Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

Meet Our Contributors

Kristina Aste-Mayer is an English teacher, yearbook advisor, and accompanist at Danvers High School. She majored in Music/English, minored in Philosophy, and united them in her Dante essay, “Music as Mirror,” published in Elements, a research journal. She has a B.A. and M.Ed. degree from Boston College. Thanks to JP, family, friends!

Kris Bakowski lives in Athens, GA with her husband. They have one son. Kris enjoys speaking to groups around the country on a regular basis about her experiences with Alzheimer’s. She also works in advocacy on a state and national basis, and serves on the Board of Governors for the Alzheimer’s Association Georgia Chapter.

Rosemary Barkes won the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition at age sixty-four and has been writing ever since. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, plus a Master of Science degree. Her recent book, The Dementia Dance: Maneuvering Through Dementia While Maintaining Your Sanity, has received rave reviews.

Nancy King Barnes is a registered practicing nurse who lives with husband in Rowlett, TX. Chicken Soup for the Soul has served as a wonderful venue to express her life’s experiences that God has provided. Writing is a hobby and she is thankful to this publication for allowing her to share her heart.

Mike Belleville is a father of three, grandfather of three living and one that has passed on (love you Ethan). He is married to the most beautiful lady in the world and served twelve years in the Rhode Island Air National Guard with his dad and two brothers. Mike is grateful for having the best friends a guy can have and for knowing Michelle.

A graduate of Kent State University, Lois Bennett spent many years as a special education administrator and later worked with senior citizens, many with Alzheimer’s, in nursing homes. Now living in Central Florida, she enjoys writing and editing books. She wrote Essays: On Living with Alzheimer’s Disease, The First Twelve Months

Nancy Stearns Bercaw lives in Vermont with her husband and son. Her work has appeared in publications from The New York Times to the Korea Herald. Her book, Brain in a Jar: A Daughter’s Journey through Her Father’s Memory, was published by Broadstone Books in April 2013. She is working on a second memoir about life as a mermaid.

Louise Harris Berlin holds master’s degrees in history and broadcasting and is a long-time copywriter and editor. She and her husband, recent empty nesters, are enjoying the good life in Boise, ID. Her interests include quilting, writing, golf, travel and playing bocce in a summer league.

Maria Montagna Bohlman raised two children with her husband Rick. They have three grandchildren. She and her husband created The King’s Pines, rental cabins they built in the Adirondack foothills. Maria enjoys writing, collecting beach glass, and rock painting. E-mail her at [email protected].

W. Bond received her Bachelor of Arts and master’s degree from Lewis & Clark College. Wendy is a retired teacher and enjoys volunteering, sewing, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

Dr. Bordisso was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2010. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, author, and inspirational speaker. As such, Bordisso speaks nationwide at conferences and conventions about mindful and spiritual living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Jill Burns lives in the mountains of West Virginia with her wonderful family. She’s a retired piano teacher and performer. She enjoys writing, music, gardening, nature, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Jean Salisbury Campbell, a retired school psychologist, wife and mother, graduated from the University of Florida and FIU, where she also studied creative writing. Caring for her mother during her six-year Alzheimer’s decline propelled Jean to write about the priceless lessons learned that helped her cope with the loss.

Danny Carpenter is a Texas pastor, author/writer, Vietnam veteran, proud father of two daughters, and prouder grandfather of three. He enjoys golfing and family ski trips, strumming the ukelele, and writing with a passion.

Angie Carrillo has been a caregiver to her husband John since his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s in 2008 at the age of sixty. Until then they lived a full life, filled with family, travel, and laughter. Angie writes to give others a peek at how she strives to balance full-time employment with caring for John and finding time for herself.

Kala Cota lives in a small logging community in Oregon. She teaches preschool and enjoys spending time with her husband, two grown children and new granddaughter. Since her mother’s diagnosis, she is incredibly grateful for the support and encouragement from family and friends. Every journey is better when shared.

Linda Veath Cox lives in southern Illinois with the Bone Mafia — her two mixed breed mutts. A retired secretary from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, she has had short stories and devotions published and is a regular contributor to “Divine Detour” (

Tracy Crump has published thirteen Chicken Soup for the Soul stories. She also edits The Write Life e-newsletter, writes a column for Southern Writers Magazine, and enjoys teaching other writers at conferences and through her Write Life Workshops. But her most important job is Grandma to three-year-old Nellie.

Carmen Cruz was born in a pueblo in Puerto Rico and was the youngest of eight siblings. At a young age, she discovered a passion for literature. Carmen’s family is her pride and joy; she has two children and six grandchildren. At seventy-seven years old, Carmen dedicates her time to activities that exercise her mind.

