Today's Paper Latest Coronavirus The Article iPad Core Values Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive Story ideas

ARKANSANS WHO DIED IN 2019: Civil-rights attorney, noted chemist among state's departed

by Cynthia Howell | January 1, 2020 at 9:52 a.m.
John Walker addresses members of the state Board of Education during an August meeting at Longley Baptist Church in Little Rock, where the future of the Little Rock School District was the topic of discussion. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

A giant in civil-rights law, a preeminent scientist, a construction magnate, a fisherman extraordinaire and the man who played the state's longtime Bozo the clown are among Arkansans who died in 2019 after making larger-than-average splashes in the world in which they lived.

More than 30,000 people die in Arkansas every year. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is highlighting a tiny fraction of them. The list of Arkansans featured here is subjective and does not in any way include everyone who made life better or interesting for their families, their communities, and their state and nation in the year now ended.

Rep. John Walker D-Little Rock, the state's premier civil-rights attorney, and Mary Lowe Good, a pioneering chemist on the national level, were among the now departed. The life's work of both drew praise from former President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mary Lowe Good

Walker, 82, died Oct. 28 at his Little Rock home. He spent more than 50 years working for racial desegregation of schools and against discrimination in the workplace, housing and elections.

"John Walker was a brilliant lawyer and devoted public servant who spent his life fighting to give all Arkansans the opportunity to succeed," former President Clinton said of his fellow Hope native. "From the courtroom to the Capitol, he never wavered in his pursuit of justice or his belief that a democracy only works when everyone can participate fully."

Good, 88, who died Nov. 20, was an adviser to three presidents. Her service included as undersecretary for technology in the U.S. Department of Commerce to then-President Clinton. Her work helped advance the hybrid car technology and the application of global positioning systems. From 1999 to 2011, she served as dean of the newly created Donaghey College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

"Mary Good was a brilliant scientist, a devoted public servant, and a world-class human being," the Clintons said in a joint statement. "Throughout her long and interesting career, she improved our understanding of the world around us and advanced the STEM fields in Arkansas and across America." (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Following are other Arkansans who died in 2019, listed in chronological order by date of death. Information about each was pulled from their newspaper and/or funeral home obituaries and articles written about them.

Jim Bailey, 86, died Jan. 2. Known for his impeccable memory and dry wit, Bailey was voted Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 18 times by his peers. He worked for the Arkansas Gazette, Arkansas Times and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from 1956-98. He freelanced beyond that, covering the Arkansas Travelers baseball, boxing, the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference, the Arkansas Razorbacks and the St. Louis Cardinals. Bailey was such an integral part of the Travelers' history that the press box at Dickey Stephens Park is named the "Jim Box" to honor him and broadcaster Jim Elder.

Jim Bailey

Richard "Dick" Barclay, 81 , Jan. 4, died in Rogers. The operator of a certified public accounting firm, Barclay served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1976-92, leaving to run unsuccessfully against Tim Hutchinson for Congress. He later served on Gov. Mike Huckabee's first executive team in 1996, and was appointed as the state's chief fiscal officer and director of the Department of Finance and Administration in 1999.

Wayne Harris, 93, died Jan. 11 in North Little Rock. An orphan from age 7, Harris graduated from Little Rock High School, joined the U.S. Navy and fought at Iwo Jima in World War II before returning home to become a founding member of First American Bank in North Little Rock, one of only two banks in the city at that time. In 2015, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans opened the Wayne Harris exhibit, which features his personal belongings from his time in the Navy.

Keagan Robert Provost, 8, of Maumelle died Jan. 17, after a 7 years, 10 months battle with ependymoma brain and spine cancer. Keagan was the absolute definition of a warrior, his obituary said. He touched the lives of so many people with his contagious smile and never-give-up attitude.

George Scott Puryear, 98, died Jan. 16, in Jonesboro. After three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Puryear purchased a gin supply business in Jonesboro, and began selling cotton tags and printing forms. His career in the cotton industry spanned seven decades, ending with his formal retirement in 2018 at age 97. A lifelong amateur competitive golfer and the longest living member of the Jonesboro Country Club, Puryear and wife, Babe, also owned the Casual Bar, a clothing store in Jonesboro, for 17 years.

