Jackie Wagner Long is a wife, mother, business coach, and global entrepreneur
Jackie Wagner Long started working from home with Rodan + Fields skincare company after her first child Lucyanne was born. That was nine years ago. Since the pandemic, Jackie’s husband Eric has made himself more available at home to equally share household responsibilities. As a result, the additional home time has brought the family closer together and provided “the best year ever for R + F,” said Jackie.
As a reward, the family is building a ‘COVID’ pool. It’s the pool everyone 'rushed out' to get last summer and has since been on backorder. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, families wanted a pool to stay cool during the dog days of summer. It was unclear whether or not public pools would be open. With pools in high demand, some had to wait a year to build their concrete pond. This is the Long's year.
Whatever the case, swimming is a wonderful summer sport/activity and the Longs are conditioned to be active and moving. In the early years, Jackie was a competitive swimmer and won numerous awards. In fact, during middle school, she participated in both swim and track. At age 13, she decided to compete in track only.
Jackie started cross country running in the sixth grade competing at the high school level and joined the St. Mary's High School track team. She won her first state track championship while in the 6th grade in the 3200 meter. Jackie said, “I thought it was the coolest thing ever, being so young and around high school kids.” This was only the beginning of an incredible career in cross country running.
In high school, athletics was Jackie’s jam. Make no mistake, she was a smart cookie too graduating with honors. During her tenure, she won 16 KHSAA State Championship Gold Medals. Four times she was selected by KTCCCA (Kentucky Track and Cross Country Coaches Association) as Class A runner of the year. Two years ago, she was inducted into their hall of fame.
During the early years of her success, Jackie’s mom Becky Bowers was there for every meet, award, and accolade. Part of Bowers support was to encourage Jackie to personally and publicly thank the coaches and others that helped Jackie reach her goals. “I was expected to make speeches thanking my coaches. It was uncomfortable, but I did it. Mom made me get up and present. This was her expectation.” said Jackie.
As a successful athlete, Jackie could write her ticket to the college of her choice. And she did. The University of Kentucky offered her a full athletic running scholarship to run for the UK Wildcats women’s track and field team. It was a dream come true.
After running for over a year, Jackie decided she no longer wanted this dream. She wanted to rush Chi Omega sorority and be a regular college student. “I was just tired of running.”
Burnout can easily happen to cross country competitors. The constant pressure to meet goals, schedules, and keep pace with other runners was intense. Paying close attention to your body and keeping it conditioned to avoid injury was exhausting. The repetition of running the same miles day in and day out was colorless. This type of regimen could lead to burnout for anybody.
However, Jackie thrives in this environment. She’s a goal-setter, an overachiever, it's in her wheelhouse. But, it was time to hang up the running shoes. “I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I know that’s sad but I didn’t.” After she quit the team, Jackie played every intramural sport available on campus and was team captain for many events. Though she gave up running she never gave up the thrill of competitive sports.
Four years of college had passed and Jackie received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Integrated Strategic Communications. Amazingly, there was no ‘big plan’ after graduating. Jackie didn’t have a job lined up and her parents ‘begged her to come home’. Against her preference to move away from the watchful eye of her parents, Jackie returned to Paducah and started knocking on doors looking for a job.
After returning home, jobs were scarce. Bowers told Jackie to start going door to door until someone let her in. She hit the streets and landed her first career job. David Long with Image Graphics hired Jackie, even though he wasn’t hiring. She handled the marketing for two years then left to work in the family business.
The Wagner family has several businesses in Paducah. They own Wagner Moving and Storage, a couple of Smoke Shops, and later Wagner Wine and Spirits. Jackie started managing the Subway at the Smoke Shop by the Brookport Bridge. It was here where she wore many hats from payroll to custodian. She really worked hard wanting to prove herself to the men in the family.
After Wagner Wine and Spirits was established, Jackie worked on the weekends at wine tasting events. The sampling was a social affair that invited patrons to taste various wines. It was here that she got to show off her marketing, PR, and sales skills learned while at college.
The wine tasting was a great addition to Wagner's Wine and Spirits 'softer side.' It complemented warm summer nights and longer days. Another way to experience the evening was to head downtown to one of the local watering holes.
It was a clear night and Jackie was ready to unwind after a hard day's work. She met up with friends at Fat Moe’s on Broadway. Fat Moe’s had a great outdoor garden with a bar, plenty of seating, and cornhole.
During this particular gathering, Jackie played a game of cornhole with Eric. “I thought he was cute and he must’ve thought I was cute too because he gave me his number,” said Jackie. Eric wrote his name and phone number on a plain, white napkin and asked her to give him a call. Two days later, she did.
The two started dating in 2007 and got engaged nine months later. Eric proposed to Jackie on a scrapbook page. Scrapbooking has been around for centuries and it's a way to record special memories through pictures, newspaper clippings, small trinkets or priceless knickknacks. Jackie was big into scrapbooking around this time. Though not a scrap booker himself, Eric crafted his own special page with the words, “Will you marry me?” Jackie said she doesn’t remember how he got her to look inside the memory book but he did and from that moment forward, everything changed.
Nine months later, Jackie and Eric were married. The wedding and the reception were held at St. Thomas Moore in Paducah. The honeymoon plan was to fly to Cabo San Lucas the day after the wedding. Jackie’s dad, Russell Wagner didn’t think it was a good time to be in Cabo and strongly suggested they alter their plans. So, it was off to West Palm Beach, Florida.
After working in the family business for three years, Jackie decided it was time to look for something else. She wanted to be taken seriously as a professional woman and thought a job outside the family business was the best option. She went to work at USEC, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, as an administrative assistant. “It wasn’t fulfilling at all. I made a lot of money to sit in a trailer with a bunch of men all day and answer the phone,” said Jackie. So, she left USEC in search of the career she desperately wanted.
Jackie’s true professional calling would be discovered with the next position. At American Home Patient, she would work outside sales. As an outside salesperson, she made her own schedule, set competitive goals, and was in charge of her own potential income. While at the medical home supply business, Jackie had her first child and went part-time. Eighteen months later, she left the workforce to be a full-time mom.
The couple had financially planned for the day they would start a family. Eric had joined his Dad’s law practice, Long & Long after receiving a law degree from Northern Kentucky University. The firm, located in Benton, Kentucky handles real estate, business, probate, and estate planning. After Eric’s dad retired, he maintained his client list as well as his dads.
Jackie started getting stir crazy. She was ready to make her mark again in the workforce. “I missed having something for myself,” she said. A Facebook friend invited her to listen to a presentation on a new skincare line. A group of kindergarten teachers in Benton, KY booked a room at a local restaurant to hear about a new venture. Jackie admits, “I had no clue what they were talking about. I’ve never used skin care, sometimes didn’t even wash my face.”
After returning home, Jackie told Eric about the meeting, he brushed it off and suggested she forget about it. Jackie couldn’t forget about it and three weeks later invested in R + F’s biggest package. The cost was $1,000. Jackie said, “Eric told me it was a pyramid scheme and I was going to blow our money. All he wanted me to do now was earn back the money spent.”
A month after starting the business, Jackie found out she was pregnant with baby number two. ‘This would work out,’ she thought. Jackie was extremely organized, driven, and had a plan. When the children napped, she would work. When the children went to sleep at night, she would get on the computer. When the children were having ‘down time’ she would work on client contacts, make phone calls, whatever needed to be done.
Eric picked up the slack. He could see that the business was growing and wanted to help. He started doing the dishes after dinner so Jackie could get on the computer. There were other small gestures too. During summer months, they hired part-time help for the kids while Jackie worked from home. “It had turned into a serious business and I wanted to treat it as such,” she said.
Jackie’s R + F business has grown to a team of 1,500 consultants in four countries with annual sales of four million dollars. Jackie has won numerous sales awards and been granted trips to Cabo, Cancun, Hawaii, and other places stateside. The trips are great, "but I'm more grateful for the long lasting friendships the business has provided," said Jackie. Once consultants start pulling in $100K a month in team sales, a stipend is granted for a car. Right now, Jackie drives a white Mercedes along with four other car achievers within her team. Yeah, baby.
Jackie said, “I’ll continue to ride the wave as long as it lasts.” The R + F line has been in business for 12 years. Mary Kay Inc. has been in business since 1963. Rodan + Fields is in four countries and plans to be in 150 countries. It does appear there’s room to grow.
“While I work, the kids are old enough now that they don’t need me all the time,” said Long. “Their time is very structured and they’ve adapted. There’s study time, play time, craft time, snack time, and rest time.”
Lucyanne is nine years old and Bode is six. This was the first year the children were going to be in school full-time. Then, the pandemic struck. The Longs opted to participate in online learning. “Both have done very good at home with their virtual learning,” said Long. Thanks to the R + F income, Eric has the freedom to be home more during the day. “He’s doing as much as I am,” said Jackie.
The Longs reside in Benton, Kentucky where Eric’s law firm is located. Both are dedicated to family, work, sports, and playtime. Jackie said, “I’m blessed with everything I ever wanted and I’m achieving everything I ever dreamed. Life is good and I'm forever grateful."
This is Jackie's unique story. For more information please search "Rodan + Fields, IDS'
The morning drive down old US Hwy 45 S between Paducah and Murray was hampered by a drizzling rain. Due to the continuous pour, standing water created unfavorable driving conditions. That day, June 12, Nancy Dew-Garland had made a commitment to volunteer at a Special Olympics event to be held at Murray State University. After all, her plan after graduating high school was to attend MSU and major in special education. On that early morning drive to the event, life would change forever.
Being a giving person has been part of Nancy’s nature since she was a little girl. She was the youngest sibling out of four and everyone in the family doted over her and she returned that love with a glad heart. In fact, family life could be compared to the television drama The Walton's, the show that aired in the 70's. Not based on financial struggles or hardships but as a loving family unit that looked after one another.
Nancy had many friends at Clark Elementary, Brazelton Junior High, and Paducah Tilghman High School. Growing up in a small town, many of your friends journey with you through the various stages of life that include adolescence, puberty, and the tumultuous teenage years.
The accident that happened in 1982 played a principal role in Nancy’s life moving forward. “It affected my life in every way,” she said. On June 12, only a few weeks after graduating high school, it was early in the morning, the roads were wet, and her car hydroplaned. As she lost control, the car hit a ditch. On impact, Nancy was thrown out of the car landing on her face. She had a broken cheek bone, missing front teeth, and an incredibly swollen face. Nancy said, “I was so swollen I looked like a mongrel.”
From the initial exam, Nancy had facial injuries, a compound fracture of her arm, and broken ribs. There were countless lacerations on her face and head that required stitches and her arm received 13 screws. Four days after the accident, she asked if she could see a mirror. After viewing her facial injuries, Nancy asked if the staff wouldn't mind covering all the mirrors in the room.
Shortly after returning home to recover, another injury was discovered. “After being home for five hours, I tried to eat. My sister and nephew were at the house to lend a hand. I remember scaring my nephew to death because I didn’t have my front teeth,” said Nancy. “Right at that moment, I started throwing up blood, a lot of blood. My mom had an apron on and without hesitation lifted it up to catch most of it before it hit the floor.” Nancy was immediately taken to the hospital where they found a liver laceration.
So, they sewed up the liver lac and took out her gallbladder. The surgeon on the case was Dr. Wally Montgomery, a well-known and respected surgeon in the area. The general practitioner was Dr. Richard Smith. Nancy trusted both of these doctors and said she 'couldn't have made it through if it hadn’t been for these two.'
