Wlliam Henry Lee Woodyard III

Photo of Wlliam Henry Lee Woodyard III
WILLIAM HENRY LEE WOODYARD III, 68, of Little Rock, passed away on April 26, 2014. He was born Oct. 27, 1945. Bill is predeceased by his parents, William H. L. Woodyard Jr. and Margaret Buzbee Woodyard. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Susan Ridley Woodyard; his son, William (Billy) H.L. Woodyard IV, and his wife Peyton, of Little Rock; his daughter, Helen Woodyard Brown, and her husband Kevin, of Little Rock; his grandchildren, Helen and Ellie Woodyard, and Will and Ridley Brown; his loving dog, Scotch; and his cousins, Dick and Linda Buzbee, of Little Rock, and Peggy and Ken Gilbert, of Dallas, Texas. Bill graduated Hall High School and attended Vanderbilt University before earning his BA and JD from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. It was during his time at the University of Arkansas where Bill mastered his social and entertainment skills as an active member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. His distinguished legal career began as a law clerk to Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice George Rose Smith. After his clerkship, he joined the Arkansas Insurance Department as an attorney and became Deputy Commissioner and Chief Counsel. In 1976, Governor David Pryor appointed him Insurance Commissioner of the State of Arkansas and he served in that position, under Governor Pryor, Governor Bill Clinton and Governor Frank White until Dec. 31, 1982. During his service, he was elected and served as President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and served as Chairman or Vice-Chairman of multiple NAIC and state committees. In 1980, he was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the Supplemental Health Insurance Panel for the Department of Health and Human Services. Upon leaving the Insurance Commissioner position, Bill joined the firm of Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Jackson and Tucker in February 1983 and founded the firm's Insurance Regulatory Practice. Under Bill's leadership, the Insurance Practice grew to become a nationally recognized practice group representing clients as to insurance regulatory matters in every state in the country. In 1991, the firm officially changed its name to Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates and Woodyard, P.L.L.C. as it is known today. Bill's successful law career can be attributed to his sharp intellect, incomparable charm, dry wit, and unique ability to turn clients into lifelong friends. After their children went to college, Bill and Susan became intrepid travelers, relishing the opportunity to explore different countries all over the world and meeting new friends along the way. While not musically inclined, he had a great love of all types of music, which he lovingly shared with his children and grandchildren. Despite being an only child, he embraced his grandfatherly role as "Woo" and looked forward to Sunday night family dinners. Bill was an active member of the Country Club of Little Rock, where he served on the Board of Governors and was a dedicated member of the "Round Table." He was tireless in support of church, community and civic affairs. He was a long-time member of the Second Presbyterian Church where he served as a deacon. Bill also served on the Advisory Board of the Arkansas Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Food Bank. He was always a strong supporter of the Salvation Army, NPR and AETN. He served in the Arkansas National Guard. Bill will always be remembered by his good counsel, gentlemanly nature and strong character, which was evident in everything he did. His charm and sense of humor will be greatly missed. The family would like to thank the doctors and nurses at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute for their treatment and care. They also want to thank the wonderful doctors and nurses at Arkansas Hospice for providing a caring and peaceful environment for Bill and the whole family during the last two weeks. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute (, Arkansas Hospice (, and Second Presbyterian Church ( A memorial service will be held at Second Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 1 p.m. Following the service the family will greet friends at a reception at the church.

Published April 28, 2014

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