After twenty-two years in TV news, Kristen Cusato made a life and career change when her mother Linda was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. She worked for the Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter as she cared for her mother. Kristen went back into TV after Linda passed, and works to end Alzheimer’s.

Dr. David Davis has been practicing chiropractic in Connecticut since 1982. David loves teaching people in his community about health, and he also loves music, the outdoors and traveling the back roads of America on his Harley Davidson.

Martha Deeringer writes for children and adults from the back porch of her home on a central Texas cattle ranch. Visit her website at

Amanda Dodson is a wife and mother to three children: Grace, Garrett and Luke. She is a freelance writer and newspaper reporter for The Stokes News in North Carolina. Read her blog at amandatdodson. com.

Ginny Dubose has worked in senior housing for fifteen years, caring for seniors and helping their families with the day-to-day issues of the elderly. A graduate of Florida Southern College, Ginny is living her dream life with husband Ray and her sons, Dan and Alex, in sunny central Florida.

Cheryl Edwards-Cannon has been a giver of care for more than ten years and is currently writing a book about her experience. She is also a Care Consultant to those who are struggling with the challenges of elderly care. E-mail Cheryl at [email protected].

Linda Rose Etter taught for thirty-six years. She finished her Master of Arts in Biblical Studies in 2005. Her devotional book, Listen To HIS Heartbeat, was published in 2011. It contains seventy-five devotions that are humorous analogies and include scripture. She also has stories in three anthologies. Learn more at

Jean Ferratier, a Chicken Soup for the Soul regular, loves writing personal memoirs. A retired teacher, she is an active Present-Moment, Heart-Centered Life Coach. Her recent book is Reading Symbolic Signs: How to Connect the Dots of Your Spiritual Life. She loves dancing. She blogs at

Kristi Cocchiarella FitzGerald has degrees in English and Theater and pursued graduate work in costumes until she realized she’d rather be writing. She lives in a place of spectacular beauty where she shares her life with her rugged Montana fisherman, their two Shih Tzus, Panda and Koala, and a diva cat named Moose.

Jennifer L. Freed treasures the stained and handwritten index cards her grandmother wrote recipes on. She has written a poetry chapbook, These Hands Still Holding (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and her poems have appeared in The Cancer Poetry Project 2, The Healing Muse, JAMA, and other publications. Learn more at

Susan Hanna Frook has firsthand knowledge of the challenges of Alzheimer’s. She and her husband were raising their second family of three adopted children when the signs of this disease began to manifest in her husband. Frook hopes her story will bring encouragement to others who face living with Alzheimer’s.

Elizabeth Parker Garcia teaches Communication Studies at the University of Texas-Pan American. When she is not teaching, she loves writing for children. Her father was fifty-two years old when she was born, so she is a member of the “sandwich generation” helping an aging parent while also serving her family as a mother and wife.

Molly Godby lives with her family of four in Zionsville, IN. She received a B.A. in Psychology, with a concentration in Elementary Education, from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1997. In 2007, her mother was diagnosed with dementia with probable onset of Alzheimer’s. Read her blog at

Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer is a Cuban-American songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, actress and humanitarian. She is best known for her work on the Emmy Award-winning series The Fresh Beat Band (Kiki) and just published her first children’s book, The Adventures of Little Eva, which celebrates the importance of being yourself.

Rose M. Grant has a Master of Science in biology and is certified in Health Care Ethics. She recently retired from teaching. Her story is based on her manuscript, I Left My Memory on a Bus Somewhere, a compilation of dairies kept by Rose and her husband. Rose spends much of her time working with caregivers and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Patty Gunnett had a lifelong dream of being a published author. After raising two sons and babysitting in churches, she achieved her goal by having five childhood stories published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She now spends time writing and visiting her husband in the memory care center. E-mail her at [email protected].

Cynthia Guzman was a nurse for thirty years. She has three adult children and three grandchildren. She plays bocce, and enjoys swimming and long walks. She has given speeches at Alzheimer’s walks for local groups in hope of changing the stigma of the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Jennifer Harrington works in the computer technology field and enjoys playing music, computer games, and movie night with her husband and four children. She cared for her mother through her journey with Alzheimer’s disease and is now a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association Northern California Chapter.

Karen Henley received her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Literature from Hofstra University in 1983. She continues to advocate for people with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Karen hopes to one day write a book documenting her family’s journey with Alzheimer’s.

Theresa Hettinger looks after her mom who has been struggling with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. She sees firsthand the anguish of the Alzheimer’s patient and their families. Theresa works in the nonprofit sector and is also an advocate for pet adoptions, having rescued two dogs.

