Bob LambFayetteville, AR, 1932 - 2014
Bob Lamb, who as the longtime head of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce played a pivotal role in hundreds of economic development projects throughout the state, died Saturday, Oct. 25. He was 82.
Bobby Joe Lamb, born April 6, 1932, the son of Jessie and Shirl Lamb of Reyno, Ark., was preceded in death by his parents; a sister, Shirley Lamb and a Grandson, Asael "Cy" Lamb. He is survived by his wife, Delia "DeeDee" Lamb; two stepsons, Scott Dinwiddie of Fayetteville, (Suzanne Terrazas of Little Rock, Ark.) and Ross Dinwiddie (Mary Lea) of Fayetteville, Ark.; his daughters, Dianne Baysinger (Danny Lee), of Harriet, Ark.; Melinda Lamb, of Little Rock, Ark. and two grandchildren, Madeline Dinwiddie of Fayetteville, Ark. and Lynda Hensley (Jackie) of Marshall, Ark. Three great-grandchildren, Cali Kyle (Jake) of Leslie, Ark., Allison Hensley of Marshall, Ark. and River Lamb of Little Rock, Ark.
For 25 years, Lamb held the position of Executive Vice President of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas. In that position, he served as a strong and effective voice for business interests at the State Capitol, led several successful efforts to keep Arkansas a right-to-work state and organized and led hundreds of industrial job recruitment trips around the nation.
After leaving the state chamber, Lamb and his wife, DeeDee, moved from Little Rock to Fayetteville, where he worked another 18 years as an officer and director for the Arkansas Western Gas Company. In that position, he continued to work on job creation projects and legislation that helped in the development of the Fayetteville shale natural gas exploration in Central Arkansas.
Lamb began his working years as a football coach in Morrilton in 1954. Two years later, he became the Executive Vice President of the Morrilton Chamber of Commerce. Over the next nine years, he held the same positions at the Arkadelphia Chamber, the Blount County Chamber at Maryville, Tenn., and the Greater Lafayette Chamber at Lafayette, Ind.
Lamb was born in Reyno (Randolph County) and grew up on a farm. He used his first-hand knowledge of the work ethic of the Arkansas's people as he promoted the state from his position with state chamber from 1965 to 1990.
Lamb often stressed that he didn't bring industrial development projects to the state by himself. Rather, he would add, he worked with others—governors, state economic development officials, business and community leaders, utility officials, university representatives, local chamber executive and others—to bring jobs to Arkansas.
While at the state chamber, Lamb coordinated the Arkansas Community Development Program. Its purpose was to assist local community leaders as they prepared and then promoted their communities to industrial prospects. The program included representatives from the state chamber, utility companies and university officials who went around the state teaching local community leaders what they needed to do to develop and then promote their cities to industrial prospects.
Also in 1965, the state chamber developed an industrial recruitment program designed to complement the state government's economic development efforts. Lamb coordinated a 13-member committee that traveled throughout the United States for six years promoting Arkansas to industries.
He worked with nine governors on numerous economic develop projects, workforce development initiatives and job creation efforts. It was also during that period that Lamb was often the spokesman and chief advocate for retaining the state's Right to Work law. In that position, Lamb was often called upon to debate the late J. Bill Becker, the chief advocate for organized labor. Lamb led the business community's successful efforts on two ballot initiatives in which organized labor tried to repeal the state's Right to Work law.
Lamb also interacted closely with dozens of Chambers of Commerce throughout the state, conducting leadership workshops and supervisor training programs. He became the champion for the creation of the annual Communities of Excellence Awards to honor local communities for their efforts to make the state a better place to live and work.
He also served as the voice of the business community at the state capitol, testifying before legislative committees and working closely with legislators on bills and projects to promote economic development. He was often named by members of the Capitol press corps as one of the state's most effective lobbyists.
Lamb also organized and helped lead 14 statewide legislative issues or constitutional amendments on such matters as usury, freedom to work, ethics, taxation and utility regulations.
He served, often in a leadership capacity, on more than 35 boards and commissions throughout the state on a variety of topics that included economic development, aviation and aerospace, environment, tourism, transportation, youth activities, and philanthropy and finance. As a 15-year member and past chairman of the Board of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, he voted on bond projects totaling about $2 billion for housing projects, government buildings, prisons, tourism facilities, schools, hospitals, water and sewer facilities and industrial and agricultural projects.
In 1990, Lamb moved to Fayetteville to take a position as an officer and director for the Arkansas Western Gas Company. He continued to work on economic development and industrial recruitment efforts in his new job, but also was active in the passage of state legislation that made possible the development of the Fayetteville shale natural gas in Central Arkansas. He was also an early and avid support of the development of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Authority and a longtime member of the Northwest Arkansas Council.
Lamb's list of honors and awards included: Honorable Discharge From the Naval Reserve and Army National Guard; Arkansas Governor's Certificate of Merit, 1974; Bob Lamb Appreciation Day, Fort Smith City Council, 1988; Arkansas Business and Industrial Leaders Appreciation Day, Little Rock, 1988; Arkansas Distinguished Service Award, Arkansas Federation of Air and Water Users, 1989; Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Arkansas-Little Rock, 1989: Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, Bob Lamb Conference Center Dedication,
1990; Arkansas Economic Developers Lifetime Leadership Award, 2001; and Arkansas House of Representatives resolution of honor for 50 years of lobbying, 2005.
Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 at Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, with Rev. Carl Palmer officiating,
Burial will be at Johnson Cemetery in Reyno, Ark. at a later date.
Cremation under the direction of Moore's Chapel.
Memorials may be made to Central United Methodist Church P.O. Box 1106, Fayetteville, AR 72702 or Washington County Historical Society 118 East Dickson, Fayetteville, AR, 72701. To sign the online guestbook, visit www.mooresfuneralchapel.com.
Published October 27, 2014
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206 West Center Street, P.O. Box 1149, Fayetteville, AR