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30th anniversary

Category Archives: donors

  1. Making the Ranch House Part of His Life — Dr. Timothy Parker’s Story

    By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

     

    Box fans kept the air moving at the event, one of the earliest fundraisers for Reba’s Ranch House. It was warm under the big tent, but Dr. Timothy Parker didn’t mind.

    He had prime seating at the dinner table — right next to Reba McEntire and her family.

    Dr. Parker with his wife and Reba

     

    Dr. Parker and the Reba’s Ranch House Story

    Practicing medicine in Dallas in the early 1990s, Dr. Parker wanted to make a change for his family. They drove to Denison to check out the hospital there and speak to the hospital administrator. During the conversation, the administrator offered Dr. Parker tickets to an upcoming Reba McEntire concert. 

    Though Dr. Parker couldn’t go that year, it was his introduction to fundraising for Reba’s Ranch House.

    After moving his practice to Denison, Dr. Parker made the fundraisers, and ultimately the ranch house, a part of his life. Besides those early fundraisers, he has served on the Texoma Health Foundation board the past 4 years. To this day, he swings by a local store and picks up items that the ranch house needs, like trash bags and paper towels.

    “Just those little things you can bring are so appreciated by the staff,” Dr. Parker says. “It makes a tremendous difference for them and the people staying there.”

    When he first transferred to the hospital, he saw tiny newborns he’d delivered who needed to remain in the nursery on IVs. Their exhausted parents had nowhere to stay as close as they needed — except Reba’s Ranch House. 

    “They could be at the hospital in a matter of moments if something happened with babies,” Dr. Parker says. “It didn’t cost them anything. What a nice place for them to have a comfortable bed, a place to relax, and if anything happened, they’d be right there.”

    For Dr. Parker, taking care of patients comes first. That’s why he’s continued supporting the ranch house since his first experience of sitting at a fundraising dinner table with Reba. 

    There were a great many more experiences at the fundraisers — meals on the grass lawn of the old hospital…the airport tarmacwhere a jet flew in and then a miniature jet appeared on stage and out came Reba. From parades to golf tournaments, Reba McEntire always brought a celebration to town. And it was all for the best reasons.

    “We’re doing this for patients,” Dr. Parker says. “What a great asset we’ve been blessed with here in Denison. Thank you, thank you to Reba for helping get this started.”

     

    Reba’s Ranch House is now funded by individuals like you through the Texoma Health Foundation. You can become a caregiver of caregivers when you partner with Reba’s Ranch House by contributing — it’s as simple as dropping off a bag of paper goods or making a donation through our page here.

     

  2. A Medical Legacy from Indian Territory to Denison, Texas

    Article by Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

     

    Dr. Benjamin Denison was practicing medicine in Indian Territory when his wife passed. He married again, this time to full-blood Choctaw Susan Oaks. Their two sons, Harry and Hilliard, were both members of the Choctaw Nation. Hilliard, born with a cleft palate, worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Harry started his own family. His son, little Harry, was only two years old when his father tragically drowned.

    Susan Oaks and her husband, Charles Denison with their sons
    Harry (“Doc”) and Hilliard Denison (Girl’s name unknown.)

    Little Harry, born in Idabel, Oklahoma in 1932, grew up with support and encouragement from his widowed mother. Determined to break out of poverty, he took his first job at Humpy and Amy’s Cafe when he was eight years old. He worked on asphalt roads, and followed the wheat harvest to Canada and back. He was one of those laborers known as “wheaties.” 

    Harry achieved his goal of going to college, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Benjamin by becoming a doctor upon graduating from Baylor College of Medicine. Harry went on to the University of Oklahoma for his residency in urology.

    In high school, Harry had met Phyllis Jane Hardin. They married in his college years, and chose the small town of Denison to settle in, where Dr. Harry L. Denison was the only urologist between Oklahoma City and Dallas. He worked at Madonna hospital, the Katy (MKT railroad) hospital, and TMC (Texoma Medical Center), and also practiced medicine in Durant, Oklahoma for many years.

    “He was always very proud of his Choctaw heritage,” says his daughter, Lea Denison Freemyer. “His uncle Hilliard, who worked for the Bureau of Indian affairs, helped my dad get us CDIB cards. Later in life, my dad did a Choctaw language class online. It was a very important part of who he was.”

    Lea worked at his Denison office while in high school and summers in college. She witnessed how hardships in his childhood developed the work ethic he continued to show throughout his practice and his lifetime.

    In the 1980s, when Reba McEntire came to Denison to raise money for Reba’s Ranch House, Lea’s parents looked forward to the event every year with dinner under the tent. 

