I want to share something with all of you. When you are working hard to make things better, it can seem as though nothing is good. For this reason, I want to share why I love DeSoto County and talk about all that is good! I have 20 years of wonderful memories here, between living here and working here. I want to share a few with you that will show you why I think DeSoto County is so great and means so much to me.
My first memory of DeSoto County was in 1993. It seems like such a long time ago. I worked for Joe Merrell at Olympic Fitness Center in Memphis. For those that knew Joe, working for him at times was bliss and at other times it was like being in boot camp. He loved Zig Ziglar and made us partake in many hours of training sessions to become better people, better managers, better salesmen and better trainers. If you did not fall in line, he found creative ways to get you back “on track”. Haha! For me, my punishment at times would be driving to work at the Southaven Olympic Fitness Center. It seemed like it took me hours to drive there from Germantown, and I hated having to go. Like a lot of things with Joe, his methods at times were extreme, but he did make you a better person. Joe Merrell and Lance Moore were instrumental figures in my life during that time. They trained me in the gym and in business. I am thankful to have been a part of Olympic. Thanks to them, the drive to Southaven eventually became one of pleasure. I fell in love with our Southaven members. I fell in love with every aspect of life in Southaven. The people were so down to earth, laid back, warm and welcoming. It felt like we were all one big family, and in a lot of ways we were.
In 1996, Lance Moore, Chris Caudy and I left Olympic to go open up Cordova Athletic Club. It was a big change for all of us because we loved working and living in DC. After working at CAC while living in Plantation Apartments in OB, we got close with 2 members, Robert Creech and Jody McKibben. Robert and Jody were considering going into business together and opening a Cordova Athletic Club like facility in Southaven. I remember when their dream became a reality. I spent a lot of time selling memberships out of that trailer in front of DAC. It felt great to be back in MS. Look at what a wonderful asset the DAC has been to people in the Southaven and OB areas. Back then, Olympic Fitness was the only real place to work out. When Robert built DAC, it opened DeSoto County up to having more than just a gym. It gave DeSoto County a health club with many new features and amenities that had not existed before. What a great success the DAC has been!
In 1998, I moved into the Southcrest Lake Apartments across from Baptist DeSoto. Oh how I loved living there! It was so convenient to everything. I loved meeting friends after work at Chili’s and then hanging out with friends in Horn Lake. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, I remember feeling blessed that West Clinic had a location in Southaven and close to my apartment. My surgeon was Dr. Foster, who owns Cedar Hills Farm. Baptist DeSoto was much smaller than it is now. I remember family members suggesting that I go to Baptist East instead. People that haven’t experienced life in DeSoto County don’t get it. Just because it’s smaller in size, less in population and doesn’t have buildings reaching up to the sky does not mean it is less equipped than Memphis to handle things. Dr. Foster was an incredible surgeon, and my experiences at the hospital were excellent. Everything I needed, including my doctors, were all within 5 minutes of my apartment. Who would not love that?
After recovering from surgery and being in complete remission, I remember spending lots of time with my best friend and her family. Her family was like a second family to me. They are long time DeSoto County residents. Her Dad was a Coach at the schools and he was the minister of a local, small church congregation. She and I spent lots of time listening to Gabby Johnson play down at Back Tracks off of 61. We were regular groupies of the band, although the drummer happened to be her cousin. He happened to be like family to me. When Huey’s was built, we loved hanging out there. Seeing DeSoto County grow and blossom was a wonderful thing. Although the county was bringing in more and more businesses, it still had the small town feel and closeness.
We would eat breakfast at that awesome place at the corner of Goodman Rd. and Hwy 301, right next to the gas station. Their food was excellent and their pies even better! It was a local place that reflected all of the things I love about life down here. And who doesn’t love Dale’s?! I will never get tired of the local dining establishments that were here and the ones that still are……Dale’s, Catfish Corner, Olive Branch Catfish Company, Old Style BBQ and Hazel’s (just to name a few). You add to all of this the Southaven Festival, Cotton Bowl Lanes, Bullfrog Corner, back roads to anywhere you want to go, local school rivalries, OB football, Old Towne OB shops-antiques-the Hoot, Loves in Hernando, Walls on the way to the casinos and I could go on and on. I loved that the Crye-Leike office in OB would say a prayer at their Tuesday morning sales meetings. I remember being taken back by that, in a good way, when I attended a meeting down here. Working at that time in Germantown, we didn’t do that there. People down here know the importance that God plays in our lives. What a great network of people and local small businesses.
Jon Reeves, Rob Williams, Homer Skelton, Jack Shannon and Johnny Coleman are all fixtures of this county that also played a role in my life. Living down here, especially for a substantial period of time, it is hard not to know people and have some connection to almost everyone in town. There is nothing wrong with that. It takes that network of individuals to grow the community and ensure that is thrives. I love the people in DeSoto County. I love SBEC! I do love DCS! I love Sacred Heart! I love all of the little things that play a big part in making DeSoto County a place people want to move to. I don’t want people to move here because they are escaping life in Memphis, but if they do for that reason, I want them to fall in love with all of the things that we ALL think are so great about our town. I want people to care about our county, not forget the way it was, learn its history, know their neighbors and preserve all of the things that make it so great. With growth and an increase in revenue, things or people can get off track, but there is too much good here to let it go to the wayside. Where else can you live that only takes 5 minutes to get your driver’s license renewed, car tags purchased, go through vehicle inspection, pay you utility bills, make it to the grocery store, local pharmacy, social security office, the city park and many other places of interest. All of these places are literally 5 minutes or less from my house.
What I do, I do out of love and loyalty to God, my family, friends and home. DeSoto County is my home. I want it to be the best it can be for ALL of us. Thank you all for your love and support.