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Resident Spotlight: Dr. Dana Waters!

By Sarah Sexton | Publish Date June 23, 2021

This month our resident spotlight is our resident, Dr. Dana Waters! We hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit about him from our interview below.

Where are you from? Born in Atlanta, GA, I lived my first five years in the suburb of Forest Park near lots of family, and especially cousins who were like brothers and sisters. When I was 5, Dad felt called to the ministry, and we moved to Decatur, GA, where he attended Columbia Theological Seminary. From then, I moved frequently as Dad was called to churches in and around Charlotte and Atlanta. I completed high school in Charlotte and then attended Davidson College. In my last year of high school, I sensed God’s leading me toward the ministry, and following college I attended Columbia Seminary, graduating in 1958. Through the years, I have served at 5 churches, the last being the South Highland Presbyterian Church here in Birmingham until my retirement in June of 2000. I moved to Birmingham in 1987, and began my ministry at SHPC on February 1 of that year.

Tell us about your family. My wife, Bette, was from Elkin, NC – a small town in the foothills of the mountains where her father served as Chief of Police. After high school, she enrolled in Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in Charlotte. Because of a strict rule that student nurses could not be married, we eloped in our last years of school (1954) and had to keep our marriage a secret until she graduated the following August. She accompanied me to seminary and supported us by nursing at Emory University Hospital until I graduated. We had one son, Dana IV, and one daughter, Elise, who in time provided us 3 grandchildren – Dana V, Katrina, and Maya

Tell us about your education. As I mentioned, I attended Davidson College, graduating with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in English. Through Columbia Seminary, I earned a B.D. (Bachelor of Divinity) and an M.Div. (Master of Divinity). Later I earned a D.Min (Doctor of Ministry) from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. My focus for 42 years was on pastoral ministry. I was never an athlete, but was an enthusiastic sports fan. Since moving to Alabama, I have learned to say “Roll Tide,” and have become a loyal Tide fan, though I still pull for Davidson.

How long have you lived at Kirkwood? I came to Kirkwood in January of last year (2020) after a fairly careful consideration of two other retirement communities. Why Kirkwood? There are several aspects that caused it to rise to the top of my list. One was the contacts I had with both staff and residents. They both seemed genuinely happy to be here. It showed in their faces and in conversation. Equal in importance was the very clear religious aspect of life at Kirkwood, strongly exhibited in the space and function of the chapel and the presence of a full time chaplain – notably Richard Hanna who had been a long-time friend. I loved the location of Kirkwood, tucked away in a wooded area and offering a sense of solitude. Sandi Hall was an excellent representative of Kirkwood as the Marketing Director, providing all the information I asked for and eventually guiding me toward the very apartment that I needed and am enjoying. Since becoming a resident, I have come to know many of the staff and residents (especially Claudia and Cathy) all of whom have confirmed that the choice I made was right for me.

If you could sit down and have a meal with anyone in the world, present, past, or future, who would you choose? That is an impossible question. After serious pondering and consultation with my grandson, I have chosen Enoch (see Genesis 5:21-24). Enoch lived at a time when people were living 800-900 years, having children, and then dying apparently of old age. But not Enoch. Enoch lived only 365 years. Was that one year for each day of a year in our current calendar? And then the main thing said about him – twice actually – was that he “walked with God.” But that was not all. After 365 years of walking and talking with God, the story tells us that instead of dying, he simply “was not, for God took him.” Now I would like to sit down for a nice dinner with Enoch and get him to tell me what that was like – what he and God talked about, what those strolls were like, what confidences they shared, did they become so close that they became inseparable so that one day they just walked off together and Enoch never came back? Yes, I would like to share a long meal with Enoch and just give him time to tell me all about that relationship.

Dr. Waters, thank you so much for sharing with us! We are so thankful to have you as apart of our Kirkwood family.

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The Residents

Our residents come from different backgrounds and bring their unique qualities, talents, and life experiences to complete the Kirkwood community. Here are just a few reflections from some individuals who call Kirkwood their home.

I fell in love with the cottage and the view from my back porch. I am excited to have a yard for Ginger, my poodle, to play in and my own garage, all within an established retirement community!

Charlotte Hamilton Current Resident

My husband and I looked at a number of places when deciding to move to a retirement community. For the most part, we found communities that said, ‘We’re going to take care of you.’ But Kirkwood was different. It wasn’t just about taking care of us. It was also about having fun, having friends, and living life to the fullest. The attitude at Kirkwood was positive and the atmosphere was comforting. We simply couldn’t resist. Without a doubt, the location was ideal. The Cahaba Room that overlooks the river, the mountains, the trails – there were just so many things about life. The community was lively. It was alive.

Alice Brooks Current Resident

We realized we were approaching an age where we might need more assistance than what just downsizing could provide. Knowing we have my sons nearby and the levels of care should we need it is comforting, and the beautiful hillside, river, and the woods makes it that much more appealing. We don’t know of any other community that has the woods, the various levels of care, and so many different amenities.

Phyllis and John Guschke Current Residents

We were moving my parents down from the Cleveland area to be near us. I looked at almost every retirement place in the Birmingham area. The second I turned into Kirkwood’s drive and drove up the hill, I knew that I’d found the perfect place for my parents to live in Alabama. In the six years that my parents have been at Kirkwood, I have always felt nothing but love and helpfulness from every staff member. Everyone is always helpful with a pleasant attitude. You can truly see and feel the family atmosphere. I’m happy that my parents can call Kirkwood their home.

Brenda Sheehan Kirkwood family member

When we learned that Cedar Ridge was being developed, that seemed to fit our needs very well. It is the ideal place for the next phase of our retirement.

Carol and Arthur Stephens Current Residents

One thing that we feel is very important here at Kirkwood by the River is the relationship that we have between the staff and the residents. They are dedicated to making our life here as safe and secure and pleasurable as possible. That goes a long way.

Fred Rogers Current Resident

The community's cottage living surrounded by a wooded, natural environment with access to future healthcare services is what attracted us to Kirkwood!

Rick and Jane Ricketts Current Residents