In The Beginning … of The Inn
(from my perspective … Tracy Fesperman Collins)

Some time, in the early 1970’s, Jay and Sally Fesperman looked at and bought the Wayah Valley Inn. And, yes, as the story goes, they were looking for a one-room cabin. They needed a place to allow themselves to get away from life and all that was going on in the day-to-day world. Jay was very much involved with business, traveling and entertaining clients. From the first heart episode that Jay had (early 1960’s), Sally was very purposeful in seeing that they lived a healthy lifestyle! When the original doctor asked about exercise, Jay’s answer was “I run to catch planes!” That is when a new pattern of exercise and relaxation began – golf! They never rode in golf carts; they always walked the course. So, in 1970, when they felt the need to have a place to get away and relax, they began looking in Franklin, North Carolina. They loved the mountains, the slower pace and the golf courses!

And the name ??? I have lots of childhood memories! One of the most comforting things I remember was the fact that every morning, at 5 AM, my parents (Jay and Sally) were having their Quiet Time

and they were in the Word. If they were in the same location, they spent that time together. If Dad was traveling, no matter what part of the world he was in, at their respective “5 AM’s”, I knew they were having their Quiet times. Even as a child, that created a very secure and stable atmosphere.

When Dad was home, I remember a simple prayer that he would pray at breakfast before we all departed for the day. It was “Lord, orchestrate my encounters with any businessmen and others that You want me to see today.” Dad always had a compassion for the businessman. During the years that he was a management consultant, he saw many businesses in desperate financial situations. I remember him saying, “why is it that men will risk everything, give up everything, forfeit their savings and their family, etc. in desperation to keep their businesses … and their last resort is the Lord?” So, you see, it was a natural progression for the Wayah Valley Inn to become The Inn of Last Resort !

Whyah Valley Inn Window

Jay, Sally and Stuart (my brother) were living in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma during the first seasons of The Inn. Wonderful folks such as John and Evelyn Raby, CO Jamison, Buck and Florence Sherrill and Doc and Sue Makinson saw to it that the gardens were planted, beds were made and meals were cooked for some of the initial gatherings. Hospitality was important – especially in the south and in those times. Jay and Sally spent many weekends flying half-way across the country to participate and help lead the weekend retreats and gatherings. Faith Blatchford and Stuart moved into The Inn – even before Jay and Sally left Oklahoma to live in The Inn permanently!

Where was I during these early days of The Inn?!? I was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee and my life was in full swing! Sometimes, I would drive over and spend the weekend and visit friends. Personally, I had no idea what The Inn would mean to many people further down life’s road. Nor did I ever imagine that it would be a safe landing place for me years later; that was not a part of my plans. The reality is; I don’t think Jay and Sally really knew what lay ahead for them either. They did however have a Promise from the Lord … that if they, and those assisting, would be faithful to pray and seek God’s face, every person who drove up the driveway to The Inn – their lives could be changed! God is Faithful – in ALL things and ALL situations!

So, there you have it … a very few of the myriad of things that I remember from “the beginning days” of The Inn. As I said, MY perspective on a place that has come to be very important in my life! … A place for which I am very grateful!

– Tracy Collins
       Daughter of Jay & Sally Fesperman

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