As most of you know, my dad, Happy Hestand, owned the Studebaker dealership here in Fort Smith. So it was only natural that one of my favorite “high school summer” pastimes was tooling around Fort Smith in whatever shade of BRAND NEW Studebaker I had driven off the showroom floor that morning, “dragging the gut” with my girlfriends. (My dad had the market cornered when it came to free advertising!) One long, hot, fateful summer following my junior year – I parked my hot little wheels long enough to visit my sister, June, in Camden.
It wasn’t necessary to spend much time baking in the sun with all the other girls at Creekmore Park because I had a Studebaker Convertible tan that wouldn’t quit … but when I went to Camden, it was another story. I met my husband-to-be, Richard Darden, who was a lifeguard at the local pool. We spent the summer “swangin it” on the swing on June’s front porch. Then, when I went to Conway to school, Richard was in Little Rock in med school, and the rest is history.
I struggled through med school with Richard; lived in Toledo, OH for his internship; then to Pensacola, FL for flight school where he was Navy attached to a Marine Base; then on to Jacksonville, NC for the duration of Navy life. Remained in NC where Richard practiced medicine for several years, then returned to Van Buren, AR where Richard continued to practice medicine and I was his office manager. We were married for seventeen years and had three children.
Two years later I married a dentist from Van Buren, Dr. Bill Steward; played wife and office manager for him. After ten years of marriage, we divorced. I couldn’t drill on teeth, so I opted for the Subway franchise we were in the process of opening.
There I was, on my own, now working for myself (I have found that this works much better for me.) What a year that was! I opened a new business, discovered that I had cancer, and went through a divorce. I survived! A year later I bought my second Subway store, then built my third, and have since added a fourth store. I am married to my stores.
Shortly after my divorce from Bill, I met Sam. He was not in the medical field …deliver me from doctors … Sam was a retired school superintendent. We had a wonderful twelve-year relationship, but unfortunately he passed away on the golf course from a heart attack.
Met George and we have been “took-up” (as they say in Arkansas), for the past two years. I spend almost all my time working with my stores and various board meetings. We do squeeze in some time for fishing, but I have to pass up the deer, turkey, & elk hunts. I catch most of the fish and George does the fish-fry. He says he would catch more fish if he didn’t have to spend all his time baiting my fishing rod. Imagine that!! When scheduling does allow for me to go on a turkey hunt or deer hunt with him, I just take a good book along. If I shot more deer or turkey than him, he’d probably just tell everybody that he had to spend all his time loading my gun.
My daughter Drew is a non-working RN who lives outside New Orleans. She is going to school again to be something else. She mostly keeps me up in the air with all the strange happenings in her life. Son Richard is getting his P.H.D. in Marine Biology and teaches at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. He also has an ecological consulting business. Daughter Dana is a non-practicing L.P.N., recruited into my service (restaurant, that is) at the present time. Will they ever settle down?
I am a grandmother five times over.
Judy "Hestand" Steward - 2003