A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: With broad appeal, Murray celebrates positive resources for all age groups


In 1988, Murray was still celebrating its designation by Rand-McNally as the #1 retirement community in America, and I was getting married and moving here.

As a native northeasterner far from retirement age, I had reservations about my new Kentucky home. Soon after settling in, however, I realized that Murray and Calloway County offered benefits that were not confined to any one age group.

Over the years, the community’s broad appeal has been amply recognized by other sources. Currently, Murray is one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People and a Playful City USA recipient for the ninth year in a row. Moreover, U.S. Niche ranks Murray as the top choice of communities under 100,000 in the commonwealth, based on criteria that include weather, safety, schools, access to activities, jobs, housing and transportation.

Another precious regional asset, Murray State University, is home to WKMS-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate which recently hosted an intergenerational discussion of “On My Own,” by NPR’s Diane Rehm. The best-selling memoir chronicles the challenges of establishing a new life after the prolonged and debilitating illness and death of John Rehm, her husband of 54 years.

About 28 men and women of all ages showed up at station studios last week to talk about the book. A few of the older participants had already experienced the loss of a spouse, while some of the younger people had suffered the death of cherished loved ones and were dealing with the aftermath.

“The book made me think about my generation,” one young woman remarked. “If Diane Rehm, with her resources and knowledge couldn’t find the right answers during her husband’s Parkinson’s, where does that leave the rest of us?”

The general consensus seemed to be that we don’t pay enough attention to topics that are difficult to discuss until we are directly confronted with reality. As one person pointed out, “I hear people say things like ‘If I die,’ instead of when, and I wonder if they know something I don’t.”

The dialog continues on Thursday, June 2, with “Grace & Glory: The Time of Your Life Health Fair.” This event, designed to foster interaction about intergenerational needs and local resources, will be at the Calloway County Public Library from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sponsored by the Community Education Advisory Council (CEAC), this is the second year in a row for “Grace & Glory.” Organizers plans for the event to continue into the future because the issues facing individuals and families continue to grow in number and complexity.

According to Sherry Purdom, Community Education Director, “Many of us are taking care of our children and our parents,” she said. “We are the Sandwich Generation. Our mission is to create awareness and support for the services that are available locally. There are many caring hands in our community and we want to make sure that people of all ages are aware of them.”

This year’s fair is an indoor-outdoor event, with vendors and displays in the library community room, and snacks provided in the garden. At noon, the Murray Middle School Jazz Band will treat attendees to a special performance.

Information on hospice, legal issues, insurance, veterans benefits, AARP, financial planning, housing, recreation, adult education, and rehabilitation are some of the areas vendors will cover. Representatives from Murray-Calloway County Hospital will be on hand to provide health screenings on metrics like blood pressure and BMI.

“Community education goes way beyond the schools,” Ms. Purdom explained, adding that public support of the health fair is another indicator that Murray is truly the #1 place to live in Kentucky, and a community to be proud of.

For more information, contact sherry.purdom@murray.kyschools.us.

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Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommuications in Murray, Ky. She can be reached at constancealexander@twc.com. Or visit

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