Obituary: Mary Joyce McCombs

Mary Joyce Denton McCombs, 90, of Arkadelphia, passed away Wednesday, March 30, 2022 in Fayetteville. Mrs. McCombs was born on December 12, 1931, in her grandparents’ home in Hamburg, where her grandfather, a country doctor, delivered her. She was the only child of P.E. and Vivian Simpson Denton. 

Mrs. McCombs lived with her parents in Little Rock, where she had a happy childhood taking violin lessons and riding the trolley to movies in her after-school time. At age 11, her father died and she and her mother returned to Hamburg to live with her grandparents in the house in which she was born.

She graduated from Hamburg High School and was valedictorian of her class. At age 15, she started dating the love of her life, Ashton P. McCombs, and after high school graduation she joined him at the University of Arkansas, where he was a graduate student. She was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in history. While at the University of Arkansas, she developed a lifelong love for Razorback football and took great pride in victories over Texas throughout her lifetime. 

In November 1952, she married Ashton and moved back to Hamburg, where they lived for many years and raised two children. Mrs. McCombs taught second grade in Fountain Hill for 32 years. She loved her job, was an exceptional teacher, and had many students who adored her, including her daughter! 

In 1987 she and her husband moved to Arkadelphia to be closer to family. In Arkadelphia, she worked for Group Living and was a member of the Philharmonic Club, the Clark County Historical Society, and the Library Club. Mrs. McCombs was an active member of the First Presbyterian Church, where she sang in the choir and served on the worship committee for many years.

Mrs. McCombs loved to travel, read, watch movies and her cats. She was a prolific letter writer and kept a daily diary from 1943 until 2020. Her home was always filled with the sound of classical music and opera and she always seemed happiest when attending a wonderful concert or one of her favorite operas. She took many trips to Memphis and Dallas and even a few to New York and Vienna to enjoy the opera. She loved having an annual birthday party with her friends for Mozart. Mrs. McCombs maintained a joyful attitude throughout her entire life and was a wonderful example to her family of a life well-lived. Even when her memory failed her she was happy and cheerful, never complaining.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Ashton P. McCombs, Jr. in 2004; a son, Ashton P. McCombs III in 2021; and her parents, P.E. and Vivian Simpson Denton.

She is survived by her daughter, Mary McCombs Whipple and husband, Ross, of Arkadelphia; her daughter-in-law, Betts McCombs of Fayetteville; seven grandchildren, Mary Elizabeth Whipple Eldridge and husband, Conner, Margaret Whipple Doose and husband, Marc, Emily Whipple Nadeau and husband, Jason, Caroline McCombs Motes and husband, Josh, Ashton P. McCombs IV, Anna Stewart McCombs and Will McCombs and eight great-grandchildren, Will Eldridge, Henry Eldridge, Tully Eldridge, Max Doose, Madeline Doose, Ross Nadeau, Charlotte Nadeau, and Isabella Motes.

Memorial services will be 10:30 a.m. Friday, April 29, at the First Presbyterian Church in Arkadelphia with Rev. Jason Smith officiating. Graveside services will be 3 p.m. Friday, April 29, in the Hamburg Cemetery with Rev. Toby Austin officiating.  Memorials may be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 1220 Pine Street, Arkadelphia, AR 71923 or Group Living, Inc., 700 Main Street #200, Arkadelphia, AR 71923 or the SLS Community, 4375 N. Vantage Drive, Fayetteville, AR  72703.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Jones-Hartshorn Funeral Home of Hamburg. Online guestbook,

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