15 October 2018

Before becoming one of the most decorated golfers of our time, Tom Watson was a little boy who used to beg to ride on his neighbor’s tractor. That’s how Jessie Kirkbride, a 103-year-old resident at Brookdale Overland Park, remembers him anyway. Jessie asked Brookdale and Wish of a Lifetime to help reconnect her with Tom Watson, a six-time PGA Player of the Year.

Photo by Sara ClanceTom recently traveled to Brookdale Overland Park to meet Jessie and reminisce about their old neighborhood. Tom, ever the gentleman, brought Jessie a bouquet of flowers and they reminisced about the old neighborhood. She described the experience as “absolutely wonderful. During a happy period of her life, Jessie met Tom Watson. At the time, he was five years old and Jessie said he would “jump up and down and up and down until my husband picked him up and took him for a ride on our big yellow tractor”. Jessie’s memories of this time are clear, and she still thinks about how fun it was to track Tom as he enjoyed a very successful career, winning 39 times on the PGA tour. Jessie talks about Tom almost daily.

Jessie loves to volunteer; she spent 35 years volunteering at a hospital, and 25 years volunteering at a church where she was eventually hired to help run weddings. She exemplifies the work hard play hard ethic, having started working straight out of high school saving $5 per week. She’s been lucky to travel all over, and she loved to walk as a young woman, doing “at least 2 miles a day” until she became unable to do so. Jessie is overwhelmingly positive, putting a good spin even on challenging moments in her life.

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