Ron Arrison, Executive Director, King's Daughters and Sons Home
Ron Arrison knows why he works at the interdenominational King's Daughters and Sons Home.
“I believe God sent me here,” he says.
The former hospital administrator says he planned to stay a year. That was in 1987.
“I just fall in love with my patients,” he says.
In a way, Arrison came full circle. At age 13, he was denied his original dream, the priesthood.
“I went to the parish priest, and he said I hadn't received the calling [recommendation],” the Wayne, MI, native recalled. “I was devastated.”
A bulletin board put him on the path to healthcare: A Detroit hospital needed retractor holders.
The 17-year-old talked the skeptical director of nursing into giving him a chance.
“I didn't pass out,” he recalls. “That's how I started my medical career.”
After enlisting in the Navy, he served in Vietnam as a Navy Hospital Corpsman, Second Class Petty Officer. In 1967 and 1968, he was wounded three times. A grenade broke a bone in a foot, he was shot in the left arm and hip, and he was hit in the helmet during a mortar attack. He was awarded two Purple Hearts.
In 1981, an admiral he worked with appointed him to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. While there, he coordinated care for the most powerful people in the world.
In fact, front pages across the country showed Arrison shaking hands with President Ronald Reagan after the president's colon cancer was discovered in 1985. Other patients included Vice President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Arrison says he joined King's Daughters and Sons, located in Bartlett, TN, after answering the first and only newspaper want ad he'd ever seen.
The married father and grandfather of five says he uses an inclusive management style.
“The old saying is that old military people lead in a certain dictatorial way,” he says. “I believe in creating a team.”
Arrison's interaction with residents includes delivering newspapers. He joined his managers and office staff in his directive to earn feeding certifications. Now all assist residents at daily meals.
The executive director is on-site every day. Sundays he's there between singing in the choir at services at Bartlett United Methodist Church.
Well-respected by the industry, “Ron is just a good guy. The kind of guy you call for advice,” says Craig Laman, a fellow past president of the Tennessee Health Care Association. “It may not be what I want to hear all the time, but it's good.”
Arrison fulfilled his childhood plan of a life of faith and dedication to others. In his rich life, he's served the most powerful leader in the free world, and the destitute and incurable; he has cared for battlefield warriors and the frail in their declining years.
He figures he is simply following God's plan. A favorite Bible verse might say it best: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Begins working as operating room technician
Enlists in U.S. Navy. Serves one year in combat in Vietnam as a medic with a Marine rifle company
Takes job as assistant to director, administrative services, Naval Regional Medical Center, Jacksonville, FL. Also: Earns Business Administration degree from Tidewater Community College
Starts as assignment officer, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington, D.C.. Also: Earns bachelor's degree in hospital administration, George Washington University
Takes on role of executive assistant and administrative officer, Naval Medical Command National Capital Region and National Naval Medical Center
Begins one-year tenure as president, Tennessee Health Care Association