Arkansas Business' 25 Philanthropists (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

Winthrop Rockefeller, Arkansas governor from 1967-71

4. Donald W. Reynolds/Donald W. Reynolds Foundation
Although Donald W. Reynolds was raised in Oklahoma City, he made a huge mark in Arkansas, both as a newspaper magnate and a philanthropist. Reynolds bought the Fort Smith newspaper, the Southwest Times Record, in 1940, one of two that launched what became Donrey Media Group.

Reynolds' giving didn't start until later in his life, with most of it coming through his foundation, based in Nevada. When he did start giving, however, he gave big. Reynolds died in 1993, but his foundation has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars. In Arkansas, it has focused its philanthropy on geriatric and cardiac research as well as on capital improvements to campuses around Arkansas.

Buildings bearing the Reynolds name include the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences ($28.8 million), the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium at UA Fayetteville ($21 million for its expansion), the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business & Economic Development at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock ($13 million), the Donald W. Reynolds Library & Technology Center at Philander Smith College ($7.8 million) and the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Music & Communication at Harding University ($6 million). That's just a sample.

Other buildings funded with Reynolds Foundation money bear the names of Reynolds' friends and business associates. Among them are the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center at UA Fort Smith and the Ross Pendergraft Library & Technology Center at Arkansas Tech.

The foundation even came to the aid of the father of the country – or at least his portrait – when in 2001 it gave $30 million to keep a Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington hanging at the Smithsonian Institution after its British owner decided to sell it. In 2005, the foundation gave the Smithsonian another $45 million to renovate the historic Patent Office Building, home to the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, as well as for exhibitions. The two museums are now known as the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art & Portraiture.

5. Jackson T."Jack" Stephens/Warren and Harriet Stephens
Jackson T. "Jack" Stephens, the legendary Little Rock financier who died in 2005, donated millions of dollars to scores of causes, among them the Arkansas Arts Center, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and The First Tee of Little Rock.

With his older brother, Wilton Robert "Witt" Stephens, Jack Stephens founded what became Stephens Inc.

He gave $5 million to The First Tee, which seeks to teach values to young people while teaching golf, which was a major love of Stephens' life. Stephens helped transform the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences with his multimillion-dollar gifts, including $48 million for the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, $1.5 million to endow a chair in geriatrics and another $1.5 million to endow a second geriatrics chair.

He gave $22 million to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for what became the Jack Stephens Center, home to UALR athletics, and $2.5 million to the St. Vincent Heart Center at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center.

The art that Stephens gave to the Arkansas Arts Center has been valued at $22 million, and he gave money to help build the 30,000-SF addition to the center.

Stephens and other members of his family, including his son Warren and Warren's wife, Harriet, gave $30 million to Episcopal Collegiate School in 2004. Warren Stephens gave 11 acres for Dickey-Stephens Park, which opened on the North Little Rock side of the Arkansas River in 2007 as home to the Arkansas Travelers.

6. Murphy Oil Corp./Claiborne and Elaine Deming/Murphy Foundation/Charles H. Murphy Jr./Murphy-Keller Family
In January 2007, Murphy Oil Corp. and its president and CEO, Claiborne Deming, made an astonishing promise, the "El Dorado Promise." The global energy company based at El Dorado pledged $50 million over the next 20 years to help pay the college tuition for all the city's high school graduates, or at least those who had been in the El Dorado schools since the ninth grade. In the first year of the program's existence, at least half of the graduates were the first generation in their family to attend college.

 

 

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