James Donald Holley
Published: November 23, 2012
James Donald Holley, 72, died Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, at his home in Little Rock. He was born on Feb. 24, 1940, in Vernon, Ala., the son of William Albert and Wilma Holley. A life-long learner, Dr. Holley received a B.A. in Education from Louisiana Tech, an M.A. in Sociology from Louisiana State University, an M.A. in Statistics from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Ph.D in History from Louisiana State University.
In 1967 he and his wife, Bankie, moved to Monticello when Dr. Holley accepted a position in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at what was then known as Arkansas A&M College. In addition to teaching several generations of students at the University for forty years, Dr. Holley chaired the department for a number of years. He had done extensive scholarly research and was an expert on agricultural history and Arkansas state history. Because of his achievements in researching, documenting, teaching, and writing on the history of the state of Arkansas, Dr. Holley received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Historical Association in 2007.
Dr. Holley was a noted author; having published three books, multiple articles, and having served as the editor of the Drew County Historical Journal for several years. His first book, Uncle Sam's Farmers: The New Deal Communities in the Lower Mississippi Valley, won the Agricultural History Society Book Award in 1975. His second book, The Second Great Emancipation: The Mechanical Cotton Picker, Black Migration, and How They Shaped the Modern South, details the role of mechanization in changing the face of agriculture in the South. His final book, Celebrating a Century of Opportunity, was commissioned by UAM on their one-‐hundredth anniversary.
Dr. Holley and Bankie recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. He is survived by his wife, Bankie, of Little Rock; his son, Stephen, and his wife, Kelly, of Centennial, Colo.; his daughter, Helen, and her husband Seth, of Little Rock; his brother, Mark, and his wife Mary, of Jasper, Ala.; and three grandchildren, Bailey Holley of Little Rock, and Nathaniel and Benjamin Holley of Centennial, Colo.
Visitation with family will be from 6-8 p.m. this Friday with a service at 10 a.m. on Saturday to be officiated by Brent Higdem – both at Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home in Monticello. Burial will be at Oakland Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the American Diabetes Association, 320 Executive Ct. # 104, Little Rock, AR 72205. Arrangements by Stephenson Dearman Funeral Home. Online guestbook www.stephensondearman.com.