Paducah and grew up attending Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church on 10th and Boyd Street where her Dad was Pastor. It was here, in the church, she found strength. "Whatever assignment God would lead me to do, in obedience and submission, I would humbly do unto him."
Physical fitness is another one of Crump's passions specifically her love of dance and weight lifting. "I've always been physically active." she said. In high school she was a member of the Drill Corp, an extra-curricular activity that involved dance and a good sense of rhythm. She also sang in the high school choir. After graduating from Paducah Tilghman in 1973, Crump stayed in town and began higher education courses at Paducah Community College.
Crump's first job after college was at Western Baptist Hospital (Baptist Health) as a nurses' aide. After leaving the hospital, she went to work for the American Red Cross as a lab technician. Her last position before retiring from her career job at USEC was Environmental Technician as Sampler and Laboratory Technologist working in Analytical. She worked at the former Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant for 24 years.
While working a full-time job, Crump started a Mary Kay business. It was the late 90’s and she was a single mother with two children. After two unsuccessful marriages, she pulled up her big girl panties and started a third job as an independent beauty consultant. In this position, she could work from home and make extra money for her kids. Her mark on the beauty business was so successful that Crump was awarded a car leased and paid for by the company for two years. Then, an illness struck the family and she had to pivot.
Crump didn’t stay single long. She was introduced to her future husband George by mutual friends. He worshiped at Ninth Street Tabernacle Ministries where Crump started attending. The two began dating and were married in 2001. Both had children from previous marriages that are now grown; Martin Grubbs (45), Mia Cooper (42), and Maurice Crump (40).
Through the years, Crump has remained steadfast and true to her exercise regimen. In 2010, she attended an exercise class while visiting family in Richmond, Virginia. She said, “I thought I was going to a kickboxing class. The lady at the gym suggested I take a ZUMBA class and I was hooked,” she continued. "The Latin beats and the easy movements made my heart race like I was running a 5K."
When Crump got back to Paducah, she became licensed to teach ZUMBA. The following month, she taught her first class.
A new calling
It all started at Crump’s church with a small group of women who called themselves ‘the Fab Five.’ The ladies invited their friends and like most conversations among church-going southern women, news got around fast. The Latin-style dance craze 'cha-chaed' its way from friend to friend and quickly grew to 80 participants.
As mentioned, church has always been a big part of Crump’s life so it would make sense to start her new venture at a place where she’s most comfortable. Her motto is God first, family then career.
Crump said she’s an introvert by nature and her interactions with people are always intentional and with purpose. Suffering from chronic anxiety, Crump strategically plans her moves and exercise helps to keep it in check. She said part of her purpose is to serve the Lord in whatever way he deems fit, even if that means stepping out of her comfort zone. “I am called as all believers are, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. I feel that I may be the only Jesus some people see.”
With a strong commitment to the Lord and to physical fitness, Crump’s ZUMBA classes quickly outgrew the church facility and moved to the Julian Carroll Expo Center in downtown Paducah. While teaching at the expo center, Crump taught two classes each day twice a week with 250 participants per class. Co-instructor Clarissa White played a big role in growing the classes. She and Crump were a dynamic duo.
The last ‘pay as you go’ ZUMBA class taught by Crump moved to the Paducah Board of Education offices a.k.a. Choices Education Center at 800 Caldwell Street. Crump and White would dance and lead from the auditorium stage to ‘fire up’ the ZUMBA troops. They encouraged each person to dance and ‘live’ the ZUMBA lifestyle.
The ZUMBA lifestyle motivates people to get off the couch and move to a beat that’s fun and burns mega calories. If going to ‘the gym’ isn’t appealing and getting on the dance floor is, then ZUMBA might be for you. It’s a fitness party with both slow and fast rhythms, addictive dance steps, and lively tunes.
All the moves are taught by an expert teacher like Crump. Though she may be small in stature she’s a force to be reckoned with on the dance floor. She’s strong, determined, and motivated to seek out those that need her the most.
“I am drawn to the left out and looked over...to those persons that are underserved,” said Crump. There’s no doubt she encountered individuals during daily ZUMBA instruction that benefited from her words of encouragement. Part of her mission was to go where the Lord leads. The other part was to give back all that was donated during those years prior to her paying gig.
