Gene and Betty King are quite a “fearsome twosome” as Gene says.

They grew up five blocks from each other, met at a church social when they were 14 & 16 yrs old and attended college together at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.  Married for 57 years, their early years were spent in Houston where Gene and Betty adopted all four of their children as infants.  When asked, what you consider your biggest accomplishment, Betty is quick to say, “Raising four children.”  They also have 3 grandchildren who are their pride and joy.

Gene received his degree in accounting and ran the computer center at Kimberly Clark in Neenah for 23 years.  Betty worked as an Executive Secretary until children arrived.  Then after raising children went back into office management and later retired early to travel with Gene when his company transferred him to England for three years.  They both agree their time in England was the best.  They traveled extensively throughout Europe and said with a smile, “Everybody we ever knew came to visit!  One group of friends even came three times.”  Betty and Gene loved traveling.  In fact, Betty said she could be ready in 10 minutes to go along on a business trip or a quick weekend to another destination.

Neenah was a great place to raise kids, and as parents they were involved in lots of their kids’ activities – volunteering at their schools, leading cub scouts and coaching hockey.  Gene reminisced about his coaching, “I didn’t know a thing about hockey!  But I figured if I didn’t know, the kids didn’t know either.  At 6 years old, we learned the basics together.”  Both Gene and Betty met so many lifelong friends through church, school and sports activities.

About 18 years ago Gene began noticing problems at work with his memory.  Being diagnosed with cognitive impairment, Gene opted to retire and enjoy life in North Carolina where they lived for 14 years.  He continued to stay active playing golf and serving on church and community boards.  However, as his memory declined he didn’t feel comfortable with a lot of outside activities and found himself depending on Betty’s memory more and more.  So in 2012, Gene and Betty moved home . . . back to Neenah and closer to family and good friends. Gene and Betty had been very open about his diagnosis, plans for his care and how their life as a couple and family would change.

In August 2014, Betty was called about a suite coming available in Valley VNA’s Assisted Living.  While a very difficult decision, they said “yes” and Gene moved into his new home.  Gene is comfortable and happy to be here. The biggest thing according to Betty, “This has allowed us to go back to being husband and wife instead of patient and caregiver.”  In fact, she was greeted with a hug and kiss on one of her first visits after he was settled.  This had been missing while she was in her caregiver mode.

What do they like about living in assisted living?  Betty isn’t worried and Gene is being cared for and engaged in life at Valley VNA.  Betty is so impressed that everyone knows their names and how supported they feel as a family.  Since Betty lives in an apartment in the neighborhood it’s convenient for her to visit every day and be involved in one of their many favorite activities together – the Lyrics & Laughter Program.  Gene still depends on Betty’s memory but finds joy with the simple things in life.

When asked what do you consider your biggest accomplishment, Gene paused, looked at Betty and said, “I married you!”