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About Us

My Agency, Creative Insurance Benefits , was founded in January, 1963, one month after my graduation from McNeese State University with a B.S. in Business Administration. I agreed to employment with Fidelity Union Life Insurance Company prior to my graduation, and I immediately went to Dallas, Texas, where I attended "CollegeMaster University" for a week. The first five years of my insurance career were spent counseling college seniors and graduates about life insurance. I am very pleased to know that many of those policies that my clients purchased in 1963 - 1968 are still owned. Of course many policies have already provided benefits to loved ones over the years.

While earning my living and learning the profession, I attended the equivalent of graduate school for five years and earned my Certified Life Underwriter (C.L.U.) designation. A C.L.U. in the life insurance industry is comparable to a CPA in the accounting profession.

In 1966 I was approached by a small, southern insurance company called American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, Georgia - a company that is today widely recognized and known as AFLAC. I began to offer a small cancer policy to my clients and prospects that cost $2.50 per month for an individual and $3.80 per month for an entire family. Although few people knew anything about American Family Life at the time and Cancer Insurance was a totally new insurance concept, my part-time efforts in offering the "CancerCare" policy soon developed into more of a full-time activity. It was easily understood and very affordable and it quickly became recognized as a valuable supplement to regular health insurance. I was successful in selling AFLAC's policies to employees of the City of Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish School Board, McNeese State University, Calcasieu-Marine National Bank, Lakeside National Bank, different Louisiana State employees and other groups. I was promoted to District Manager and Regional Manager, but I soon realized that I preferred the personal contact with people in direct selling.

When I began to help my clients with payment of their claims, I became very committed to educating my clients about the risks of cancer and the importance of having "extra" protection that would help pay some of the indirect costs of treating this disease and filling in the "gaps" of regular medical coverage. After my 45 years of witnessing the difference between having cancer insurance and not having cancer insurance, when faced with treating this disease, I am more convinced today than ever before that it is a wise investment, both financially and emotionally. (I'll share my personal experience later).

I would welcome the opportunity to earn your trust and your business.

Jerry Stephens

221 Canongate Rd

Kingsport, TN 37660


Sharing some of my life's experiences:

Born in Cabot, Arkansas, a small town just north of Little Rock. My Dad was a AAA League baseball player and I grew up always around a baseball team that he either played for, coached, or managed. If fact, one of his teams gave me my name - Lynwood (for Lynwood "Schoolboy" Rowe) and Jerry (for Jerome Herman (Dizzy) Dean), both well known players of the era. Naturally, I grew up with great expectations of becoming a major league pitcher. I was a pretty fair player on several semi-pro teams, even at the age of 14 - 16, until, like my Dad, I also "threw my arm away". Back then there was no such thing as "Tommy John" surgery.

When I graduated from Mountain Home High School at the tender age of 16, my Dad, who was the electrical superintendent at Bull Shoals Dam, gave me an electrical apprentice job. A few months later the job was completed and I took an apprentice job as a "grunt" for a electrical line crew. Our job was to erect poles and install wiring to folks out in the country who were getting electricity for the first time. My job was to dig six feet holes to put the poles in. Digging is not quite an accurate description. This was Arkansas which mostly sits on rock, not soil. So the procedure was to "spud" with a long iron rod until you had a 6-12 inch hole; put in a stick of dynamite; holler "fire in the hole"; blast, scoop out the debris; then start over again. I learned that the crew had a pot for whoever guessed how long I would last on the job. Well, they finally gave me the pot, after I had been on the crew for a full year.

I always had this desire to go to college, but it did not look too promising that I would ever have enough money saved up. But the good Lord intervened. My Dad was told by Mr. Mike Lanza, owner of Lake Charles Eclectric Company, which was the contractor for the Bull Shoals Dam project, that he wanted Dad to stay with his company and come live in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I never shall forget when we moved from Mountain Home in north Arkansas to Lake Charles. We left snow and ice in the morning and when we drove into Lake Charles that afternoon, there were kids running around barefooted in 70 degree January weather. 