In total, $25,000 was donated to charity, nonprofit, and other organizations plus tons of canned goods. Either $1 or a can of food got you in the class. None of the instructors were paid. "To much is given, much is required. That was the beauty of the ministry," said Crump.
People take dance classes for a variety of reasons and one is to lose weight and improve overall health. Crump was one of those that practiced what she preached and led by example. One of her physical impediments was hypertension. Incorporating cardio into her daily routine was one way to battle the controllable disease.
Another reason to join the ZUMBA exercise group was for companionship. We’re social creatures and the need to bond is undeniable. Crump said, “The biggest trick of the enemy is making us feel we are the only one." Crump has anxiety and had to learn to push past her fears. Knowing there are others like you while supporting each other through group activities that are fun and social is one way to meet the enemy head on. Zumba classes are designed for participants to never feel alone. The more people the better.
The diversity of participants in the ZUMBA exercise class was incredible. People from all walks of life came to dance. Persons of different age, ethnicity, wealth or lack of, men/women, all standing within six feet of one another dancing to a Latin beat and moving with some salsa flavor. It was a beautiful thing.
The energy in Crump's ZUMBA class was electrifying. Crump would push herself and others to the brink, sending out messages of support via headset. She would reach out to those that seemed lost and invite them into her world by dancing alongside them or inviting them on stage. God's presence was felt through her smile, demeanor, and encouraging word. By following His lead, all good things were possible.
It wasn’t until 2014 that Crump stopped teaching two classes a day to join the team at Energy Fitness on Highland Church Road teaching ZUMBA Gold and Cardio Dance. She also substituted for Silver Sneakers and Yoga. During this time, she became an AFAA (Athletic and Fitness Association of America) personal trainer.
As the years rumbaed along, the constant wear and tear on her body took its toll. Crump taught Zumba Gold at the Senior Citizens Center until her back pain stopped improving. She studied the art of belly dance for a while with Margie Hyde. Finally, after 40 years of physical fitness, it was time to retire. Now, Crump takes her dog Stella for walks and does chores around the house.
Stella is a rescue dog from the McCracken County Humane Society. She was adopted at 10 weeks old in December of 2014. “She is more of an emotional support buddy,” said Crump. “She’s a mix between a rat terrier and probably a hound. The dad is unknown.” she said. At first, George wasn’t crazy about getting a dog. Crump said, “Now they are best friends. She even helps him do yard work.”
Crump started the Mary Kay business again. She said she picked it up because she loves the company, their philosophy, and the products.
The pandemic has affected the personal interaction that Crump was most interested in as a Mary Kay consultant. However, she pivoted. The family has taken a moment or two adjusting to her Zoom meeting but everyone’s on board and business is booming.
For a short period of time, you may have missed Crump’s post on Facebook. She said she stepped away from social media for a while due to all of the negativity. She jumped back on after restarting her business. She said, “I limit my conversations and posts to things that are lovely, true, helpful, and bring hope and peace.” Crump continued, “I live a simple life, stay away from drama, negativity and divisiveness. I take care of my home, family, and friends.” It's a beautiful life and there's much more to be written.
The Cappocks with their children, sister Leslie and her children, Selma, and future grandson.
Compassionate people are those that are willing to help others. Compassionate people are those that are able to put themselves in others’ shoes and really understand how they feel. Compassionate people are those that are thoughtful, giving and kind even to the meekest of God’s creatures. ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn.’ Ephesians 4:32
This week, Caroline Penrod Cappock was surprised by her kids with a new puppy. “I haven’t had a puppy in 30 years.” said Cappock. That’s because she’s one of those compassionate people who takes a few hours out of their day to volunteer at the local shelter only to leave a few hours later with a foster dog. “I’ve had as many as six dogs at one time. All were rescues or given to me.” One of her most compassionate rescues was Selma, a forgotten furbaby at the animal shelter.
One very cold Saturday morning, Cappock volunteered at the McCracken County Animal Shelter located near the McCracken County soccer fields. One of her first encounters was with Selma, a Pitbull mix who had been at the shelter for seven months. As soon as Selma received the first snuggle from Cappock, it was endless belly rubs for the remainder of the day.