Marjorie Hilkert volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern Virginia Chapter and serves on the Peninsula Alzheimer’s Leadership Council. She is a certified trainer for the Memories in the Making Art program. With her mom living nearby, Marjorie and her husband John reside in Williamsburg, VA. E-mail her at [email protected].

Julie Hornok has been married to her wonderful husband for sixteen years and is the mother of three children, including a daughter with autism. Julie enjoys writing about the constant (and sometimes painfully real) ups and downs of her family’s journey through life with autism. E-mail her at [email protected].

Dr. Steve Hume was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in May of 2007 at the age of sixty. Prior to his diagnosis, Dr. Hume was a clinician, consultant and senior manager in the behavioral health field for thirty-five years. He has a doctorate in clinical psychology and lives with his life partner, Candace, in Massachusetts. E-mail him at [email protected].

Paul Hyckie is a Shiatsu therapist living in Toronto.

Jennie Ivey lives in Tennessee. She is the author of various works of fiction and nonfiction, including several stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Learn more at

Carrie Jackson began working in Alzheimer’s care two years ago, as her father’s battle with the disease was coming to an end. She is on the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Illinois Chapter Junior Board, and is actively involved in fundraising, education, and advocacy. She also enjoys yoga, swimming, writing, music, and playing with her godson.

Joy Johnston is an experienced digital journalist. Her father’s death from Alzheimer’s complications in 2011 inspired her blog “The Memories Project”, which was featured on NPR. Joy lives in Atlanta with her partner, two spoiled cats, and a goofy Pit Bull. E-mail her at [email protected].

Laura Suihkonen Jones’s husband Jay, diagnosed at fifty, was a member of the Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Advisory Group. Laura received the Alzheimer’s Association’s Caregiver of the Year Award and Maureen Reagan Outstanding Advocate Award in 2011, and was a Soroptimist International Woman of Distinction in 2012.

Kitty Kennedy is a lifelong adventurer and storyteller. Her work with the Alzheimer’s Association and her role as caregiver have opened new challenges and opportunities for learning.

Fred Kinsinger received a B.S. in engineering from Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from the University of Akron. He served as Captain in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam Era. After retiring as an engineering manager in the power generation business, he spent the next ten years managing his own technical sales company.

Doris Leddy is a breast cancer survivor, with two publications in Coping with Cancer. She was born in New York City. Doris has been an honored guest speaker at a breast cancer event, and she developed a cancer support group. Her passion for writing comes from personal true events in her life.

Cindy Legorreta clearly understands the value of starting over. She returned to college at fifty-five, getting married for the first time at sixty. She lives with her seafarer husband Ric in downtown New York. They are both excellent cooks; their lively household includes three cats and a beloved extended clan, two with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mary Margaret Lehmann and Ken are grateful for the support and caring they have received from the Alzheimer’s Association. Together, they are working for a world without Alzheimer’s.

Tamera Leland received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 1997. She works as a Director of Nurses in a continuum of care facility for people with dementia. She has a son and a daughter-in-law, and will soon be blessed with her first grandchild!

Crescent LoMonaco used her knowledge from years working behind the chair and owning a hair salon to write the “Ask a Stylist” column for the Santa Barbara Independent. She is a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She lives on the California coast with her husband and son.

Joanne L. Lord is a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of Michigan. She has been conducting clinical trials and working with people who have Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders and their families for over fifteen years. In her spare time she enjoys horseback riding, reading, photography, and martial arts.

James C. Magruder, an award-winning advertising copywriter and executive speechwriter, heads the marketing communications department at a Fortune 200 company. He’s been published in Writer’s Digest, Writer’s Journal, Marriage Partnership, HomeLife and Christian Communicator. His blog about writing:

Mary Margaret Mann is an accomplished actress, author and speaker, specializing in one-woman performances. She brings alive to audiences her many characters ranging from Mary Lincoln to Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Mrs. Noah. She contributed to a book that is in the White House Library. Learn more at

Denise Marks is a freelance writer who strives to encourage and motivate others through writing and speaking. Her recently published children’s book, Remember the Rainbow, was inspired by her three grandchildren. This is Denise’s second contribution to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. E-mail her at [email protected].

Hank Mattimore was the director of the Sonoma County Alzheimer’s Association for two years and the author of four books. He also served as a surrogate grandpa for five years at the intergenerational Children’s Village in Sonoma County and is currently a commissioner on the Juvenile Justice Commission.