Well, my dream to go to college was finally possible. Lake Charles is the home of McNeese State University and, after saving some money for another year, and being able to live at home without the expense of a dorm room, I enrolled. What a thrill. To really make it exciting, I tried out and made the baseball team. What more could a young fella from Arkansas hope for. My most memorable experience with the baseball team was the time that I pitched a complete 10 inning game against Louisiana College and we won 1 - 0.

Skipping a few years ahead, including a voluntary 3-year stint in the army in Europe, graduation from college, marriage, birth of a couple of great kids, things have come full circle. I spend some time supporting McNeese, as Treasurer of the McNeese Cowboy Club and manager of our primary fundraiser, bingo. I am an avid football, baseball and other sports fan. My wife, Jackie, and I love to tailgate with our friends. Our group of 10-12 couples go to almost every game, home and away. We can't wait from one week to the next to plan our trips and make our cooking plans. In fact, in the off season, we make "practice" tailgating trips to campgrounds near and far. We value our friendships and they add joy to our lives.

Today is Saturday, August 12, 2000

TO: Family, friends, business associates and clients, friends of the family, and all the others who have kept me in their thoughts and prayers during the past few months.

I am happy to report that I am well, in good spirits, and to the best of my knowledge, on my way to a full recovery of good health. I hope you will forgive this impersonal method of bringing each of you up-to-date. It seems to be a good idea as I start typing; I may change my mind as I go. For those of you who are not interested in the personal details of the next few pages and only want to get to the bottom line, skip down to "Skip to here".

Let's see . . . where to begin. As I was going about the business of living in the summer of 1999, oblivious to the fact that I was approaching age 65 and feeling invincible like everyone else, I developed a urinary infection. Now that can make life a little miserable, which it was for a couple of months while the urologist treated me with medication. After the medication seemed to do it's work and I was ready to resume my old lifestyle, my doctor asked, "when was the last time you had a PSA?" "Several years ago," says I. "Well, you're going to get one today," says he. A couple of days later the nurse called me to report that my PSA was a "little high" and that the doctor wanted to give me a new prescription for 30 days and then do another PSA test. Well, after two more tests, my PSA was about "22". So the nurse called to say, rather nonchalantly, that the doctor wanted to do a BIOPSY!

Now after selling beaucoup cancer insurance during the past 36 years, and handling literally hundreds of cancer insurance claims for my clients, Jackie and I decided, long ago, that if any of our family suspected or were diagnosed with cancer, then we were going to go to Houston. So, I picked up the telephone and made an appointment at the Diagnostic Clinic. Dr. Conklin at the Clinic did a very thorough exam and the results showed me to be in pretty decent health - all x-rays, bone scans, blood tests, etc. were normal; my cholesterol was pretty good (167); and the only negative seemed to be that my prostate was very enlarged and my PSA was very high. Upon completion of the biopsy, Dr. Light stated that he did not feel or detect anything suspicious and he wouldn't be surprised if the results were good. However . . . a few days later he called and told me that in one quadrant of the prostate the biopsy showed - - - cancer. No matter how many times you have heard that word used by other people, when they say that you have the big "C", it gets your attention.

Well, now, I'm thinking, what's next? Dr. Light said that my prostate was too large to operate on, so he was going to give me an injection and prescription to shrink the prostate. "and what's going to happen to the cancer while we are doing that?" I asked. His reply was "nothing. It will simply stop the cancer where it is. It's our 'magic' shot." "Well, why don't you give that shot to everyone?" "Because it is not appropriate for everyone; every situation is different." When he said I would be on the hormone therapy for several months, I turned to Jackie and said "let's go to Europe and visit with Kitty and Brian."