That weekend, Selma went home with Cappock as a foster dog. “It was so cold outside the day I brought her home and the shelter wasn’t heated. Of course, she never returned. She’s the best dog ever!” said Cappock.
Cappock's love of animals doesn't stop at dogs. In elementary school, she, Mary K. Dyer Hinkle, and Shannon Green shared ownership of a horse boarded at Carson Park in Paducah. All three girls would head to the stables after school to ride and care for their horse. The trio loved inviting neighborhood friends to the park for a trot around the corral. They also welcomed any help with feeding, brushing and shoveling manure.
During her high school years, Cappock's extra-curricular activities included drill corp, golf team, and Spanish club. Cappock was part of the inaugural Paducah Tilghman High School girl’s golf team. The team’s coach was journalism teacher Vickie Russell. Fellow golfers included Marta Metzger Hoy, Roberta Friend Rhodes, and Stacy Dyer. “We had fun!” said Cappock.
After high school, Cappock went to college at Murray State University majoring in Business Administration. While there she was active in Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority, one of several social clubs on campus. Freshman year, a friend introduced Cappock to future husband Mike Cappock. Two years after graduating, the couple married and life began.
Work life continued after marriage for Cappock at the Kentucky Transportation Department Hearing and Reinstatement Office. Anyone with a suspended license passed through Cappock’s door. She continued working for the state until taking maternity leave to give birth to identical twin boys. After the boys were born, she didn't return to a full-time paying job.
Mike Cappock started his career working for the Murray Drug Company in Murray, Kentucky. The couple and their two year old twins transferred to Chicago, Illinois after Murray Drug was acquired by a larger company. It was during their six month stint in Chicago that Mike called up a couple of buddies proposing a new venture. In 1993, the company, Quest Pharmaceuticals officially opened for business.
Quest Pharmaceuticals quickly grew and currently sells over 3,000 generic products nationwide. As the company continues to grow, the foundation remains customer service based always extending a handshake and an ever-present smile.
After starting the company, the Cappocks lived in Murray for six months before returning to Paducah. To this day, Mike still commutes everyday to Murray as he has done for almost three decades.
Living across the street from their church and the children’s elementary school was very convenient for the family. The family was perfectly content until a beautiful, spacious house was placed on the market. The Montgomery house in Heather Hill became available.
The owners, retired surgeon Dr. Wally Montgomery and former Mayor of Paducah Gerry Montgomery were ready to sell their family home. Cappock said they decided to go for it because she just liked it. The house and property sit on two acres of land, just shy of the average city block, with a grand home, swimming pool, gardens, and tennis courts. The interesting thing about the tennis courts is that it’s most often used for playing basketball.
Since the pandemic, the public courts have been closed. The tennis/basketball courts located in the back of the Cappock’s property have remained open. According to Cappock, it’s become the local hangout for kids young and old. She said, “There are days where cars are lined up on the street to play on the courts. As long as they keep it clean and respectful, they can play."
The pandemic has been hard on kids who miss shooting hoops and playing ball. Having a game on the court is one way to release energy. Cappock keeps a close eye though. She said, "I’ve been known to yell up there to watch their language.” Don’t mess with Cappock. She’s got a big heart but will scold you when you’re up to no good.
Cappock keeps herself fit by playing tennis, riding bikes, and playing pickleball. She said she’s been staying outside as much as possible since COVID-19. All of her outdoor activities are great cardiovascular workouts. In case you’re not familiar with pickleball, it’s a sport that uses a badminton size court, wooden paddle and a ball, much like a whiffle ball, that’s hit across a net. Two to four players may play at a time. If played aggressively, players could burn up to 360 calories per 30 minute workout.
Traveling and vacations are one of the family’s most favorite pastimes. Much of Cappock’s extended family lives in Florida. Her 95 year old Aunt lives in Deland, Florida and Cappock visits her often. Cappock’s Mom, Jean Penrod, is from Florida and passed away December of 2018. Her dad, John Penrod, retired from the FBI and was a former Mayor of Paducah. He passed away in 2009. Cappock has a sister, Karen, in Orlando, a brother, Kirt, in Tulsa, and another sister, Leslie, in Paducah.