Maxine Brown Russell, 87, of North Little Rock died Jan. 21. As one-third of the popular country music trio, The Browns, the "cutup" and "life of the party" Maxine Brown had a career that began in the 1950s. The group's releases included "The Three Bells," "The Old Lamplighter," "Scarlet Ribbons," and "Send Me The Pillow You Dream On." The world-performing Browns joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1963 and appeared on hit television shows, including: The Ed Sullivan Show, The Perry Como Show, and American Bandstand with Dick Clark. In 2015, The Browns were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Maxine Brown Russell

Howard Ashley "Ted" Bailey Jr., 94, of Little Rock died Jan. 21. A physician for more than 40 years in otolaryngology and otology, Bailey pioneered surgery techniques and instruments in Arkansas -- including cochlear implants. Additionally, Bailey and late wife, Virginia, founded Bailey Corp., which developed the Foxcroft, Foxcroft Square, St. Charles, Andover Square and River Bend residential properties. He was chairman of Bailey Timberlands and president of the Bailey Foundation, which provides charitable support for medicine, education, the arts and Christian ministry. He was the finance chairman for the Billy Graham Crusade in Little Rock in 1989.

Candice Earley Nolan, 68, died Jan. 31 in El Dorado. A cast member for 18 years on the ABC daytime television drama All My Children, Nolan also performed onstage in New York, including in key roles in productions of Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease and South Pacific.

Peter Thomas Sherrill Sr., 83, of Little Rock died Jan. 31. He was a history professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for more than 30 years, and was a member of the Little Rock School Board from 1979-82.

Lemuel "Lem" Tull, 85, died Jan. 31 in Rogers. He was an Arkansas highway engineer in the early 1960s when he and co-worker Bob Crafton began the Crafton Tull firm -- based in Rogers -- that does civil engineering, surveying, architecture, landscaping and planning.

Julie Adams, 92, died Feb. 3 in Los Angeles. Best known for her starring role in the 1954 film Creature from the Black Lagoon, the former Betty May Adams, who grew up in Blytheville and Little Rock, appeared in some 50 films and hundreds of television episodes.

Joyce Ann Wroten, 78, of Little Rock died Feb. 16. A former vice president and chief legislative lobbyist for the University of Arkansas System, the Perry County native was committed to expanding higher education access to rural and underserved communities. She was a leader in the state's planning for the use of a multibillion-dollar tobacco settlement that resulted in part with the state's College of Public Health. She also played roles in the development of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute at Petit Jean Mountain and Garvan Woodland Gardens.

Matt DeCample, 44, of Little Rock died March 3. Moving to Arkansas in 1999 from Washington to be a reporter for KATV Channel 7, DeCample in 2003 became a spokesman for Mike Beebe when Beebe was attorney general and then governor. After Beebe left office, DeCample, an improv performer, started his own media relations company. Before his death, DeCample described his illness on a social media blog titled: Mattie D vs. The Evil C -- Fighting cancer with writing and bad jokes."

Matt DeCample

A. Dan Phillips, 90, died March 8 in Little Rock. His 40-year career -- 20 years as chief executive -- with M.M. Cohn department stores and his commitment to quality gave the store chain its reputation as the "Neiman Marcus of Arkansas." The store was founded in 1874 by his Polish immigrant great-grandfather Mark Mathias Cohn. In the 1970s, when computers were new, Phillips and his employees developed data processing software for managing inventory, a system then used by other retailers. The 12-store chain and the computer business were sold in 1989.

David M. "Mac" Glover, 74, died March 23 in Malvern. A member of the Arkansas Court of Appeals since 2004, Glover was a former Hot Spring County district judge, assistant state attorney general, Malvern city attorney and deputy prosecuting attorney.

William D. Downs Jr., 87, formerly of Arkadelphia, died April 20. Retired from Ouachita Baptist University as professor emeritus in communications in 2007, Downs worked for 41 years at the university. He was adviser to the newspaper, yearbook and the student advertising competition team. For 25 years he was director of the Arkansas High School Press Association and instrumental in the development of a framework for freedom of expression for Arkansas high school newspapers.

