Cravens to retire from Jockey Club board

William “Bill” Cravens
William “Bill” Cravens

HOT SPRINGS -- William "Bill" Cravens is retiring from the Oaklawn Jockey Club Board of Directors after 47 years, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort announced Thursday.

Cravens joined the Oaklawn Jockey Club board in 1976 where he has remained as a member until now.

"Bill has been a trusted advisor to the Cella family for many years as a board member and friend," Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. "He offered a constant and steady influence on our organization and while we'll miss him in our board meetings, we'll continue to cherish his friendship."

"Bill Cravens has long been a mentor for me," said Eric Jackson, former Oaklawn general manager. "He was always a phone call away to serve as a sounding board or to offer advice and suggestions on various matters."

Cravens is a legendary figure in Arkansas' accounting and banking community. He joined the Russell Brown and Company accounting firm in 1962.

He has worked as an industrial engineer, accountant, banker and entrepreneur throughout his long career. In banking, he made his mark as president and chief executive officer of First National Bank in Little Rock, where he later guided its merger with Commercial National Bank, forming First Commercial Bank.

After a brief retirement, Cravens served as chairman of Alltel Information Services. Late in his career, he established Pinnacle Bank in Little Rock and served as its chairman.

"Bill's business philosophy is so simple, yet so effective: 'Set a goal and meet it,' " Cella said. "That philosophy has served Oaklawn well for many years and we thank Bill for investing his energy, talents and knowledge into helping make Oaklawn what it is today."

Joe Mowery is replacing Cravens on the board. Other board members are Cella, Jackson and Skip Ebel.

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