The Cappocks have three children; identical twins, Chris and Penrod, 30 years old and Grace who’s 24. Chris and his wife Rachel are expecting in February. Cappock is over the moon. Both twins live in Paducah. Grace recently graduated from U of L and is living in Louisville.
Speaking of Grace, she showed up with the new puppy this past week. The children wanted to surprise mom with a new cuddly gift. Since August 2020, it’s been just Selma, the rescue dog, and Cappock (Mike's there too). Both the Basset Hound and the American Bulldog were put to sleep within months of each other due to cancer. “They both did chemotherapy for as long as it worked but then it quit.”
Since it’s been just the two of them most days, she and Selma have been making the best of it. Selma rides ‘shotgun’ and goes everywhere with Cappock. “We’ve got a pretty good routine going,” she said. Still, the kids decided to shake things up a bit and bought their animal-lovin’ momma a present. So enters 'Murray’ the white boxer puppy. Boxers are upbeat, playful, patient, and protective. A great companion as Cappock sets her sights on babysitting her future grandbaby while mom Rachel goes back to teaching at Clark Elementary School. There’s never a dull moment at the Cappocks.
Cappock opens up her heart to animals, her courts to local kids young and old, and more importantly her family. The Cappocks have been married for over 32 years and have three adult children, a daughter-in-law, a grandbaby on the way, two living family pets, five grand-dogs, and still plenty of room if there's a need. She’s a wonderful mother, wife, and friend to all.
Mentoring begets mentoring. The theory is that a person who experiences good mentoring will more likely ‘pay it forward’ and be a good mentor themselves. Mentoring isn’t formally taught, it’s a gift passed down from one passionate person to the next with the goal of witnessing success. Good mentoring increases productivity, creates positive attitudes, instills healthy lifestyles, teaches collaboration, and promotes a work culture that contributes to the end result of the mentor’s mission.
Shirly Koven Bachman is one such mentor. She said, “I’m passionate about positivity. I like to make others feel better. Working with the team that I have and making sure they feel supported and successful is my truest passion.”
Bachman is the Vice President of US Market Access at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a Biotech company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She’s a rising star that had great mentors. People that recognized her potential and steered her down career paths best suited for her business acumen and personality. An unbelievable ride landing a dream job that she absolutely loves.
It wasn’t until junior high that Bachman left Paducah for Westport, Connecticut. She was 14 years old and her step-father's company, Westvaco transferred the longtime Paducah residents to New York City. Bachman said it was a ‘monumental move’. Her mom, Shirley DuPucchio had lived in Paducah for 54 years and this was going to be an adjustment.
After graduating from Staples High School in Connecticut, Bachman attended the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing.
One of Bachman’s marketing professors, Richard Shainwald, was a very supportive mentor. “He was instrumental in shaping my career aspirations by exposing me to companies and career options.” said Bachman. She went on to say, “With my gift of gab and fearless nature, sales was the perfect career to pursue.”
Paducah friends knew Bachman’s ‘gift of gab’ firsthand. In junior high school, she had more confidence in her little finger than most have in their entire body. She was a head taller than most and blessed with beautiful shoulder-length dark hair coiffed like Farrah Fawcett. Bachman said she’s always been a huge believer in EQ (Emotional Intelligence). “I think my EQ has guided me to where I am today and cannot be taught.”
Bachman’s first job was at Harland check printers out of Atlanta. Her position was sales and she called on banks and credit unions selling services. After training for a year in Charleston, it was off to the ‘Big Apple’ specifically Manhattan. Her first ‘grown up’ apartment was in Stamford, Connecticut which is about a 54 minute commute to New York City. Probably her most important first encounter was meeting her husband David. The two met at a Christmas party in 1986 right before she moved back to Connecticut.
David was living in an apartment with Bachman’s best friend Libby from high school. She introduced the two and after moving back to Stamford, they started dating. After three years, they got engaged in Florence, South Carolina.
