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Medlin finds lifelong home at Kennedy

September 2, 2014

By Jim Edminson

The four new headstones 79-year-old Dan Medlin placed at the graves of his daddy, mother, sister Rica, and brother Higgins glistened in the sun. They were the last of the 20-plus family graves to be properly marked.

“I feel that being the last of the family, I needed to do it or it would probably never happen,” Medlin says. “There were 14 of us kids, and after mom died things were tough for daddy to keep up with us and provide for us all financially. Eventually the four youngest of us came to Kennedy Home in 1943.”

Then seven-year-old Medlin remembers the Sunday morning he left home. He and his siblings had been in the field picking cotton when a car pulled up to their homeplace.

“I had no idea where I was going,” he recalls. “There were already three other children who had been picked up before us in the car.”

Medlin, his twin sister Ann, and sisters Bobbie and Jessie were sent in different directions upon arriving on the Kinston campus.

“We were poor and had very little,” Medlin says. “I remember standing in front of Miss Daughty that first day with nothing in my hands, no suitcase or anything, and her asking me, ‘Where are your clothes?’ And I told her, ‘I got them on.’”

Medlin experienced many firsts quickly. “I got my first whipping by two boys my first day. I was given my own bed and clothes to wear. And that next Sunday was the first time I had ever attended church – I’ve gone to church ever since.”

Medlin says that he has always thought of Kennedy Home as more of a religious place for children than an orphanage. “Most of us when I was growing up were there because of hard times and economics.”

The children all worked and had duties on campus. They attended school and did homework.

After struggling early with his studies when he lived with his father, Medlin was soon making the honor roll at Kennedy Home. In high school, he played basketball, baseball and football.

“I met Cookie (Joyce Cooks) at Kennedy Home,” Medlin says, referring to his first wife. “She came in 1949. We married after high school, had two children and lived happily for 54 years until her death.”

Right after graduating high school, then 19-years-old Medlin went to work for DuPont in Kinston. A career later, he retired as a Senior Research Specialist and helped pioneer the development of high speed photography. That one contribution alone impacts every area of manufacturing and the medical industry today.

Medlin is remarried to Geraldine. He is an active alumni member and recently agreed to be the Baptist Children’s Home representative for Neusse Baptist Association. He and Geraldine attend Sandy Bottom Baptist Church in Kinston.

"Kennedy Home was a wonderful place to be as a child,” Medlin says. “It was my home from the first day and remains my home today.”