Hoyt Hughes Purvis, 83, of Fayetteville, Ark., passed away peacefully on May 26, 2023. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, and friend, and a devoted professor, mentor, consumer of news and politics, commentator, and sports fan. Hoyt was born on November 7, 1939 to Hoyt S. and Jane Purvis in Jonesboro, Ark. He got his start in journalism, at age 14, doing sports reporting at KNEA radio and then moved on to reporting for the Jonesboro Sun while he was still a student at Jonesboro High School. He went on to study journalism at the University of Texas, where he made lifelong friends and was elected Editor of the Daily Texan newspaper. Hoyt completed both his Bachelors (1961) and Masters (1963) degrees at the University of Texas and participated in two exchange programs: the Texas-Chile Student Leaders Exchange Program, and a Rotary Foundation Fellowship in France. These experiences opened his eyes to the value of international exchange in building mutual understanding. Hoyt went on to postgraduate studies at Vanderbilt University, and then to work as a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle (1964-1965), living and working in Nairobi, Kenya, and Brussels, Belgium (1965-1967), and then made his way to Washington D.C., where he served as Press Secretary and Special Assistant to Senator J.W. Fulbright (1967-1974). During those years in Washington, Hoyt and his first wife, Susan Campbell, had two daughters, and developed deep friendships with neighbors and colleagues. After Senator Fulbright left office in 1974, the family returned to Austin, where Hoyt served as the Director of Publications and lecturer at the LBJ School of Public Affairs (1974-1976), and worked on Jimmy Carter's Presidential campaign. But, Washington soon pulled him back, and he took on the role of Foreign and Defense Policy Advisor for Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd and Deputy Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (1977-1980). Hoyt returned to Austin in 1980, where he was a Senior Research Fellow at the LBJ School (1980-1982) and took on the role of primary caregiver for his two daughters, Pamela and Camille, after he and Susan divorced. In 1982, Senator Fulbright encouraged Hoyt to return to his Arkansas roots to serve as the founding Director of the Fulbright Institute of International Relations at the University of Arkansas. Hoyt remained in that position from 1982-2000, and was a professor of Journalism, Political Science, and International Relations, until his retirement from the University in 2016. In 1993, President Bill Clinton, who had been a colleague in Senator Fulbright's office, appointed him to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. He served on the Board for ten years, with three of those years as Chairman. In 1997, Hoyt married Mary Matkin, and Mary and Hoyt spent the next 25 years as mainstays on the University of Arkansas campus, at Razorback sporting events, watching the races at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, and traveling around the country and the world, where they often met up with Hoyt's daughters and grandchildren. Hoyt was recognized with numerous awards and honors. He was an Eagle Scout, included as a "notable academic administrator, political scientist, and educator" by Marquis "Who's Who", and received numerous teaching awards including the Fulbright College Master Teacher Award (1992) and the University of Arkansas Alumni Association Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award for Research and Teaching (1993). He was named Professor Emeritus upon retirement from the University of Arkansas, after 34 years of service to the University. He was active outside the classroom as well. He was a regular panelist on Arkansas Week on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), as well as a columnist for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for twenty years. In addition, he served as an on-air political analyst for KNWA. Hoyt was a member of the advisory council for the Arkansas General Assembly's Science Information Liaison Office from 1984 to 1996, chairman of the Fayetteville City Cable Board from 1991 to 1993, and a member of the Board of Directors and also Vice President of the Fulbright Association in Washington, D.C. He was longtime secretary of the Washington County Historical Society, as well as the society's president from 2011 to 2013. He was also a member of the International Studies Association, the American Political Science Association, and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. He was the author of numerous publications, including: Legislating Foreign Policy (with Steven Baker 1984); Interdependence: Old Myths and New Realities in United States-Soviet Relations (with Donald Kelley 1990); An Introduction to International Relations (1992); Seoul and Washington: New Governments, New Leadership, New Objectives (with Yu-Nam Kim 1993); The Media, Politics, and Government (2000); Media Issues and Trends: A Mass Communication Reader (2005); and, Voices of the Razorbacks: A History of Arkansas' Iconic Sports Broadcasters (with Stanley Sharp 2013). Hoyt was an avid sports fan, but was particularly passionate about baseball and his beloved Cardinals and Orioles. For a time, he even hosted a local television program in Fayetteville called "Talkin' Baseball." He could be seen carrying a stack of newspapers, wearing a baseball hat from his enormous collection, watching a sporting event or the evening news, or listening to Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash or other favorite tunes. Hoyt was predeceased by his parents and is survived by his wife, Mary Purvis; daughters, Pamela Hatcher (Patrick) and Camille Purvis Dawson; grandchildren, Wells and Barrett Hatcher and Duke and Sienna Dawson; sister, Peggy Mullen; nephew and nieces, Rodney Faver (Patti), Suzie Schulenberg (Glenn), Kat Faver, Sherri Hein (Chris); and countless friends, colleagues, and students who enriched his life. The family will be hosting a celebration of Hoyt's full and meaningful life on Friday, August 4 at 5 p.m. on the lawn of Old Main at the University of Arkansas, followed by a reception for family and friends at the Inn at Carnall Hall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in honor of his commitment to education and international exchange to either the University of Arkansas where a memorial fund is being established in the Fulbright College (contributions may be sent to Gift Administration, Suite 210, 1125 W. Maple St, Fayetteville, Ark., 72701) or the Fulbright Association (Fulbright.org) Donate or make checks payable to: The Fulbright Association, 1730 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Suite 404, Washington D.C. 20036). Those who knew Hoyt know that he was a gifted storyteller, who had a story for just about any person, place, or topic. All are invited to share stories about Hoyt for the celebration of life and to share with his family at https://www.tribute.co/hoyt-purvis. Condolences may be given online at: www.bernafuneralhomes.com.
Published May 28, 2023