After surgery, Nancy remained in the ICU for nine days and on the tenth day was given a regular patient room. “They always say 10 days is the magic number,” said Nancy. After waking up on the 10th day, she looked down and discovered she was lying in a pool of blood.
Nancy was a daddy’s girl. Ray Dew was one of the nicest men anyone ever met and he loved his family. Ray had just walked in the door of their home when the telephone rang. The family lived on Forest Circle in Paducah which is about 10 minutes from Baptist Health. Before Nancy was wheeled into emergency surgery, her dad was by her side. “I saw my Dad crying and I told him I wasn’t going anywhere.”
As she was being wheeled to the operating room, her body was hemorrhaging which is life threatening and one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Before reaching the OR, they were administering intravenous Vitamin K, fresh frozen plasma, blood and platelets. Once stabilized, doctors could locate the bleed. During this emergent situation, Nancy was still talking. She said, “I never lost consciousness. I kept talking. Even asked what my blood pressure was.”
Nancy said, “When I was in the throes of the hemorrhage, my relationship with God was everything. I didn’t stop talking. Never panicked. There was a calmness. I knew God was in control.”
“I saw myself overhead going through this. God didn’t let me die. There was peace about it,” Nancy continued. "I was in the ICU and saw that I was hooked up to everything. God spoke to me saying, ‘Do you see you now? You’re going to be ok.’ It was an out of body experience." she said.
Nancy was in the ICU for a month in a private room. After such a frightening experience, her family took shifts looking after her. She was never left alone.
It had been a year since the accident and Nancy was ready to go to college. She started at Lambuth University, a liberal arts school in Jackson, Tennessee. After the first year, she transferred to MSU. She chose to continue studying special education but admitted, “At first I thought God was calling me to be a nurse.” Since she had lived through a tragic accident, she thought maybe she could help others. Ultimately, Nancy decided it was too painful to relive the accident over and over again in a hospital environment.
Nancy’s first husband was in the military and was given an assignment and stationed in Hawaii. “Living in Hawaii was like living in paradise,” Nancy said. “It was beautiful. The ocean breeze and the smell of flowers was absolutely stunning. It would’ve been terrific if I hadn’t been so homesick.”
Two wonderful fraternal twins were the result of two years living in paradise. Nancy said the twin girls are “as different as humanly possible to be born in the same minute.” Becca and Sarah are 31 years old and live in close proximity to their mom. Becca works as a nurse for a general practitioner in Mayfield, Kentucky and Sarah is going to cosmetology school. She has a degree in education but decided it wasn’t for her.
Nancy divorced and remarried. She was introduced to Tim Garland by her brother Steve Dew. Steve and Tim worked together at Chester Mechanical and Steve thought they would hit it off. Tim was a good Christian man with two sons from a previous marriage and Nancy had the twins and a strong faith. After meeting for the first time, they married six weeks later and have been together for 24 years. Nancy said, “When you know, you know.” Nancy's stepsons are Nathan, 31 and Chris, 33.
The Garlands started a heating and air business shortly after being married. As a couple, they built the business and have worked side by side for nearly 20 years. Nancy would’ve continued working at her husband's side but a stroke prevented that from happening.
After the accident, Nancy has suffered with pain. She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia years ago and has suffered with leg, back and arm pain. She and Dr. Smith traced the source back to the accident. Nancy said a lot of people who experience traumatic injuries are diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a common condition that affects your bones and muscles.
Nancy’s first stroke happened approximately two years ago. Prior to the stroke, she had neck surgery on C4 and C5 of the spine and was in a neck brace. The stroke caused Nancy to lose peripheral vision on her right side. It also left her with short-term memory loss.
The second stroke happened early 2020, around the time the pandemic hit western Kentucky. After returning home from a quick trip to the heating and air business, Nancy had a headache. She had encountered a stressful situation while at the office and couldn't get it off her mind. She called her daughter and Becca immediately thought she was having another stroke. Nancy believes the stressful situation led to her demise.
During this time, the no visitors policy was initiated at Baptist Health. Tim was upset and concerned that he couldn’t be with wife. “He slept in our van the whole time I was in the hospital.” she said. “That man knows what marriage is supposed to be. I’m so blessed."
The girls have been a big support system for Nancy. “They’re amazing, a God send,” she said. "We're very close. It might've been those years prior to meeting Tim when it was just the three of us. My sons are a blessing too. I've raised them since they were ages seven and nine. What a gift they are to me."
Nancy’s daddy died on January 3, 2019. It’s been very hard for her. She said, “I miss my daddy.” On that day when Nancy was rushed to the OR for emergency surgery to save her life, she decided right then and there, “I was going to stay here to pester him for the rest of his life.” And she did.
Due to the effects the stroke has had on Nancy’s short-term memory, she engages in art therapy. In fact, she’s converted her formal living room into a craft studio. One of her latest art interests is acrylic pour painting. She’s experimenting with this new technique and likes it. She also enjoys decoupage and paper crafting such as cards, journals, and memory books.
Nancy is blessed to have such an amazing family. The twin girls, two step-sons, a Christian husband, a large extended family, and grandchildren all make it worthwhile. It’s hard to understand why bad things happen to good people. Nancy noted that many years ago, one of her long time friends, Alan Haws said, “I never understood out of all of us why it happened to you.” This is the mystery of life. Nancy believes that one of the reasons she survived the accident was to give birth to her twin girls.
That’s the question of the day. Why do bad things happen to good people? Nancy is a good person. Though she is homebound for the most part, she reaches out to others through Facebook, a phone call or text, and through prayers. It’s not a small thing to continue to pray for others. All of us have our purpose in life and Nancy has made peace with hers.
A perfect body is meticulously chiseled. There’s no magic bullet or easy formula to erect a successfully crafted human machine. It’s an astounding work of art created by our Maker and sculpted by sweat, toil, obsession, and passion.
Sarah Wood has always advocated for physical fitness. During her middle school and high school years, she was on the cheer squad and the Cheers Elite travel team. There were countless hours spent in the gym practicing tumbling moves and preparing for competitions. A healthy body required nutrition, hydration, movement, activity, goal-setting, and mindfulness to be at your best everyday.
Physical fitness was only part of the well-rounded education Wood pursued in high school. She was a member of the FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) a student organization that promotes family as the basic unit of society. She also earned her own spending money and learned the value of a dollar by working part-time after school at Chong's Restaurant in Paducah, Kentucky.
Being at your physical best requires energy and the ability to set goals, focus, prepare, and practice. This was Wood’s approach in all things as she matured and grew into a fabulous role model for her children, young mothers, and working women.
After graduating from Lone Oak High School in 2004, Wood began her studies at MSU (Murray State University) in Murray, Kentucky. Majoring in both Spanish and German, she jumped at the opportunity to study abroad in Germany and Costa Rica once opportunity knocked.
While in Germany, she visited Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic known for its bohemian lifestyle and love of the arts, architecture, music and history. In Costa Rica she improved her Spanish, studied the culture, embraced the lifestyle, and participated in sports like surfing. The opportunity to study overseas ignited a passion for travel and a desire to see the world.
Her laser focused psyche continued as Wood made her way through college. She continued to work at a local Chinese restaurant close to campus and started teaching at Lakewood Gymnastics, the home of the Cheers Elite competition squad. Lakewood was known for its championship teams and its ability to produce gymnasts and college-level athletes.
The MSU Racer received her Bachelor of Science degree in 2008 and left her ‘old Kentucky home’ to reenact the role of LouAnne Johnson in the movie ‘Dangerous Minds’ starring Michelle Pfeiffer as the English teacher at an inner-city school in Palo Alto. For Wood, it was a high school Spanish teacher in Memphis, Tennessee. After a ‘brief stint’ in the jungle (as it was called in Dangerous Minds), she returned to Kentucky to continue her education and work.
After returning back home, Wood spent several years teaching gymnastics and earning a paralegal degree. Always on the go, she picked up running. There was also time to explore other interests. “I was single and loved to travel,” she continued, “Any chance I got I’d jump on a plane and go see the world.”
To improve endurance and stamina, Wood hiked the trails of Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky and climbed the hills at Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. After a ‘hard days work’ from teaching, studying, or exercising, “You might find me at a local bar on the weekends with my girlfriends,” said Wood.
“I met my husband on Facebook,” she said. Mike and Wood had a mutual Facebook friend, Susie Foreman. Susie worked with Wood’s mom and Aunt Kristen in radiology. Susie’s nephew was Mike’s roommate. One day, Mike was scrolling through Susie’s friends list and saw Wood’s picture. They chatted via Facebook and decided to meet up. Wood said, “When we met there were zero expectations.” Obviously, there was something to it.
Mike was in the Army and a pilot stationed in Florida. On a trip to Kentucky, Wood invited Mike out for drinks with friends to celebrate a birthday. After that, the couple started dating. Then, Wood packed her bags, moved to Tampa, Florida, secured an apartment, found a job as a paralegal, and started life.
It was during this time that Wood started training for half marathons. She joined a running club and absolutely ‘loved it.’ As her fitness efforts continued to refine, so did Wood’s body. She added weight training to the routine in the pursuit of better definition. Wood said, “It felt like family at the gym and I loved it.” As the workouts advanced so did the love between Wood and Mike. After a year of dating, it was time to try cohabitation. Shortly after moving in together, the two got engaged and wedding bells were about to ring.
Picture a ceremony with a beautiful girl in white wedding dress, military men in full uniform, swords drawn, a glorious ship, and it's not a fairy tale...it's a wedding extravaganza. The Woods had a beautiful church wedding in South Tampa followed by the ceremony of ceremonies. The reception was on the S.S. Victory, a WWII cargo ship.
There was an arch of swords ceremony, an old English and American custom, which gave a symbolic pledge of loyalty to the newlyweds from their Army family. Only the newly married couple were allowed to pass under the swords. After walking through the tunnel of soldiers with officers holding swords high, they were met up with a surprise, a ‘Welcome to the Army’ sign. “And I got swatted on the rear,” said Wood.
Being ‘in the Army’ secured Wood’s desire for travel. After getting married, the couple traveled to Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Belize, Vietnam, and Japan. After extensive travel, Wood started a graduate program to earn a Master’s degree in adult education and human resource development.
After making a life in South Tampa, Wood was content and happy. After all, she was in school again, there were lots of friends, and a new running group. In 2014, Mike received orders to move to Fort Worth, Texas and immediately after the move was to be deployed. Wood said deployments lasted anywhere from nine months to a year. She decided to stay in Florida until it got closer for Mike to come home. One week after deployment, Wood found out she was pregnant.
The next nine months were spent alone without Mike during the entire pregnancy. When he returned, Wood had packed up the Florida house, bought a home in Texas, and was about to give birth to their firstborn Fiona.
As part of the graduate program, Wood did an internship in Human Resources. Her plan was to go back to work when Fiona was six months old. Surprise, baby number two was on his way.
As a stay-at-home mom, Wood had to figure out her next move. At one point, she sold makeup and an athletic leisure wear online. She wanted to get back into her workouts. Wood joined a Fit4mom program that was a fitness class for moms and babies. Mike received orders again and the next destination was Largo, Florida.
There was no Fit4mom fitness program in Largo so Wood bought a franchise and started fitness classes. Wood said, “I’m hooked on fitness. I feel weird if I go more than a day without a good workout.” And this workout ethic shows in her physique, attitude, and approach to life. “I enjoy physical challenges. I enjoy reaching goals. I love my friends and love how I feel.”
