Every day, Butterfield resident Susan Meadows drives to the care center where her father-in-law lives and spends time visiting the 99-year-old and helping him with daily tasks.
She stops by his mailbox, then sits at the kitchen table and opens his mail with him piece-by-piece. She helps buy the supplies that he needs, and even reads the sports section of the newspaper before each visit so she can talk to Jack Meadows about his favorite subject.
The Meadows family has always been close and supportive of each other. So showing kindness, care and compassion to her husband’s father is something that comes naturally.
“Anytime the grandchildren or great-grandchildren are visiting him, he’s a happy camper,” Susan said with a chuckle. “But he’ll take me in a pinch.”
When Susan and her late husband, Bill, were first starting out, his parents Jack and Jane, and her mother, Charlestine, all went out of their way to help the young couple. Jack Meadows helped his son take the initial steps to launch a successful career as a developer. Bill went on to open Summerhill Racquet Club and Stonebridge Meadows Golf Club and Subdivision, both of which he and Susan operated for many years.
“Bill and I always appreciated the support of our families,” Susan said. “When our children were young, their grandparents spent time with them and delightfully spoiled them. As they grew, it was a privilege to have their grandparents living in Fayetteville.”
“I think that intergenerational activities strengthen the family bond,” she added. “The older generation shares stories of the past that are invaluable to the younger children, and the older folks were always energized.”
A TEAM SPORT
Susan Metcalf was born and raised in Crossett, Ark. In high school, she belonged to the Eaglettes — a pep squad that cheered at football and basketball games. During her senior year, she invited a handsome junior to an Eaglettes dance. Bill Meadows couldn’t attend because, as a member of the basketball team, he had a curfew. But he later invited her on a “Coke date” at the Tulip Queen.
Bill’s family originally hailed from Texas, where sports — especially football — are a way of life. He loved most sports and would eventually pass down his talent for playing them to his and Susan’s two children (daughter Mary Jane played tennis, and Bill Jr. played golf).
“Bill was a Texas Longhorn fan because his mom and dad attended college at the University of Texas,” Susan said. “I learned early on that if Bill was going to be my boyfriend, I was going to have to like to sports.”
When they were dating in Crossett, Susan would walk with Bill on a nearby golf course and watch as he played for hours. Sports — golf in particular — would be a fortuitous theme during the couple’s nearly 50-year marriage.
They were married in 1968 and as newlyweds lived near the University of Arkansas. Susan already had a degree in education with a minor in English and taught French at Springdale High School while Bill finished his degree in Industrial Engineering.
After college, he joined the Navy, and the couple lived in various parts of the country: in Newport, R.I., while Bill attended Officer Candidate Training; in Port Hueneme, Calif., while he completed Civil Engineer Corps Officers School; and in Pensacola, Fla., where he served at a naval air station. It was in Florida that the couple’s oldest child Bill Jr. was born.
After Bill served for three years in the Navy, the couple returned to Fayetteville. It was one of the best decisions they ever made, but a piece of their hearts remained in the Sunshine State — at Walt Disney World to be exact — a destination that Bill and Susan would return to again and again.
THEIR HAPPY PLACE
Back in Fayetteville, they welcomed their second child, Mary Jane, and Bill, who’d earned an MBA at UA, began talking about opening a business. In 1978, he and Susan opened Summerhill Racquet Club, a private tennis club in Fayetteville, which they operated with much success until 2016. However, Bill’s true passion was to own/operate a golf course, and by the early ‘90s those plans were in motion.
He purchased acreage east of Fayetteville owned by the Goff Family Farm. In 1997, Stonebridge Meadows Golf Course opened as an 18-hole facility designed by well-known golf course architect Randy Heckenkemper.
Surrounded by the housing subdivision, Stonebridge Meadows quickly earned a reputation for its breathtaking scenic views, superb conditions, excellent guest services and Southern hospitality.
Opening Stonebridge was exciting and a blessing in their lives, but operating a golf course was a lot of responsibility, too. One year they had an ice storm that wiped out the greens. Susan was Bill’s support and they worked together as a team.
“When we started it was Bill, our first golf pro Bill Agler, and the course superintendent John Streachek,” she said. “God couldn’t have put together a better group of men.”
“Bill had the business acumen and I helped in any way I could – cleaning bathrooms, buying supplies at Sam’s, helping stuff newsletters,” Susan said. “I think he really appreciated having me lessen his load as best I could. We enjoyed working together, no matter what the venture was.”
TUCKED IN THEIR HEARTS
Susan and Bill started vacationing at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., when their children were young, and returned many times as empty nesters. They bought into the Disney Vacation Club and enjoyed visiting all four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom Park.
On one of the Florida visits, they heard a pastor named R.C. Sproul deliver a sermon while they attended church services at St. Andrew’s Chapel in nearby Sanford, Fla.
“R.C. Sproul’s sermons really made an impact on our lives, the way he handled God’s Word,” Susan said. “I’d always gone to church, but it wasn’t until later in our marriage that I knew the applications of the Bible. Bill and I discovered that the worldly things we thought we needed, we didn’t. What was important was our relationship with God.”
As their marriage grew, their mutual faith in God deepened. They studied the Bible together, and attended church and Bible Study Fellowship classes for many years.
Their trips to Disney World continued, too, and grew to include their grandchildren – Mary Jane and husband Roger Bryles’ daughters, Sophie and Lily, who are 11 and 9. Bill and Susan’s last trip there was in April 2016 one month before he died.
“God had tucked faith and hope into our hearts,” Susan said. “And I am thankful he showed us how to walk and grow together as a couple, because when you have that kind of faith and hope, it gets you through a lot.”
Susan moved to Butterfield in 2017. She remains a member of Sequoyah United Methodist Church, where she and Bill attended, and where she fills in occasionally as a pianist.
She attends the BTV Bible Study, which is led by Village residents Mike and Susan Cruse. Not only do members study God’s word, but they share concerns, pray for each other during the week, and lend a helping hand to those who need assistance.
“I love the people here,” she said of Butterfield. “All of my hall neighbors have been family from the beginning – kind and caring. I’ve become reacquainted with dear friends from my hometown, Crossett, and have made many new friends, too.”