Wedding bells were getting ready to ring. “The first time I took David back to Paducah to meet my sister, Carla Koven Berry, he fell in love with its charm.” said Bachman. For this reason, the couple decided to tie the knot and get married in Paducah. Bachman said they got the ‘red carpet’ treatment and it was truly one of her happiest memories. “It was a southern affair and truly a dream wedding.” said Bachman.
During the same year Bachman and David were married, Bachman changed career paths and started working at Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals. Twenty-two years later holding various sales and leadership positions, Bachman went rogue. In 2012 she ventured out of her comfort zone and signed up with a start-up biotech company called Medivation, an Oncology Biotech in San Francisco. After leading their payer team for five year, Pfizer bought out the company. The next career move was Alynlam Pharmaceuticals.
Alnylam is a Biotech company that focuses on drug discovery in RNAi therapeutics. The company is a pioneer in RNAi and was the first to bring these medications to market. In fact, the company commercialized three drugs in three years, the same number of years Bachman has been with the company. “My groups’ purpose is to work with all US payers to ensure that our patients have access to our medications. We make certain when a physician prescribes one of our drugs, insurance covers it so that patients have access and reimbursement without hassle,” explained Bachman.
David Bachman is a telecommunications marketing executive. He works as a consultant with technology startups. When the two first got married, the couple moved several times following David’s career. After several years, they moved several more times following Bachman’s career. Once Bachman and David decided to start a family, they settled in St. Louis, Missouri, a place they’ve called home for the last 23 years.
After firmly planting roots in St. Louis, along came Payne, 23 and Cole, 20. Bachman said, “David and the boys are at the core of everything I do and motivate me to do my best.” Payne graduated in May from Maryville University with a degree in Cybersecurity and Cole is at the University of Colorado Boulder majoring in Media Communications.
The family loves to travel, pre-Covid. “European travel is a true passion. As the kids have gotten older, we’ve taken several international trips. Our most favorite place on earth is Marbella, Spain. We love France too,” shared Bachman. Marbella is one of the best-known resorts on Costa del Sol. The beaches, nightclubs and venues are famous around the world. In fact, Marbella is one of multiple places around the Straits of Gibraltar in Europe where you can see the African continent.
Bachman said, “The goal after retiring is to spend a fourth to half a year exploring Europe and other international destinations.”
During the Bachman’s international travels, they’ve made many friends around the globe. “David and I have a very eclectic group of friends that we see regularly during non-pandemic times. I cannot wait to get back to a pre-pandemic pace and socialize with all our friends.” Bachman said she has work friends and St. Louis girlfriends but she’s not a ‘good’ girls weekend getaway type. She gets plenty of work travel time, however, during her free-time her husband is her travel buddy.
Bachman is in terrific physical shape. She’s a person that exercises using the Bar Method two to four times a week and participates in Yoga meditation. The Bar Method uses one's body weight for resistance along with props. A ballet bar is used for leg exercises along with balls, mats, and free weights on the floor all to a musical beat. Bachman said her secret weapon to combating stress is getting eight hours of sleep each night. Before ‘lights out’ at 10 pm, she’ll decompress by watching tv or reading a book.
Along with staying fit and traveling, Bachman enjoys cooking, interior design, and writing. Part of Bachman’s ‘giving back’ includes working with families whose kids are suffering from eating disorders. “I love to write and contribute to the Mighty documenting our family’s journey with eating disorders.” Her son Cole is in recovery from ED (Eating Disorder). The Mighty is a digital health community that connects people facing challenges and disabilities.
Bachman said, “I love seeing my family healthy, thriving, and happy. Children don’t come with manuals and seeing them mature into kind, decent adults brings me pure joy. Empathy, compassion, and positivity guide me each day to be better.” Mentors beget mentors. Bachman’s ‘with each one teach one’ attitude will serve the world well.
“Having daily interactions with players and listening to them speak about their lives is a great way to spend the day,” said Clint Conway, a PTHS alumni, career coach, and little brother to a dear friend. There are certain events or moments that flash before your eyes and instantly transport you to a different time and space. Memories that flood your mind after hearing a song, having a chance encounter, or looking at a photograph. In that sweet moment, time is suspended and an uncontrollable smile crosses your face.
