Elvis’ ex-pri­vate nurse to re­lease book

The China Post - - ARTS -

A West Ten­nessee woman who was Elvis Pres­ley’s pri­vate nurse is re­leas­ing a book about her life around the mu­sic leg­end and his fam­ily.

Lete­tia Hen­ley Kirk lived on the grounds of Grace­land — Pres­ley’s long­time Mem­phis home — with her hus­band and two young daugh­ters from 1972 to 1983 and of­ten trav­eled with Pres­ley on tour, The Jack­son Sun re­ported.

Her self-pub­lished book, ti­tled “Tak­ing Care of Elvis — Mem­o­ries with Elvis as His Pri­vate Nurse and Friend,” is a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries. It also in­cludes dozens of pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished photos.

“He was not only my pa­tient but a good friend,” said the 73-yearold Kirk, who planned to re­lease the book Mon­day.

For nearly 40 years, she kept silent about her years with Pres­ley. But Kirk said she changed her mind af­ter a friend con­vinced her to at­tend an event dur­ing Elvis Week last Au­gust in Mem­phis.

She talked to many of the fans who de­scend on Grace­land each year to com­mem­o­rate the death of Pres­ley on Aug. 16, 1977, at the age of 42.

“I re­al­ized how hun­gry the fans are for sto­ries about what life was like dur­ing a nor­mal day at Grace­land,” Kirk said. “They al­ready know the sto­ries about drugs and sex and life on the road. They want to know what Elvis was like at Grace­land dur­ing his pri­vate time. That’s what this book is, light-hearted sto­ries of my mem­o­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences with Elvis.”

Kirk was hired at The Med­i­cal Group in Mem­phis where she worked for 40 years. She met Pres­ley in 1968 when he came to the clinic for treat­ment of sad­dle sores from rid­ing horses.

“We treated him af­ter hours, and he saw Dr. Nick,” Kirk said, re­fer­ring to Dr. Ge­orge Ni­chopou­los. “I was in the room as­sess­ing Elvis, and he was sit­ting in the cor­ner talk­ing to me with his head down.

“I walked over, lifted his chin and said, ‘Elvis, if you talk to me, you look at me.’”

She thought she was in trou­ble when Ni­chopou­los called her to his of­fice and, with a solemn look on his face, asked what she said to Pres­ley. When she told the doc­tor, he grinned and said Pres­ley liked her coun­try ways.

She be­came Pres­ley’s reg­u­lar nurse when he came to the clinic, and that led to her move to Grace­land in 1972.

Kirk re­called work­ing at the clinic on Aug. 16, 1977, when her hus­band called and told her to “get home quick.” She jumped in her car and soon saw the am­bu­lance as it raced Pres­ley to the hos­pi­tal. She drove through the front gate of Grace­land and learned what hap­pened.

“I was in to­tal dis­be­lief,” Kirk said. “I never dreamed some­thing like that would hap­pen. I still get emo­tional about it, and the book was very hard to write be­cause of that emo­tional jour­ney.”

But Kirk said the light-hearted sto­ries in the book kept her spirit lifted, such as the ones about gifts she re­ceived from Pres­ley, in­clud­ing how she turned down a black Cadil­lac.

“Elvis was ex­tremely gen­er­ous and just loved to make peo­ple happy,” she said. “I was a very blessed coun­try girl.”

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