"Go out and see the world and return home for love." Wow. How true. Joe and I had one of the most delightful two week's stay in Centerville in June. We saw this quote on a wall hanging at the gift shop in Tangleberries. We had the distinct privilege of staying in one of their new suites upstairs on the Centerville Square. That brought back memories as Joe and I had spent many good years in an apartment over my previous store and clothing business.

And I would like to add my quote, "Where but on the Centerville Square can you see friends and acquaintances that you have not seen for years." And all in a short walk with big hugs. I kept thinking, how easy. One stop parking and you're there. Think of the time and gas money you save!

You've heard that saying, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well?" You could definitely put that as the logo for the Schmidt family. In fact, when I shared with others how beautiful, comfortable and chic the loft suite was, I heard over and over, "When Jon and Robin do something, they do it well." — and they do! Robin has truly been gifted with a decorating talent, a sense of color, and yes, is a gracious hostess. We thoroughly enjoyed going downstairs and having coffee, lunch or those wonderful, healthy, late afternoon smoothies. And of course the fudge. But you know what was really important? How we were sincerely treated by Robin and her co-workers. And the Schmidt family — children included — have a positive and warm way of contributing to their purpose and their community. All of them took time for us and made us fell welcomed.

Wherever you live, two weeks or a lifetime, neighbors are important. And what better a neighbor than to come down the stairs and visit with Bob Huff at Jim Irelan's. First of all, the community is most fortunate to have a personally owned men's store with a superb inventory from jeans to suits and everything in between. Don't tell Bob, but I enjoyed being in the store and watching his "Centerville touch" in sales and everyday, friendly conversation. What an asset to your community. He was so very kind and thoughtful to Joe and me. And what a treat to see Jim Irelan who happened to be in the store on one of our visits. I marvel at Jim and all that he does. He spoke kindly of my parents and I remember how much they liked Jim and Bob. Dad liked his Jim Irelan's suits and ties. And he wore them well!

I guess I have to confess. I am so much more appreciative of the midwest small town genuine care and concern for each other. God has granted Joe and me a wonderful life and we spent nine years of it in Florida (two direct hit hurricanes in 10 days). We feel blessed that we had the tropical climate, ocean and some wonderful career opportunities. But after experiencing the hurricanes and all that came after, we realized we missed family and "hometown" type people. Not that there were not a lot of good people there, but it just was not the "midwest touch." We felt a calling in our heart to move to Branson and we are very thankful for friends and family. I kid you not. You are blessed to have the community you have. All that it offers and good, kind-hearted friends and neighbors.

There are so many Centerville things, businesses and people I desire to write about. But I must remember, I am writing an article, not a book. Hopefully, I can become a part of your community again with my thoughts and words published in future articles in your hometown newspaper. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing their new office and sharing my heart with Amy and Becky. In my opinion, they are two very beautiful, capable and friendly young ladies who focus on living from the inside out — a much needed quality in today's marketplace. While there, Tom Lange had seen Joe outside and he took time to come in and say "Hi." Tom has such a very complimentary, kind and thoughtful manner and words He was and will always be one of my favorite people. I appreciated his kind words about my grandson, Michael Firkins and his baseball accomplishments. I am sure Tom is happy his son has found his purpose beside his father in Centerville.

My writings are not to convert anybody. I am not a missionary. I'm not writing to inspire those who don't want to be inspired. My purpose is to encourage those who want to be inspired for Centerville's purposes. The gifts of each of us and the value of serving others provides our missions in life and in our communities. We never know the ripples that our lives might cause years from now.

Purpose truly defines the character of a community. It defines the leaders within it and their motivation, boundaries and integrity. I will always have a strong respect and appreciation for Centerville's past leaders who believed in their community and the surrounding areas. It's easy to say what we value, but it's tougher to figure out what to do about it on a day to day basis. They were willing to share their lives and their time for what they believed without compromising their values. They have definitely left their ripples for such a time as this. I was thrilled to see Rollie Reznicek on the Square. I so remember doing radio advertising and remotes for him. It was an honor to promote his store. Also, I had a delightful conversation with Justine Heffron. I compliment her for her continued support of her community.

Many Centerville people have encouraged me along my purpose path. I wish to take the opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude for their encouragement within each article I write. Lavina Stepnoski has had a huge influence on my life. Whenever I needed a hug, a smile, a kind word, a push or encouragement, she was and is always there. She taught me if you truly want to feel alive and live, you have to be who you are. I saw this unique quality in her daughter, Barbara Hawkins. While visiting with Lavina and others, I took pleasure in the atmosphere of the Continental Hotel. What I saw amongst residents and staff is that caring is at the heart of the Continental. Every time I step through those doors, I am motivated by the lobby and its supreme and elegant decor. How fortunate for the Centerville Square and those who have made it their home.

While breakfasting and lunching on the Square, I saw so many smiling faces that I had not seen for years. But you know, it seemed like yesterday, when we caught up on times passed and life as it is today. One of my very favorite ladies is Dorothy Dillion. We had the privilege of seeing her and her daughter at Tangleberries. Dorothy is as sweet, loving and caring as I will always remember when we attended the Presbyterian Church. Enjoyed catching up with Dave Taylor and Raymond Ferren while we feasted on our hearty but healthy lunches. Throughout our two weeks we saw many and I will not assume it is not old news when I write about you in future articles.

Oh, it was good — walking around the Centerville Square, hitting the stores, having coffees, dining — all in the atmosphere of my hometown and friendly faces! I even joined the early morning walkers and made it around four times. Before I stop sharing, I do want to mention seeing my past store building...the Marketplace Deli. It was absolutely beautifully remodeled. Those floors are awesome and so were the biscuits and gravy. Best in town!

So much more I want to say and people and businesses I wish to recognize, but I'd better sign off with — Centerville is truly a community of people living on purpose and I'll share more next time!

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