BY JACLYN ROSE –
Jim and Wyona Abbott were both born and raised in Mena. They graduated from Mena High School three years apart, Jim in 1957 and Wyona in 1960.
Wyona’s parents, Homer and Dorothy Rogers started Oklahoma Tire and Supply in 1946 and later moved it to its current location on Mena Street and renamed it Coast to Coast. With over 58 years in business, it is an important piece of local history. Originally the building was two separate stores, one of which stored old pianos upstairs, they tore down the wall and opened it up into one large store. Jim began working next door to Coast to Coast’s current location at the grocery store at the age of 14 and has continued to work on that same street for the past 61 years.
The couple married 53 years ago. “I think the secret to staying married for 53 years is to just get out of her way,” said Jim with a laugh. Together they have two children: Brian, who works with them at Coast to Coast, and Dr. Susan Umbargar. They also have three grandchildren and three great grandchildren. “I really think we are lucky to have two adorable children, though I don’t think we can actually call them children anymore,” said Wyona.
Around 1983, The Abbott’s officially purchased Coast to Coast from Wyona’s parents and they have continued to offer the residents of Polk County housewares, bridal registries, housewarming registries, and repair parts and hardware in the years since. They are always willing to gift wrap their items and deliver them to the showers.
When they are not working at the store, they have individual hobbies they pursue. Wyona, who was living with her mother and assisting her, until her recent passing around Easter time, loves to create quilt tops to give away. “I probably make 10 quilt tops a year. I piece them on a machine and my house looks like a fabric shop,” said Wyona. She has also been a member of Beta Sigma Phi for the past 30 years and does the music at her church, St. Agnes Catholic Church. Wyona also helped with the annual Daylight Trick or Treat for several years.
Jim is a farmer who greatly enjoys raising beef cows and hay and he spends a lot of his time on the farm. “I really like cows because they don’t talk back. I can call them what I want them and they don’t have anything to say,” Jim explained. They are also spending quite a bit of time repairing their yard, which was unfortunately damaged during the most recent ice storm.
“I love that Polk County is comfortable and safe, you generally do not have to worry about crimes. I also enjoy being with the people that I have known forever,” explained Wyona. “I like the fact that I know half of the people in town, it is familiar,” added Jim.