So off Jackie, Jeremy and I went for a month long visit that turned out to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips that you dream about. We drove all over Bavaria in Germany, Vienna, Venice, Pisa, Rome, Paris, London and everywhere in between. Boy what a great time we had. And all the time, I looked and felt fine with no symptoms of any kind of illness, except . . . those dadgum "hot flashes". Yep, just like the ladies have; it seems that every 15 minutes I am burning up and then I get chilly. Oh well, I could tolerate that; it's just the taunting from the gals thats hard to tolerate.

After reluctantly saying goodbye to our daughter and our erudite and loyal son-in-law, we arrived back at home as summer drew to a close and the smell of football and tailgating were in the air. As I sat contemplating which out-of-town games we would go to this year, my phone rang and two of my sisters wanted my advice. It seems that they had wanted to go to Europe for several years and decided now was the time. So, they wanted to know - should they use the train to get around, or did I think they would be able to drive o.k. if they rented a car? Well, (confidentally) it didn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling to visualize them having to make train reservations and meet all the schedules; but visualizing either of them behind the wheel of an automobile on Germany's autobahn being passed at 100 mph - that was a little disconcerting too. As I hemmed and hawed, Mary Jane asked, jokingly, "Why don't you go with us?" "Ha, ha" was my reply. "I just got back for a month-long trip. Are you nuts?"

The next day, she called again. "I'll tell you what. If you will go with us, we'll pay for half your ticket." "Nope, I'm not going; ya'll have fun." Then Jackie chimes in. "Why don't you go. It will be a great way to spend some time with your sisters." So, when she called again the next day and said they would buy my ticket if I would just please go, I said "I can't be bribed - but, what the heck, let's go." So, off we go again for two or three weeks (I let them off the hook and bought my own ticket). It was one of the best decisions of my life. To share the excitement and joy of Mary Jane and Barbara experiencing the sights, sounds and thrills of the great cathedrals, the historic sites, the picturesque countryside and the lifestyle of the villagers and european cities was just great. When I sometimes close my eyes and daydream of the food and ambiance, it causes me to want to re-visit some of the same inns, gasthaus, pensione, and restaurante. The Sistine Chapel, the Etal monastery, the "romantische strasse", the Haufbrauhaus, the "streets" of Venice, the Vatican, driving the streets of Rome - all unforgetable and great fun . . . but I digress; back to my story.

Our trip ended all-too-soon and we were soon back in Lake Charles, resuming our normal helter-skelter lives. For me that meant our weekend tailgating, enjoyable football games at McNeese and LSU. Meanwhile the occasional trips back to the Doc in Houston verified that everything was still under control and progressing as planned. So let's skip ahead to June 9. After researching the internet, reading all the material I could locate on the subject, taking herbs, vitamins and supplements, I concluded that surgery was the right plan of action for me. So, on June 9, Dr. Light took his magic scapel and cut out all the bad stuff. Since I was there anyway, I arranged for Dr. Davis to repair a hernia at the same time. Everything went wonderfully well - very little pain and minimum discomfort. So I began my process of recovery. After a few days I began to walk a little more each day and a month later, I was well on my way to an uneventful recovery.

However, . . . on July 10, a month and a day after my surgery, I was sitting in my favorite chair and I began to feel some discomfort in my chest - not painful, just different. Jackie had just come home from work, and I told her I didn't feel just right. She immediately had the good judgment to give me an aspirin, which proved to be critical. She said "Let's go to the emergency room," and instead of just dismissing it as I would normally be inclined, I agreed. I walked into the emergency room and told them I was experiencing some discomfort in my chest. BOY, did they go to work. I soon had IVs, injections, blood pressure readings every minute or two, and everyone seemed to be a lot more concerned that I preferred. When the nurse taking my blood pressure called out "252 over 160", I thought "this ain't good!"

That's the last I remember until I woke up in the ICU. Dr. Dupuy said "well, you gave us a little scare, but the shock and the medication took care of it." Shock - what shock? I then learned that I had one of those old "mycardial infactions" on the table and they gave me a good dose of the "paddles". The next day they did a catherization and learned that my artery was almost completely blocked. They said they were going to correct the problem with "stents". Dr. King White inserted three stents the next day in a rather prolonged procedure. It seems that the artery in my right groin that was used the day before for the catherization, just opened up and began to bleed while they were inserting the stents through the left groin. After applying a "lot" of pressure for about an hour and fifteen minutes, Dr. White was able to stop the bleeding. He told me later that I was going to be sore for a while, and the bruises from my groin to my thigh would slowly vanish. Hey, I'll take soreness and bruises any day.

