Think of the times you were a guest … at a friend’s home, a hotel, a favorite restaurant. You likely were treated well, made to feel special, and left with pleasant memories and maybe even a desire to return. That idea of being a guest—“guesthood”—is how Joe Kiernan views his entire life.
And what a life it has been!
Kiernan lives at Twining Village, a Diakon Lutheran Senior Living Community in Holland, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In fact, he views Twining as his latest “guest stop” in a full and blessed life. Kiernan fought for his country, graduated from two colleges and later taught at one of them, married the love of his life—his wife, Betty, who recently passed away—and became a father and then a grandfather, worked for two major corporations, and then moved to consulting after retiring from the corporate world.
Plus Kiernan has written three books, one a memoir. Its title, appropriately, is, “Life as A Guest: Deo Gratias.” He explains his definition of guesthood in a fortunate life that has been guided by strong faith.
“My meaning in the book is simple,” he says. “My life is the totality of God’s continued blessings in marriage, family, career and friendships. It is my honest outlook.”
Born and reared in Philadelphia, Kiernan enlisted in the Air Force after graduating from high school in 1943 and served for two years, flying 35 combat missions as a ball-turret gunner on a B-24 in Europe during World War II. In 1946, thanks to the recently enacted Servicemen’s Readjustment Act or “GI Bill of Rights,” he was able to enroll in St. Joseph’s University and was graduated with a degree in sociology. That piece of his personal history would not have been possible without the GI Bill, he says.
“In the pre-World War II world, I would never have been able to go to college,” Kiernan says. “At the time some top educators were against it [the GI Bill], but they came around. Think of what it has done, the scientists and doctors who might never have been, without that bill. What it did was explosive for that generation and future generations.”
From St. Joseph’s, Kiernan went to Temple University to obtain his master’s degree, and from there to the corporate world of RCA and General Electric for 30 years. Simultaneously he entered the academic world as an adjunct professor, teaching sociology for 28 years at St. Joseph’s. He also spent 27 years consulting as president of Princeton Administrative Systems, Inc. Each of those “hosts” in his life treated him well and helped him to learn and grow, he says.
Today, Kiernan is the patriarch of his family of five children and nine grandchildren. His and Betty’s move to Twining in 2012 after living for 38 years in New Jersey was driven, in part, by a desire to be close to family. The community has proved to be a great “host” and home, he says.
“We searched for a couple of years,” Kiernan says. “We liked what we saw here. We were attracted to the Wellness Center, with nurses and day-to-day assistance if needed. We formed new friendships. There are activities if you choose to participate or you may do our own thing. I can honestly say we made a good decision.”