attests, "There are not many men on this earth who can look back and say they lived their entire life following a creed of integrity."
One of the nurses who cared for Alice in her final days eloquently told Van, "In the 25 years that I've been a nurse, I've never been as impressed with anyone as I was your mother.
caring and compassion made a tremendous difference," Van
remembers, "Those who knew her
considered themselves lucky.
There was nobody like her
was a true lady.
was cut from the cloth of great statesmen and entrepreneurs from whom she
pure, stubborn optimism.
it can't be done, but get out of her
She'll prove that it can, flashing you a blinding smile.
the first one standing at "The Star-Spangled Banner.
a patriot who champions the privilege of voting.
peers knew the care freeness of youth, Van
tackled a myriad of jobs that instilled a lifelong work ethic.
From janitorial to waitressing, she
learned life skills.
There was no car in the driveway when her
16th birthday arrived.
parents' law: If you can work, you can buy your own car!
For all of her
parents' success, there were no spoils; only responsibilities.
was raised southern, Van's spirit was nomadic.
After college, there was no other course but to flee the world of conveniences.
new world on the African continent where she
climbed Mt. Kenya.
She fell in love with Kenya, establishing a Montessori-type school where she taught children who still adore her to this day.
After five years, the expatriate returned to her
When the Wild Turkey Lounge opened, Van
bartended, thinking that it would be a temporary job - ha!
began to see her
father and the restaurant business in a new light.
It was a blessing they finally had a chance to establish a deep respect for one another because tragically in September of 1988, Thad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, leaving Van
thwarted at the prospect of losing him and carrying on his king-sized legacy.
"Big Red" became her
new calling, and Van
immersed herself in work, slowly beginning to make her
father's philosophy of hospitality but sought her
own unique style of management.
management paradigm on the belief that empowering her
team to make their own decisions would boost morale and steepen loyalty.
And it worked!
also became a student of Ken Blanchard, the famous author of The One Minute Manager.
leadership grew firmly rooted, she
found herself surrounded with exceptional loyalty.
Today, it's easier to get a job with the FBI
than the Barn.
At a mere 14%, employee turnover is exceptionally low.
requires each job candidate to be thoroughly screened.
Respect for fellow team members, guests and the values for which the Angus Barn stands is simply not optional.
One of the most important, enduring examples of respect for guests is documented in an episode of the CBS series 48 Hours on "Customer Service.
Unbeknownst to Van
and to her
team, a reporter wearing a hidden camera posed as "the guest from hell" one evening.
complained about every detail.
Although the team rallied with solutions and smiles, the reporter persisted.
approached to extend further diplomacy.
great surprise, she
learned the purpose of the reporter's visit.
The reporter's verdict: the Angus Barn
was the perfect example of customer service.
Wife, Mother and Crusader
was not the first workaholic in the family, but she
was the first Eure to be married to a restaurant rather than a human.
became part of a three-member family that included Steve's son, Christopher.
They made the perfect family as Van
had fallen madly for Christopher, too.
and Steve built The Pavilion, they moved closer to fulfilling her parents' dreams of expansion.
The monumental loss of her
mother affected Van
powerfully and therefore, when she
began to feel lethargic, she
assumed it was only a reaction to her
And then, just when her
life could not become any more tumultuous, Van
shockingly discovered these symptoms were normal because she
was expecting - at age 44!
Ali and Chris are frequent fixtures at the Angus Barn
working with Van
Inheriting Alice's deep compassion, to date, Van
has rescued swans, fawns, llamas, wild ponies, horses, a pot-bellied pig, and more dogs and cats than you'd find in an area shelter.
In 1998 Van
learned the story of a quarter horse named Cheyenne who, while in a trainer's care, was severely beaten.
was outraged when she
learned that the trainer was only convicted of a misdemeanor, and she
would not rest until the legislature passed a felony cruelty statute.
Hence she formed The Cheyenne Foundation whose mission is to provide funds for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
Jill Highsmith comments of her
boss and dear friend, "The Beatles wrote the song 'Eight Days a Week' and every time I hear it, it reminds me of Van
thinks of others all the time, eight days a week.
is a builder of people, too.
loves facing a challenge every day that takes her
out of her
comfort zone, just as she
did that fateful day that Thad challenged her
to learn "Big Red.
Thankfully for us all, she
The future still holds countless dreams and challenges.
brave optimism, Van
invites you to join her
in writing the finest chapters yet in Angus Barn history.
It was while Steve was at WRDU that the gradual, steady intersection of the lives of Steve and Van
ecstatically accepted his
offer because the Foundation had long needed a media sponsor.
As an added bonus, his
undeniable zest, charisma and resonant voice led him to become the emcee for ever-increasing crowds who now will not accept another emcee.
Steve eventually found himself a single father whose future appeared as career-driven and devoid of romance as Van's
Neither Steve nor Van
were looking for a relationship but fate held other plans for them.
As their courtship continued, Steve realized just how important Van's
"work family," mainly her managers, were to her and that they might someday become a greater part of his own life.
In actuality, Alice blessed Steve by telling him that he was the perfect complement to Van
because he was the only man who could handle her.
's assistant, Jill Highsmith, put it, "There wasn't a dry eye in the Barn the moment Van said 'yes' to Steve."
Due to Alice's prognosis, Van
and Steve decided to shorten their engagement and to make their wedding a quaint, intimate occasion in Alice's front yard.
Steve's three-year-old son, Christopher, was not only the ring bearer in the wedding, he took vows with Van
Luckily for Van
said 'yes' when asked if he
would accept Van
Steve and Van
first imagined expanding the Angus Barn experience, adding a new dining facility by the lake on the Angus Barn property that would cater to groups of 100 to 350.