Kentucky natives Gaye and Alan Flener are living their best life.
Alan, 62, and Gaye, 60, met when her family moved during her 6th-grade year to Cave City, Ky. The couple first started “going together” when she was in the 8th grade and he was in 9th. They dated other people off and on through high school but ultimately married in 1979.
The couple owns a small group of pharmacies, stays active throughout the year, and because they can telecommute, have the freedom to spend extended time during the cold winter season at their second home at Hidden Dunes, a tennis and beach community of South Walton, Fla.
This past spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they were quarantined in Florida until May, something that was easy to bear.
We talked to Gaye to learn more about the Fleners!
Q. Do you have children and grandchildren?
A. God blessed us with three healthy boys, Aaron, Luke, and Brett, who kept us very busy while they were growing up. All three graduated from Lipscomb University in Nashville and are now based in Nashville. Aaron was an avid golfer and is now a caddie on the PGA Tour. Luke has his own business called Prolific, is married, and has two little girls. Brett is an investigator and works for a large law firm. Our granddaughters are precious, of course, and are a bright spot in our lives!
Q. What is your professional background? Do you still work?
A. Alan went to the University of Kentucky Pharmacy School, and after graduation, we moved back to Glasgow. Soon after, he bought into the family business of pharmacies and has worked there since. Although he’s not behind the counter these days, he continues to work behind the scenes. Technology is a wonderful thing – it allows us to spend those winters in Florida. I attended a community college at UK and worked as an administrative assistant until we had our first child. I recently created a gift shop called “the empty nest” at Pharmacy Express.
Q. You are among a relatively few from Kentucky who winter in this area of the Gulf Coast. How did you find Hidden Dunes/South Walton?
A. We found Hidden Dunes through some friends who already owned there. I would come on tennis trips with a group of women from home. Such a great tennis community, and we fell in love with the surroundings and the people. The snowbirds who had wintered there for years welcomed us with open arms, and we felt we instantly had another family! We only stayed a few weeks the first winter and then gradually worked up to the full three months (or longer!). They were such an encouragement to keep being active into your golden years. We cannot say enough about this snowbird community as well as the other Hidden Dunes owners we’ve met! We have made so many new friends for which we are so thankful!
Q. Tell us about your activities during your months at Hidden Dunes/South Walton?
A. We play a lot of tennis and pickleball. Lots of walking and social activities go on as well. We tease Alan that he is the Activity Director. He is always coming up with some kind of tennis mixer or pickleball mixer, which always ends in going out to eat at a local restaurant together! One of our ladies leads a long-running Thursday morning Bible Study, which is always well-attended. It’s a great time to have fellowship together.
Q. What do you tell folks at home about your time on the coast?
A. When we are home in Kentucky, Alan plays a lot more golf than tennis, and I continue to play tennis and look after the gift shop. We visit with family, and we love to houseboat on Barren River Lake in the summer months, which takes up our weekends. We have been houseboating for about 16 years and enjoy being out with our other houseboating friends. A lot of pontoon riding happens during these weekends too!
Q. Do you host any family or friends during your stay?
A. We try to encourage people to come and see for themselves how beautiful our beaches are and how much community we share with other people during our time at Hidden Dunes. Making new friends that become like family has been one of the greatest blessings of owning at Hidden Dunes. We invite our friends and family down during the winter months. This helps us keep in touch with them and lets us share our blessing of owning with them.
Q. What is your fondest memory here on the coast?
A. All of my memories with my granddaughters growing up here are special to us. Our sons love to come and play tennis and golf in the area, and we make it a family affair when they visit. Our daughters-in-law also play, so we’ll schedule a family clinic at the tennis center. Our instructors at Hidden Dunes, Renee and Charlie, are top-notch tennis instructors and great with any age.
We look forward to our granddaughters taking more lessons with them and develop a love for tennis. It is such a relaxed atmosphere, and anyone can feel at home here. Renee goes out of her way to include everyone at any level and encourages them to keep trying.
It’s important to keep moving as we get older! We will miss George, our long-time instructor, but our new Director of Tennis, Charlie, will fill those shoes I am sure.
Q. What makes the Hidden Dunes tennis program and staff special?
A. I cannot say enough about the family atmosphere at Hidden Dunes during the winter months. It is an exceptional property and adds the personal touch to your stay. We highly recommend it to anyone looking for a place to call home during the winter.