CAREGiver of the Month Michael Henry Pryor Jr. always had a song in his heart and the lyrics on his lips. That's one of the many ways in which franchise owner Aaron Blight and everyone else at Home Instead Senior Care® of Winchester will remember Mike.
"Mike Pryor was full of life. He always brought a smile to your face, no matter what. Whether it was his jokes or his singing, he knew how to lift people up," Aaron said, paying tribute to the 70-year-old CAREGiver who passed away April 16 at his home in White Post after a short illness.
Referring to Mike's wife of 49 years, JoAnne, who is the lead scheduler at Home Instead Senior Care, Aaron said: "Mike's devotion to JoAnne was constant. I cannot tell you how many times I'd be walking out to the parking lot at the end of the day to discover Mike out there in his truck, waiting for JoAnne to finish her work day."
Mike finished his personal care training at Home Instead Senior Care under the tutelage of Registered Nurse and Instructor Carol Davis, and became a licensed Personal Care Aide. "Mike was very proud that he completed this training and met the requirements," said Aaron, who noted that Mike joined the franchise after retiring from General Electric with more than 26 years of employment as a production worker.
"Mike's primary client lives in a remote place, but that never deterred Mike from meeting his client's needs, even in a winter blizzard. After we were pounded with snow last February, Mike stayed extra time with his client, brought supplies to the client's home, and cleaned the snow and ice off his client's walk," Aaron explained.
"In addition to JoAnne," Aaron said, "Mike has another family connection to Home Instead. One of his daughters, Michelle Carver, is our LPN in the Martinsburg, West Virginia, office where she performs care consultations to evaluate potential clients' needs, assesses personal-care clients, trains CAREGivers in personal care and applies her skills in regular client visits to ensure quality care."
"In all my years," Michelle said, "my dad was always friendly with seniors and wanted to help them. He truly had a heart for seniors, and he took care of his mother and grandmother. When we grew up, we lived by a small nursing home that had between five and eight residents. I would come in the door, and there would be an elderly person sitting in our recliner. After a while, we would gather up the senior and take him back. My father truly had the heart of a CAREGiver."
Mike made an immediate impact at Home Instead Senior Care with his winsome ways, first as a transport driver. Retention and Recruiting Coordinator Sherry Heltzel said: "Mike was dependable and cheerful, and he got along well with his client. At our Christmas party in a private room at a restaurant last year, Mike stood up and busted out in a song a capella. Then he challenged Scheduler Jillian Newlin to sing. Jillian, who loves karaoke, accepted the challenge and challenged him back. It made for a fun time for all of us."
Carol recalled when Mike would come into the office to see his wife, plop down on a couch and start singing. "He'd make up a song about where he was at the moment – he'd write a song in his mind. He loved to play his guitar, and I am sure he sang to his client, probably a cappella. We lost a good man and a good CAREGiver, a real gentleman who cared for others," Carol said.
"He had the right words for every situation and knew how to handle challenging situations with aplomb. He and his client got along really well, and he did everything for the client, who was mostly confined to his wheelchair. Mike served in the Navy and went above and beyond the call of duty for his client, also a military veteran."
Carol added: "His family loved him so much. They all supported each other – everyone was there when he passed, including the grandchildren. Mike was an excellent husband, dad, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was a man of faith who loved his church, loved being in the choir there and loved being active."
Mike was a dedicated member of Macedonia United Methodist Church, where he participated with the Bluegrass Gospel Band.
Carol was with the family when Mike died at home at 8:01 on a Saturday morning. "I was there so that Michelle could be a daughter at that critical time and not a nurse," Carol said. "Mike kept his humor in spite of what he was facing – perhaps because of his strong faith – and pointed out to us, 'There's a long line of souls waiting at St. Peter's Gate, and when my time comes, I don't want to miss it.' He is in heaven now; he has been healed and is well."
Mike married JoAnne Adams on June 2, 1967, in Baltimore Maryland. In addition to JoAnne, Mike was survived by daughters Chris Sherman and her husband Steve of Strasburg, Virginia, and Michelle Carver and her husband Paul of Winchester, Virginia; sons Gregory Imes and his wife Michelle of Willowbrook, Illinois, and Michael H.T. Pryor III and his wife Melissa of Clearbrook, Virginia; 10 grandchildren whom he loved unconditionally; Justin, Mandy, Kendra, Kala, Colby, Paul III, Luke, Kelly, Sophia and Berk, nine great-grandchildren; his sister Susan Pryor of Castro Valley, California, and his brother Darrell Oster of Castro Valley, California.
All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained,
bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call
540-722-8750 or apply online. For further information about our home care services, please visit Home Instead Senior Care.