“Good memories keep me happy” says Evelyn Schwandt, a resident of Perry Green Valley Nursing Home in Perry, Oklahoma.
Born on May 22, 1928, Evelyn has a lifetime of wonderful memories about her family and her marriage of 66 years to her devoted spouse George, who she still misses dearly after his passing in 2013. Reflecting on their time together, she said “he was such a good man. There will never be another one like him. He was just special. He knew the Lord and I did too. He loved music and I did too – we had that in common.” Meeting him at age 19 at Orlando Methodist Church where they both sang in the church choir, she further recalls “I was the lucky one. All the other girls wanted to date him, and he picked me.”
Evelyn and George traveled throughout the heartland of America while George was in the U.S. Air Force, with Evelyn working as a housewife and as a retail clerk at a dress shop. After his retirement, the couple returned to Oklahoma to take care of the family farm and the cattle. With a sense of humor Evelyn shares, “I remember saying when I was a girl ‘I know one thing for sure. I’m never going to marry a farmer.’ And that’s exactly what I did!” Evelyn worked as the cook at Orlando High School for 27 years preparing delicious breakfast and lunch meals for more than 150 students daily. They raised one daughter who currently lives in Northern California with her two sons and one grandchild.
Evelyn loved sewing and made many beautiful quilts, challenging her abilities by completing the most difficult patterns. These days Evelyn loves to read, exercises daily, and talks to family and friends often.
Following a stroke in 2016, Evelyn decided to move to Green Valley after spending many years there during her husband’s long-term residency, noting “George was here and was well cared for. If I have to be in a facility, this is where I want to be.”
When asked her advice to others about living well, Evelyn said, “that’s easy! Keep in touch with the Lord. Respect other people and treat them like you want to be treated. In God’s eyes, we are all the same, we all have our shortcomings.”
The Oklahoma Health Action Network is fighting to improve eldercare funding so that seniors like Evelyn can continue to enjoy life.