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COLUMN: Coming home to Perry County

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KAREN LYONS, Guest Columnist

People here in Tell City seem surprised to learn that my husband and I left Newburgh to move back home to Tell City. I’d like to share how that came to be.

After living most of our adult lives in the Newburgh area and raising two daughters there, my husband and I found ourselves empty-nesters. With a stressful job as the planning and transportation manager at Alcoa, it didn’t take long for my life to evolve into one of work and sleep.

For many years, our lives outside of work revolved around our kids and their activities so when they left for college, a large part of our lives left with them. I knew that I needed something more in my life and prayed to God to show me what that should be.

Now I have to say, that while we did live away from Perry County for many years, in my heart I never stopped being a Marksman from Perry County. I was so proud of Tell City and its heritage. It’s such a beautiful, unique town with the river and the wide streets. The county with its rolling hills, parks and forests is the prettiest place in Indiana. It seemed everywhere I went over the years, I ran into someone from Perry County and we would talk about all of our memories. Sure, I supported my daughters’ schools, unless they were playing Tell City, but I never felt the same passionate zeal that I felt for the Marksmen unless my own kids were on the team.

I really wanted to feel that sense of loyalty again, so I dragged my husband to ballgames at Castle and Memorial (our kids went to different high schools), but honestly, I really felt out of place like I didn’t really belong there. Even though we had lived there for 25 years and we were very involved in the schools, we saw very few people we knew really well. Over Christmas in 2006, we went to the Holiday Tourney in Tell City and I felt like I was at a reunion.

I saw old classmates, extended family and old neighbors. I remember thinking what a difference from how I felt at Castle, where my youngest daughter had just graduated two years earlier vs. how I felt at Tell City, where I graduated 30 years earlier. I even knew the school song and was so psyched when the band played the William Tell Overture. I got so into the game, I almost had a heart attack when Tell City won with a last-second shot.

Anyway, one weekend my husband, Randy, was in a golf tourney so I decided to spend the weekend in Tell City. It was that fateful weekend that God found a way to answer my prayers. Friday night, I went with my parents to see the Schweizer Fest musical.

On Saturday, my mom, sister-in-law and I helped “stage” my sister’s house, which was up for sale. Saturday night, we went to church at St. Paul’s and I looked around and saw extended family, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends, parents of friends, and many other familiar faces.

After church, a bunch of us drove out to Marcie’s in Leopold for dinner. We had a great time. Leopold has a special place in my heart also, because my mom, Jean Thomas, grew up in that area. Seeing St. Augustine Church reminded me of the many picnics, weddings and other events that I’d attended there.

Of course the drive there brought up memories of how we used to go to Grandma and Grandpa Goffinet’s farm every Sunday for dinner. Sunday morning, we went to the Freezer for breakfast and then headed out to the Derby area to visit my 94-year-old Grandma Thomas, who was still living on her farm.

Driving back to Newburgh that night, I had the most amazing feelings of well-being, contentment, purpose and belonging, and I knew what I needed to do – move home to Perry County. I just needed to convince my family.

Surprisingly, they were all for it, and the rest is history. We sold our house very quickly and had less than 30 days to move with no house, land, or builder.

Of course, family came to the rescue and found us a rental house, helped us pack and unload, and helped us find land and a great builder in Mike Solbrig. We left the subdivision of Newburgh behind and are now practicing “the Art of Living,” as my friend, Larry Peter, calls life in Perry County.

We now live in a beautiful new home on about six acres. We’ve reconnected with old friends, extended family, and have made many new friends. I’m on the parish council at St. Paul’s. I’m also helping out with the Marching Marksmen boosters.

We’re in a euchre club. I can’t wait for retirement so I can do much more volunteer work.

Unfortunately, my dear dad, Gerry Thomas, and Grandma Thomas both passed away in 2008, but I am so thankful I was here and able to spend that extra time with them. I am thankful that I am able to be here for my mom and hang out with her. I can attend all the family get-togethers and all my nieces’ and nephews’ activities as well as be an avid Marksmen fan.

My husband loves working on our land, playing golf and trying out new cuisine on his Green Egg. I don’t even mind the drive to Alcoa with the beautiful scenery. I love the new River Walk trail. I love the nonchain restaurants of The Post, Capers, The Patio, Julie’s Café, Marcie’s and Rocky Point.

If I can get in shape, I want to start hiking the trails in the Hoosier National Forest. Another plus is being nearer to our daughters, who both ended up living in Louisville.

Most of all, I love being close to family and part of this community. Life is good!

Lyons’ column is one of an occasional series provided by the Perry County Quality of Life Committee, which operates under the umbrella of the Perry County Development Corp. To share a story about settling in or moving back to Perry County, call 547-8377.