Tommy Ray Polk, 79, of Little Rock died April 28. A former University of Arkansas Razorback football player and founder of what is now the Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects in Little Rock, Polk was a designer of the First National Bank and Bell Engineering Center in Fayetteville, and the Adolphine Fletcher Terry Library, Historic Arkansas Museum and U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse Addition in Little Rock.

Daniel "Dan" O'Byrne, 60, died May 3 in Jacksonville, Fla. O'Byrne was a former chief marketing officer and later chief executive officer of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau.

John Forster Jr., 76, died May 7. Forster served 22 years as a U.S. magistrate judge in Little Rock, retiring 11 years ago to teach at Washington and Lee University.

Msgr John F. O'Donnell, 91, died April 20 in Little Rock. A Catholic priest for 65 years, he taught at Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock and led churches in Wynne, Pine Bluff, North Little Rock and Fort Smith.

Maggie Hinson, 72, died April 30 in Little Rock. The owner of Midtown Billiards, Hinson welcomed the likes of Kid Rock, Toby Keith, Amanda Lambert, Billy Bob Thornton, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Keith Richards into the iconic dive bar on Little Rock's Main Street. Hinson started out as a Stuttgart High School dropout who landed in San Francisco and was pals with Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker.

Maggie Hinson

Linda Collins, 57, a former Pocahontas legislator, was found stabbed to death at her home in early June. A former campaign aide has been charged with murder in the case and has pleaded innocent. A trial is set for October. Collins was in the House of Representatives from 2011-13, during which she switched from the Democratic Party to Republican Party. She won an Arkansas Senate seat in 2014 but lost it to a challenger in 2018.

Linda Collins

Marion "Doug" Wood, 76, died June 10. A helicopter gunship pilot in Vietnam and member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1977-97, representing Sherwood, Wood was convicted in 1999 in New Orleans of 10 felony counts of conspiracy and mail fraud in the collapse of Southshore Holding Co. and its subsidiaries.

Ed Stilley, 88, died June 12 in Fayetteville. Born in Hogscald Hollow, Stilley was a Carroll County sawmill worker, primitive farmer and ordained minister who said he was divinely inspired to make guitars to give to children and to use as an opener to talk about God. For 25 years he used scrap wood and bits of old metal to build as many as one guitar every two weeks. His work attracted the attention of many, including Kelly and Donna Mulhollan who in 2015 published a book, True Faith True Light, The Devotional Art of Ed Stilley.

Ed Stilley

Leroy Brownlee, 71, of Little Rock died June 16 in Little Rock. Appointed and reappointed by four Arkansas governors, Brownlee was a 22-year member of the Arkansas Board of Parole -- service as chairman for 17 of those years. At the time of his 2011 retirement, he was praised for advances in the state's parole system and his skill in assessing an inmate's readiness for parole. Others criticized him for his role in paroling Wayne Dumond, a rapist who was later convicted of killing a woman in Missouri in 2000.

Leroy Brownlee

Kenneth Hicks, 96, died June 19. First elected to the United Methodist episcopacy in 1976 and serving for the past 30 years as a bishop in residence at Pulaski Heights Methodist Church, Hicks' work in Arkansas focused on human relations, justice issues and a respect for life. Many of his writings and thoughts were collected, edited and published in a book titled Peace Flowing Like a River in 2010. His wife of 72 years, Lila Elaine Hicks, died June 29.

Dr. Edith Irby Jones, 91, died July 15. The first black medical student to enroll at the University of Arkansas' medical school, Jones went on to become an eminent physician on the national stage. She was the first black person to matriculate at a previously all-white medical school in the South, the first black woman intern at Baylor College of Medicine Affiliated Hospital, the first female president of the National Medical Association and the only female founding member of the Association of Black Cardiologists.