Well, I am now a month past the monthly anniversary of my cancer surgery and my heart attack, so I am going to relax a little bit, since nothing happened on August 11. Seriously, I go to rehab exercise three days a week and walk every day. All my vital signs seem to be acceptable, so I should be back in a regular lifestyle before too long. Who knows, maybe Jackie will let me go fishing by myself in a few days. Now every story should have a moral and maybe this can be one for you. First, don't take anything about your health for granted. My cholesterol was always around 160, which was supposed to be good. So I didn't think I was a candidate for plaque build-up and I was unworried about heart problems. Little did I know. Since it has been recommended that I stay away from high fatty foods and use little or no sodium, I have become a student of food contents. Boy, it is tough to find foods with no sodium. Just take a look at the packages and containers. It is pretty amazing what I have been puting in my body these past years. So, watch what you eat. You don't have to give up everything, just use a little less, less often. I surely am not going to give up all the eating pleasures in life, but I am now very conscious of what passes over my lips.

(Skip to here) I had the unusual experience of having both cancer surgery and a heart attack within a 32 day period. Following are my comments about the importance of supplemental insurance. I want to share with you the blessing and value of owning good insurance protection. Yeah, I know, you don't want to have to think and talk about insurance. But I'm telling you it can make a tremendous difference in your mental and physical ability to cope with sickness and injury.

I have sold supplemental cancer insurance policies for about 30 years. I have personally assisted hundreds of cancer victims with claims on their policies and I have witnessed up close the importance of having "extra" protection. Thank goodness I took my own advice and own policies that provide extra payment for cancer and heart attack. When I was diagnosed with cancer, my immediate thoughts were not "how can I afford the costs?", but were "what is the best form of treatment that will give me the best hope of cure and recovery, and where should I go to get it?" The same for my heart attack. As I lay on the emergency room table, I did not once worry about any of the costs involved, because I knew that I had "extra" coverage that would take care of all the costs. Let me explain.

I have a cancer policy that pays extra scheduled benefits, in addition to my regular insurace - such things as a daily amount for each day in the hospital, an amount for surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, etc. This extra money can pay deductibles, co-insurance amounts, things that are not covered by regular insurance, pay for gasoline to go to Houston, hotel bills for family, telephone calls, and pays for doctors and hospitals that are not in your HMO or PPO network. In addition, I have a policy that pays a lump-sum amount upon the diagnosis of cancer and a policy that pays a lump-sum amount in the event of a heart attack. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to collect on both of them. One, maybe, but both . . . 

Yet, I did collect on both and I know from first-hand experience how valuable it was when it was needed. And I want you to consider having this type of protection for yourself and your family. Don't let the worry about cost deter you - you can purchase as little as $8.50 per month. There are only two reasons that I can think of for you not to buy this coverage: (1) you don't believe the statistics that state about 3 out of every 4 people in America will face either cancer or heart disease, or (2) you choose to ignore the facts, stick your head in the sand, and think "it won't happen to me."

I would like to see every one of my family, friends, and clients own these policies in whatever amount is comfortable for you. Even if you have already dealt with one of these illnesses, you may still be eligible to obtain coverage against the other; and your other family members are eligible. All you have to do is look around you, observe what is happening to your friends, neighbors, and co-workers - the newspapers are full of people in their40's and 50's who have experienced cancer and heart disease. Let my experience be a wake-up call to you. But you can't procrastinate until it is too late. Act now.

