UPDATE: TCB's Tom Steves Killed in Motorcycle Crash

Tom Steves of North Little Rock, a longtime advertising executive and current marketing director for Twin City Bank, was killed Tuesday afternoon in a motorcycle crash in northern Pulaski County. He was 68.

"We have lost a PR giant," the Arkansas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America said in a statement.

Roller-Owens Funeral Home in North Little Rock is handling the arrangements. Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home, 5509 John F. Kennedy Blvd. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at First Assembly of God Church, 4501 Burrow, in North Little Rock. Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty will deliver a eulogy, according to Bob Birch, CEO of Twin City Bank.

The accident happened at 3:53 p.m. at the intersection of Highways 107 and 89, near the Faulkner County line, according to an Arkansas State Police report.

According to the accident report, a Peterbilt truck pulling a trailer was westbound on Highway 89, and Steves was crossing 89 southbound on 107. Steves "had to lay the vehicle down to avoid the trailer," the report said. Steves was thrown from his motorcycle and struck the right rear of the trailer.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Peterbilt, 68-year-old Jerry Woods of McCrory, was not injured.

McLarty told ArkansasBusiness.com that he first met Steves shortly after he moved to Little Rock, while Steves was handling marketing for First National Bank.

"Tom was already established and had a good reputation as a savvy marketeer," he said.

When McLarty became president of the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce (now Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce), he put Steves to work almost full time.

"And he just did a great job," McLarty said. Among other things, Steves organized the first large annual meeting banquet - starting with "Megatrends" author John Nesbit as the keynote speaker - that has since become a chamber tradition.

"I would characterize Tom as a consummate professional and certainly a good and caring and supportive friend," McLarty said. Steves had the ability to "be honest and still leave you feeling good," he said.

"I had real affection and admiration for him."

Steves was born in New York and graduated from Hall High School in Little Rock in 1958. He joined the Navy after high school and served as a petty officer third class until 1961.

He then began a 16-year association with First National Bank.

"He moved up from the mailroom to vice president," according to Ron Robinson of Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods.

Robinson said Steves and First National were his first clients.

"He understood banking from the bottom up, from the teller line to the upper ranks," Robinson said.

Steves joined Commercial National Bank as executive vice president of marketing and retail banking in 1977 and remained there until 1981. After operating his own agency for a couple of years, he joined the agency now known as Mangan Holcomb in September 1983.

"I'm shocked and just sick about it," Steve Holcomb said of Steves' death. "He was a sweetheart guy."

"When I have friends who die doing what they love to do, I try to take some peace in that," Holcomb said.

Steves mainly worked on the account of Arkla Gas Co. for Mangan Holcomb but also worked for various bank and savings and loan clients. He moved to Cranford Johnson Robinson & Associates in time to assist with the 1990 merger with Woods Brothers Agency to form Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods. At CJRW, he was executive vice president and chief operating officer until 1999.

He then worked with Thoma Thoma before joining Twin City Bank in 2002 as EVP and marketing director.

"He's touched a lot of places," Bob Birch said.


The PRSA chapter issued this statement:

"The Arkansas Chapter PRSA mourns the loss of our beloved member Tom Steves who died tragically yesterday. Tom was an early leader in our chapter and remained active throughout the years.
"As an Accredited member of PRSA, a past president and the recipient of our Chapter¹s most prestigious award for lifetime service, the Crystal Award, Tom was a role model for public relations practitioners of all ages. He was a wise counselor, a trusted and loyal friend and a mentor who has assisted countless individuals in our profession. We have lost a PR giant.

"We extend our deepest sympathy to Tom's family, which includes wife Robin, son T., a daughter-in-law, step-daughter Hope and a new grandchild. Our prayers and warm wishes are with them."