BY JACLYN ROSE –
A self-proclaimed “Arkansas Man”, Gary Newcomb was born in California but moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas at a young age. “We are “Arkansas People” who spent a little time in California. I’ve always considered Arkansas to be my home.” Newcomb graduated from Hot Springs High and went on to Henderson State University to begin his post secondary education, majoring in Business and minoring in Economics.
After one year at Henderson he decided to do a stint in the U.S. Army and enlisted for three years. “I was stationed in Germany so I was able to see a lot of Europe, then I did a tour of Vietnam, where I was able to see Hong Kong and Thailand. I ended my career as a Sergeant in Postal Operations. I didn’t see any fighting so it was a pleasant tour, well as pleasant as something like that can be.”
After his three years in the Army, Newcomb went back to Henderson to finish his college degree, and it was there that he finally started dating his wife, Judy. “Judy and I had always known each other; our families were good friends and our moms had us set for each other for a long time. It was not until we were both at college together that we started dating.” Gary and Judy married in August of 1973 right before his graduation from Henderson. Newcomb’s admiration for his wife is evident when he talks about her, “I always believed that you should not be unequally yoked together and Judy and I had the same value system and she came from a wonderful family. If you choose the wrong spouse it can make life so difficult but I got a great one.” Together Gary and Judy have raised three boys: Zack, Clay and Tyler and now have six grandkids. “Judy really wanted a daughter, but instead we had our three boys and we now have two wonderful daughters-in-law. Raising three sons has been such a tremendous blessing.”
Newcomb began his career in banking almost immediately after graduating college. His plan was to spend some time learning about the financial side of business so that he could go in to real estate but instead found his niche in banking. He took a job at First National in Hot Springs, where he advanced to Controller and Senior Vice President before moving to Mena at the end of 1984. “We had our three small boys and wanted to move to Mena to raise them. This is just a tremendous place to raise a family. After a few years home raising the boys, Judy started working at the Acorn School, where she has been ever since. She loves her job there and we love Polk County.” In 1993 Gary was named President of First National Bank in Mena, a position he will officially retire from on December 31, 2013. “I am excited to retire and spend more time with my boys. We love to bow hunt and hunt turkey and I love to golf and four wheel and hike outdoors. I also have a honey-do list that is very long,” Newcomb said with a grin. Gary and Judy are also active members of First Baptist Church in Mena, where Gary serves as a Deacon and puts together a church wide four wheeling event every year.
“Eventually we hope to move up to be with the grandkids in Northwest Arkansas but I hope to always have a tie to Polk County. I love the people here and the geography and outdoor activities. I consider this to be my home and I have enjoyed working with the people here for the past 29 years.”