Today is May 26, 2001

Boy,did that year fly by! In a few more days, it will have been one year since my first surgery in Houston. I don’t know if it is a simple matter of growing older and observing things more closely and slowly; or perhaps it is just a fact of life that as your children mature into young adults with different goals and aspirations, and your schedule is not focused on a daily visit to a ball park; that causes you to pay attention to other aspects of life that heretofore were mostly overlooked.

Whatever the reason, my daily life is completely different, and I am blessed for it. My daily planner, with it's unrelenting demand that you follow some self-imposed schedule to meet some artificial goal, with little gratification for success and far too much remorse for failure, has been relegated to the file drawer. Instead, I usually start the day off thinking what would I really like to do today – what would give me the most satisfaction?

Maybe I will go out and piddle with the boat and make sure everything is in good working order, so that I will be ready to take off on a moment’s notice if Jeremy (my son) wants to go up to Toledo to fish a little and pick up some more golf balls. Or maybe Chuck next door has a free afternoon and wants to go down to the Burns or to Lacassine. You have to be prepared, you know. Of course, I only plan to spend a couple of hours at this important task, but somehow a few minor complications cause the project to stretch over several afternoons. But what the heck.

It could be more important today to concentrate on cleaning up the RV and making sure that it is ready to hit the road. Jackie (my wife) and I may decide on a sudden whim to crank it up and go see Kitty (daughter) and Brian(son-in-law) in Virginia, or drive over to a flea market in Texas or MS for the weekend, or go see Mike and Zee and fish a little together, or load up the gang and go to the Spanish exhibit in Jackson. There are so many possibilities – just have to be ready to go.

Ofcourse football season will be around again before you know it, and we love tailgating for McNeese games. Already know where we will be going to the out-of-town games, starting with the A&M Aggies in College Station and ending with a trip to the metropolis of Thibodeaux. May work in a trip to Tiger stadium too.

Although this looks like an off-year for the LSU Tiger baseball team, if they should make it back to the College World Series, we will likely be having a good time in Omaha again in a few weeks.

One of these days I will wake up with enough ambition and energy to tackle my long- postponed ambition to wade through 40+ years of paperwork accumulation. With all this huge capacity on my computer, I should be able to reduce those boxes of paper to a few megabytes of disk space, right? Let’s see, I believe the formula is to pick up each piece of paper and either (1) file, (2) act, or (3) toss. I have been real good all my life about filing; I just can’t seem to get the hang of tossing. At any rate, I really don’t wish to bequeath to my wife and children the task of going through all this mess, so it would give me a lot of satisfaction to be able to do it myself one of these days, --- just not today.

That reminds me, we are supposed to be part of a big family garage sale weekend after next, so I could start searching the storage house, attic, cabinets, closets, etc. for “junk”. Who knows, I may discover some long-forgotten treasure. I will just have to be careful not to select any of Jackie’s “junk” for the sale, because she would then feel privileged to pick out some of my “junk”. This is going to be a complicated process – maybe I better go ahead and clean out the attic before Jackie gets home from work this afternoon. If I wait for her, we will probably end up carrying more “junk” to the attic than we take down.

Aftera few trips to the outdoor sections of Wal-Mart and local garden shops, we have some flowers that need to be planted, so I may do that this morning. We cleaned out the little pond and added a few goldfish last weekend, so now I need to put a few new plants around the edge. While I am at it, I need to dig up about four of the big old azaleas and move them, so that I can pour concrete for a motorhome pad. I have planned to do that for a couple of years, but I have missed the right time to move the azaleas. Now is the time, so that seems like a logical way to spend my afternoon. But, wait, I don’t want to tackle that job by myself, I need Jeremy. Let me see, when does he get out of class?; is he going to play golf today?: does he have to tie up a ship?; does he have a ball game to umpire?; is Megan coming over? Maybe the azalea job is in jeopardy. I’ll just have to wait and see.

