John Norman Charles Harkey

Photo of John Norman Charles Harkey
Judge John Norman Charles Harkey was born Feb. 25, 1933 to the late O.J. Jr. and Margaret Fleming Harkey and died Aug. 1, 2014. Harkey is survived by his wife of 55 years, Willa Charlton, formerly of Fayetteville; two children, Judge John Adam Harkey of Batesville and Sarah Ashley of Springdale; four grandchildren, Autumn Jones, Alex Mayfield, Brad Mayfield, and Hannah Harkey; two great-grandchildren; a half-brother, J.B. Arnold; numerous cousins, and several beloved nieces and nephews. His stepfather, J. Burton Arnold Jr., preceded him in death. He attended school in Hardy among other schools before graduating Batesville High School in 1950. He earned an associate's degree from the Marion Military Institute in Alabama in 1952. He enlisted in the Unites States Marine Corps and attended Officer's Candidate School in Quantico, Va. where he became one of the youngest Marines commissioned officers in 1953. He was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant after having served during the Korean War. Following Harkey's his military service, he attended Arkansas College (now Lyon College). He graduated in 1959 from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville and began working as a deputy prosecuting attorney and was elected prosecutor for the old 3rd Judicial District. A lifelong Democrat, Harkey was selected by Republican Governor Winthrop Rockefeller to be Insurance Commissioner in 1967. He was a founding member of Arkansas chapter of the Arkansas Civil Liberties Union. The majority of his private practice was spent in Batesville. He practiced law with M.F. Highsmith, Bill Walmsley, John Belew, Leroy Blankenship, and Tim Weaver, in addition to his son, Adam Harkey. In 1988, he was chosen as a Special Justice to the Arkansas Supreme Court, later served as Juvenile Judge, and was elected Circuit Judge for the Sixteenth Judicial District of Arkansas in 1992, serving until his retirement in 2008 shortly before his 76th birthday. During his retirement, he continued to enjoy hunting, fishing, playing checkers, and pursuing his interests in history and politics. Throughout his life, he had a deep and abiding interest in helping others and was a mentor to many people, whether loved ones or complete strangers. He was a fan of the H.L. Mencken quote: "If after I depart this vale, you have pause to think of me and wish to please my spirit, forgive some sinner and wink at some homely girl." Services will be held Tuesday Aug. 5, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at the Independence County Courthouse in Batesville. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Old Independence Regional Museum, 380 So. 9th St. Batesville, Ark. 72501, the Independence County Humane Society of Independence County, P.O. Box 3477, Batesville 72203, or charity of your choice. Online guestbook:

Published August 4, 2014

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