Staff Spotlight: Melinda Wallace

By Sarah Sexton | Publish Date February 15, 2023

Executive Assistant, Melinda Wallace, knew more than 27 years ago that Kirkwood was a special place. “I was working with Darryl, one of our Maintenance Technicians, at Golden Rule Bar-B-Q in Trussville,” Melinda said. “He told me they were looking for a Clerk at Kirkwood. I set up an appointment with the former Executive Assistant Peggy Lee, and she hired me on the spot. Peggy retired in August of the following year, and the President at the time, Mr. Gene Ashley, offered me the job. I’ve been here ever since.”

Melinda was born on October 31 to Charles and Catherine Wallace. She grew up in Clay, AL, with an older sister, Melissa, and older brother, Michael. “Daddy used to call me Peanut,” she said. “I was the baby, and I was always a daddy’s girl.”

Down the road from her childhood home was a mechanic shop. Melinda’s dad would frequent the shop on the weekends, and Melinda would tag along. When she was about 12 years old, she and her dad took apart a 350 engine and rebuilt it together. “He was always fixing things on cars – like the breaks in my Mama’s car,” Melinda said. “I would watch and just learned from him.”

Melinda played softball and loved the outdoors, but spending time with her family has always been important to her. “I wish childhood was like it used to be,” Melinda said. “Most kids wouldn’t dream of digging in the dirt, but I remember that’s how we collected worms to go fishing with my dad.”

Melinda has a son named Shane who married his high school sweetheart, Marlie, in 2018. They have one little boy, Dakota, who is a year and a half. They live in Pelham. “Aside from reading on the weekends, I really love just spending time with my grand baby,” Melinda said.

At Kirkwood, Melinda can be found in her office adjacent to our President and CEO, Chad Carter. “We have an open-door policy here,” she said. Melinda’s responsibilities include assisting Chad with letters, memos, paperwork, data entry, and anything else he may need. She is also the supervisor of the receptionists and guards, and provides support to department heads. But her passion for her job comes from getting to know the residents.

“When Shane was in middle school, he had to write a paper on the Great Depression. He interviewed one of the residents here,” she said. “Learning what they have been through in life and seeing where they are now always amazes me. I love to hear their stories – how they grew up, what they did for a living. They have all taken care of so much in their pasts, it’s an honor to in turn provide care for them.”

With more than 27 years at Kirkwood, Melinda has seen so much change over the years. “I remember when we had maybe 80 employees at Kirkwood, and we have double that now. All of the growth and changes have been so exciting to see.”

When asked what advice she has for those looking to move to Kirkwood, Melinda responded, “Do it sooner rather than later. The sooner you move here, the more you can enjoy all of the trips and activities. You’re supposed to enjoy life in your retirement years. At Kirkwood, you wouldn’t have to worry about taking care of the house, the yard, the cooking – it’s all taken care of.”


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