Dr. Edith Irby Jones

Wesley Pruden, 83,died July 17 in Washington, D.C. Pruden worked for the Washington Times from 1982 to 2008 as a political correspondent, columnist and editor-in-chief, and continued in his retirement to contribute to editorials and write a twice-weekly column, "Pruden on Politics" in which he had a reputation for "punchy, defiant abrasiveness," the Washington Post reported. Beginning as a teenager in Little Rock, Pruden worked for the Arkansas Gazette, rising to assistant state editor until leaving in 1956 to work at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

Bob Shell, 88, of Little Rock died Aug. 6. Starting in 1950 as a timekeeper for The Baldwin Co., Shell moved up the ranks. In July 1983 he was promoted to president of what was ultimately the renamed Baldwin & Shell Construction Co., one of the top 400 construction companies in the country, as documented in Engineering News Record. Shell was zealous in supporting the community and helping others, including the building of the Ginny and Bob Shell Alzheimer's Center at Parkway Village.

Wendy Anderson, 49, died Aug. 19 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2017. The wife of Arkansas State University Red Wolves football Coach Blake Anderson, Wendy Anderson was the mother of three children and a motherly figure to the Red Wolves football players.

Cheryl Maples, 69, died Aug. 22. A lawyer and Heber Springs mother of five, Maples in 2014 helped to successfully challenge in Pulaski County Circuit Court the state's ban on same-sex marriage. However, the state Supreme Court within a week blocked the issuance of marriage licenses to gay couples. A year later the U.S. Supreme Court made the Arkansas case moot by striking down all of the nation's same-sex marriage bans.

Cheryl Maples

Field Kindley Wasson Jr., 61 of Little Rock died Sept. 8. Wasson served as chief legal counsel to Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton until 1992, a position the banker/financier described as "the best job" he'd ever had.

Clifton Loyd Ganus Jr., 97, died Sept. 9 in Searcy. President of Harding University from 1965-87, Ganus became chancellor in 1987 and was named chancellor emeritus in 2013. Ganus established the university's President's Council and Women for Harding organizations to strengthen fundraising and student recruiting, and in 1979 the school attained university status. In 1985, Ganus -- who visited 117 countries in his lifetime -- helped initiate the university's first study abroad program. Under his leadership, Harding resumed intercollegiate athletics in 1957, and the university's main athletics facility -- the Ganus Activities Complex -- is named in his honor.

Walter Lee Turnbow, 95, of Springdale died Sept. 9. Turnbow was an accountant/banker who was devoted to community service. As an employee of Steele Canning Co., Turnbow was responsible for securing rights to the Popeye cartoon character used on the company's spinach label. In 1992, he retired as chairman of the board of First State Bank where he had been a leader since 1977. He was a former member of the Springdale School Board and Arkansas Board of Education, and a director of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. The Northwest Technical Institute named its library the "Walter Turnbow Library" in recognition of his contributions to vocational education. The Springdale Water and Sewer Commission dedicated its office facility as the Walter L. Turnbow Administration Building. In 2006, the Walter Turnbow Elementary School in Springdale opened. On his 90th birthday, the city of Springdale dedicated the Walter Turnbow Park in his honor.

Richard Frothingham, 93, of Little Rock, died Aug. 29. A native of New York City, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, and the holder of a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Frothingham was a longtime professor of philosophy and religious studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He was the faculty sponsor for the first Black Students Union on campus. After his retirement, he continued teaching Existentialism and Greek Philosophy, serving as a substitute pastor at area Presbyterian churches and writing occasional letters to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Voices page.

Garry Bernard Glasco, 63, of Little Rock died in September. After graduating from McGehee High School, Henderson State University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Glasco earned a medical degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. In 1998, he entered private practice with Nephrology Associates of Central Arkansas. He was co-owner of Arkansas Vascular Center and co-owner of 3G Transportation in Oklahoma City.

Paul Edwin "Eddie" Powell, 78, of North Little Rock died Sept. 11. North Little Rock mayor from 1974-79, Powell is credited with developing police and sanitation programs, attracting federal storm sewer drainage project funds, building three fire stations, establishing the North Little Rock Public Building Authority, and building a U.S. Weather Station. He also led efforts to build a Pershing Boulevard railroad underpass, establish the North Little Rock History Commission, create the Advertising & Promotion Commission, and start the Senior Citizens Commission. Powell was integral to forming Central Arkansas Water. While chairman of the North Little Rock Senior Citizens Commission, Powell oversaw creation of the Patrick Hays Senior Citizens Center that opened in 2003 and its expansion, which was completed in 2007.

