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Senior seeks to be ‘in the know’

Valeria Stacey may be a retiree, but that doesn’t mean she’s retired from life.

Stacey, who has been attending the Greenville Nutrition Center for the past two years with husband Bill, still likes to keep up with what’s going on in her community.

“Bill says I’m always talking on the phone,” she says with a smile and a twinkle in her dark eyes. “I guess I’m just plain nosey. I want to see how people are doing and what’s going on out there.”

Stacey grew up in Greenville with twin bothers Carl and Harl Skipper, but moved away in 1962. Her husband’s job with Chevron took them “all over Florida” for the next 24 years.

“We lived in Jacksonville, Tampa and Pensacola. We came back here in 1986 intending to just visit – we already had jobs lined up in Pensacola – but my father’s health was so bad, we decided to stay here,” Stacey says.

“We arrived here on a Saturday, and I started working at Allied here on Monday.”

At age 54, she decided on a career change.

“I went to LPN school. Before that, I had worked as an aide. I spent 13 years at Stabler Hospital,” Stacey says.

“And I can say I loved every minute of it. Nursing was such a rewarding profession. I miss the patients, I really do.”

She smiles as she recalls turning surgical gloves into fun toys for the young patients.

“We’d blow them up, draw funny faces on the balloons and the kids just loved it,” she said.

“I was in Super Foods one day, and this little boy ran up to me all excited. “You’re a nurse, you made me a balloon!”

Even though she grew up here, Stacey said returning to her hometown after a near-quarter-century hiatus was quite an adjustment.

“So very many things had changed, this was like a new place to me,” she admits. “But we really do love it here.”

She and Bill have eight children, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, including a set of twin granddaughters.

“We are scattered all over the place these days,” Stacey says.

In her free time, she enjoys reading.

And each weekday morning, Stacey enjoys the food, fun and fellowship of the senior center.

“It’s a good place to come. It gives people a chance to get out and be around other people. That’s really been good for us,” she says.