BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
Everyone desires a good friend, someone they can share laughter with. Some of the friends we find ourselves closest with are the ones that seemed to come into our lives by chance. After some time though, these people are no longer friends they are family. Family is not something that people get the luxury of choosing, but good friends are like choosing good family.
Donna and John Montgomery are well known to the Mena area. Their friendships have been appreciated by many and there are countless people that have benefited greatly from their kind hearts. Most of their 48 years of marriage have been spent in the community raising their family and establishing themselves as servants in the community. They raised their kids here and have planted their roots in Mena. “We love Mena, we love the fact that Stacy, Ginger, and Kyle were all able to grow up and go to school in this community,” says Donna fondly. Donna and John love the people of Mena and they have given much of their time investing in the people in the community.
Many may remember, the Montgomery’s were the long time owners of DJ’s Grocery on Reine Street. DJ’s functioned as a neighborhood grocery and gas station, it was at an ideal location and it was a local favorite. “Some of our fondest memories were talking to the men that came each day to get their coffee. We really loved that place, it meant a lot to us,” says Donna. In the ice storm of 2000 , while most of the city was without electricity, John hooked up generators and ran then across town so that many could have power during the time of crisis. For anyone that knows the Montgomery’s, this was just another expression of their kindness and love for the community. Unfortunately, in the tornado of 2009, DJ’s was a complete loss. “We were devastated. That had been our life for 33 years, we loved everything about it.”
Although they operated DJ’s, Donna stayed busy working for the Department of Agriculture for 27 years. “My work was very similar to working at a bank. We would help approve loans for people to build homes, chicken houses, or buy farms.” During her tenure with the Department of Agriculture, Donna had the opportunity to see their services allow many building projects to take place, but one of her favorites happened right here in Mena. “While I was with the Department of Ag., we oversaw the building of the hospital and I actually had the opportunity to do the final inspection and write off,” Donna says with a smile. She has a desire to see the community of Mena grow and flourish. This desire has been a driving force in her involvement with the community.
Throughout their time of living in Mena, Donna has given herself to the task of continuing to help the local community. She has served on several public foundations including the Library, Mena Regional Health System, and the College. “I have loved my time serving people through these different foundations. They are absolutely my love.” Donna has served on the hospital foundation for nearly twenty years. During her time, she has seen the hospital grow and take strides towards excellent care and service, matched with top facilities. Along with her service to the hospital, Donna has loved serving on the College’s foundation. “It has been amazing to see how both the hospital and college have grown. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve alongside amazing people. All of our work was so that we could serve the people in the community.” After many years of faithful service to her community, Donna will officially be stepping away from the Hospital and College foundations. She hopes to spend more time with her grandkids, family, and John. “My time being a small part of each of these groups has been amazing. I have really felt that there is nothing like it, I feel good that we have served a real purpose,” says Donna proudly. Along with her other services to the community, Donna has been actively involved with Beta Sigma Pi for the last 42 years. This year Donna was recognized for years of faithful service and contribution, she was honored as the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year.
Although Donna is stepping away from several responsibilities, her life will still be full of action. “I have the most wonderful family in the world that I get to spend time with. I want to spend more time with them and enjoy each of them. I have been beyond blessed to have the family I do, but specifically John. I got the best guy in the world, he is unbelievable,” says Donna emotionally. After a life full of service, it seems warranted to rest and enjoy family and the little things in life. When asked what she plans to make time for now, Donna smiles, “If I can, I will be at Shangri La each weekend and on the lake with my family.”