BY JACLYN ROSE –
Aloma Gilbert was raised in the Lone Valley Community of Hatfield, Arkansas, where she still resides today. Like so many women of her day, Gilbert was not given the opportunity to obtain a post-secondary education after graduating from Hatfield High School. “I would love to have gone on to college, but I wasn’t fortunate enough. I did take college courses through my career, but I do not have a degree, like so many women my age,” explained Gilbert.
Formal education aside, Gilbert went on to have a successful and satisfying career, and on July 31, 2015 retired from The Union Bank of Mena as a Vice President and Manager of the Hatfield Branch. Gilbert began working for The Union Bank at the age of 20, and worked there for 45 years. “I was fortunate enough to be able to climb up the ladder and blessed to end up with the job I had. I had a very good career and I met a lot of wonderful people. After 12 years at their Mena Branch, they opened the Hatfield Branch and I worked there until retirement. I’ve worked in bookkeeping, as a teller, in new accounts, and I was a loan officer for 33 years. I’ve worked in many areas of banking,” Gilbert explained.
Gilbert has been married to her husband, David for 34 years. The couple met in school, where David asked Aloma out and she refused the date. Thirteen years later, they were re-acquainted and it was true love. The couple married within six months and together, have three children and seven grandchildren. “I am married to the David Gilbert from Hatfield, not from Mena,” said Gilbert with a laugh. “For our marriage, the first and foremost important thing is having the Lord in our lives. Other than that we just talk and compromise. If you will talk and compromise then you will learn each other and know each other. It’s a give and take but David and I enjoy each other very much. We like to be around each other, he will even go shopping with me and then I’ll get out and work on our place with him and for example, help him cut firewood. We just enjoy each other,” said Gilbert.
Now that Gilbert has retired from The Union Bank she is looking forward to more time at home on their little farm, traveling, reading, cooking and ball point painting. “I’m trying to get used to retirement. More than anything I am going to miss my customers. I had the best customers and I loved them. They made it hard to retire. I am going to miss my co-workers too, a lot of them call me momma, but I’m looking forward to traveling more. David and I love to camp and we have a camper; there are 52 state parks and we plan to camp at them. I also love working with the animals on our little farmette. I’ve had a good life. I’ve really enjoyed it and I have a lot more left to live,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert has been very involved in the Hatfield Community, serving as a long time school board member for the Hatfield High School, she is always a member of the Lion’s Club, and attends Vandervoort Baptist Church.
“I love the nature in Polk County. The woods and the animals, but mostly I love the people of Polk County. I love how they take care of each other and love each other. It’s a good place to live. I have lived here all my life, but I travel often and I always want to come home,” Gilbert said.