One particular memory was shared by long-time friend Nicole Conway Williams, Conway’s ‘big’ sister. Williams said, “when Clint was a little boy, he wanted to run away from home. I tied a blanket to a pole with a sandwich. When he got to the end of the sidewalk he yelled for me to come down there to hold his hand while he crossed the street.” That cute little blonde hair, blue-eyed boy with the big grin and dimples grew into a man with a family, career, and a love of high school football.
That love of high school football has turned coaching into a career for Conway. He shared, “I never considered coaching as a career, but after more than 20 years, I believe most who do coach are born to do it.”
“As a kid, having access to the sidelines, the coaches, and the players likely contributed to how comfortable I am in that space,” said Conway. His dad, Charles was the sports commentator on the radio for the PTHS games in the 80’s and early 90’s. Conway got to tag along as his sidekick. Both Mom, Jeannie and Dad attended every game since little league. As the story goes, Conway started hiking a football as soon as he could walk. His mom said, "We are extremely proud of the man and especially father he has become."
In high school, he played offensive guard for the Tornado football team. He was a member of the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), an officer for the Bleacher Bums and played basketball. He lettered three years in football and was All-Purchase, All-Conference, and All-State Teams.
“I was blessed to be part of some of the most successful teams in PT history,” explained Conway. “We played in three state championships, tar-and-feathered Mr. Mayfield, our biggest rivalry all three years, and beat powerhouse teams like Lou Trinity, Brentwood Academy and FT Thomas Highlands.”
Mentors weren’t on short supply for Conway. He fondly remembers Coach Troutman, Ray Moore, and teachers Korte and Smith. Cotton Walker played a critical role in his development. Walker was a family friend and watched over Conway while principal at Paducah Middle School and again as athletic director at PTHS.
Most of Conway’s close friends played high school sports. His best friend Casey Allen was the best man at his wedding and vice-versa. To this day, the duo are in touch almost daily. Other long-time friends include Brett Williams, Kevin Garland, Duane Dew, Jason Gentner, and Radu Pop.
After graduating high school in 1990, Conway received a full scholarship to Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston, Illinois. Conway played several positions including offensive guard, center and tackle.
While at college, Conway became fast-friends with two African American young men from the suburbs of Chicago, Clint Hyde and Duane Conway. Though their backgrounds were very different, the trio hit it off. “I couldn’t answer to Clint or Conway, so they called my ‘Country’. Conway said since he was from Kentucky, everyone assumed he lived on a farm. Funny story...Conway’s sister said his pet name at home was Clinkie. You know you’re loved when someone gives you a special nickname.
Duane went on to play center for the Indianapolis Colts. He passed away five years ago. Conway said, “The funeral was the first time so many classmates had been at the same place at the same time since college.”
After graduating from EIU, Conway spent two years in Chicago playing semi-professional ball. Semi-pro players don’t earn a paycheck leaving Conway to find a job. He worked as a bartender in Oak Park, IL. John Mahoney from the television sitcom Frasier lived in Oak Park. “He was one of my regular customers,” said Conway. After two years, it was time to find a day job.
It wasn’t until 1996 that Conway found his way back home to Paducah. He started a successful commercial cleaning business with his best friend Casey Allen. After a year and a half, both decided to change directions. Allen went back to school to earn his teachers certificate and is now the Superintendent at Ballard County Schools and Conway started to work for Paducah City Schools. Part of that job included coaching.
Coaching has been Conway’s ‘breath of fresh air.’ Being a coach was definitely in the cards for him. While working at Cooper-Whiteside Elementary, he met April, a first grade teacher and a coaches’ daughter. Her dad, Yogi Trice, was a long-time coach and athletic director at Ballard Memorial High School. Coming from a coaching family, April understood the commitment coaches make to their craft. She was marrying Coach Conway. A man dedicated to faith, family, and football. “I can’t imagine being able to coach without her support holding everything together,” explained Conway.
A year later, Conway became head football coach at Paducah Middle School and assisted with the varsity team at PTHS. From 1998 to 2004, Conway was the varsity assistant coach at the high school. In 2004, he left organized coaching to pursue other careers but still kept one eye on the ball.