Then, the pandemic struck. “When COVID hit, I had to shut down Fit4mom due to the numbers allowed at gatherings,” said Wood. This is when she moved fitness training to the internet to help people get fit and stay active virtually.
Along with coaching online or offline, Wood partnered with an athleisure line and a fitness nutrition line. The income source helps maintain Wood's fitness requirement costs without a brick and mortar storefront. And let's not forget, she works part-time as a litigator paralegal at a local law firm to help the family's bottom line.
Wood's children Fiona (5) and Emery (4) enjoy watching mom move. Fiona is active in gymnastics and likes unicorns and Emery infiltrates enemy territory by way of his ninja warrior classes or maybe a dinosaur or two.
No surprise, the family enjoys outdoor activities. They swim, bike, kayak, paddle board, hike, if it’s outside, they’ll try it. Wood said, “However, when dad’s gone, the whole dynamic changes from a two parent home to a one parent home.” The kids act out because they miss him and when he returns there’s a ‘whole learning curve to get acquainted again.’ It’s all part of military life.
Wood said the highlight of her day is reading to her kids and working out. You can catch Wood on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.ramage.77 If you’re looking for a workout coach, give her a shout.
Start spreading the news. I'm leaving today. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York...
If I can make it here, I'll make it anywhere, it's up to you, New York, New York.
Byron Hoover's first taste of New York City was during a high school journalism trip. A select group of seniors got to participate in a scholarship journalism conference held at Columbia University. Staffers on The Tilghman Bell were there to receive an award for the paper. “I was blown away by New York City,” said Hoover. Years later, he would move to ‘The Big Apple’ to experience all the magnificent city had to offer.
Hoover was raised in western Kentucky and attended several schools in McCracken County. He made the rounds at Reidland, Lone Oak, and finally the Paducah City Schools. Once in the city school district, Hoover attended McNabb Elementary, Jetton Junior High, and Paducah Tilghman High School.
While in high school, Hoover participated in Key Club, The Tilghman Bell, concert choir, swing choir, and ‘Another Shade of Blue.’ Musical performance at PTHS was a big deal. “Loretta Whitaker, the director of the choral program, instilled in me great appreciation for music that I carry with me to this day.” said Hoover.
Not only did Hoover share the stage in song and dance but in academics. He was one of three Valedictorians at PTHS. The other two were Mary K. (Dyer) Hinkle and Ann-Margret Rehberg.
The next choreographed move was to matriculate at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia where Hoover would study economics and political science. Two alumni from the class of ‘82, Hinkle and Amy Bright Ouellette, attended Emory as well. Hoover said, “It was a wonderful school and I loved being in the big city of Atlanta.”
After graduation, Hoover was off to the U.S. Capitol. He worked in Washington D.C. as a legislative assistant for Kentucky Senator Wendell Ford serving on a committee for Rules and Administration. “I had a strong interest in politics and thought I would go to law school,” he said. “Though I was a lowly junior staffer, I loved being close to the action and feeling like I was part of history in some small way.”
Hoover’s original plan was to become a lawyer, but his dream was to have an international career and live overseas. As a matter of fact, one of Hoover’s mentors made a suggestion that would change his life and help to make his dream come true.
Senate Legal Counsel Mike Davidson advised Hoover to go to business school. By altering his educational plan, he could achieve his dream job. Hoover followed this sage advice and after a year in D.C., left for Cornell University to get his MBA.
“Business school at Cornell was intense,” said Hoover. Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Notable alumni include Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ratan Tata, Indian industrialist, philanthropist, and head of Tata Sons, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
After the first year at Cornell, Hoover was accepted into an international exchange program with Belgium's KU Leuven, one of the oldest universities in Europe, studying management. One year later, Hoover took an internship position in brand management with Procter & Gamble at the Brussels office. Then, it happened. “My dream came true and literally changed my life,” said Hoover. After the internship, he was offered a full time job with P&G.
The next 10 years were spent in Europe. There were six years working with P&G at their Brussels and Frankfurt, Germany offices. Then, another four years working in a marketing role for the Disney theme park in Paris, France. “I felt unbelievably blessed and lucky. Here I was a kid from Paducah who spent summers on his grandparents dairy farm in Graves County living in Paris, France and working at the happiest place on earth.” exclaimed Hoover.
In 2000, Hoover moved back to the U.S. and started working for a digital marketing agency in New York. Shortly after, a referral was made on Hoover’s behalf that introduced him to the wine and spirits industry. The referral came from a college friend and set him up for international travel.
The company was Jose Cuervo, the largest tequila company in the world. As marketing director, Hoover’s role was global. “I think the industry is fascinating,” said Hoover. “You have brands that are over 150 years old but also a lot of innovation for new products.”
Jose Cuervo is a family-run business that has 225 years of distilling experience and is the number one producer of agave by-product in the world. During Hoover's time with the company he helped to expand the brand into over 40 countries, created a global ad campaign, and launched new products like a ready to drink margarita.
After tequila, came whiskey and the move to Chicago, Illinois. Hoover went to work for Beam Suntory as vice president in charge of a global whiskey portfolio which included ‘flagship brands Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam.’ As a marketing guru, Hoover said, “The ability to tap into emotions and insights around consumer behavior is what I love most about marketing.” He said that marketing spirits did just that. It places people in social experiences that are happy, fun, and carefree.
Obviously, Hoover’s career has been the focal point of his life, however, he continued to look for opportunities to perform musically. While at Emory, he was in the glee club. In Europe, he participated in community choirs. In New York, there was the community choir affiliated with The Juilliard School. “There were cool things like performing with the Philharmonic and singing at Carnegie Hall,” said Hoover. It was activities such as these that kept the passion alive.
Since arriving in Chicago, there’s been no singing or dancing. However, he did meet his husband which put a spring in his step. The two met in 2010 only months after Hoover arrived in the Windy City. In 2013, the couple had a civil union before same-sex marriage was legal. In 2015, they were officially married.
Hoover loves Chicago. It offers all the things he loved about New York with less hassle and half the cost. He said, “There’s a sense of community...feels like a small town where everybody knows your name.”
Since moving to Chicago, Hoover has returned to Paducah more frequently. His dad, Jerry Hoover passed away last September. Jerry worked in state government in Frankfort before retiring. He worked in city government in Paducah and was the Executive Director for the Chamber of Commerce for many years. Hoover’s mom, Kathy Wood, is retired from the English Department at WKCTC. She currently resides in Symsonia, Kentucky with Hoover’s stepdad.
After leaving Beam Suntory, Hoover became an independent consultant in the wine and spirits industry. His focus is marketing but assists some of his long time clients in whatever they need. Hoover said, “I embrace a servant leadership. I’ll assist clients, leverage my skills to help non-profits, or support a friend.”
Hoover said, “There have been some ‘what if’ moments for me. What if I hadn’t turned down that job offer or stayed in Europe?” Through it all, he’s lived the dream of having an international career. He’s visited 50 countries. His latest trip was a year ago before COVID to New Zealand.
Hoover’s other love is performing. After COVID, he may join another community choir. So, "Start spreading the news...He'll try it again. He'll make a brand new start of it. Once again."
“Overall I feel grateful to have had all the experiences I’ve had, the accomplishments in my professional and personal life, the ability to travel and see the world, and a wonderful network of friends and family to enjoy all of it." Byron Hoover
A father's intuition during a decade of change prepares his daughter to inherit a real estate dynasty
The sixties was a decade of change. The country was encountering the Civil Rights Movement, anti-war protests, 'free love,' and an influx of women in the workforce. Due to the change, an economic ‘boom’ was shaping up. Demands for labor increased and so did women in the workplace. Joe C. Marshall, a savvy businessman in the 60’s, took note of the paradigm shift and put his middle school daughter, Mary Marshall Hoy to work during summer vacations.
“The summer my dad told me I had to work, I asked why?” said Hoy. After all, her friends were heading to the lake, playing tennis, doing all the fun stuff kids do when they’re not in school. He explained that women were working now and having careers. He had the foresight and confidence in his daughter that she could do anything a man could do.
Hoy was raised in Paducah, attended city schools, and was proud of her ‘long, blue line’ (Go Big Blue). While at Paducah Tilghman High School, Hoy was in the PTHS choir, Spanish club, and was one of five Valedictorians from her 1973 graduating class. This honor was shared with Rick Straub, Rick Lefebvre, Janet Dodson, and Rob Rhodes.
Hoy and John met their Junior year of high school. In fact, Jon introduced himself to the smart girl with the pretty face during a casual conversation over needlepoint. "We met in English class. Jon said he liked my long hair and my wooden purse with the needlepoint stitching. It had a 'cool' saying on it that I stitched myself." said Hoy. Interestingly, the two were in concert choir together too but had no idea the other took the class. "Back in the day, the number of choir students was very large." she said.
After graduating in 1973, Hoy attended Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Centre was a top-50 liberal arts college founded by Presbyterian leaders. Hoy graduated with a Bachelor of Science in economics and management and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Shortly after graduating, she went to work for a company in Lexington that managed small businesses.
During the fall of 1976, Hoy and Jon got engaged. After a couple of months, they married on New Year's Day. Celebrating big events on the first day of the year was a tradition in the Hoy and Marshall families. Jon’s mom, Shirley was a New Year’s baby and Hoy’s parents, Joe and Eleanor were also married on January 1st.
The wedding was held at The Presbyterian Church in Paducah. Hoy said, “It was a typical church wedding.” However, the church itself, was far from typical.
The First Presbyterian Church that stands today is the third structural building since its inception and has quite a history. It was founded in 1842 after the Paducah city streets were laid out by William Clark, the brother of George Rogers Clark. George Rogers Clark became the highest-ranking American patriot military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. The first church was erected in 1848 and located on Third Street near Kentucky Ave. The second church was completed in 1888 and is the present site at Seventh and Jefferson. The second structure was destroyed by fire so a third was built as it stands today.
The rehearsal dinner was the first event for the Ninth Street House in Paducah. “My in-laws and the Grace’s were dear friends. Curtis and Norma worked it out.” said Hoy. If you're from Paducah or anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, most that loved delicious, artfully sculpted food, knew the name Curtis Grace. He opened the restaurant in an old Victorian-style home located in downtown Paducah in the 70’s. It was fine dining at it’s best. Hoy said the event was ‘magical and delicious.’
The couple moved to Hollywood after the wedding for Jon to earn a degree in audio engineering. While Jon was in school, Hoy worked for California Federal. “At the time, it (California Federal) was the largest federally chartered S & L in the nation.” she said. Hoy worked for the head of the escrow department. “In the day, we made and processed loans and sold them on the secondary market too.”
After living in Los Angeles for a couple of years, the couple moved back home to be with family. In 1979, Hoy got licensed to sell real estate and joined her father’s company, Joe C. Marshall Realty, a.k.a. Marshall Realty.
The real estate world wasn’t new to Hoy. Remembering those early days working for her dad, it seemed a natural career path. “I worked summers at my dad’s company from when I was 14 to 19 years old,” said Hoy. At the time, she didn’t have an appreciation for time spent learning the business, however, she does now. In the late 60’s, “Not many daughters did that years ago," said Hoy.
Joe Marshall started his company before Hoy was born. “Not only did he sell houses, he owned a mortgage and insurance company too.” said Hoy.