Thereare several projects that I could begin today. Notice that I said, “begin”. My history shows that most projects that take a normal person a few hours or maybe a day at most, usually take me a few days to complete. I have a choice of doing some painting; refinishing a bathroom, replacing kitchen cabinet handles and repainting kitchen; installing some more vinyl siding (this is one of those little-bit-at-a-time jobs for me); wiring up a circuit for the hottub; there are a lot of choices – none seem to be right for today, maybe I’ll do one of them tomorrow.

My best defense against tackling these jobs is the old “rehab” routine. During the two months that I spent in Houston for my radiation treatments, I also regularly went to rehab exercise classes. I was in pretty good shape, my weight was under control, and my vital signs were all good. . . . however, about Christmas time, when we went to Virginia, I began to fall into some bad eating and exercise habits. The holiday season led to Mardi Gras time, birthdays, anniversaries, and other assorted excuses have kept me from getting back into the good exercise and eating routines. So I have just started back into exercise and walking and when I need a good excuse, I simply tell Jackie that I am getting back into rehab and the job will have to wait a while. Don’t know how long that will work, but so far. . .

While I don’t get up every morning thinking about business, as I did for years, I am still actively involved – so I am “semi-retarded”, I mean, “semi-retired”. I am blessed to be able to choose when and where I work. So I get dressed for business occasionally and meet with clients and/or prospects. I still make calls on individuals and employers, but it is about products and subjects that I really have a strong, genuine belief in and desire to help others know about and take action on. Two of those products are Cancer Insurance and Heart Attack Insurance. My own personal experiences have given me an insight that I can add to the experiences of my clients throughout the years for the benefit of my clients. Most people feel invincible during much of their life, but everyone is vulnerable to unexpected risks and their emotional and financial well being is dependent upon wise investment in insurance products. I have seen the difference in attitudes and actions of those who have extra protection for their families and those who don’t. You need to be among those who purchase protection wisely. The most importantadvice that I offer: do not procrastinate. Make a decision, yes or no, but don’t wait too long to even consider your choices. Too late may be now, because if you become uninsurable on your way home this evening, it is too late for you to make life-changing decisions for you, your spouse and your children.

Enoughof my soapbox speeches. I am going to push the “save” button, take a walk outside to survey the situation, and choose my activity for the day. When I return to the computer later today, I am going to do something that I should have done long ago – I am going to write to many of my friends who have written, called, and asked about my health. Many of them are due a letter and they are going to get one today.

Well,here’s the next update.

Today isDecember 3, 2001.

I am having a severe case of McNeese football withdrawals. Our football season came to an abrupt end Saturday night when we lost our first playoff game to the Maine University “Black Bears”. Reluctantly I have to admit that they simply played better than we did and deserved to win. Our guys played well on defense and our running backs, Luke Lawton and Vic King were great, but our passing game, in the words of our younger generation, “sucked”. Oh well, there’s always next year, and I expect that we will do pretty well.

Ourtail-gating fun this year was just terrific. We enjoyed our usual weekly “Po-Boy” get togethers with our rowdy neighbors. Jackie has become the adopted “Mom” of the group and we look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday. There’s always something different to get your attention and the occassional Jello Shot, or Mudslide, or Butterscotch Schnaps, is sure to whet your appetite for the “dish of the day.” Gumbo, jambalaya, fried turkey, brisket, crawfish pistolettes – one thing is for sure, there is always enough good food to satisfy everyone within sight.

This year started out with a very entertaining and enjoyable trip to College Station to play those “Aggies”. You can bet your britches there were a lot of shocked Aggie fans who were sweating out that game. Speaking of sweatin’; boy that’s the hottest I have ever been at any sports event. The sun made our section of the stadium feel like an outdoor sauna, and if it hadn’t been for my “12 man towel” that I bought on the way in, I would have floated off in my own perspiration. For those of you who don’t know, or have forgotten, our Cowboys led A&M 17-0 early; 17-10 at the half; and 24-10 on the first series after the half. The home-cooking refs, the larger number of Aggie players, the heat induced cramps, and a few passes thrown to the wrong guys, finally did us in. But everyone was very proud of the Cowboys on that day.

