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Pointe Personalities: Meet Joan Parker
Posted By: Becky Davis

Nowata might sound like a dusty ghost town in rural America, but it’s actually a thriving oil and gas community near Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the early 1900s, it became known as the world’s largest shallow oil field. Nowata means “welcome” in Delaware Indian, quite the opposite from the legend of a traveler who happened upon a dried-up spring and posted "No Wata" as a warning to others.

It’s the small town where Joan Parker grew up, where her daddy worked in the oil fields before eventually becoming a banker.  It’s also where Joan learned about resilience and courage, both valuable traits that would serve her well throughout her life. 

“I never was afraid of much of anything,” Joan says.  “I think my dad taught me that.  Mom was a worrier but Dad never did worry about much of anything.”

Joan’s dad believed in keeping up with the times, so he bought a new car every other year.  Their home was the first in town to have a dishwasher, but the last to have a dryer.  The weekly wash flapped in the summer breeze on an outdoor clothesline, and dripped dry in the basement during the winter months.

They lived across the road from a nine-hole golf course, so Joan taught herself to play.  “I would go across the road and tee off on number six,” she said.  “I always had golf clubs. They may not have been the right ones, but I had a few and that’s all I needed.”

After high school, Joan earned a degree in history from The University of Oklahoma and started her teaching career.  “At that time, a woman could be a nurse, secretary, or teacher.  So I decided to be a teacher,” she explains.

Following a fast romance she married Dick Parker, a petroleum geologist she met through mutual friends in Midland, Texas.  He was transferred to Amarillo six months after the wedding, but she stayed in Midland to finish the school year before joining him.  They spent 11 years in Amarillo where she taught at Horace Mann, eventually moving to Perryton to raise their three sons.

Joan loved volunteering with organizations like United Way, Senior Citizens, Camp Fire Girls, the hospital auxiliary, Perryton Club, the Beehive Day Care Center, and the Presbyterian church. Teaching adult Sunday school was one of her favorite things, along with baking for various events.  “I was the cookie queen of Perryton,” she says with a grin.  “I gave myself that title.” 

Being a mom to three sons was wonderful – it was just what Joan wanted.  The first two boys – Tim and Hugh – joined their family through adoption.  Then Rob came along, and the family was complete.   

Today, her son Tim is an OB/GYN in Denison, Texas; he and his wife, Melinda, have three children.  Rob is a banker in Amarillo; he and his wife, Mary, have three children.  Hugh passed away in 2016, leaving behind two children and two grandchildren.

Life handed Joan her most significant loss in 2014, when her husband, Dick, passed away.   Faith has always been a big part of her life, and it has given her peace and comfort during the difficult times. 

Now a long-term resident of Bivins Pointe, Joan enthusiastically participates in the faith-related activities offered, including church services on Sundays and Bible chats three times a week.  She also looks forward to playing bingo and farkle, and would love to find some experienced bridge partners.

When her family takes her out for a meal, you can bet on one thing: she’ll order a filet steak, rare.  “I love rare beef,” she says.  “Daddy always said that mom cooked the hell out of meat.  I never liked it that way. I was always good at cooking rump roast, arm roast, really any kind of roast.”

Desserts are also a favorite of Joan’s, especially dark chocolate.  And if key lime pie is on the menu, “I’ll eat mine and someone else’s,” she jokes. 

So if you’re ever in the neighborhood with an extra bag of chocolates, stop by and say hello to Joan.  She’s a great conversationalist, especially on topics she is passionate about like sports, classical music, travel, and history.  And if you’re a bridge player, she really wants to talk to you – but only if you’re an experienced player.  She may be a teacher, but she has to draw the line somewhere. 

By Kelli Bullard


Pointe Personalities: Meet Valerie Trafton
Posted By: Becky Davis

Pointe Personalities: Meet Valerie Trafton

A career as an Activity Director might sound like it’s all fun and games, but that’s hardly the case. For Valerie Trafton, the path that led her to Bivins Pointe took several unexpected turns, including a difficult loss she never could have anticipated.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Valerie is the third of four girls born to her parents within a five-year span. “Basically my mom was pregnant through the entire 80’s,” she laughs. 

After high school, she attended Baylor University, where she changed majors several times – from business to marketing, then education, special education, and finally landing on outdoor recreation. Her plan was to use her degree to work for Camp Ozark, a Christian summer camp facility in Mount Ida, Arkansas. 

The plan changed abruptly when her best friend of 21 years, Emily, lost her life in a car accident. Uncertainty gripped Valerie, as she struggled to move forward after Emily’s death. Eventually she found her footing and was able to channel her grief into positive life decisions. “It gave me a bigger perspective on what I wanted to be and do,” she says. 

One of those positive decisions was to marry her boyfriend, Chance, a finance and entrepreneur major at Baylor. Following their wedding in 2012, Valerie and Chance returned from their honeymoon in Antigua, loaded up their belongings, and headed for Amarillo to start their new life together. 

“It was a lot of change really fast,” Valerie says. “Moving cities, moving in with a boy after growing up with three sisters (ewww!), starting a new job. I was struggling to keep my head above water – emotionally, relationally, financially.”

She went through several jobs over the next few years – working for an insurance company, a floral designer, a college ministry, a hairdressing academy – but none was the career path she had anticipated. Working for a summer camp wasn’t practical because it would take her away from home three months out of the year, and they had just decided it was time to start a family. In 2015 they welcomed their first daughter, Laynie, to the family, followed by their second daughter, Sloan, in 2018. 

In April 2019, Valerie decided it was time to job hunt again, and an Internet search led her to a posting at Bivins Pointe. Finally, the pieces began to fall into place. Her degree in outdoor recreation fit perfectly with the position of Activity Director; the only additional requirement was a certification which she was able to obtain through an online course.

Since returning to full-time employment, Valerie says it’s been an adjustment for her family but she knows she is in the right place. “I came in blind, with zero expectation,” she says, “but it’s perfect. I felt God’s hand in all of it.” Her husband, Chance, is a financial advisor with a flexible schedule so he can fill in the gaps when Valerie’s work schedule conflicts with their kids’ activities.

Planning the monthly calendar for the residents and patients is a big part of the job, and Valerie makes it a point to have at least two things scheduled each day. Whether it’s a game, a seasonal event, a special meal or a class, the goal is to encourage socialization and make it fun. Bingo is a favorite activity, along with Farkle and various card games. Exercise class, music, Bible chats, pancakes with the chaplain, ice cream soda shop, and a coffee cart are just a few of the regular activities at Bivins Pointe. Valerie also envisions facilitating classes that are taught by residents, giving them a chance to share their wealth of knowledge and life experience.

Her favorite part of the job? The people. “I love the staff,” she says. “I feel very connected. I also love visiting with the residents. They’re so wise, and their way of life growing up was so different from mine. I learn so much from them.”

Activity Director may not have been her dream job when she was in college, but today Valerie can’t imagine herself anywhere else. “It requires a lot,” she admits. “But it’s life-giving.”

By Kelli Bullard