Additionally, Marshall managed the Guthrie Building for the Guthrie’s, a prominent family in Paducah. Today, the Guthrie Building is a historical landmark. According to the historical marker, it was established in 1897 and was known as the Fraternity Building during WWII. It was home of the Paducah-McCracken County Draft Board. Nearly 5,000 men and women from the Paducah area served in the war. It was designated a Kentucky landmark in 2002, and is now used as an office building.
Hoy’s father died in 1990 and left the business to Hoy. The Guthrie building was sold and the office merged with Coldwell Banker. Hoy was a broker with Coldwell Banker/Marshall Realty for 25 years.
An award was established in Hoy’s dad’s name, the Joe C. Marshall Distinguished Service Award. The award represented those that contributed to community service beyond self. Hoy won the award as well as realtor of the year as a broker. She’s also held every office at the Paducah Board of Realtors and Western KY. Regional MLS.
Hoy and Jon have three children; Hannah (40), Zach (38), and Sam (36). Hannah is a second grade teacher at Clark Elementary in Paducah, has three children and is married to Andrew Hammonds. Hammonds is originally from New Zealand and owns a farm in Lone Oak, Koru Gardens. The farm is 21 acres of land dedicated to growing natural and sustainable produce delivered to your table.
Zach is a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist in Nashville, Tennessee affiliated with Tristar Centennial Medical Center. He treats children with a broad array of diseases caused by germs, viruses, and fungi, ranging from flu to hospital acquired infections to pneumonia. Zach's uncle and Hoy's brother is a retired surgeon and lives in Floyd's Knob, IN. The Marshalls are an intelligent clan.
Both Hannah and Zach attended Centre College like their Mom. Hoy said, “When my children went to Centre, both the professors remembered me from those days.” During Hoy’s summers at Centre, she worked for a couple of professors brushing up on her typing skills. “I typed a Quantum Mechanics book and a statistics book.” she said.
Sam graduated from the University of Louisville. Currently, he works with mom selling real estate and appraising property. Hoy said, “Business has been booming. I thought COVID might ruin real estate, it’s done the opposite. Interest rates are historically low and homes are selling fast."
Though business is good, the negative effects of the virus does take its toll. Hoy said she’ll feel better about it all when there’s a herd immunity. “I’m a mask wearer. I’ve never been too concerned in western Kentucky because we tend to follow the rules, however, I miss seeing my friends.” Hoy said a reunion had been planned for this summer with some of her high school girlfriends. “We planned a trip for turning 65. We had to cancel. It was the right thing to do.”
Hoy and Jon are still able to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes, golf. The Hoys have played golf for eight years and they love it. They’re members of Drake Creek Golf Club in Ledbetter, Kentucky and play courses all over western Kentucky and southern Illinois.
In addition to golf, the Hoys like to travel. Hoy has a sister, Jane that’s 14 years older and lives in Montana. When Hoy was younger, summer trips were spent visiting Jane. She lived in Seattle for a long time and taking trips out west has been missed.
Other fun destinations the family enjoys are trips to Florida and Point Clear, Alabama. As a side note, travel worth mentioning includes New Zealand and Spain.
The young girl that worked summers for her dad, is now a successful businesswoman, actively selling houses and appraising property at Century 21 Service Realty in Paducah. Jon is a media specialist at CSI (Computer Services Incorporated). Hoy has many, many friends that go ‘way back’. They dine, laugh, and share the best of times. With a thriving career, successful adult children, and husband Jon of 44 years, 65 is looking better and better all the time.
Three, two, one, Happy Wedding Day! The New Year rang in a highly-anticipated 2021 as well as a new beginning for Greg and Melanie Greenlee Godec. Social media has gotten a 'bad rap' as of late, however, if it hadn't been for the forum, the happily married couple might still be single.
The two knew each other while in high school but ‘never hung-out’ said Melanie. Both moved away after graduating but called Paducah their hometown. Melanie is class of ‘83 at Paducah Tilghman High School and Greg is class of ‘81 at St. Mary’s High School. Though they didn’t run in the same circles, the pair lived within a mile of each other growing up.
Fast forward nearly four decades, Melanie and Greg reconnected via Facebook. “We had been Facebook friends for years and Greg found out I was single and looked me up.” smiled Melanie. She said they started dating in September 2017 and shortly thereafter ‘took a break.’
After ‘the break’ the couple started dating again in March of 2019. We can all agree that everybody deserves a second chance and this time Greg wasn’t going to repeat the Beyonce’ Knowles scenario, “If you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it.”
A trip to Shell Key Preserve took their relationship to the next level. If you’re unfamiliar with the underdeveloped barrier islands located in the mouth of Tampa Bay, it’s a secluded spot where locals and tourist enjoy wildlife, fishing and boating.
While at Shell Key Preserve, Melanie said, “We were at Shell Key Beach and Greg popped the question. He put my ring in a shell and got down on one knee as we were walking on the beach at sunset. It was so special.”
Greg proposed in May 2020 but there's no way the two were celebrating a wedding anniversary with the date 2020 attached. Melanie said, "We got engaged in May but didn't want to get married in 2020 so we picked the first Friday 2021 and it happened to be New Year's Day."
The beach wedding took place on Redington Beach at the private resident’s area. There was a pre-wedding celebration complete with fireworks, grilling, and good old-fashioned fun. Family and friends took to the air and road to participate in the wedding weekend. Temperatures were in the upper 70s under a mostly sunny sky. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for outdoor festivities during a worldwide pandemic.
The wedding party consisted of Melanie’s daughters, Samantha and Emily as maids of honor, Greg's brother Danny as best man, brother-in-law Andy Gilland as groomsman and Melanie's great niece Halle Grace (11) with Greg's great niece Ava Grace (4) as flower girls. The girls scattered seashells instead of flowers.
Of course, we all wanted to know the wedding attire. Melanie wore an off-white beachy dress and the girls wore dusty blue dresses. Greg wore a white linen shirt and khakis. The guys wore navy blue patterned shirts featuring a hint of dusty blue to coordinate with the girls’ dresses.
After the ceremony, the wedding party headed over to the Godec’s home for a catered surf and turf wedding day reception. “The honeymoon will have to wait ‘til spring. We’re very busy at work,” said Melanie.
General surgeon Dr. Kristen N. Williams said, "I fell in love with surgery and I never looked back." Raised in Paducah, Williams and husband John were ‘counting down the days’ to return home to raise their two children, Juliet and Reese, be closer to extended family, and start building a practice.
Becoming a surgeon and surrounding herself with loved ones was Williams' idea of perfection. As a person with many irons in the fire, Williams is extremely focused with the uncanny ability to compartmentalize daily activities. In fact, sister-in-law Ashley Williams Lambert said in a recent Facebook post how typical it was for Williams to keep everything together despite the chaos.
Having the best of both worlds sometimes comes with a price. Williams said, “ My husband John always reminds me that quality time is what’s important.” After leaving behind 80 hour work weeks as a resident, joining the Surgical Group of Paducah with more control over scheduling was a true blessing.
As a young girl, Williams was educated within the St. Mary School System. She attended the catholic school from preschool through 12th grade taking advantage of every opportunity. “One of the things I loved about St. Mary was being involved in a variety of extracurricular activities.”
Some of those activities included four years of varsity cheerleading, three years of varsity soccer, French Club, National Honors Society, class secretary, and choir. Though the schedule was busy, it never kept Williams from one of her most treasured pastimes. “Reading is and always has been my escape, my ‘me time’. Harry Potter is my all time favorite series and I try to reread it once a year,” she said.
After graduating in 2007, Williams attended the University of Louisville as a GEMS Scholar (Guaranteed Entrance to Medical School). After U of L Medical School, she matched with the residency program in Cincinnati, Ohio at TriHealth (Good Samaritan and Bethesda North hospitals).
The plan for Williams was to work with children. “I actually went to medical school wanting to be a pediatrician. The only thing I was sure of was I was NOT going to be a surgeon.” After clinical rotations her third year of medical school, Williams discovered she was NOT going into pediatrics.
In the Grey’s Anatomy episode “Hope for the Hopeless”, Meredith Grey is in a conundrum. She’s a fifth year intern and hasn’t declared a specialty. Williams had a leg up on Grey, she was only in her third year but it didn’t keep her from contemplating ‘what will I pursue?’
It was January, the weather was gloomy and dreary, and the surgical rotation was the one Williams was dreading the most. She said, “I just knew I would hate it. The long hours, frequent call shifts, high stakes operations, in a traditionally male-dominated world...” she continued, "after all, it was eight weeks of my life." However, after only two weeks, she came home and told John she wanted to be a surgeon. She ‘fell in love’ with surgery and never looked back.
As a general surgeon, Williams said she gets the best of both worlds. Surgeries are designed for both instant gratification and long-term rewards. In the short-term there’s appendectomies, gallbladder surgeries due to cholecystitis, and other procedures. In the long-term, special relationships are formed between patient and surgeon. She said you may follow breast cancer patients for years and the bonding that occurs is truly special.
Williams met her husband John in the fall of freshman year at the University of Louisville. Williams pledged a sorority and John a fraternity. At the time, her sorority ‘big sister’ was dating John’s fraternity brother. Soon, 'big sis' introduced Williams and John and they started 'hanging out'. Over Christmas break, both went home for the holidays, spent more time together, and returned to campus as a couple.
Interestingly, Williams said, “Funny story...my dad actually tried to introduce us before I left for college as he knew John’s grandfather (John Williams, Sr.) through CSI (Computer Services Incorporated). John, Sr. is the founder and chairman of CSI, a company in Paducah that provides integrated and streamlined technology solutions.
As expected, Williams turned down the offer to be introduced thinking it was ‘lame’ to be ‘set-up’ by your dad. In the end, once the two started spending time together, a relationship forged and they never looked back.
The two got engaged after graduating college in 2011. After a two year engagement, they were married in Paducah at Broadway United Methodist Church with a lovely reception to follow at The Carson Center. Both were still in school. Williams was in her second year of medical school and John was finishing his MBA.
After leaving TriHealth, Williams, John, and their two children moved back home. Now, the girls were born in Louisville. Williams gave birth to Juliet during her fourth year of medical school, six weeks before starting residency. “Juliet was 4 lbs. 12 oz. when we took her home.” said Williams. John stayed home with their infant daughter and the couple decided to complete their family while Williams was still in residency. Twenty months later, Reese was born.
The return to Paducah was a homecoming. It was the place where they wanted to raise their children and be close to extended family. Both Williams and John have an appreciation for the local arts, the public parks, the great school systems, and “all of it,” she said.
The girls started at St. Mary in August of this year. Juliet is in kindergarten and Reese is in three year old preschool. Since COVID-19, there have been plenty of interruptions with school activities. John has stayed home with the girls and will continue to do so through the pandemic. Balancing career and family “would’ve been so much harder without my husband John,” said Williams.
When it’s family time, there are activities like playing with the dogs, going to the park, arts and crafts and trips to the downtown farmers market in the summertime. The family also likes to cook and bake.
Recently, Williams signed up for a Sara Bradley cooking class. Bradley is a “Top Chef” runner-up and owner of the Freight House, a local Paducah restaurant. Williams said, “I loved Sara’s cooking class and I’m already signed up for another.” Once signed up for the virtual classes, participants receive their prep list of ingredients and a link to the Zoom meeting. During Williams’ first cooking class she said, ‘the girls barged in but were very helpful.” Plans are being made for a ‘Mommy and Me’ class.
