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Jim and Betty Johnson create a new life, art at Presbyterian Manor

According to Jim Johnson, he and his wife Betty’s decision to move into Independent Living in October of 2019 was due to one crucial factor.

“Old age,” he said with a laugh.

In truth, the couple really didn’t need much more motivation than that. Over the years, Jim and Betty had stopped by the community occasionally to visit Jim’s cousin who was a resident and always found the place nice and appreciated everything it had to offer her and her friends.

Since moving in themselves, the couple has enjoyed rekindling old friendships and the opportunity to create new ones. The Johnsons have also greatly appreciated all of the activities and events offered at the community—especially the Art is Ageless® program.

Jim, who has been a wood carver since working for the Santa Fe Railroad, has participated in art shows since the ’80s and is a lifetime member of the Walnut Valley Wood Carvers club. Betty, on the other hand, creates woven baskets out of split oak and reed, which she dyes in various colors.

Both of the Johnsons had pieces on display during the 2020 Art is Ageless exhibit. For Jim it was a carving entitled “Prairie Mother” made from catalpa wood. And for her part, Betty displayed a basket that she made utilizing various weave patterns and containing a vase for flowers.

“It’s fun,” said Betty describing why she enters Art is Ageless. “It gives people something to look forward to each year.”

Currently, Jim is working on a carving of a P-51 World War II fighter plane that he is planning on giving to his son.

Aside from their friends and the opportunity to share their art, the Johnsons are enjoying the friendly help of the community’s staff and the opportunity to finally—and completely—retire.

For more information about independent living at Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor or the Art is Ageless program, contact Whitley Stokes at or 620-442-8700.

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