Matthew Wayne Freppon
Published: May 24, 2011
Matthew Wayne Freppon, 71, was born on April 27, 1940, and died on March 22, 2011 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Wayne, a Methodist, was preceded in death by his parents, Matt and Mildred Freppon and a brother, Dennis Freppon. Wayne graduated from Bald Knob High School in 1958. He earned a degree in physical education from Southern State College, now Southern Arkansas University, in Magnolia. He received his master's degree in physical education from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia and his administrator's certification from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He worked forty years as an educator, coach, and administrator, retiring in 2002. Wayne's passion was competitive sports. After a successful high school sport's career, he tried out for football at Southern State as a walk-on and earned a full scholarship. While at Southern State, Wayne lettered in four sports—football, basketball, track, and baseball—and was twice being selected as an All-AIC football player. He loved playing sports and watching sporting events, especially high school games. Competitive almost to a fault, Wayne would never "let" his children or grandchildren win whether they were playing ping-pong, a go-fish card game, or any board game. Wayne also loved jogging and enjoyed running in races with his son-in-law, Dave. Dave and Wayne scouted races and traveled together, and Wayne continued to run even after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. After graduating from college, Wayne joined the staff at Smackover High School as an assistant football coach. He also taught classes and served as head basketball coach of the "Bucks." Wayne left Smackover after six years to become head football coach and athletic director at DeQueen High School. While coaching the Leopards, Wayne twice coached in the Arkansas High School East-West All-Star Football Game held annually in Little Rock. Also while at De Queen, Wayne was elected Coach of the Year for District 7A. When Wayne retired from coaching, he moved up the administration ladder at De Queen. He became middle school principal and high school principal while maintaining his duties as athletic director. After fourteen years at De Queen, Wayne left Arkansas for a short time, moving to Katy, Texas, serving as high school principal of Taylor High School, one of several high schools in the Katy ISD. However, the allure of the big Texas school didn't last, and he returned home to Arkansas to become the superintendent of schools for the Dierks School District where he spent 12 years. From Dierks, Wayne moved to superintendent of schools for the Fordyce School District, a position he held until he retired in 2002. Lured from retirement, he served as interim superintendent of schools for the Hope School District in 2003 and as interim superintendent for Fordyce in 2004. Wayne enjoyed every aspect of being in the field of education, especially interacting with students. He took an interest in all programs at his schools, not just athletics. Whether attending a band concert or a play or chaperoning a prom or a senior trip, he truly enjoyed his experience with students. He loved walking through the elementary schools and visiting the classrooms of the younger students. Of all his accomplishments, Wayne was most proud of his family. The jock and football coach fathered three daughters. They were the joy and loves of his life. Often asked if he missed having a son to play sports and carry on the family tradition of athletics, he always answered, "No, I've got my girls." It was endearing to watch him with his little girls, sitting on the floor playing dolls with them, trying to dress a Barbie with his big hands.
His daughters and sons-in-law are Kathy and Roger Pennington, Mary and Cary Lewis, and Beth and Dave Bartholomew. His grandchildren are Jarrod and Jordan Rich and step-grandson, Tyler Pennington; Clint and Katy Lewis; and Reid and Matt Bartholomew, all of Little Rock. Wayne's daughters all agree that he was a sensitive, gentle, kind, and supportive father.
One memory that his youngest daughter, Beth, likes to share is when she and her sisters were growing up in DeQueen. Wayne often asked one of them to drive him to the outskirts of town and drop him off so he could jog back home. Beth would ask him, "Is this far enough?" He would always answer, "No, a little farther."
His middle daughter, Mary, loved riding home with her dad on the football bus after games; however, she says that, if the team lost, she didn't want to ride with him because the bus was too quiet.
Oldest daughter, Kathy, shares that some of her fondest memories of times with her father were the times she went to the football field house and played while her dad worked.
Wayne is also survived by his wife of 48 years, Alta Atchley Freppon of Little Rock and his sister, Louise Guthrie of Keithville, Louisiana; one brother and sister-in-law, Jerry and Jane Freppon of Emmerson, and an aunt, Mary Rodgers of Sherwood. Other survivors include four nephews, Mark, Scott and Todd Guthrie, and Doug Freppon, as well as six nieces, Jennifer Cochran, Rebecca Bartlett, Sarah Atchley, Kelly Emmes, Jennifer Freppon, and Jennifer Kidd, and many cousins.
Alta, Kathy, Mary, and Beth would like to express their appreciation to Rosie Mitchell and Lutzia Roberts and Dr. Tereasa Travis of Hospice Home Care for their tender and compassionate care for Wayne and a special thank you to Wayne's long-time doctor, Dr. Morgan Sauer, who always made Wayne smile by referring to him as the "General."
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, May 26, at 2 p.m. at Ruebel Funeral Home, 6313 W. Markham St., in Little Rock. Honorary pallbearers are Del Basinger, Carl Preston, Gene Davis, Ralph Berg, Mike Faith, and Mike Dykes and B.A. Mauldin. Memorials should be made to the Pulaski County Humane Society, the Athletic Department of Southern Arkansas University, or the Alzheimer's Association. Arrangements by Ruebel Funeral Home, www.ruebelfuneralhome.com.