A career goal of Williams’ is to build the robotic program at Baptist Health Paducah. Robotic surgery allows doctors to perform many types of complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control than is possible with conventional techniques. Williams said, “I truly believe that every patient and every operation is different and a surgeon must choose the appropriate approach based on the needs of the patient and the situation.” Currently, Williams is performing robotic surgeries for colon resections, hernia repairs, gallbladder removals, and other procedures.
COVID-19 has played a big role in the way physicians, patients, and family members interact before, during, and after surgeries. There have been times during the pandemic that the hospital enacted a no visitors policy. From Williams perspective, “Family support is so important when a patient is dealing with a medical or surgical challenge,” she continued, “It’s very difficult when you cannot discuss the situation with family members in person and when that patient is alone in the hospital. It’s (the pandemic) truly changed our lives.”
Another side effect of COVID-19 is the anxiety and depression that goes along with the isolation and all the restrictions from the pandemic. The toll that it takes on patients and their family members is devastating. “I’ve also seen colleagues and friends lose relatives to COVID and it’s heartbreaking. They don't get the opportunity to say goodbye or to comfort their loved ones,” said Williams.
Because of these hopeless moments, Williams was more than ready to get the COVID vaccination and bring back Hope. “Hope that we don't lose more Americans to this deadly virus, hope that less people will suffer from long term complications of the virus, hope that my kids can hug their great grandparents, and hope that we can end this pandemic.” she said.
Post-COVID Williams has aspirations in the works. “I plan to take my family over to John’s grandparents’ house so we can all hug each other. We (myself, my husband, or my children) haven’t gotten to hug them since we moved home last June. Then, we’re going on a trip.” Recalling both she and John’s reason for returning back to Paducah, Williams said that even with COVID, “It’s been amazing to be near family and share a bubble.”
Three, two, one, Happy Wedding Day! The New Year rang in a highly-anticipated 2021 as well as a new beginning for Greg Godec 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 Spedale. Both moved away after graduating but called Paducah their hometown. Spedale is class of ‘83 at Paducah Tilghman High School and Godec 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, Spedale and Godec reconnected via Facebook. “We had been Facebook friends for years and Greg found out I was single and looked me up.” smiled Spedale. 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 Godec 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, Spedale 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.”
Godec proposed in May 2020 but there’s no way the two were having a wedding anniversary date of 2020. Spedale said, “We got engaged in May but didn’t want to get married in 2020 so we picked the first Friday in 2021 and it happened to be New Year’s Day.”
Spedale and Godec live in Redington Beach, Florida which is right on the intercoastal waterway in Pinellas County about 26 miles from St. Petersburg, Florida. Spedale said, "We're three-quarters of a mile from the beach."
The beach wedding will take place on Redington Beach at the private resident’s area. There will be a pre-wedding celebration complete with fireworks and grilling. Family and friends are taking to air and the road to participate in the wedding weekend. Temperatures will be in the upper 70s under a mostly sunny sky. The weather couldn’t be more perfect for outdoor festivities during a worldwide pandemic.
The wedding party will be Spedale’s daughters, Samantha and Emily as maids of honor, Godec's brother Danny as best man, brother-in-law Andy Gilland as groomsman and Spedale's great niece Halle Grace (11) with Godec's great niece Ava Grace (4) as flower girls. They'll be scattering seashells instead of flowers.
Of course, we all wanted to know the wedding attire. Spedale will wore an off-white beachy dress and the girls wore dusty blue dresses. Godec 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 Spedale.
“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.
Women Who Do it All are powerhouses with an abundance of drive, energy and heart. Since the creation of the DC comic book superhero ‘Wonder Woman,’ women with careers and families have been compared to the fictional character granted superhuman powers by Greek gods. In addition to family and career, these ‘super’ women still find time to develop better self-awareness and continue the path toward personal growth.
A more modern day depiction of the character might look like Jessy Graff, the Supergirl stuntwoman on American Ninja Warrior that made history on the show during its fifth season as the first woman to make city finals.
The point is a woman with a career, family, and the ability to make time for herself is typically young, ambitious, and full of fight. Brandy Key, pharmacist and business owner fits that mold. From the ‘get go’ Key's parents were strong supporters of both their children’s dreams and ambitions. Brother Benji Trice was, and still is, one of her closest confidants and 'the one' that kept her on her toes. “We were very close growing up and remain so to this day.” said Key.
Born in Paducah and raised in Kevil, Kentucky, Key is a graduate of Ballard Memorial High School. When planning her career, she said it wasn’t a difficult choice. “My mom was a pharmacy tech her whole adult life and I was in and out of pharmacies with her as a child. It was a natural career path.”
After graduating high school, Key completed undergraduate work at WKCTC (formerly Paducah Community College) and received her Doctorate of Pharmacy from St. Louis College of Pharmacy in 2007. To receive a Pharm D. degree, the program required at least two years of specific undergraduate college study and four academic years of professional pharmacy school. Now, armed and dangerous with an advanced degree, Key’s first job after graduating college was with an independent pharmacy in Paducah.
Working for an independent pharmacy had its perks, but Key decided a corporate career would provide a greater advantage and took a position with the Kmart Corporation. The first Kmart opened in 1962 and until the 90’s was the second largest retailer in the country after Sears. At its peak, the corporation owned nearly 2,500 stores globally. Key stayed with Kmart in Lone Oak, Kentucky until it closed in 2018. After leaving the company, she found her new home at West Towne Pharmacy in Paducah’s west end.
It wasn’t enough for Key to have such a demanding career as a pharmacist, she kept pushing herself even more. In 2015, she became a CrossFit level 1 trainer for CrossFit Dig Deep. “I’ve always had a passion for fitness,” said Key.
CrossFit is a combination of safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition. The workouts are varied and tailored to fit an individual’s needs. All workouts can be modified whether its weight-lifting, cardiovascular, or flexibility training; the movements are designed to be used with an everyday lifestyle. Intensity levels are dependent on skill level, whether a beginner or seasoned pro.
When living the CrossFit lifestyle, eating lean meat and vegetables, seed and nuts, some fruits with very little starch and no sugar is what’s recommended. Key said, “Nutrition and mental health play such a critical role in overall wellness. Sometimes I neglect those areas when I’m overwhelmed but I’m working on it as I speak.”
CrossFit Dig Deep was Paducah's first CrossFit gym, established in 2013 by Dennis McClain. In 2017, Key and her husband purchased the affiliate to CrossFit Dig Deep from owners Mike and Sammy Ray. CrossFit Dig Deep is located at 857 McGuire Avenue in Paducah. The business was thriving until the pandemic caused a temporary paralysis.
“Covid has taken a toll on the CrossFit business. We were shut down for 76 days in the spring and it’s been hard to recover.” COVID-19 has been difficult on many small businesses and especially gyms and restaurants. Key continued, “We had to make adjustments to our day to day operations but we are RESILIENT!”
Key gets much of her drive and ambition from her parents. “I watched my dad do whatever it took...working long hours, multiple jobs, to provide for my brother and I growing up.” Her parents had high expectations of their children. Key said that her brother Benji Trice is an overachiever as well. “I have to keep up,” she said.
Trice graduated with a Telecommunications degree from Murray State and has been employed with Computer Services Incorporated in Paducah for over 20 years. He resides in Princeton, Kentucky with his wife Jennifer Potter Trice and two sons.
Key is married to her best friend and business partner Doug Key. She has a daughter Sophie 10 and three stepsons, Kolbee 22, Braiden 20, and Tristan 14. Key is a great role model for her daughter. “Sophie has watched me run and gun and hustle her entire life.” She and Doug’s hope is to ‘pay-off all debt and leave a legacy for their children.”
Recently, Key started a nonprofit organization with a group of high school friends called ‘All Time Sports.’ The nonprofit helps to raise funds for kids in need of sports equipment, sign-up fees, whatever financial assistance is needed to keep them active. Since many sports programs in the area have been shut down due to C-19, the organization has decided to help families in need this Christmas. If you know of a family struggling, go to their Facebook page for more information.
Key is a member of the Charity League of Paducah. This particular organization raises funds for a number of good causes. One such cause is the local Special Olympics. This year, Key was on the board for the ‘Big Brown Truck Pull’. The socially-distanced affair took place in October and raised money for the McCracken County Special Olympics. Donations paid for competitions in basketball, bowling, softball, cheerleading, as well as track and field. This year’s event raised over $25,000.
It’s a goal of Keys to get her CrossFit level 3 certification in the near future. She earned her CF-2 in February that’s centered around coaching and training other athletes. There are four levels of CrossFit certifications. One of her passions is to help others grow and reach their fitness goals.
Many friendships have formed while training, owning, and working out at CrossFit Dig Deep. She said it’s fun having friends that are interested in fitness. They do things like game night, pumpkin carving contests, and even Christmas caroling.
As a pharmacist at West Towne Pharmacy, COVID-19 testing has kept Key on high alert. She and partner pharmacist Grant Mathis have been crazy busy as one of only a few places in Paducah to offer rapid COVID-19 testing. Key said, “It’s been insane. I had no idea there was such a need in this area.”
Multi-tasking is a preordained gift to women. Key takes it to a whole new level. There are other opportunities and adventures currently on her radar screen. Be watching and listening for Key’s next move. It’s guaranteed to be the next big thing. “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be, When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” Lao Tzu
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.”
The Wynning Experience is an event planning company owned and operated by Allyson Massie Wynn. The company, started in 1996, “was always something I wanted to do.” said Wynn. A 1982 graduate of Paducah Tilghman High School, Wynn has worked countless hours building her company. “People usually just see the result of an event, the fun part. They don’t see the making of it, the stress, long hours, meetings, on and on…”
Three defining words ‘Plan. Design. Implement’ confidently expresses Wynn’s Winning attitude. After 20 years in the business, she’s courageously battling this ‘new normal’ brought about by COVID-19. Being a successful entrepreneur and a veteran event planner, the business “has its highs and lows - you take it in stride,” said Wynn.
Since the first shuttering of businesses,“COVID-19 has totally changed the way we do business. Until March, the focus was on in-person large-scale events for corporate clients. The first to shut down were the large, sponsored, in-person events. All the 2020 events started to go away one at a time until they all were eventually canceled.” The pandemic flipped Wynn’s virtual solutions business on its ear and immediately pivoted from an ‘as needed’ basis to 100 percent virtual.
Before Wynn became a successful Chicago businesswoman, a community in far western Kentucky was responsible for her upbringing. “I will forever appreciate growing up in a small town along with the ability to enjoy teenage years without mobile phones, social media, and selfies. Tilghman brings back so many happy memories” said Wynn. 'Hanging out with friends’ was one of the best remembrances of days gone by.
One of Wynn’s dear friends from high school, James Teague, passed away last year. Teague was a person that everyone liked. In school, he was this tall nice-looking kid that loved sports, particularly basketball, befriended everyone, and never had an unkind word. Teague received his Bachelor of Science degree from Chicago State, an MBA from the University of Phoenix, and achieved one of his lifelong goals of becoming a professor at Broward Community College. He lost his battle with brain cancer leaving behind a wife and two children. Teague was 54 years old.
Wynn was very active in high school. Her extra curricular activities included the drill team and the Tilghman Bell. The Tilghman Bell is the high school newspaper founded in 1913 and is still published today. In fact, there’s an online version at tilghmanbell.com. The newspaper, produced by the journalism class, covers news, sports, arts and entertainment, and commentary. It’s here where student expression is encouraged. Wynn was crowned the 1982 Basketball Homecoming Queen by the Paducah Tilghman basketball team. During her years in high school, Wynn had many friends and Teague was one of her dearest.
