Dinner with Cindy Smith at 43 Grill is a lively affair. As Public Relations Director of Delta Resort and Spa, she knows everyone in the place. Between introductions she spins great stories. And there’s a third presence. Though he was not physically at our table, Cindy’s husband of 35 years, Don, is always on her mind and integrated into her conversation.
When the University of Arkansas coed fell in love with the quiet hunter and farmer she followed her heart back to his roots in McGehee. “Rather than think I didn’t like small town life, I decided to love the life I had. I got involved in my community and set up a shop.” Cindy owned a gift shop in McGehee for 27 years.
Five years ago, after their children were grown, Cindy retired – sort of. They took in another child for a few years and guided him toward adulthood. Then Cindy became one of seventeen Commissioners of the Arkansas State Recreation and Travel Commission, representing the Delta, an area whose recreational appeal is not immediately obvious. Then Delta Resort asked her to spearhead their PR efforts.
Delta Resort is different from say, Yosemite or Miami Beach. Cross a deserted railroad bridge and pedal two miles of straight, flat gravel road to a hotel and clubhouse on a spit of dry land surrounded by marshes that ducks love. The Arkansas Delta is the nation’s premier duck hunting region, and Delta Resort was made for them. During duck season, a hunter can pay $650 per day for an all-inclusive experience that includes lodging, guided hunting, retrieval, and cleaning.
Cindy’s job is to broaden Delta Resort’s appeal. She facilitated the 2016 Olympic shooting trials here, and is excited about having Georgia Pellegrini, author of Girl Hunter, lead an adventure weekend for female hunters.
Not that Cindy hunts. That’s Don’s world. “I’ve sat in the deer blind a few times, but hunting is his thing. I’ve told him he can never leave me for another woman because she hunts, since he’s never even tried to teach me.” She laughs and I realize that is a very unlikely prospect. A sound man would never leave such a dedicated wife.
How will we live tomorrow?
“It’s a weird question. I hope that people will be kind. That’s how we have to be; and with conscientious effort to help others. That’s how we get our own happiness.”