The Arkansas City Traveler reported that approximately 700 people attended an open house and dedication ceremony Sunday, November 5, 1978, in Arkansas City for the newly built Presbyterian Manor at Fourth St. and Radio Lane.
As we continue to look back at the 40-year history of Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor, we thought we’d share the stories of two women who were there in the beginning to both reflect on the vision that helped establish the community and marvel at how far it has come in the years that have passed.
For Linda Headrick, “Ark City Presbyterian Manor Employee #1,” memories of the community date back to a time before there was even a community at all. Linda’s tenure with PMMA began in a small office in the Presbyterian Church until the day she and her files rode to the new building in the back of a maintenance truck. On that first weekend, there were three women scheduled to move in, however there was a problem—the building wasn’t done yet.
“We had no dining room, no carpet in the hallways, and we had to set up one of the apartments as a dining room,” said Linda. “In fact, there weren’t even numbers on the doors.”
Even in those earliest days, Linda remembers the community being “family oriented” but notes that it was a far cry from the campus we are now accustomed to.
“There have been so many changes over the years to make the community more homey,” said Linda. “Today, it just feels like one big, open living room—the way it should be.”
Linda’s connection to the community extends into her personal life. Her father spent winters in the community up until his death and she and her husband, Bill, were even married in the chapel.
“People say I should just move there because I have so many memories, and I think they might be right,” said Linda.
Pam Brown started working part-time at the community just eight years after it opened. She remembers Easter egg hunts, Halloween parties and carnivals that brought residents, staff and family members together to create a true sense of community. It was that atmosphere that proved to be an asset in difficult times.
“I remember one day when we had really bad weather, an ice storm, and no one could come to work—including the cooks,” said Pam. “To ensure everyone had a hot meal, a resident and an administrator came together and cooked breakfast for the entire [building].”
Like Linda, Pam’s connection to the community involves her entire family. Her husband, Frazier, has volunteered—setting up displays on Veteran’s Day—and both of her children have worked at the community.
Today, Pam is a nutrition assistant and sums up her PMMA experience in one sentence.
“I really love my job,” said Pam.