BY JACLYN ROSE –
Angie Graves was born second of four children and the only daughter with three brothers in nearby Waldron, Arkansas, where her father had a sawmill and her mother was a homemaker. After completing high school at Waldron High, Graves began her post secondary education at Oklahoma Christian College in Oklahoma City before completing her degree in Fashion Merchandising from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Upon graduation Graves started her career with Wal-Mart in Dallas before moving to Fort Smith and then to the home office in Bentonville. Graves was working setting up new stores when she was introduced to her husband, Steve, a Mena native, through a mutual friend. After dating long distance the couple married in April 1990, 24 years ago and decided to move to Mena to be closer to their families. When the topic of her marriage came up, Graves simply said with a smile, “it has been a great 24 years.”
The Graves have three children: Leslyn, who will soon graduate with a degree in Physical Therapy from The University of Central Arkansas; Ben, a sophomore at Arkansas Tech University studying Wellness and Exercise Physiology; and Ross, a sophomore at Mena High School. “Being a mom is the greatest job in the whole world. When we had children we knew we wanted our own business to be closer to the kids so we bought K and K cleaners and Steve built a huge play pen so we could have them with us. I believe being a parent is the most important job in the world. I wish I had spent more time just being a parent instead of working so much, but when you are young you think you have to have a career,” explained Graves.
Graves and her husband owned K and K cleaners for 16 years before selling the business two years ago so they could both branch out and try something new. Currently, Graves is employed as an Administrative Assistant to the Director at PCDC, a job she lights up when discussing. Besides general administrative duties, Graves is in charge of fund raising and assisting in staff training. PCDC just completed their first marathon, which was an overwhelming success and the Annual Special Olympics were held last week. “Even though I am support staff and not directly involved, I love working with people with developmental disabilities and being a part of an organization that is there for those people, that helps them with developmental training and life skills,” said Graves. “I don’t actually coach in the Special Olympics, again, I am a support person in charge of concession, but it is still very rewarding.”
As a long time resident of Mena, Graves and her family are members of The Northside Church of Christ and have stayed busy for many years with the various high school sports that their children were dedicated to. “Being close to family was the main reason we moved back to Mena but I love that it’s a small but a healthy town, there is enough going on to keep everyone interested and there is so much local pride in our area. I also love the beauty and seclusion of Polk County, we love being outdoors and hiking in the mountains and at the lakes,” explained Graves.