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Notable Arkansans who died in 2018

Notable Arkansans who died in 2018

January 1st, 2019 by Cynthia Howell—Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Obituaries

In 2018, Arkansans said goodbye to those who seemed to live larger than the norm, including an international peace activist, an Emmy Award-nominee and one of America's Hidden Figures.

More than 30,000 people die in Arkansas every year. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is highlighting a tiny fraction of those who passed away in 2018 after lifetimes of leading business and industry, influencing public policy, thinking outside the box, entertaining and just generally contributing to the greater good.

Former Arkansas first lady Betty Bumpers is among them.

Former President Bill Clinton said of Bumpers at the time of her November death: "From her kitchen table in Charleston to the halls of power in D.C., she was always the same: dignified and down-to-earth, intelligent and kind, good-hearted and tough-minded. She spent a lifetime working to give all our children a healthier, safer future."

Horse racing announcer Terry Wallace also died this year.

"For generations of Arkansas racing fans, he was the voice of Oaklawn and for a time he was the most recognized voice in Arkansas," said Eric Jackson, Oaklawn Park's senior vice president. Wallace's racing calls were broadcast over a statewide radio network.

Tim Massanelli, House of Representatives parliamentarian for 38 years, carried in his wallet a quote that was important to him: "I hope my work is valued by its service to others and not by its outward importance."

The list of Arkansans below is subjective and does not in any way include everyone who made life better for their families, their communities, and their state and nation in 2018. The list is chronological in terms of dates of death. Information about each was pulled from their obituaries and articles written about them.