After graduating high school, Wynn attended the University of Kentucky and graduated from Western Kentucky University with a degree in Public Relations and Psychology. Her first move after graduation was to Nashville, Tennessee and within the first couple of months, she met her future husband, Raymond. “I was working at First American Bank and he would probably never admit it but would come to the bank to flirt with me. He would sometimes bring his friends; it was funny,” smiled Wynn.
When the two met, Wynn’s husband was a student at Meharry Medical College. After working in the banking industry, Wynn went to work at Meharry Medical College as a researcher and fundraiser. After working at the college, Wynn landed a job with a pharmaceutical company as a sales representative. During this time, she and Raymond married and moved to Rochester, New York. It was in New York that opportunity came knocking and Wynn accepted a job as a special events coordinator and her dream of owning a business was written in the stars. “My family has owned businesses for as long as I can remember so perhaps it was just a natural fit. As they say, nothing beats a failure like a try.’ explained Wynn. Now, 20 years later, the business is still going strong, just pivoting.
Wynn has worked on large-scale projects such as the Essence Music Festival, Billboard Music Awards, Oprah Live Your Best Life Tour, and the National Football League Super Bowl. In addition to her business, she published an e-book ‘So you Want to be an Event Planner.” It’s an insider’s look at the event planning industry, the first of a series of books to come.
Wynn and Raymond have two sons: Bradford, 26, a business consultant in Atlanta and Nigel, 24, a senior analyst in Chicago. Other than being with her husband and two sons, Wynn enjoys collecting art, fine dining, traveling, and being involved in community-based organizations.
“I love to travel and have racked up a few miles and a few stamps in my passport,” said Wynn. She prefers warm weather destinations. In fact, the family’s last vacation was south of the Yucatán Peninsula. “Belize was amazing. Beautiful people, wonderful food, relaxing, no traffic, one of our best vacations.”
As Wynn reflected on her successes, she said, “It’s important to surround yourself with people that care about your successes as much as you do.” When asked to describe her perfect day, she said, “Coffee, getting through my things on my to do list and talking with my family.”
Walter Penny is living the life of a ‘well-kept’ man. He’s a PTHS alumni and one of the funniest most genuine people to walk the face of the earth. He’s like finding the shiny penny among a mountain of dull, tarnished coins. It would be an understatement to say ‘what a wonderful life’ Penny has etched out for himself and his two companions.
After graduating high school, Penny left for Indiana University to continue his studies and pursue higher education. He completed his degree from Murray State University and “before the ink was dry on my diploma, I was a thousand miles away.” said Penny.
Upstate New York was his first adventure. He started working at a summer camp and after honoring his commitment, he and a buddy left for Seattle, Washington. They hit a bump in the road...a glitch, shared Penny. ”We ran out of money in Colorado and I’ve called Denver home ever since.”
Colorado has an amazing landscape. The beautiful state boasts desert-like terrain, river canyons, and the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. World-class skiing is part of the allure of Colorado. Mountain skiing in Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge attracts visitors from all over the world. Penny landed a job at one of the Colorado ski mountain shops and managed all of the marketing and advertising for Christy Sports, one of the large ski and snowboard rental and retail companies. Penny said, “ Not bad for a ski bum who started off on the showroom floor selling ski gear.”
Norma is Penny’s better half. They met in Colorado at a place called Deli. “I’d driven my motorbike down there to read my book club homework. I saw her in line while I was buying a Yahoo and a Blow Pop. I kept reading the same sentence over and over and finally said to myself…’I’m not going to be the guy that wonders what if.’ So, I got up and said ‘hello’. Shortly after, the two were married. That was 20 years ago.
While in Colorado, Penny started dreaming about owning his own company and getting a dog. He hit the jackpot marrying Norma and it was time to make his other dreams a reality.
At the time, Penny was working for a pest control company. “I’ve always wanted to strike out on my own with a small business and I’ve always wanted a dog.” As Penny was working the sales angle at Terminix he ran across an article on bed bug dog in a trade magazine.
“As an industry insider, I knew bed bugs were going to be mainstream soon and well...bed bug dog.” said Penny. After some research, Penny got his dog, Macaroni, started a company called Colorado Bed Bug K9, and before you know it, his famous bug sniffing dog and company were all over the place. The business became known as the ‘Home of Macaroni the bed bug beagle.’
Penny said business was slow at first and then took off. He made the Denver Post in 2009 as the bed bug problem was growing. Penny and his beagle Macaroni worked in the Denver area and inspected homes, apartment buildings, and hotels for infestations. The duo became celebrities and heroes for those living with the pesky pests.
The family of three have been living overseas for a few years. Norma is a FSO (Foreign Service Officer), a diplomat that works for the US Embassy. Their first post was in Caracas, Venezuela. It was here in Caracas that Penny had to leave Venezuela under an ‘Ordered Departure.’ The order required that Penny leave alone, without Norma and Macaroni. “Norma had Macaroni shipped to me shortly after the ‘Ordered Departure’ and we spent three months living in an Airbnb in Miami.” said Penny.
The rental property in Miami was located in a Cuban neighborhood. “My neighbor didn’t speak any English but every morning when I was outside on my deck chair starting my day, she would send her little boy over with a Cuban coffee and a biscotti. He loved Macaroni and would hang out with us while I sipped my coffee.” This is classic Penny...always a friend to all.
Like Penny, Macaroni is well-traveled and a friend to all. At the Embassy in Caracas, weekly visits were almost mandatory for five or six of the bureaucratic offices that needed ‘mental health’ breaks and desirable dog therapy. Penny said that diplomats across the world have difficult jobs protecting the homeland. They represent the home country, handle major diplomatic affairs, and preserve the rights of citizens abroad.
After Caracas, Penny, Norma, and Macaroni moved to Copenhagen, Denmark. It was the summer of 2019 and their second post. Copenhagen, like Denmark, was ‘so wonderful and challenging for very different reasons,’ said Penny. “Both have amazing things to do, see, and experience.”
In fact, one of those amazing things to do was visit Legoland in Billund, Denmark. Penny is a ‘huge’ Lego fan. There was a hiatus from ‘Lego love’ after childhood just up until the Lego movie came out in 2014. Penny said that after the movie, he and Norma stopped by Barnes and Noble. Norma encouraged him to buy a set. “After that it was like being on Alderaan...I was hooked.”
Penny has a collection of Legos in the tens of thousands. During his travels he’s acquired so many that most are in storage. After all, Denmark is the home of Lego. Last year, Norma gave Penny a birthday present from Lego heaven...a weekend at Legoland and Lego House. Even Macaroni attended the party.
So many things to do abroad. The pair enjoy Formula 1 racing. On their honeymoon they attended their first Grand Prix of Monaco. After that, Penny said they were ‘all in.’ The two have been to just under 10 races all over the Western Hemisphere. In 2018, they traveled to Marseille, France to watch the French Grand Prix.
Other activities enjoyed and pursued by Penny and Norma include fine dining. They’ve dined at the French Laundry in southern California and Noma in Copenhagen. “You haven’t lived until you’ve tried duck brain tartare served in the skull of duck.” explained Penny.
For those that know Penny well, you may be interested to know he’s picked up a little game called ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’ He said, “I just started playing with a friend from the Embassy. It’s quite the learning curve but I have a great time as Praedo, the rogue half-elf,” chuckled Penny.
It may seem that Penny has a lot of free time on his hand, and in fact...he does. He’s one of those ‘rare non-working male EFM (Eligible Family Members).’ He said that most EFM’s are women therefore, these women are his friends. They go to lunch, museums, sightsee, and play Pokemon Go. Penny has friends all over the world which makes this particular virtual game so much fun. He said, “just the other day, we went to an amusement park, Tivoli, and I rode all the scary rides ALONE.” One of the friends was pregnant and the other too afraid.
One of the most difficult aspects of life overseas is not seeing family. Penny’s mother died last year and his dad is now living alone. Norma’s parents live in Denver and they worry about their aging family. Penny said it’s not difficult for him and Norma to jump on a plane if necessary. However, COVID-19 has made travel more challenging.
According to Penny, Denmark did an excellent job squashing COVID-19 from the start. He said the Danish were very successful early on putting mandatory safety guidelines and protocols in place. Because of these measures, the trio have traveled Denmark during a two week vacation and had lunch in Germany. Masks are required inside, outside, and on all public transit.
Penny misses the little things from home like the ‘location and operation of light switches, large refrigerators, and the random way doors open.’ He misses comfort food like spaghettios, Jif and Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream pies.
The next post will take place the summer of 2021 in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. This will be their first three year tour. Penny is looking forward to visiting Galapagos, Patagonia, and the Amazon...all will be close and easily accessible. Penny said, “ the work is often difficult and challenging but in the long run, we wouldn’t trade it for anything.” What a life.
Paducah Tilghman High School Bleacher Bums in the early 80's.
In the early 80’s, MTV launched, ‘Pac-Man’ released, A.I.D.S. hit the U.S., Prince Charles and Lady Diana had their fairytale wedding, and Ronald Reagan was president. Today’s generation is encountering the Harry and Meghan reality show, the pandemic, the Trump/Biden mail-in vote controversy, and the ‘rush to market’ COVID-19 vaccine.
Paducah Tilghman High School Alumni Scott Davis was a product of the 80’s. He attended high school from 1980-1982 along with a slew of friends. When Davis reminisced about the things he missed most about high school, he said, “playing football, wrestling, and hanging out with friends.”
In high school, Davis was a member of the football team, wrestling team, track and field, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). His favorite coach was Steve Johnston. Coach Johnston was the nicest person on the face of the earth. He was a ‘big’ man in the eyes of the students. We all knew, it was the size of his heart that took up the most space.
Coach Johnston and Davis were friends on the field and off the field. Johnston coached wrestling, football, and track. The pair shared interests in home improvement projects, refinishing furniture, and shooting activities. Davis said, “When Coach Johnston passed away, an invitational wrestling tournament was founded in his honor. He was the PTHS inaugural wrestling coach in the early 70’s.” Johnston also served as an officer in the US Army Reserves.
Davis made many friends on the football field and took sports very seriously. He said, “According to Coach Haley, football prepares you for the most important game of all, the game of life.” Coach Dan Haley was the head coach at PTHS in the 70’s and early 80’s.
After graduating high school, Davis attended WKCTC and started helping his dad with the family business. His first job after college was at Baptist Health Paducah. He worked in the laundry department and surgery transport. After Baptist, Davis found his career job in the trucking industry. He attended truck driving school, started moving products, and in between gigs, worked as a diesel mechanic. For the past three years, he’s been employed by Nussbaum Transportation Services, Inc. in Hudson, Illinois.
Davis spoke briefly about his mother. “We were very close.” said Davis. One of his fondest memories of his mom revolved around his grandparents farm near Benton, Kentucky. "We would gather food from the garden and shuck corn and snap beans. During the fall, you could find us in the tobacco barn stripping tobacco getting it ready for the sale which was either in Hopkinsville, Mayfield or Paducah," said Davis. She passed away in 2002 after a year’s battle with cancer. Two months after his mother died, Davis’ daughter Makayla was born.
Makayla is a senior at Caldwell County High School in Princeton, Kentucky. She’s very active in school, just like her daddy. She’s a member of the color guard and plays on a youth bowling team. In fact, she’s qualified for the National Junior Gold tournament for three consecutive years. In order to qualify, you must compete in Junior Gold tournaments, be in good standing with the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) and become a member of Junior Gold. Unfortunately, 2020’s tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.