Jeri McBryde lives in a small southern town outside Memphis, TN. She is retired and spends her days reading and working on her dream of publishing a novel. Jeri loves crocheting and chocolate. Her family and faith are the center of her life. This is her sixth story to appear in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Joey McIntyre is a multi-talented international artist. In addition to being a member of the iconic group New Kids on the Block, Joey has sold more than 1 million solo albums worldwide. As a singer, songwriter, actor and Broadway performer, his passion continues to fuel his acclaimed entertainment pursuits.

Amy Merrill is a seventeen-year-old high school senior, a competitive cheerleader, and year-round soccer player. This short story is dedicated to her grandfather, Lewis Russell Darling, because it is the best way to show the world how much she loved him.

Carolyn Mers lives in the metro St. Louis area with her husband, Dan. They have three grown daughters and two grandsons. Carolyn began journaling during the first ten years of her mother’s dementia process, which eventually became her first book, The Alzheimer’s Roller Coaster, The Story of Our Ride

Sandy Morris is a full-time caregiver to her husband with Alzheimer’s way too early in life. She is a mom to her two sports-minded teens and continues to work full-time as a special education teacher. She survives on coffee, prayer and the support of family and friends. She blogs through the chaos, and strives to find joy in the storm of life.

Ann Napoletan is a freelance writer, blogger, passionate advocate, and former caregiver to her mother. She is committed to fighting Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and helping caregivers navigate their own unique journeys. Ann is also active with USAgainstAlzheimer’s and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Evangeline Neve lived in many places before settling in Nepal in 1996, where she works with underprivileged children and writes about travel, food, family and cats. When not busy, you can find her at home with a good book and one of her cats on her lap. Learn more at

Robert S. Nussbaum is an attorney by day and a writer in the very early morning hours. This is his fifth story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. In addition, more than thirty of his letters have been published in The New York Times

Linda O’Connell, an accomplished writer and teacher from St. Louis, MO, treasures every moment with her family. A positive thinker, she writes from the heart, bares her soul, and finds humor in everyday situations. Linda enjoys a hearty laugh, dark chocolate and walks on the beach. Contact her at

Dale Adams O’Neill is a vice president and former English instructor in a North Carolina Community College. She enjoys volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association. She is especially grateful for God’s gift of her granddaughter, Addyson, whose love helped her through the sorrow of losing her mother to Alzheimer’s.

Rhonda Penders is a published author living in upstate New York. Her father, Bill Mosher, suffered from dementia for seven years before passing away in September 2013. Her romance novels, published under the pen name Roni Adams, can be found for sale at

Wendy Poole feels honored to have this story published. The book will be a wonderful/comforting/inspirational resource for so many. Wendy continues to teach part-time at a community college in Toronto. When not traveling or spending time with friends and family, she also enjoys writing stories about her grandchildren.

Sarah Rafferty currently plays Donna Paulsen on USA Network’s hit series Suits. She has appeared on numerous TV shows and in many professional theatre productions. Sarah splits her time between Los Angeles and Toronto with her husband and two daughters.

Johanna Richardson lost her mother, stepdad, mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law to dementia. She received her master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. Johanna adores being with her husband and family. She loves reading, music, film, traveling and serving as Peer Volunteer for the national Alzheimer’s Association.

Lisa R. Richardson holds a B.A. degree in Public Relations and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Human Resource Development. She lives in Georgetown, KY, and writes stories to honor the memory of the West sisters, all of whom have suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Kelle Z. Riley, author, scientist and safety/martial arts expert, has been featured in forums from local newspapers to national television. Her debut novel, Dangerous Affairs, was praised for accurately highlighting women’s issues in an easily accessible, entertaining format. Learn more at

Sioux Roslawski’s father, Ollie Kortjohn, and her family friend, Jim Gannaway, died after long battles with Alzheimer’s. Sioux is a freelance writer and a third grade teacher. For her, writing about her loved ones is a way to keep them with her . . . forever. Learn more at

Amy Sayers works as an instructional coach, partnering with teachers to find ways to bring technology into the classroom in meaningful ways. Along with teaching, Amy also enjoys teaching childbirth education classes, as well as working at Notre Dame Stadium as captain of the east sideline.

Laurie Rueter Schultz received her BSEd and her MA in English. She lives in O’Fallon with her husband Kevin and their two children, Adison and Brody. Their third child is expected in June. Laurie teaches English at Marquette High School in Chesterfield, MO. This story is for her mom.

Sherry Sharp lives in Richmond, VA with her husband Richard, two Golden Retrievers, Daisy and Gabby, and Tibetan Spaniel Reesey. She is the mother of two daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren. Sherry enjoys writing Christian devotions, hand quilting, spending time with her family and playing with her four-legged friends.