Linda Dorn, 73, of North Little Rock died Sept. 18. Dorn was a professor emeritus of reading at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the College of Education and Health Professions. A faculty member at the university for 29 years, Dorn had a national reputation for her pioneering work in teaching children to read and training teachers to be effective teachers of reading.

George Wells, 81, of Little Rock died Sept. 22. Wells was a career newspaper reporter and editor working for 12 years at the Arkansas Gazette in addition to time at the Pine Bluff Commercial and The Courier Journal in Louisville, Ky. At the Gazette, he was assigned to cover the federal courthouse, which included covering a legal challenge to a state law requiring schools to balance the teaching of evolution with the biblical account of creation. He also covered the Gazette's antitrust suit against the company that owned the Arkansas Democrat.

Gary Weir, 75, of North Little Rock died Oct. 2. Weatherman, announcer and salesman at KATV, Channel 7, Weir was selected in 1966 to portray Bozo the Clown on the state's weekday television show, a celebrity role he held for 25 years. He also created and produced the horse-racing replay show The Oaklawn Report, which ran 18 years.

Jerry M cKinnis, 82, of Rea Valley died Nov. 3. The host of television's The Fishin' Hole, McKinnis featured celebrity guests on fishing expeditions. It became ESPN's second-longest-tenured program, and McKinnis went on to develop the ESPN Outdoors programs on Saturdays. In 2010, McKinnis and partners bought Bass Angler Sportsman Society from ESPN, which they sold in 2018.

Jerry McKinnis

Gloria Love, 70, of Little Rock died Nov. 7, 2019. Born and raised in Lake View, Ark., Love owned and operated G Love Ladies Boutique for 15 years.

Jack Moseley,82, of Fort Smith died Nov. 15. A Texas native and graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, Moseley spent from 1975 to 2001 as the editor of the Fort Smith Southwest Times Record. In a career that included 15 years of work in Fort Worth and covering many national events, the national award-winning Moseley was said to be the last journalist to have direct contact with President John F. Kennedy before Kennedy's 1963 assassination in Dallas.

John Churchill, 70, of Dickson, Tenn. and formerly of Arkansas, died Nov. 16. A Rhodes scholar at Oxford -- out of Little Rock Hall High and what is now Rhodes College in Memphis -- Churchill finished his Ph.D. at Yale University, then spent 24 years on the faculty at Hendrix College in Conway, serving twice as interim president. He then was chief executive officer of Phi Beta Kappa, the national's oldest academic honor society.

Linda Jewell,66, of Washington, D.C., died Nov. 18. Born in Little Rock and an alumni of Hall High, Yale and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Jewell was a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer who served in locations throughout the world and was commended for her efforts to combat human trafficking. She was a former ambassador to Ecuador.

Sue Hankins Strickland, 84, of Mayflower died Dec. 2. A former teacher, Strickland served from 1996 to 2006 on the Little Rock School Board.

Harold "Bob" Bray, 81, of North Little Rock died Dec. 9. After stints as a radio disc jockey on stations that included KXLR in Little Rock, Bray was a TV weatherman and reporter for KTHV 11 in Little Rock for 35 years. He was the co-host of Arkansas AM with Bob Hicks. His love of gardening gave him the opportunity to host The Weekend Gardner.

Gordon Morgan, 88, died Dec. 17 in Fayetteville. The sociologist, mentor and author was born in Mayflower. In 1969, Morgan was the first black professor to be hired as a tenure-track faculty member by the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where he worked for more than 40 years.

Sleepy LaBeef, 84, died Dec. 26 in Siloam Springs. He was a rockabilly artist who played with and/or musically influenced stars like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Beatles, and Bruce Springsteen. Known in Europe and the U.S., LaBeef was born Thomas Paulsley LaBeff in Smackover. He had an extensive repertoire and often performed for three to four hours with no breaks.

Metro on 01/01/2020

Print Headline: ARKANSANS WHO DIED IN 2019: Civil-rights attorney, noted chemist among state's departed


Sponsor Content