Conway kept the stats, scoreboard, and announced the ballgames over the PA at Paducah Tilghman. It wasn’t until 2017 that he stepped back into a high school coaching role. This time it was for McCracken County Schools.
After sidelining his high school coaching career for over a decade to focus on his children’s extra-curricular activities, family time, and career, an opportunity presented itself. This time it was for McCracken County Schools. “As fate would have it, there was a coaching change at McCracken. Marc Clark had been a great customer of mine at Hopkinsville High School and we developed a friendship during my time working with him. He approached me about helping out as a freshman coach.”
Marc Clark is in his fourth year as head football coach at McCracken County High School. He’s in his sixteenth year of coaching. Clark’s previous six years were with the Hopkinsville Tigers.
Conway said Coach Clark has a great work/life balance. He believes that it’s important to make sure the entire family is involved. As it stands, two of his children, Gracie. a senior at MCHS and Jack age 12 are both on the field with him during ball games. Gracie is a cheerleader and Jack is the ball boy. Conway said it’s such a joy running out onto the field with his daughter cheering and his son Jack by his side. His oldest daughter, Emma is a senior at the University of Kentucky.
This will be Conway’s fourth season at MCHS. This year, he’s in charge of the running backs “One of our players, Hunter Bradley, was recently named “Player of the Year’ for our district.” Bradley is a senior at MCHS and plays tailback, the one responsible for carrying the ball on the majority of plays.
Conway lights up when talking about his team. “Coaching high school football is second to my family in the ‘joy’ factor. Other than my own kids, it’s the best two hours of my day.”
COVID-19 has tried to take away some of that joy. Conway said it’s been tough on the players and the staff. “We were sidelined earlier this season for two weeks due to one positive case of the virus. Our players have done a good job though. They follow protocols and do what they can to protect themselves and our team.”
Conway’s family has experienced ups and downs during the pandemic too. Emma is finishing up this semester at college online. Gracie is a senior at MCHS and is missing out on some important moments like homecoming, senior night, and others. “Jack has had it the toughest,” said Conway. He’s in middle school, his classes are virtual, and he’s home alone most of the day. Basketball practice and games have been suspended. “It’s very difficult to stay in touch with friends and teammates that he would normally see at school,” said Conway.
After coaching for a number of years, it gives one time to reflect. Conway said, “I am blessed. I get to spend almost everyday with great kids in a career I enjoy. I come home to my wife and kids and I wake up every morning knowing I have a Savior in Jesus. That pretty much sums up my best day.”
Picture an extremely energetic girl dancing around, tapping her toes, and snapping her fingers as she parades the crowded hallways of Paducah Tilghman High School. An ear-to-ear smile that brightens any cloudy day, Millette Milliken is the person from high school that’s unforgettable.
Her life’s had ups and downs and Milliken admits it’s been ‘a rollercoaster ride.’ Yet, she’s a survivor and has that special something that won’t keep a good woman down. She’s been blessed with a moral compass that steers her through stormy weather. Her love for the Lord, family, and a good days’ work is unwavering. Her drive to succeed can withstand hurricane force winds. Milliken knew God was calling her and she replied, “God, I knew you were leading me to Ministers in Training.” At first, she resisted but ultimately obeyed.
Milliken’s dad was a local preacher and pastored three churches including Second Christian Church in Mayfield, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Paducah, and Unity Missionary Baptist Church in Brookport, Illinois. In the early years, Milliken sang in her daddy’s church choir and played the piano. For 40 years, she served the Lord through music ministry by involving herself in local youth and community choirs, as well as gospel ensembles.
After graduating high school, Milliken attended Murray State University and WKCTC, graduating from the latter with a degree in Administrative Business. After moving to Nashville, Tennessee, Milliken continued church ministry as a director of praise and a worship leader. Next, she added a music workshop facilitator to her resume. The workshops were intended to educate, improve character, and add vitality to praise and worship services.