Deborah Shouse is a writer, speaker, editor and creativity catalyst. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Reader’s Digest, Newsweek, Woman’s Day and Family Circle. She wrote Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. Read more at

Ann Marie Skerl was a nurse for thirty-five years. She retired after being diagnosed with younger-onset, early-stage Alzheimer’s disease at fifty-five. She attends an Alzheimer’s support group and is active in advocating for Alzheimer’s awareness. She also enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren.

A former businessman, Reverend Jim Solomon has helped over, 1,000 families and individuals across the nation experience life-change through counsel and care. He lives with his wife and two children in Newtown, CT, serving as Pastor of New Hope Community Church and chaplain of the Newtown Police Department.

Sara Spaulding is the daughter of a West Point graduate and has traveled around the U.S. and Europe. She received her master of technical communication from Colorado State University. She enjoys skiing, scuba diving, hiking, mountain and road biking, and treasures time with family, friends and her Border Collies.

Julie Staffen is an award-winning children’s author from Michigan. She is the writer of the children’s series, Krista Kay Adventures, which she is completing while working on a new series for boys. In her spare time Julie enjoys travel and time with her husband and son.

Bern Nadette Stanis is best known for her role as Thelma Evans in the groundbreaking sitcom Good Times. She travels the world as the author of three books. Her most recent work, The Last Night: A Caregiver’s Journey, profiles a loving daughter and her mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Amy L. Stout is a wife, mommy, and autism advocate who loves travel, coffee houses, books and especially Jesus! As a child of the King, her tiara is often missing, dusty, bent out of shape, or crooked, but she will always be his treasured princess. Contact her at or [email protected].

Nancy Sturm taught English for twenty-one years and taught and co-directed the South Central Kansas Writing Project. She supervises student teachers for Wichita State University. Nancy enjoys volunteering at church, walking on nature trails, learning to tap dance, and writing a devotional blog.

K. Thorp is currently enrolled in college at SUNY Cortland. She hopes to soon be accepted into the New Media Design program. She plans to be a graphic designer or a photographer someday. Her hobbies include photography, painting, drawing, cooking, and baking.

Pat Tomlinson, the fourth of six children, is a mother, proud grandmother, aunt to several nieces and nephews, and a grateful friend to many. She continues to entertain audiences with the storytelling skills honed from her teaching career. Many thanks to Caryl, Debbie, and Lyn for their inspiration and encouragement.

Susie Van Den Ameele, a longtime resident of Seattle, WA, works in the biotech industry. She loves trail racing and hiking the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her daughter Addy, appreciating the little things in life on the trails. She has revived her interest in dress designing and loves watching Addy find creative outlets of her own.

Jennifer Waggener works for the Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter. She and her husband enjoy adventures in travel and are quite infatuated with learning the fine art of excellent grandparenting under the careful guidance of their first grandchild, Henley.

Samantha Ducloux Waltz is an award-winning freelance writer and caregiver for her husband who has Alzheimer’s. Her personal essays can be seen in Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies. She has also written under the name Samellyn Wood. Learn more at

Sue Watkins, caregiver for her husband Lew, holds college degrees and credentials in Health Information Management and Cancer Surveillance. Previous writing experiences include professional textbook and peer journals. She enjoys reading, quilting, playing golf and travel, particularly with her husband. E-mail her at [email protected].

Richard Weinman, Emeritus Professor at Oregon State University, knows Alzheimer’s well: his wife, Ginny, seventy-seven, mother of the couple’s twelve children, died in December, after fifteen years with the disease. Their life together is visited in Richard’s memoir, Two Different Worlds

John White graduated from Harding College in 1968, is a Vietnam veteran and has worked as a long-term care administrator since 1976. John continues to serve seniors today, has been married for forty-five years, is a high school umpire in Alabama, plays baseball in national tournaments and enjoys his four grandchildren.

Susan DeWitt Wilder lives in Scarborough, ME, and in Davis, NC with her husband Paul Austin and her perspicacious Welsh Corgi, Pattie. Since her essay was written, Susan’s father has died and her mother, always good-natured, now lives happily in a nearby assisted living facility. E-mail her at [email protected].

Bruce Michael Williams is a mechanical/biomedical engineer. His hobbies include building airplanes, flying, cooking and now, writing. He resides at Spruce Creek Fly-In with his lovely wife and Cleco the Labradoodle, where he continues writing. He has started a support group for caregivers. E-mail him at [email protected].

Sue Young is a transplanted Brit who has lived in the U.S. since 1978. Her hobbies are photography, travel, animals and reading. She works full-time and writes whenever she has a spare moment.

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