Pam's life was going well until
her husband was stricken with cancer a few years later.
She sometimes missed several months of work at a time
to travel with her husband for cancer treatments. Never
once did she miss a paycheck from the Vletas. "They
were like another set of parents," McCombs said, eyes
filling with tears. "The whole time, the Vletas were
right there with me."
Ulimately, Pam McCombs (then Goble) was left a widow.
"When my husband died, my main concern was: How was
I going to make a living?" She said. There was no question
that the Vletas' mind about that. Her job was waiting for
her when she emerged from the darkness of her husband's
death. George and Martha Vletas said Pam is"like
our own daughter".
Perhaps it's no surprise, then that
McCombs inherited the business with financial assistance in
the form of business loans from the Small Business Administration,
First Financial Bank of Abilene and the Vletas.
Candies by Vletas moved to its current
location on North 1st Street in 1999, about the time the
Vletas were preparing for retirement. Their four daughters
had not expressed interest in owning the business, but McCombs
had. The Vletas had offers from several buyers, but each
wanted to change the business more than the couple could
stand. Pam wanted to keep the Vletas' tradition. Within
months, the business was hers.
"The most gratifying thing through
all of this was when Mr. Vletas came in after I bought the store,"
McCombs said. He saw she had rearranged some things and said "
This store looks so good. I am so proud of you." Then he
grinned and asked, " Why didn't you do this stuff when you
worked for me?"
McCombs' hopes of owning the store were
not just her own. "It's a dream I always had," George
Vletas said. "It's in very good hands." Pam says owning
Candies by Vletas has provided a way for her to earn a living
for herself and her two daughters. "It's such a blessing,"
she said. "I thank God every morning and numerous times during
the day and in the evening before I go to bed."