Makayla lives with her mother and stepdad in Princeton, Kentucky while Davis lives with his wife Dee in Evansville, Indiana. Makayla has plans to either attend Eastern Kentucky University and study aviation or enlist in the US Air Force. She hopes to receive a bowling scholarship.
Davis is an avid sportsman. One of the greatest experiences of his life was fishing with former PTHS Alumni and professional sports fisherman Mark Menendez. “Going fishing with Mark was a great experience. I learned about fishing seasonal patterns, using different lures and techniques, reading points, and finding underwater structures. I also learned how to operate a high performance bass boat.”
Menendez is a Bassmaster Elite Series angler and has been fishing professionally for over 20 years with over 230 tournaments and three professional wins and has won over $1 million dollars in prize money. Menendez graduated the same year as Davis in high school.
In planning for the future, Davis and his wife Dee want to travel during their retirement years. After another ten years or more, the two will drive off into the sunset in a new RV on a journey to visit family and friends and potentially become campground hosts. It’s the simple things that make Davis smile. He said,” Being at a Purdue football game with my wife Dee makes me happy.”
The 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour featuring Madonna’s song Vogue captures the essence of Ann E. Shumpert. A graduate of Paducah Tilghman High School class of ‘86, Ann is a person that’s full of life, loves to play, will get down on the dance floor any day of the week, and is crazy about her husband (who coincidentally adores her).
One of the best illustrations of Shumpert's personality would be to compare her to a glass of Dom Perignon. A vibrant, vintage, fresh yet mature, bubbling champagne. She has a smile that’s as big and bright as the red hot lipstick that adorns her lips. She has a huge heart and is very giving. She said, “Sometimes it’s the little things that count and spreading joy is one of them. It doesn’t take much to do a lot.”
It’s hard to imagine Shumpert without Jr. The two met while Shumpert was babysitting for Jr.’s older sister, L. Tanya Shumpert. “Sometimes we would hang out at the skating rink with mutual friends,” she said. It was the beginning of a lifelong partnership between two 14 year old kids. Shumpert said, “What’s really funny is we were in the same Head Start class together.”
Shumpert and Jr. attended Paducah Tilghman High School and had plans for college after graduating. While at Tilghman, both participated in sports. Shumpert ran track while Jr. “was a sports fanatic and did it all...basketball, football, baseball and choir.”
After graduating, Shumpert attended and graduated from WKCTC. Jr. accepted a baseball scholarship from Troy State University and received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. A couple of years later, Shumpert and Jr. said, “I do” on Valentine’s Day at Mount Moriah Missionary Church in Paducah.
Shumpert said, “We married young and started having babies young. We were lucky, our support system was BIG.” To the Shumpert's, family means everything.
Both Shumpert and Jr. have rewarding careers. For sixteen years, Shumpert worked in accounts payable at The Paducah Sun/Paxton Media Group. In fact, Shumpert forged long-lasting friendships with those at the newspaper. One of the most endearing qualities about Shumpert is her ability to make and keep friendships 'alive'. After leaving the newspaper, Shumpert accepted a job at the Paducah Board of Education in the Finance Department where she's employed today.
Jr. has worked at Ashland Chemical in Calvert City as a product supervisor for 15 years. Ashland, formerly ISP, has transformed from a diversified oil and chemicals company into a global specialty materials company. It's one of the bigger plants in Calvert City that keeps so many in our area employed.
Shumpert’s love for life and all that it has to offer radiates from the inside out. It shows up in her 'bling', fashion sense, hobbies, attitude, caring nature, and love for family. Her motto is “Live, Love, Laugh.”
There are a number of things that Shumpert loves to do and decorating is one of them. She has style and taste that would give Joanna Gaines a run for her money. A designer that's reminiscent of Shumpert's chic style is Tiffany Brooks, dubbed one of the top 20 designers working today by Architectural Digest. Her opulence is considered 'classic with a twist.' She was crowned the Design Star on the 2013 season of HGTV. Shumpert has a similar knack for decorating. She could 'Feng Shui' a broom closet.
The couple loves to socialize poolside. Shumpert said, “The cool pool was one of the attractions to buying their home.” If you look closely at the pool pictures, you’ll find little decorating touches that are specific and purposeful down to the coasters on the table.
Parties at the couples home are a regular event. Whether it’s a birthday, holiday, or just any day...everyday is the perfect day to get together with family and friends. Shumpert said, “Family is everything to me. I love everything about it. We need each other.”
The couple have three children and three grandchildren. Shumpert said, “We have so much fun watching our children and grandchildren grow into their being. I pray for their health and safety.”
There’s a competitive side to the Shumpert family. Many, including Shumpert and Jr., are talented athletes. She said, “We love to get together.” Watch out though, this group likes to compete. “We make a competition out of everything, sports, singing, dancing, traveling, exercising, trivia, games, cooking, fashion shows...you name it!”
Recently, the couple and extended family traveled to Los Angeles. “We visited the LA Dodgers World Champion Mookie Betts #50.” Betts is one of several well-known professional athletes in the family. Betts helped the Dodgers take home the Commissioner’s Trophy 2020 after a 32 year drought.
Terry Shumpert is Jr.'s brother and played professional baseball for the Kansas City Royals. Terry is a former graduate of Paducah Tilghman High School and the University of Kentucky. Another professional baseball player is Nick Shumpert, also a PTHS alumni. He's 23 years old and plays for the Atlanta Braves.
George Wilson is a relative of the Shumpert's, PTHS alumni, and former football player for the Buffalo Bills. Each year in Paducah, Wilson hosts a Summer Sportsfest that benefits Paducah Tilghman High School.
Chelsey Shumpert is Shumpert's and Jr.'s youngest daughter and a PTHS grad. She plays professional basketball in England. Having so many talented athletes in one family it’s no wonder the competition is fierce.
After being together for 40 years, Shumpert said they’ve discussed renewing their wedding vows. It’s been a topic of discussion several times. Shumpert said, “I get all these fairy tale ideas and what it would look like. Then, Jr. says 'cha ching'." Shumpert continued, “Perhaps I could think of something simpler or smaller. Lol.”
At the end of the day, it’s “Prayer, family, and just living one day at a time.” It keeps the Shumpert's in their ‘happy place’.
Letitia Moran Harris would make the perfect ‘Sandy’ in the movie 'Grease'. She has a certain innocence in her overall demeanor with a competing alter ego resembling Xena: Warrior Princess. Harris’ two interwoven personas makes it hard to forget her tenacity and kindness as a person and a friend.
The reference to Sandy in Grease is drawn from her unbelievable singing voice. It’s hard to forget her rich, full tone as she sang solos in the Paducah Tilghman High School Choir. Under the direction of Loretta Whitaker, Harris would standout among many of her fellow choir members. Not because she tried to, just because she did.
Whitaker was a masterful choral director. Harris said, “She gave me the opportunity to try out for All State Choir my sophomore year. She knew how to get the most out of her students.”
Opportunities came fast for Harris her first year of high school. It was during her 10th grade year, a mutual friend introduced her to Steve Harris. Their first date was a Valentine’s Dance and ‘cupid drew back his bow and let his arrow go’ straight into both of their hearts sparking a five year romance and igniting a successful 37 years marriage. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
After graduating from PTHS, Harris attended Murray State University on a voice scholarship...no surprise, she loved to sing. After declaring a major in music, Harris soon found that it ‘wasn’t for her’ and switched to interior design. “I found out that being a music major was more than just singing, it was writing and composing music, playing a musical instrument, both of which I had no interest in.” said Harris.
Changing majors in college is a ‘big deal’ when you’re on a scholarship. Harris had to ‘buck up’ and find a way to pay tuition. After giving back her scholarship, she got a job as secretary to an MSU professor. Somewhere between Harris’ sophomore and junior year, she quit school and married ‘the one’. Cupid hit his target and in 1983, the couple said, “I do”.
The newlyweds lived in Louisville, Kentucky while Steve was attending UofL School of Dentistry. Harris got a job working full-time, paying the bills and helping Steve pay for dental school.
In 1986, Steve partnered with another dentist and started his first practice. In 1988, he opened his own dental office and Harris became the practice manager. Harris said, “It’s been a blessing working with Steve all of these years.” The two have worked side-by-side since opening the office in Paducah.
The couple have two sons, Zach and Eli. Zach is married and lives in Nashville. Eli is engaged and plans to marry in the Spring of 2021.
Zach has followed in his mother’s musical footsteps, tackling Nashville as a songwriter. He’s a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and collaborates with many other writers. Currently, he’s writing more as a hobby than a full-time gig.
Eli intended on following in his dad’s footsteps and majored in Pre-Dental Biology. After graduating from MSU, he opted to buy his own business, and is currently the CEO and President of West KY Drug and Alcohol Screen in Paducah.
As part of ‘giving back’ the Harris’ participate in regular mission trips to Honduras providing free medical care to a children’s home. Each year many dentists embark on mission trips to provide care in foreign countries. It’s not just about extracting teeth, it’s providing oral care for periodontal disease and other oral health problems that are preventable with good education.
The Harris’ support “I Am” (Idols Aside Ministries) in Paducah. “I AM” is a ministry that introduces fatherless youth to Christ through sports camps, outdoor retreats, and a mentor program specifically geared for youth aging-out of foster care. The program is a 501(c)(3) that offers spiritual guidance, emotional support, and mentoring to struggling, fatherless, youth. It’s a Christ-centered ministry.
The ministry is promoting a virtual event Tuesday, November 10, sharing stories from western Kentucky and central Florida. The program originated in Florida and expanded into our area in 2017. Guests expected are Brandon Cooks and Lance Berkman. Cooks is a wide receiver with the Houston Texans. Berkman or ‘Big Puma’ is a former professional baseball player.
Harris has been active in church ministry all of her life. She’s been in the church choir for 34 years at Southland Baptist Temple. Her golden voice with the wide vocal range plays a huge role in the church’s annual “The Gift” performance.
“The Gift” is a production about the life story of Christ from birth to resurrection. Over 150 members participate from actors, makeup artists, set design, lighting, and livestock handlers. The production has been ongoing for a number of years.
This year's production of "The Gift" will be a drive-thru. Dates are December 3 through December 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Southland Baptist Temple in Paducah.
Harris enjoys beach vacations in Florida’s panhandle, needlework, crafting, singing, cooking and being a grandma. She said, “The Lord has been good to me and my family. I attribute it all to Him.”
As with all of us, the Harris’ haven’t come away completely unscathed in regards to the coronavirus. Last spring, dental offices were one of the first medical practices to shutter due to the pandemic. Harris said, “The practice closed for eight weeks and it was the first time we had to lay-off employees,” she continued, “We still felt blessed with our awesome patients and loyal employees.”
“I attribute it all to Him,” said Harris. Faith is the most important aspect of Harris’ life. “God, family, church,” is the order by which she lives her life. “I attribute these values to having a successful marriage and the only way to do life.”
Harris is a one of a kind person and everybody that knows her loves her. She’s another shining example of the fine character exemplified in students that graduate from Paducah Tilghman High School. PTHS is a school that takes pride in its students, teachers, and administrators. It’s been ‘that kind of school’ for generations.
Mike T. is an affectionate nickname given to Michael Tolbert by the student staff on campus at Rutgers, the State University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Tolbert said, “I like being called Mike T...it makes me feel young.”