Jackie and I grilled a steak for our small group of Po-Boys who made the trip. And some of our fellow Cowboy fans roasted a pig, so we ate well as usual. We met some nice Aggie fans and joined them for a snack and some interesting conversation. I really was interested in learning about some of their school traditions from some of the guys who were in school here since the days of WWII. The Cowboy Club did a very thoughtful and appreciated act; they placed a wreath to commemorate the tragedy of the Aggie bonfire. It was a touching and emotional event that brought credit to ourUniversity. 

We had fun at the midnight “Yell Practice”, learned why they turn the lights out every so often, and learned about the mascot graveyard – all the former mascots are buried so they can see the stadium and one of the stadium improvements was almost denied, until it was agreed that a scoreboard would be erected facing the graveyard!

We went by the George Bush Presidential Library, but it was not open, so we were content to just walk around and look in the windows. We finally decided against going over to the Canton flea market, so we hooked em’ up and headed back to Cajun country on Sunday. All in all, it was a fun trip.

We recovered from our opening game loss by winning our next three home games, with an open date thrown in. We won by pretty healthy margins, so everyone was feeling optimistic about our opening conference game with Stephen F. Austin at home in the ‘hole’. Well, our defense absolutely shut down the SFA team, but our quarterback couldn’t tell which players had on which jerseys and he threw five interceptions and they ran three of them back for touchdowns. You don’t see or hear of that happening too often, but it did, indeed, happen to us and we found ourselves in a deep rut to start the ‘real’ season.

On October 13, we made a long-anticipated trip to San Marcus to play SouthWest Texas State. We set up to tail-gate on Friday night, and it began to rain and rain and rain. But about the middle of Saturday morning, the rain stopped and the sun came out. We had driven to Austin on Friday and Jeremy and his girl-friend Megan, spent the night with our niece, Sara, who lives in Austin and goes to school at SWT. As we began to stir around on Saturday morning, Scott Pendarvis’ mom and dad came with their motorhome. Soon afterward a few of the Cowboy fans began to arrive and set up for business. Joe Ramey’s dad was going to grill some shish-kabobs and he had a big container of Bloody Marys pre-mixed. So I filled up a couple of bowls of chicken/sausage gumbo that Jackie made and went over and traded for a couple of Bloody Marys. He told me to be sure to come back later for a kabob, so later in the afternoon, I took him a few crawfish pistolettes and traded for a couple of shish-kabobs. Everyone seemed to be pleased.

Acouple of hours before game-time, Sara and sister Ruth (our other niece who also lives in Austin and mascarades as a writer/journalist between trips to Europe), Jeremy and Megan, and our nephew, Jeff, who just happened to decide this weekend would be a good time to leave Little Rock and visit Sara and Ruth in Austin, showed up for our gathering. They came in separate vehicles and Ruth had to be met at the entrance to the parking area to be led to our site (and lend her a buck for the parking fee). According to the testimony that Jeff gave back home in Arkansas, he kinda liked the pistolettes and gumbo. And the rest of the picky eaters didn’t seem to hesitate to go for seconds either.

Today is February 2002

Well, we survived another football season; we are almost through another Mardi Gras season; and tomorrow’s Super Bowl will signal the beginning of our “quiet time”, comparably speaking. Of course, baseball season actually begins in a couple of weeks, we have Christy's wedding activities coming up, and this year’s annual RV convention looks pretty tempting. So I guess we won’t have any problem keeping busy with some fun activity.

Today’s 02-02-02 date is one that only occurs every 100 years or so, I think. As rare as it is, it will not be remembered in our history like the infamous 9-11-01 World Trade Center and Pentagon disaster. Since that happened on Jeremy’s birthday, we will always be reminded of both the blessings of life and the “real world” uncertainties that face each of us as we make our way through this world. We pray for the families of those who were lost in that act of violence. We ask God’s blessings on all those men and women of good will who have responded with acts of kindness and ask God to guide the heroic efforts of all the firemen, policemen, military people, and all others who are involved in on-going attempts to protect our people and safeguard our country.