  • Jerry Van Dyke, 86, died Jan. 5 at his Hot Spring County ranch. Funnyman and actor Van Dyke, the younger brother of actor Dick Van Dyke, is best known for playing Assistant Coach Luther Van Dam on the sitcom Coach for which he was nominated for four Emmys.
  • Albert Rogers Yarnell, 94, died Jan. 7. The former Searcy mayor worked for more than 75 years in the Yarnell's Ice Cream manufacturing business that was started by his father. Yarnell's favorite flavor was "probably French Vanilla," his son said.
  • Clyde Scott, 93, died Jan. 30. Scott was an All-American for the Arkansas Razorbacks football team in 1948 and an Olympic silver medalist for the 110-yard high hurdles in the 1948 London Olympics. Scott played four NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions, winning NFL championships with the Eagles in his rookie year of 1949 and with the Lions in 1952.
  • David Ruff, 70, died Jan. 31. He was chief executive officer of Morrilton Packing Co., which is best-known for its Petit Jean brand of meats.
  • Garland "Tim" Massanelli, 85, died Feb. 12. Massanelli was parliamentarian of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1975 to 2013. He served 19 speakers of the House, seven governors, and more than 1,000 House members. He was also a Catholic Church deacon in Pine Bluff and in Little Rock.
  • Jim Argue Jr., 66, died May 3. As chairman of the Senate Education Committee, the Little Rock Democrat helped craft the state's plan to correct what the state Supreme Court said in 2002 was an unconstitutional public school system. Argue also was the longtime president of the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas.
  • Tom Dalton, 78, died June 12 in Hot Springs. Dalton was city manager in Little Rock from 1986-92 and a former Arkansas Department of Human Services director. In his public service roles he led efforts to combat violent crime, promote youth welfare, provide children and youth with insurance, and revitalize downtown Little Rock.
  • Don Zimmerman, 75, died June 24. Zimmerman was a 52-year employee of the Arkansas Municipal League, becoming its executive director in 1974.
  • John Wesley Garner, 80, formerly of North Little Rock, died June 4, in North Carolina. Garner was known to Arkansans as John "Little John" Garner because of his appearances in 1970s-era commercials representing Garner-Browne furniture. He later owned Capri Cleaners out of Sherwood. In retirement, he took a part-time, 16-year position as director for the Lonoke Chamber of Commerce.
  • William Barger Tygart, 82, died July 4 at Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas. The Danville native and graduate of Arkansas Tech University, where he played football and baseball, retired in 1998 from J.C. Penney Co. where he had been president, chief operating officer and vice chairman. His love of retail sales started in his father's general store in Danville and then took him to work at J.C. Penny in downtown Little Rock, as well as in other major U.S. cities. Described as competitive, big-hearted and long-winded, he was known for his love of double-breasted suits and pocket squares. Those who complimented his ties might very well receive one as a gift. He was said to own more sweaters and shoes than some of his stores.
  • Ron Robinson, 75, died Aug. 14. Robinson was former chairman and chief executive officer of CJRW, a Little Rock marketing and communications firm. In 1986, the year of Arkansas' sesquicentennial, he arranged for his client Arkansas Power and Light Co. to underwrite the writing and production of a commemorative song as a gift to the state. The song—"Arkansas, You Run Deep in Me"—was written and sung by Robinson's college roommate, Wayland Holyfield. In 1987, the Arkansas Legislature named it an official song of the state. Robinson, a longtime stamp collector, was appointed in 1993 to the U.S. Postal Service Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee by the U.S. Postmaster General. During his 15-year membership, he was involved in the creation and production of more than 1,750 postage stamp issues, including those related to Arkansas. The library theater in the River Market District of Little Rock is named for Robinson, who was a collector of vintage movie posters, and Arkansas political and historical memorabilia.
  • Dean Langford Walls, 96, died Aug. 16. She was editor/ publisher of the White River Journal in Des Arc, a newspaper established by her father-in-law in 1907. Walls began working for the paper in 1945 and remained there for the next 73 years. She officially replaced her husband as editor/publisher in 1980 because of his illness and death in 1983. She never had a vacation, or received a salary, according to her obituary. Walls loved music and entertaining. She sang at weddings, funerals and other events whenever asked, played piano by ear, and was a member of and often soloist in the First Methodist Church choir. She helped organize Des Arc's annual Steamboat Days festival more than 30 years ago and was a favorite in its Saturday night lip-sync finale show.
  • Jerry Dhonau, 83, died Aug. 17 in Albuquerque. Dhonau's reporting at Little Rock's Central High School during the 1957 school desegregation crisis contributed to coverage that was ultimately rewarded with Pulitzer Prizes to the Arkansas Gazette. In 1965, Dhonau became an editorial writer and continued in that job until the Gazette closed in 1991. Dhonau wrote the Gazette's farewell editorial.
  • Carol D'arcy Willis, 69, died Sept. 4. Willis worked for former President Bill Clinton, who described Willis as "one of my most effective and trusted campaign aides and advisers. He was a brilliant political organizer who really cared about people and making sure that their voices were heard."
  • Cliff Fannin Baker, 70, died Sept. 6 in New York City. Baker established the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in 1976, the state's first professional stage company. Baker spent the next 23 years building the theater—now on Main Street—into an Actors' Equity-certified organization that attracted professional actors nationally. He resigned in 1999 to take on other projects—including guest-directing shows around the world—but he and his husband continued to live in central Arkansas. He returned periodically to The Rep, last directing Sister Act in 2017. At the time of his death, he was working to help restore the theater to financial health after it suspended operations in April.
  • Jerol Herreid Garrison, 86, died Sept. 6 in Fayetteville. Garrison's career included reporting for the Arkansas Gazette, including the period during the segregation crisis and serving as director of communications at what was then Arkansas Power and Light Co. He had the uncanny ability to stay true to his journalistic nature to "get the word out" as well as support the company where he worked. You could "go to the bank" on the word of Jerol Garrison and everyone knew it," his Arkansas Democrat-Gazette obituary said. n Jerry Wayne Hood, 71, died Oct. 8. Hood owned Jerry's Barber Shop in the Little Rock Heights neighborhood for 52 years. He never meet a stranger, loved helping, being around people and witnessing to others about his religious faith. He was a lay minister for the Arkansas Department of Correction, served on the board of Little Rock Compassion Center and worked on the FBI Citizens Academy.
  • Raye J. Montague, 83, died Oct. 10. Montague was a recipient of the U.S. Navy's Meritorious Civilian Service Award for revolutionizing the computer design of all U.S. naval ships and submarines in a career that stretched from 1956-90. She was the first woman to ever serve as a program manager of ships in the history of the U.S. Navy and held a civilian equivalent rank of captain. Her work called for her to regularly brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. A graduate of what is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Montague was among the black female mathematicians and engineers for the military and NASA who weren't credited for their achievements at the time of their mid-20th century careers. They were later highlighted in the 2016 book Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.
  • John W. "Jay" DeHaven, 79, died Oct. 14. DeHaven was best known for his development of Maumelle in the late 1980s, a project that resulted in indictments against him that were eventually cleared. He ultimately developed and sold more than 3,500 lots. While involved in the real estate and gas business for much of his life, he was involved in many endeavors all over the world. He started as a saxophone player and clarinetist who played in a studio band with composer Henry Mancini. He raced cars with actor Steve McQueen. He was a butcher, attempted culinary school in Belgium and found his way back to America as a cook on a freighter. His work in securities and investments resulted in representing PanAm airlines in its worldwide liquidation, all according to his obituary.
  • Michael Storey, 69, died Oct. 7 at his Little Rock home. He was an associate editor and columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was most widely known for his Saturday column of satire written under the guise of a cat named Otus. Storey started work in 1977 for the Arkansas Democrat that later became the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He held multiple positions at the paper, including copy editor, graphic designer and television columnist. He also wrote a column on hiking called Happy Trails.
  • Tom Choi, 88, died Oct. 14. Known to his customers as Mr. Cool, Choi owned and operated a men's clothing store of the same name for 32 years at Third and Main streets in downtown Little Rock. A native of Korea, Choi was co-founder of First Korean Presbyterian Church. He served as the past president for the Korean-American Association in Arkansas and was appointed by former President of South Korea Kim Young-Sam to serve as the U.S. representative of the state of Arkansas to promote peaceful reunification of North and South Korea.
  • Betty Lou Flanagan Bumpers, 93, died Nov. 23. Bumpers was the wife of Dale Bumpers, a former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator. As the state's first lady in 1971, Bumpers started a campaign to have every child in the state immunized. The campaign drew national attention through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1982, at a time of escalating nuclear arms production, Bumpers and other congressional wives founded Peace Links, the purpose of which was to build relationships with women from the Soviet Union.
  • Terry Wallace, 74, died Dec. 6. Wallace, the Oaklawn Park track announcer for nearly four decades, called a record 20,191 consecutive races, ending his streak on Jan. 28, 2011. He was the track announcer at Oaklawn Park for 37 years and worked at the park for 42 years in all. Oaklawn President Lou Cella said Wallace "had a way of making even a mundane race seem incredibly exciting. By the finish line you thought you were watching the Kentucky Derby."
  • Jess "Woody" Woods, 94, died Dec. 10. Woods was a restaurateur, caterer, amusement park operator and a clown who entertained and served food to the homeless, to presidents and to everyone else in between for more than 50 years. "It's Your Laughter I'm After," said the man who as a clown would autograph and pass out $2 bills.
  • Mike Malham, 94, died Dec. 12. Malham was an assistant coach at Arkansas State University from 1971-84. Malham was a high school coach for a total of 22 seasons at Clinton, Little Rock Catholic and Little Rock McClellan high schools. He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.
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