June 2022 Newsletter

The People of the Park…

Jacquelyn “Jaci” Allensworth

By Dale Dauten

As we profile folks at Silveridge, we get to hear some charming stories about how couples in the park got together — what in rom-com movies is known as a “meet-cute.” When talking with Jaci Allensworth, we heard of the unlikeliest of workplace settings for romance to blossom. Here’s how Jaci recalled first getting to know her future husband, John:


“I grew up in Southwest Iowa, in Silver City, where my dad was a dairy farmer. When I was a sophomore in high school in Council Bluffs, they offered a college course in stenography and one week after graduating from high school, at the age of 17, I went to work as a stenographer for the government. Then, I moved to Iowa City and went to work for the VA. One of my jobs was typing autopsy reports. And John had gone to work for the VA right out of high school, and he was a morgue attendant. That’s how we met. He was very conscious of not smelling like all the chemicals from the lab, so he wore a lot of Aqua Velva. Sometimes I would smell him in the hall before I’d see him. Even now, my favorite smell is Aqua Velva mixed with formaldehyde.”


Can’t you picture that in a movie? And it might also feature our heroine, Jaci, struggling in her new job, as was the case in real life. She said of typing those autopsies, “I was terrible! I had no medical background and no knowledge of medical terms. One day one of the doctors put a medical dictionary on my desk and said, ‘This is your Bible. Study it.’”


(Photo: John and Jaci on a date)

Jaci and John eventually married and this was a case where Jaci was glad to take her husband’s name of Allensworth. That’s because her maiden name was Skank. She recounted how one of their three kids, their son Jeff, went on to become a minister in St. Louis and liked to joke by telling people, “My mother was a Skank.”

(Photo: the wedding reception)

Speaking of those three children, Jaci said that she tried being a stay-at-home mom and quickly came to this conclusion: “It was awful.” So she went back to work. Meanwhile, John’s talents were recognized within the VA and he became a specialist in dialysis, what’s known as dialysis tech. He even received a commendation from the VA for an innovation of his that allowed multiple patients to share dialysis machines.

(Photo: The Allensworths – Jerry, John, Jeffrey, Jaci and Joni)

After the kids left home, Jaci and John moved to Marion, Illinois, where she became Staff Assistant to the Director/Patient Representative at the Marion VA Medical Center. While living in Southern Illinois, they owned a home on the beautiful Lake of the Egypt.

(Photos: Two views of the Lake of the Egypt in Southern Illinois.)

Both eventually retired, but Jaci wasn’t quite ready to give up working. The two bought a park model in Silveridge and an RV and she would do transcriptions from the road, typing away in the RV.



Here’s how Jaci explained the couple’s discovery of Silveridge:


“Our daughter met this guy and moved to Mesa, Arizona and had a baby. We wanted to come see the baby and a former coworker was at Silveridge. She found us a place, staying in the home of a lady going on a cruise. We fell in love with the park. The summer of 2002, we came back and bought a park model, and in 2004, we moved here permanently.”


One of the park’s amenities that Jaci gravitated to was the library, saying, “I really enjoy it and use it.” And she liked how there was no library card or check-out of books. “We’re all adults here; we know to bring books back.” So when Jaci was asked to help out at the library over the summer, she gladly agreed to join in helping her friends Sandy and Jeannette. (During the winter season, the library is headed by Deb Scherbring, along with many other volunteers.)


(Photo posted on the library door of the three summer library volunteers)

However, you won’t see Jaci in the library for a while, starting in early June. That’s because she’ll be travelling to visit family and to take part in a celebration of life for John. Both Jaci and John were hospitalized with Covid back before vaccines were available. John didn’t survive. The family put off having services till they were able to gather. They’ll be doing that this summer.


Let’s end with a touching story about people of the park supporting one another in difficult times. This is Jaci’s memory from those days when deciding on a permanent move to Silveridge: “We’d gotten to know a gentleman at the park who did some remodeling on our Arizona room. He was a regular on the softball team and everybody knew him. At the time there were two teams, the Silver and the Gold, who were playing each other. He wasn’t at the game because his wife had had a stroke. He finally had to make the decision to end life support and he came out to the softball field to tell us his wife had died. When he showed up, the two teams lined up facing each other and he went down the line and everyone hugged him. I turned to my husband and said, ‘John, I want to live here.’ Everyone was so loving.”