There is no doubt that the experience of witnessing the events of that day certainly caused most of us to pause and contemplate the fact that our lives are very fragile and they may end in the blink of an eye. Speaking for myself, I think we must not hesitate to get our priorities right; make amends for some of our past failures; show our loved ones the respect and affection that they deserve; give our friends the benefit of truthful friend- ship, instead of always just blind support for their words and actions; and try to do what is right instead of what is easiest or more popular. Regardless of our various religions, I think we all must re-consider what actions we tolerate without speaking up and what actions we promote through our example. It seems to me that we will be required to answer for how we used our “talents” and I sure hope our Lord is in a generous mood when I get the chance to explain how I spent the time he gave to me.

I didn’t mean to get too obnoxious for anyone reading this, but, you know, if we are not careful, life will be over and we will leave a lot of things unsaid. Besides, most of us need a little boost in the right direction every once in a while.

By the way, the reason I first started putting my thoughts into written form was simply to let you know how I felt and how my health was holding up. Well, I can only tell you that I am feeling very well and all my health indicators point to a complete and adequate recovery from my recent heart and cancer challenges. I have been blessed from the standpoint that I have never experienced much pain or discomfort at any stage. I am living a relatively normal lifestyle, with a reasonable amount of exercise and work mixed in with a generous amount of good southern, cajun-style cooking (all of it low-sodium, heart-healthy of course – just in case you talk to Kitty).

Well, I think I will bring this rather lengthy rambling to a close. Hopefully it has helped serve it’s purpose. I have enjoyed trying to share some of my thoughts with you without boring you senseless. Don’t hold me too responsible if I have failed to do that. It was worth a try and good therapy for me. All the best toyou and yours.

Businessis great,

People are terrific,

Life is good.


Postscript: Today is July 22, 2008

Just a quick note to say a public "howdy" to everyone. Life continues to be kind and our life is full of contentment and joy. Jackie, Jeremy, and I were very excited to be able to spend last Christmas holidays with Kitty and Brian in Belgium. Our visit included trips to Paris and London. They were great experiences, except for the part when someone stole Kitty's backpack in a restaurant, by simply walking by and lifting it off the back of her chair. He was a good thief; noone even noticed until much later. Within 30 minutes the thief made several withdrawals from their bank account and purchases on their credit card. Lesson for everyone: if you should have your pin number in the same purse as your checkbook, the bank is not responsible for any losses. The disappointment and inconvenience of this experience was offset by the pleasure of having Brian being promoted to Leutenant Colonel.

My Cowboy Club duties of managing our bingo fund-raiser activities is an on-going challenge, but I enjoy the camaraderie of our workers and club members. Our tailgating group keeps in practice during the off season by making almost a monthly trip to some nearby destination. We just spent five days out on the river at Niblett's Bluff. I satisfied my fishing "fix" for a while. It was a good field test for our new RV. We traded in our Bounder for a newer model. We love it's features, especially the larger slide-out. (Yeah, I know, you are probably saying "are you nuts, with gas at $4 bucks a gallon.") We love traveling and we love the RVing lifestyle. We have begun to make our travel plans to Chapel Hill in late August to take on the Tarheels. Look out for another David vs. Goliath, like last year's Appalachin State win over Michigan.

I just attended an annual insurance meeting that was extremely enjoyable, informative, and inspirational. I am dedicated to making certain that all my family and friends are aware of the Cancer Insurance and Heart Attack Insurance plans that are available and let them make a yes or no decision. I consider it my moral and ethical obligation, so that I can look them in the eye and know that I did my best to share information that they should know. 

I trust things are well with you and your family. Keep our men and women in uniform in your thoughts and prayers. Pray that the people of our nation will make the right decision in the upcoming election and elect a leader with the wisdom that will keep our country stable and safe from our enemies.

If I can assist you with discussing and selecting solutions to your insurance needs, it would be my privilege to do so. Till next time, Best regards, Jerry

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