No. 1034



If you have ever been blessed far more than you deserve, you will be able to relate to the following thoughts that I want to share with you. Back in 2013, I lost my wonderful and talented wife, Viola, after a 19-year battle with Parkinson’s. This was indeed a very sad time, and if you have lost a mate or someone very close to you, then you know that there is a tremendous void and adjustment that takes place in your life.
My own family, and especially my church family, helped to fill this void for me, but after several months I began to be lonely. Because of running my company and the ministries that I am involved in, I also needed some help.
While people are different, I don’t believe we should spend our lives alone. As a result, I began to pray that the Lord would send me a help-mate, and just the right woman to share the remainder of my life with me. I only had three things that were very important to me. First, that she would be a Godly Spirit-filled woman, that she would love me, and that she would be excited about helping continue the Bookcase for Every Child project, and the Reach Youth for Christ ministry. The latter is a ministry I helped found, along with four other laymen, to encourage our nation’s youth to stay in church or come back to church, as 70 percent of our nation’s youth who attend church are leaving after high school graduation, never to return.
God is faithful, and after several months He sent me a Godly woman who is beautiful, talented, has great wisdom, and has a heart for children. She is the former Janis Mack, who grew up in the Shady Grove community north of Conway. Janis graduated from the Greenbrier Public Schools, where she was class Valedictorian, and later attended Central Baptist College. In 1958 she married Ralph Mack Jr., had two sons, David and Roy, and later started a real estate company. In 1985, she and Ralph bought Pickles Gap Village, a tourist attraction located on Highway 65, north of Conway. Sadly, Ralph passed away this past year after a battle with cancer.
Janis and I have known each other for several years and held each other in high esteem. Several months after losing Ralph, Janis and I began to see each other. It soon became obvious that we had so much in common and, for me, she was a dream come true. In 1974, I was named the Arkansas Salesman of the Year, but by far the best sale I have ever made was when I convinced this good woman to marry me. Janis was reared by Godly parents, Exel and Esther Howard, who were community leaders. Her mother taught piano lessons and naturally taught Janis to play, and she was the pianist/organist at her church for several years.
As previously stated, in the early days Janis started her own real estate company, had offices in Greenbrier and Conway, but later consolidated her operation to Pickles Gap Village. She was a Million Dollar Producer for 15 consecutive years back in the days when houses were selling for $30,000 to $60,000 each. Owning Pickles Gap Village gave her the opportunity to be involved in the travel industry, and she served as president of the Arkansas Travel Council, 1994-95. She also served on the board of the Conway Chamber of Commerce. Janis is the author of four successful cookbooks and has appeared on a number of cooking segments on local television stations.
Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. As my friends and faithful readers over the years, I felt this information would be of interest. If you are a praying person, we would covet your prayers that we might be faithful to our calling of writing this column and the ministries in which we are involved. Just for the record, my new bride has a lot on the ball. She even has her own official back-seat driver’s license.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)