    Dr. Harry Denison passed unexpectedly in Lea’s home, five years after his wife Phyllis’s passing. Lea and her brothers wanted to honor their memory and contacted Reba’s Ranch House about instituting the Granny and Doc Playground, as the couple was fondly called by their grandchildren. In 2017, Lea and her brothers contributed the initial funds for the playground.

    “A playground on site allows a guest and their children to be outside in a protected area to work out some of their stress through play,” says Marilyn Bice, director of Reba’s Ranch House. “It is a small way for us to protect our children’s future mental health.” 

    From a medical practice in Indian Territory during the 19th century, through the 20th century in the states of Texas and the newly formed Oklahoma, to the 21st century with Lea’s son, Dr. Benjamin Denison Freemyer, this family works hard for the health of people in their communities. The Granny and Doc Playground continues that legacy. 

    Enjoy this special video of the new playground!

  3. Creative Holiday Gift

    “I have the most wonderful fans and I’m always so touched by gifts that people send, but what would truly touch my heart is to see that someone chose to make a donation to Reba’s Ranch House.”

    Reba McEntire


    Let Reba help you become a last-minute holiday hero

    Looking for a creative, last-minute holiday gift? You can honor a friend, a loved one or a client by designating a donation to Reba’s Ranch House in their honor. Donating is fast, easy, and you pay online with a credit card. You can make a donation on behalf of yourself or your company, or you can easily designate an honoree in the online form and Reba’s Ranch House will notify them that a donation has been made in their name.

    What is Reba’s Ranch House?

    The ranch house is located in North Texas and is open to anyone who needs a place to stay while they have a loved one in one of the area hospitals. Reba’s Ranch House helps care for the caregivers. Every donation is noticed, appreciated, and put to good use for others.

    Hear it from Reba

    Reba’s Ranch House is Reba McEntire’s only named charitable organization. Watch the video to hear her talk about how this charity helps others, and what it means to her. You can make a donation with the form on this page.

    Complete the form to make a donation

  4. She Adjusted Her Sails

    “I’ll be back and marry you someday, Nancy.”

    That is what young Ben McKinney told teenage Nancy Foreman after they spent two summers in Canada with her teaching him how to sail. He was a teenager himself from Little Rock, Ark., who had taken trips to Canada with family friends. The father of the family told Ben that Nancy was the one to learn from when it came to sailing. She was a water baby, spending most of her time on lakes and oceans in sailboats, canoes, and powerboats.

    Ben did indeed marry that sailing girl on June 3, 1944. But their honeymoon was cut short with D-Day on June 6, and Ben was called to ship out. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and in the Korean War.

    Married for 68 years

    Over the course of their 68 years of marriage, Ben and Nancy had four children, including a son named Mark. Nancy developed a close relationship with a young girl in her neighborhood, Kristine (Kris) who became her dear friend — and daughter-in-law.

    “I have known Nancy all my life,” Kris says. “Mark and I married 20 years ago. His mom had fixed us up!”

    Founding members from 1987

    Nancy and Kris served together on the original development committee that raised money for the foundation that built Reba’s Ranch House of which Kris was the first chairman. They met Reba McEntire during the initial fundraising concert in 1987.

    “She was thanking us more than we could thank her,” Kris says. “She was so humble, she’s such a star and such a force. You could tell she had this big heart to help others. It cemented everything about what we were doing.”

    Ben passed in 2012, and in 2017, at 96 years old, Nancy’s health rapidly declined. Kris and Mark began thinking of ways to honor her life.

    “We decided doing something at the Ranch House where she had worked so hard was a fitting tribute,” Kris says. “She was a role model, always doing things for others, and never met a stranger. What better place for her legacy to be than somewhere that does the exact same thing.”

    Honoring Nancy in a unique room

    Nancy passed in December 2017, but her presence is still felt in Reba’s Ranch House. The room, with its nautical theme, showcases photos of Nancy and her family doing what she loved — sailing.

    “And when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”

    “When our grandkids come to visit us in Denison, they can see the legacy of their great-grandmother,” Kris says. “If you know something about the person beyond their headstone, it makes them come to life.”

    Nancy’s hard work continues to bless others. Pam Abasolo, a recent guest, endured the passing of her husband in the hospital in 2019. The nautical room gave Pam and her girls a place to weather one of the worst storms of their lives.

    Consider a sponsorship

    If you would like to consider sponsoring a room at Reba’s Ranch House, please reach out to director Marilyn Bice at 903-463-7322.