Dusty Walker: Meet Our Tourists
It was a beautiful warm and sunny day at the National Park Rangers headquarters in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park when I first met the Stump family from Lima, Ohio.
This wonderful group of seven people had the good fortune of being chosen as the “Tourist Family of the Day” during the presentation of the National Park Employee of the Year Award.
Meet Nathan and Lois Stump and their five children — Grant, Levi, Adam, Molly and Jenna. The children range in age from 5 to 13 and the oldest two boys are twins. The children are homeschooled by Lois, who is a very busy full-time mother. Nathan is a nurse anesthetist at a hospital in Ohio.
Nathan’s work has taken the family to different cities of residence in the past few years. Prior to living in Lima, Ohio, they have also lived in Pensacola, Fla., and two cities in Tennessee: Murfreesboro and Gallatin. Of all the places they have lived, they both agreed that Tennessee has always been their favorite place to be.
Back home in Lima, the Stump family has three pets. A white labrador retriever named Jack and two cats named Patch and Puff. A bright smile came over Lois’s face as she spoke about her pets. It was easy to tell that this family has a close relationship and a good family life.
Gatlinburg was the location of the couple’s honeymoon in 1997. They have returned to Sevier County often since then, and they love the mountains. “It is just beautiful here,” said Lois.
The family was staying in a Gatlinburg Falls cabin. “We have stayed there before,” she said, “and we really enjoy coming back.”
We were seated in chairs on the lawn just outside the front entrance to the park rangers building. The sun was hovering above the tall trees surrounding us and blue skies prevailed during the event.
Jimbo Whaley was master of cermonies and called upon the Stump family to come up and introduce themselves.
They were presented with a large gift basket. It contained a wide variety of items from Sevier County to mark the honor and to help them remember their visit. Nathan thanked everyone for the honor of being chosen “Tourist Family of the Day.” He said they had stopped by the Sugarlands Visitors Center and had been chosen there.
“I did not expect all of this,” Nathan said, smiling, to the crowd. “We have always loved coming here, so for us to be chosen and presented with this is very special to us.”
He spoke of his family’s love of the area and his words were heartfelt. Watching their sincerity and hearing his meaningful words, everyone could easily see that the Stump family had been the ideal choice for the unexpected honor.
Dusty Walker is the marketing director for Riverwalk Apartments in Sevierville. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org