Familiar minister becomes resident

img_0129 Douglas Phenix is more than just a new resident in independent living. He’s a familiar face who’s been visiting Topeka Presbyterian Manor for many years. As a retired Presbyterian minister, one might assume that’s the only reason he chose to make his residence here, but there’s far more to his decision.

“I was a minister at a Presbyterian church here in Topeka, so I’d come in to visit congregation members who were residents here. I’ve always been very impressed with the accommodations and the staff here,” said Douglas. “And it was helpful seeing so many people I knew once I moved in. I was definitely a familiar face.”

And if familiarity and fond feelings weren’t enough to influence Douglas’ decision, his personal experience with a family member’s stay and his own desire for quality medical care here sealed the deal.

“My former wife Gloria and I are still great friends, and her mother lived here for many years. I can say nothing but good things about how her mother was treated. She’s been gone more than eight years now, but I will always appreciate the constant level of care and communication.

There was always somebody there for her. Even when she wasn’t able to talk, you could tell she was pleased. They gave her hugs, and let her know she was loved.”

Douglas knows first-hand about the importance of needing additional medical care.

“I’m having to usher along some potentially hard health problems, as I’m in the first stages of Parkinson’s disease. It can last decades, and the course is unpredictable. This is a place that I can manage this condition more easily, and that precipitated this move. I wanted to be proactive. I must say I was really very glad to be at Presbyterian Manor where they’re helping me decide the best things to do. It’s a good experience.”

Douglas now receives that same kind-hearted care from Presbyterian Manor staff and is enjoying this new chapter of his life, which is very interesting and inspiring. If you have the opportunity to speak with Douglas, you’ll quickly notice his Scottish accent, and he’ll gladly regale you with tales of his birthplace.

“I’m originally from Fife, Scotland, which is on the east coast. I moved to the United States in 1980 with my late wife, who passed from pancreatic cancer. We had two young boys, and I met Gloria four years later. I was a minister at a church in Minnesota and was there for 10 years. I moved to Topeka in 1993, and was very involved in the community. I was even a Festival Singer for 19 years!” said Douglas. “One of my favorite memories, though, was the first time I came to the U.S., to study for a year at a seminary in New York City. It was in 1966. I’d always dreamed of sailing across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary, and I did! What a treat that was.”

Douglas’ warmth and zest for life are a welcome addition to our Presbyterian Manor family. And family is something Douglas is also proud to tell you about.“My oldest son David is a medical technician, and he and his wife, Gina, have one son, Ian. Ian is in the Navy, and he and his wife, Ashley, just had a son, Harrison. So that makes me a great-grandfather! And my youngest son, Duncan, lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Jaime. He’s the executive news producer at a Las Vegas TV station,” said Douglas.

Not only does Douglas enjoy the welcoming atmosphere here at Presbyterian Manor, he adds to it through his passion for music and appreciation for all the ways his life is enriched just by living here.

“I’ve always enjoyed the piano, and have a piano accordion as well. I actually managed to bring my piano with me. Quite a few people are pianists here, and someone is always playing something on the grand piano in dining room. All of these features make it so nice here,” said Douglas.

“I’ve noticed from a lot of people that making a move like this isn’t always emotionally easy. It’s easy to start thinking that this is like an extended stay in a hotel, or like a vacation, until it dawns on you it’s not. It’s an adjustment in thinking, but with the help of the staff, and the whole atmosphere and resident community here, it’s made the transition a lot easier than it might have been. Everybody I’ve met has been well-integrated. It’s not just a bunch of individuals sitting in their own corner doing their own thing. We’re all in this together with a kind of unity. It’s a true community, and that’s tremendously helpful.”