Notable Deaths of 2011

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 26, 2011 12:00 am  

January
Walter Quinn, 79, a founding senior partner of Barnes Quinn Flake & Anderson of Little Rock (now Colliers International), died Jan. 5. Quinn co-founded the real estate firm in 1970. Deals from his office resulted in what was then Arkansas' office building, the Little Rock high-rise now known as the Regions Bank Building.

Don Tyson, 80, former CEO and senior chairman of Springdale's Tyson Foods Inc., died Jan. 6 of complications from cancer. Tyson joined the poultry company in 1953 and took over from his father, founder John W. Tyson, in 1967. Don Tyson led the company to great prosperity and control of 25 percent of the nation's poultry market.

H.L. Hembree III, 79, former chairman of Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith, died Jan. 21. Hembree headed up Arkansas Best when it was formed as a parent company of Arkansas Best Freight System in 1958.

February
Warren Overton, 41, a former Little Rock stockbroker, died Feb. 12 of complications from pneumonia. After serving a federal prison sentence for check-kiting, Overton was rebuilding his career as director of business development for ASAP Personnel Services Inc. of Little Rock at the time of his death.

John J. Robbins Sr., 64, co-founder of DataPath, a Little Rock software firm, died of Hodgkin's lymphoma Feb. 22. Robbins founded DataPath in 1984 and served as president and CEO until his death, whereupon his son, John J. Robbins Jr., took over.
Bill Smith, 69, a longtime Little Rock auto dealer, died Feb. 28. Smith formerly owned Prestige Toyota and later Pinnacle Ford, which he sold to the Crain Automotive Team in 2009.

March
Bess Chisum Stephens, 83, widow of W.R. "Witt" Stephens Sr., died March 4. Bess Stephens was active in the Little Rock community and worked at her husband's Little Rock firm, W.R. Stephens Investment Co., now known as Stephens Inc. She was later chairman emeritus of The Stephens Group.

April
H. Maurice Mitchell, 85, original partner and founder of the Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard law firm of Little Rock, died April 2 after an extended illness. Mitchell began his law career in 1949 and joined the firm in 1954. He was also active in anti-segregation politics during the 1960s.

May
Richard B. Adkisson, 78, former Arkansas Supreme Court chief, died May 18 of myeloma. Adkisson retired from the court in 1984. He also served terms as prosecuting attorney and circuit judge of the 6th Judicial District for Pulaski and Perry Counties.

James "Bum" Atkins, 79, a Little Rock businessman, died after a brief illness May 20. Atkins owned an insurance agency until 1985, and later became managing director of Little Rock's Herrington Inc.

June
John Brown Jr., 89, former John Brown University president, died June 3. Brown succeeded his father as president of the Siloam Springs university in 1948. He was 26 then, making him the youngest university president at the time. He served in that capacity until 1979.

Collier Wenderoth, 87, former chairman of Fort Smith's O.K. Industries Inc., died June 6. Wenderoth's father started the business in 1933 as OK Feed Mills Inc. Wenderoth was a 2009 inductee into the Arkansas Farm Bureau's Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Michael Aureli, 61, former president and CEO of Arkansas Hospice, died June 29. Aureli was ordained a Catholic priest in 1976. In 1991, he began a second career in health care, becoming president and CEO of Arkansas Hospice in 1995. In 2000, he opened Arkansas' first inpatient hospice care program.

July
Stanley Reed, 59, a former Arkansas Farm Bureau president, died in a one-vehicle automobile accident July 15. Reed was ARFB president from 2003-08. At the time of his death, he was a finalist for president of the University of Arkansas System.

Jennings Osborne, 67, noted Little Rock philanthropist, died of complications from heart surgery July 27. Jennings became wealthy through medical research. His Christmas light displays were well known, first in central Arkansas and then at Walt Disney World and Elvis Presley's Graceland, and he would regularly host fireworks displays and barbecues at which hundreds would be fed.

August
Sam Sicard, 70, chairman of First National Bank of Fort Smith, died Aug. 7. Sicard oversaw tremendous growth for his bank during his time as president from 1977 onward.

September
Maria Haley, 70, director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, died Sept. 13. Haley served twice in the Bill Clinton-era White House. She was appointed to head the commission in 2007.

Jim Pickens, 74, one of Haley's predecessors as director of AEDC, also died on
Sept. 13. Pickens led the state's economic development department from 2001-03 during the administration of then-Gov. Mike Huckabee. Before that, Pickens was vice president of public affairs for Entergy Arkansas.

October
Walter Carpenter "Buddy" Coleman Jr., 83, whose family founded and owned Coleman Dairy for more than 130 years, died Oct. 24. Coleman joined the family business in 1951 and became president in 1971. Members of the Coleman family continued to operate the dairy, even after it was sold to Associated Milk Producers Inc. in 1995 and then to Turner Dairy of Covington, Tenn., in 1998.

November

Garrett Uekman, 19, a tight end for the Arkansas Razorbacks, died in his dorm room the weekend of Nov. 18. Uek-man's death was likely due to an undiagnosed heart condition called cardiomyopathy.

David J. Cohn, 56, former owner of one of the state's largest private companies, Forrest City Grocery Co., died Nov. 26 of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Core-Mark Holding Co. Inc. of South San Francisco, Calif., purchased the bulk of the company, its wholesale grocery business, in April for $73 million.

December
Harold Chakales, 77, a longtime trustee at the University of Central Ar-
kansas in Conway, died Dec. 14. Chakales was a former orthopedic surgeon and served on the board for 17 years, starting in 1985. Chakales served as board chairman in 1989, 1997 and 2010.

 

 

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