Arkansas Business' Spotlight 2013: Notable Deaths

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 12:00 am  

Doyle Rogers Sr., Alexa Dillard, Cal Ledbetter, Pat Summerall and Stephen LaFrance Sr. were among 18 business leaders and notable professionals who died in 2013.


Laura Newman, 55, a longtime journalist and public relations practitioner, died Jan. 25 following a seven-year battle with cancer. Newman worked for the Pine Bluff Commercial, the Arkansas Gazette, Alltel and Combs & Co., among other companies.

Rick Newton, 60, founder of Rick’s Pro Dive ‘N Ski Shop of North Little Rock, died Jan. 27 of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Newton’s store, established in 1978, is now known as Rick’s Dive ‘N Travel Center and celebrated its 35th anniversary this year.


Doyle Rogers Sr., 94, banker and real estate developer, died Feb. 4. Rogers owned Metropolitan National Bank and developed some of downtown Little Rock’s most recognizable modern landmarks, such as the hotel now known as the Marriott, the Statehouse Convention Center and the Stephens Inc. building.

Alexa Dillard, 96, widow of Dillard’s Inc. founder William T. Dillard and mother of top leaders in the Little Rock retail chain, died Feb. 19. She was mother of current CEO William Dillard II, President Alex Dillard, Executive Vice Presidents Drue Matheny and Mike Dillard and Vice President Denise Mahaffy.


Betty Lowe, 78, former medical director and long-time advocate of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, died March 5. Lowe is considered to have played a major role in making ACH one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals.

Layton “Scooter” Stuart, 62, former chairman and CEO of One Bank & Trust, died March 26. Chronically ill, Stuart died after being stripped of his positions at the bank following an audit order from its regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.


Pat Summerall, 82, former Arkansas Razorback football player and sports announcer, died April 16. Summerall called more Super Bowls than any announcer in the game’s history.


Dale Nicholson, 74, longtime general manager of Little Rock ABC affiliate KATV-TV, Channel 7, died June 1. Nicholson retired as general manager in October 2009 after 25 years in the top position. He remained as chairman of the station until his death.

Steve LaFrance Sr., 71, founder and owner of the USA Drug pharmacy chain, died June 5. USA Drug’s parent company, Stephen LaFrance Pharmacy Inc., was among the state’s largest private companies before it was sold to Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, Ill., for $438 million just nine months before LaFrance’s death.

George Worthen, 71, president of the Bank of Little Rock, community leader and a member of a prominent Little Rock family, died June 9. Worthen was president of the bank for 22 years.


Harry Scott, 64, former president of Thompson Industries Inc. of Russellville, died July 21. Thompson Industries sold in 2011 to Stella-Jones Inc., a Canadian company, for a reported $41 million.


James Edwards, 74, former owner of Central Industrial Electric Co. of North Little Rock, died Aug. 4. Edwards owned CIECO for 35 years.

Cal Ledbetter, 84, former state legislator, educator, historian and civic leader, died Aug. 10. Ledbetter served in the Arkansas Legislature from 1967-76 as a Democrat. He joined what would later be known as the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1960. In 1978 he was named dean of the College of Liberal Arts and held that position for 10 years. He retired from UALR in 1997.


Patricia May, 55, a former editor of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, died Sept. 2. May had worked as a reporter and editor for a number of publications in Arkansas and elsewhere before leaving the field to work as a market analyst.


Todd Mills, 41, vice president of communications and marketing for the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, died Nov. 28 of brain cancer. Mills was known as the originator of Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco. The fast-food restaurant partnered with Frito-Lay, which manufactures Doritos, after Mills contacted the potato chip company with his idea and championed it on social media. Since it was released, the Doritos-Taco Bell hybrid has become one of the restaurant’s top-selling products.


Betty Valachovic, 87, former president of two Arkansas trade associations, died Dec. 10. Valachovic was the first female president of the Arkansas Society of Association Executives and served from 1990 to 1991. She was also president of the International Association of Optometric Executives from 1982 until she retired in 2000.

James “Jim” Hill, 74, former senator and community leader, died Dec. 11. Hill served in the Arkansas House of Representatives as a Democrat from 1993 to 1996 and then the Senate from 1996 to 2009. He was also state Senate president for the 84th General Assembly in 2003.

Kenneth Camp, 75, a former state legislator and former lobbyist for the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, died Dec. 3. Camp also had worked as a teacher, principal and superintendent for the Brookland School District. He served two terms in the state House of Representatives and owned several tech-related companies, including IMPAC, Computer Utilities, Spectrum Teltronics and Falco.



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