As Milliken’s leadership skills continued to flourish, her roots stayed firmly planted in humility and love. She attributes her ‘love thy neighbor’ attitude to her parents. She said, “Dad was an advocate for the people. Whether he was preaching, coaching, or educating; he stood for the rights of all people in the community.” Her dad’s efforts were recognized by the Upsilon Iota Iota Graduate Chapter Omega Psi Phi fraternity of Paducah in the form of a local scholarship ‘The Reverend Lawrence Milliken College Supply Scholarship.’
Milliken’s mom was her greatest cheerleader. She said, “My mom pushed me in everything I did.” Unfortunately, a few short months ago, Rosetta was called to heaven. She died 10 days after being diagnosed with metastatic cancer. Milliken said, “I don’t think I’ve fully processed what happened, how it happened, or how I missed it. I have a little survivor’s remorse to work through.”
To understand her feelings, let’s go back a decade. Milliken’s 2010 is our 2020. It’s marred with good and bad times.
In 2010, Milliken and her son, Kristoffer were living in Nashville. One of the happier memories was Milliken’s second college graduation. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Worship and Music from Williamson College, a Christian liberal arts school in Franklin, Tennessee. Receiving a degree in a field Milliken had cherished since a young child was a proud moment. Not only was she proud of herself but proud of her son. Kristoffer was graduating from high school.
After such milestones, tragedy struck...twice. In April, the great flood of 2010 happened in Nashville. Fast moving water led to 21 deaths in Tennessee with over half from Nashville. More than 11,000 city properties were damaged or destroyed and flooding had displaced 10,000 residents from their homes. Milliken and her son were two of the displaced. Things got worse, Milliken was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
Milliken said she had no classic symptoms associated with stomach cancer...symptoms like indigestion, blood in the stool, and weight loss. Milliken said, “I threw up blood twice, once at home and once in the hospital, but that was it. I went for an endoscopy where they found a polyp in the GI junction of my stomach that turned out to have cancer cells.”
She was diagnosed with stage 2 - 3 cancer. “The cancer hadn’t penetrated the stomach lining, but it did make it through one lymph node.” said Milliken. She said the doctors were shocked that they found cancer in a polyp. Generally, when stomach cancer is found, it’s progressed to a large mass and for some, it’s too late.
Her doctors admitted they were in unchartered territory. Basically, they had never treated a patient with stomach cancer detected in a polyp.
Milliken said the treatment was ‘brutal’. She had surgery to remove the lower part of the esophagus and 40% of the stomach. For five weeks, she received chemotherapy and radiation simultaneously. In hindsight, Milliken said she wouldn’t recommend such an aggressive treatment to others but for her, she wanted to be done.
After eight months, she was cancer-free. Milliken is incredibly grateful and her faith in God gave her the tenacity to push forward. “I believed that God would heal me.” said Milliken (This is where the survivor's remorse kicks in). On the other hand, her mother had little notice before she lost her battle with cancer. She didn’t have treatment options.
Milliken said, “I believe God did heal my mom and wanted her with him in her perfect state.” It’s this ‘beacon of hope’ perspective that will give Milliken the survivor’s courage to achieve all her dreams.
In 2015, Milliken graduated with a second Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Williamson College. In 2020, she graduated with a Master’s of Arts in Organizational Leadership and completed the Ministers in Training program. Now, she's a licensed minister and serves on the Virtual Intake Ministry team at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, TN.
Milliken said, “My life’s journey gives me hope for the world. My parents taught us to love everyone.” She said she feels fortunate to have grown up in Paducah to see those she went to school with as friends and classmates and “not identify them by their skin tone.” Milliken continued, “I believe we’ll get back to that one day.”
“My cancer journey plays a big part in my faith. I believe God healed me” said Milliken. A few years ago, Milliken attended a cancer conference where she was interviewed by one of the organizers. She was asked, ‘how do you feel about surviving an orphan cancer?’ Milliken thought, ‘Huh!?’ “Even though stomach cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world, it’s one of the least funded.” She continued, “So much more needs to be done about lesser-known cancers in order to generate funds for treatment and cures. Hopefully soon, I can be more of an advocate for other orphan cancer survivors.”
Milliken will continue to defy limits and push boundaries. She's that kind of fighter and that kind of person. All the best to one of the best.