Military Wives Find a Home in The Falls
Hello. Goodbye. See you later, maybe. Such is the life of a military family. Often living far away from their hometowns and family of origin, fellow military members fill the gap to become surrogate family, forging strong bonds that transcend time and space. Then the orders arrive, followed by tears. They have to pack their belongings, leave everyone behind, and move to the next assignment with a plethora of unknowns—housing, schools, clubs, and employment for the spouse.
On the other hand, each new assignment brings an adventure with new people to meet, new places to see, and new things to learn. Spouses’ clubs offer solid support and encouragement to newbies. They help one another connect with the community, offering recommendations for trustworthy businesses, doctors, hair stylists, schools, churches, and new friendships form.
Wichita Falls is a unique city with a friendly, small-town atmosphere that is big enough to have all the necessary amenities within a five- to ten-minute radius, without the congested traffic headaches of large cities. It is the kind of place many people decide to invest their lives in and stay after retirement.
Miranda Alder and her family have lived five different places, all within the states. “I was so happy to be coming to Wichita Falls and thrilled for what the town had to offer as a whole. It feels like home, so it would probably be my favorite place if I had to pick just one.”
Eva Pest and her family moved to Wichita Falls in 2014. She was thrilled to be back in her home state, even though they were far away from her hometown of Corpus Christi. Outside of Texas, one of her favorite duty assignments was Goldsboro, North Carolina. “Experiencing all four seasons was lovely—true autumns with the changing of leaves, winters with several inches of snow, warm summers, and beautiful springs. We made so many lasting friendships there.”
Brooke Willis and her family moved to Wichita Falls in 2014.”This was the closest I had lived to family for over ten years, so I was elated. We were on an exchange tour with the Royal Air Force, so I had lived away from America for three years and we were over two hours from the closest American base. When we lived overseas, we traveled everywhere and got to see historical landmarks and places I never dreamed I’d get to see. I got my start in chocolate because of those amazing travels, and I’m so thankful we had that opportunity.”
Each of these families has decided to make Wichita Falls their permanent home, partly to give their children the opportunity to set down roots and finish school. They are all members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Sheppard Spouse’s Club. Kathy is on the PTO board at McNiel Middle School and a PIE partner. Eva supports the talented members of Wichita Falls Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Kathy had been a hairstylist, a substitute teacher and a realtor. Her husband is a full-time reservist with the 97th Devil Cats at Sheppard AFB. “I knew my husband would retire here, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up.’ After so much heartache leaving friends and family behind, this time we wanted our girls to stay in one spot for a while. I just began to pray that God would show me where I could be used. I wanted to be a blessing to others. When the opportunity came up for Brie Charcuterie, it was terrifying. The community took me under their wing, supported and guided me every step of the way. The SBDC at MSU made sure that every paper was filed correctly and taught me so much. I mean who opens a business during a pandemic . . . Turns out I have been able to bless so many with my beautiful pieces of edible art. I just can't imagine doing anything else. None of this would have been possible without the amazing people of this community and my family and friends.”
Miranda loves the opportunity of connecting with other small businesses through the Chamber of Commerce. She owns a skincare studio and has had to relocate it and start “from scratch” in three different cities. “My husband is active duty with a couple years left to retire, so we decided to plant some roots here. We love the ‘easy living’ feel that Wichita Falls has. We are both from a big city, and we’ve had our fair share of not so pleasant places to live. Wichita Falls is truly the perfect balance for us, and we love it!”
Eva said, “We decided to stay in Wichita Falls after my husband retired so that our oldest son could graduate from the same high school where he started. The longer we stay, the deeper our roots get. When my husband’s retirement got closer we decided to start a business that we could enjoy running together. We’d spent so much time apart that being close has been a blessing.”
Brooke shared, “The people of this city are what prompted us to invest and stay in Wichita Falls. From day one, this community has been a great motivator. Before kids and moving overseas, I was in the advertising industry as a graphic designer and marketing director. I started as a chocolatier in my home and now own an artisan chocolate company downtown.”
Beyond packing up, saying goodbye and starting over every few years, military families make many other sacrifices such as prolonged separations. Active duty risks being deployed to a war zone or other dangerous assignments. They deserve our respect and admiration for defending our country and investing their lives in Wichita Falls. If you’re a proud American, if tears well up in your eyes when you hear “The Star Spangled Banner”—thank our military families, encourage them and support them in every possible way. †
Written by Connie Lewis Leonard
Photos submitted by the Carl, Alder, Pest and Willis Families