Having a youthful and joyful disposition has always been Tolbert’s ‘modus operandi.’ He's one of those people that makes you feel 'seen'. Tolbert said, "God has blessed me with a loving and kind spirit. I never had much to give except what God has given to me." In a life of humble beginnings, Tolbert has always found a way to see the good in all people.
Tolbert is a graduate of Paducah Tighman High School and a beloved member of the class of ‘81. He grew up on the southside of town and was raised by his aunt and uncle. “There’s a story there,” said Tolbert.
“I grew up with five brothers and 10 sisters, yes, that’s 16 of us children. My mom and dad are really my aunt and uncle,” said Tolbert.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Tolbert had three biological sisters, one has since passed. His biological mother died when he was six years old and the children didn’t know their father. His aunt, a pastor, didn’t want Tolbert and his sisters to go into ‘the system’ or foster care and preferred the siblings stay together. So, she took them in as her own.
“My aunt and uncle didn’t have to rescue me, but they did and that was a sign.”
A sign that would encourage and reassure Tolbert that God didn't desert him. “I felt God was looking over me and after me at an early age.” said Tolbert.
After moving to Paducah one of Tolbert’s first encounters and most memorable was meeting his friend for life, Joe Patterson, another PTHS alumni. He said, “I know this sounds strange but when Joe and I met in first grade, we never forgot that first moment. We’ve been best friends ever since.” The two talk regularly on the phone and call each other on their birthdays. It’s a friendship that has lasted over 50 years.
One of the big influences on Tolbert’s life was the Boys Club of Paducah. The family lived on Jackson Street, now Oscar Cross Blvd., and the Boys Club was only a few blocks from the family home. It was here that many young men living on the southside of town sought friendship and refuge. “Mr. Oscar Cross was a huge influence on many of us young boys,” said Tolbert.
The Boys Club, now Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club, was the dream of Oscar M. Cross, a probation officer, that saw a need for young men to set higher standards for themselves and prepare for the future. He made a commitment to keep them off the streets, out of the juvenile system, and provide educational experiences not taught in the classroom. His dream has played a huge role in many of the lives of young men and women introducing them to the idea of good character, academic achievement, and citizenship. That influence set Tolbert on a trajectory.
In high school, Tolbert was a wide receiver on the football team, ran track both high and low hurdles, and wrestled. One of his true passions was his membership in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) where he enjoyed the company of other fellow Christian athletes. In fact, Tolbert has a photo on his Facebook page of a prayer vigil that he and other student athletes participated in during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.
After graduating high school, Tolbert attended Western Kentucky University and received his degree in social work. He said, “I wanted to save the world.” Tolbert continued with his higher education courses and earned a Master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Iowa State University.
Tolbert’s first career job was as a Residence Director at Illinois State University. There he was responsible for 900 students, 18 resident assistants, and two grad students. For three years he held this position at the university in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois.
As one can see, Tolbert’s career choice was heavily influenced by his early interactions with the Boys Club of Paducah, now Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club. In his next career move, Tolbert finds clarity and direction to tackle issues that affect so many young people today, the right and need for higher education.
Twenty-seven years ago, Tolbert accepted a position at Rutgers, the State University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Rutgers is a leading national public research university and is considered one of the top 100 colleges. Tolbert has held several positions in the 27 years at Rutgers. Currently, he’s the Director of Student Support and said, “I’m still trying to save the world.”
Tolbert is responsible for crises that happen on campus. He deals with incidents, makes sure protocols are in place, and helps to keep Rutgers’ community safe. If students are experiencing a psychological issue and talk about hurting themselves or possibly others, Tolbert is the first person called. He’s the liaison between the police department, counselors, and staff. As the ‘go between,’ Tolbert makes sure students are treated fairly when there’s police involvement and advocates for good communication between the police and students.
With the pandemic, it’s been necessary for Tolbert to participate more closely with the Health Center. Tolbert said, “The pandemic is running rampant, especially on college campuses.” He’s the person to help coordinate the efforts between students and the Health Center.
In addition to crisis management, Tolbert oversees the EOF, Education Opportunity Fund. He works with low income students of all races who attended Abbott District Schools in New Jersey. The designation of Abbott Schools is determined by criteria and process. These districts are extremely poor and have been identified based on poverty and educational inadequacies that are so substantial that they cannot possibly compete. “poorer disadvantaged students must be given a chance to compete with relatively advantaged students." As Tolbert said, “saving the world one student at a time.”
Tolbert has been married to his wife Tina for 13 years. They have one daughter and are very happy and blessed to live in New Brunswick. He said it’s a small urban city with the University attached. There’s a large black and Hispanic population. New Jersey is very diverse as is Rutgers. Tolbert said, “Even with the diversity, New Jersey is one of the most segregated states in the union.” When discussing future career plans or ‘big’ moves, Tolbert said he plans to retire with the university but possibly move to Maryland after retiring. He said, “Living close to New York City is very expensive.”
Traveling is one of life’s pleasures for the Tolberts. Before the pandemic upended the world, the couple had recently traveled to Paris and Canada. They've enjoyed other adventures around the globe including other European countries and Africa.
Photography is another of Tolbert’s passions. His creative side deserves an honorable mention. He also enjoys working out and martial arts. “At 58, I’m blessed.”
The family endured a tragic event 20 years ago. Tolbert’s biological sister was murdered. He said, “It still hurts today.” His other siblings live scattered throughout several different states but six still live in Paducah.
Tolbert said he really enjoyed his high school years. “It was the best of times and I miss my mates.” He tried to reach out to different friends through Facebook but said, “Many have moved on.” As he reminisces about days gone by, he remembers the classes of ‘81, ‘82, and ‘83 quite vividly. The classes were a tight-knit bunch, even in a school with over 1,000 students.
Friendships that we form while attending our years in secondary education and college should never be squandered. Tolbert said, “I really hope I made a positive impact on the lives of a few if not many.” There’s no doubt that he did and will continue throughout his life.
David Guess is a bit of a self-made man. He’s a graduate of Paducah Tilghman High School and former student at Reidland Elementary and Middle Schools. Guess transferred to Paducah City Schools in the ninth grade. He said, “We moved to the city when my mother got a job at the plant. She told me we needed to be closer because it was too far to drive to Reidland.”
“Moving to another school in the ninth grade was tough.” said Guess. “I still remember the first person I met was Evan Miller when he came and sat by me in the gym. Evan was everyone’s friend.” This encounter with Miller may be one of the reasons everyone likes Guess. He’s that friend that will come sit by your side if you’re sitting on the bench alone. He’s ‘the buddy bench’ guy. He's one of those people that never meets a stranger. To this day, Guess has friends from the playgrounds at Reidland Elementary School to his years at Murray State University. He's fast friends with everyone he meets.
Today, Guess is a successful business owner with both residential and commercial properties. In fact, in 2017 Guess and his wife Sandra purchased the Hipp Building from Dick Walker and the Gene Hipp Estate. Guess said, “I didn’t realize how big it was.” The 55,000 sq. ft. building is located on Jackson Street across the road from Red’s Donuts.
As of 2020, the couple completed renovations on 10,000 sq. ft. of the building for the Kentucky Transportation Regional Real ID office and Children’s with Special Healthcare Needs. Both organizations are very important to our community.
Beginning October 1, 2020, all US citizens will need a ‘real I.D. compliant’ driver’s license, US passport, US military ID, or other accepted identification to fly within the United States. The Children’s with Special Healthcare Needs, formerly located in downtown Paducah has since moved to the Hipp Building. The Kentucky government program helps children with needs such as hearing loss, autism, or other health-related issues.
Guess’ entrepreneurial spirit comes naturally. His dad and stepmom. Paul and Alice Guess owned Paducah Supply. After Guess graduated from Murray State University with a degree in business, he worked in the family business, as well as built houses until his dad sold it and retired at the age of 52. After which, Guess expanded his part-time business, David Guess Heating and Air, into a full-time, prosperous endeavor in 1992.
In addition to Guess’ thriving heating and air business, he owns numerous properties including an apartment complex with 30 apartments all within Paducah city limits. He also has rental property in Reidland and around Kentucky Lake.
Guess said, “Sandra and I like to buy 100 year old properties with brick exterior, original hardwood flooring, and wide crown molding that may need to be completely stripped-down during the renovation process or just need only minor repairs.” The couple really enjoys working together on these projects. They’ve been told they “make a great team.”
Another venture that Guess started was an online business for contact lenses. He’s the owner of clearviewcontacts.com and has the help of his mother and stepdad to run the business. Guess’ mother manages the day-to-day operations and his stepdad, Dr. John Strakal, a retired optometrist, helps in his specialized area.
A businessman is Guess’ profession but his true love is his family. Guess has two children that are both accomplished and a joy to be around. His son Josh works for the Paducah Fire Department and is married to Lindsey, a dental asisstant. His daughter Shannon is a doctor of pharmacy and is married to Daniel, also a pharmacist. Shannon and Daniel live in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
In a few days, Guess and his wife Sandra will be celebrating their sixth anniversary. Out of the devastating yet historical ice storm 2009, a budding romance started. Amidst the chaotic natural disaster, the two were introduced for the first time. Sandra made the statement that she wasn’t on Facebook but found out Guess had a Facebook page and went home that evening and created her first page. The couple married on October 25, 2014. “God has blessed us more than we deserve,” said Guess.
Guess is an advocate for animals. He has a rescue Yorkie named “Bentley'' that appears to go with him everywhere, including boating trips on the lake. In addition to his dog, the family has two outside cats, Winston and Riley.
The couple has a several outside interests. They do like to travel. Adventures range from tropical paradise locations to snow-covered mountaintops. Taking lake trips with friends or 'hanging out at each others’ homes' is one of their most favorite activities. It’s simple and Guess said, “maybe boring” but “God has blessed us with great friends. The Tilghman guys I talk to almost daily are Mike and Gary Leneave and Gil Arterburn. We’ve been friends for 35 years. We have each other’s backs.” said Guess.
In addition to the vacations, Guess is an avid golfer, in fact, he said, “If I could play golf each morning and finish at dark, seven days a week, stopping only to eat, I would...but that’s not happening.” He does get to play with his regular group of golf buddies most weeks and he and Sandra participate in couples tournaments. It’s definitely one of his passions.
Early January, Guess made a commitment to run for another term in the Paducah City Commissioners’ race. He is a former two-term commissioner and is ready to throw his hat in the ring once again. “I have been the one working on the inside of government operations and also the guy on the other side of the counter attempting to get things done with meeting roadblocks.” Guess sees this election as one that he can invoke change and make a difference in the lives of Paducah citizens.
Guess said he wants to bring more jobs to our area and streamline government operations. He wants to make Paducah ‘business friendly.’ Guess’ background fits nicely with his goals for Paducah. He has several solid businesses and lots of properties. It makes sense that this would be his platform. Go with what you know.
If you’ve been interested in city government over the last 20 years, Guess served two terms in 2002 and 2006. He said, “My first run for city commission was at the age of 38. Some remember me as the guy that won by ONE vote one term. So yes, every vote does count.”
Having Guess as a friend is a true treasure. He’s the guy that you can always count on to help out a friend, neighbor, or complete stranger. It’s those golden boy looks with the ocean blue eyes. He’s the guy that will sit by you on the ‘buddy bench’ if you’re alone. Everyone needs a friend like Guess. He's the guy you can count on in a storm..even an ice storm.