Notable Deaths in 2004


Louis Ramsay Jr., 85, a Pine Bluff lawyer and banker who served as president of both the Arkansas Bar Association and the Arkansas Ban-kers Association, died Jan. 4. The Fordyce native was inducted into the University of Arkansas' Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2003. He was associated with Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff for 52 years, first as a director, then as president, CEO and chairman. He continued to serve as chairman of the executive committee of Simmons First National Corp. until his death. He was said to have coined the phrase, "We don't do extraordinary things; we simply do ordinary things extraordinarily well."


Bill Clark, 81, was a founder and principal in Little Rock's Friday Eldredge & Clark law firm. He started his practice as a defense trial lawyer before establishing a national reputation as an expert in labor law. Clark played a major role in the development of the textbook "Developing Labor Law," now in its third edition. Perhaps he was most popularly known for his portrayal of Gov. Orval E. Faubus in the Pulaski County Bar Association's Gridiron Show. It was his trademark role, and even Faubus himself reportedly called Clark "Governor."


Bill Smith, 64, founder of Smith Capital Management Inc. in Little Rock, died April 28 after fighting prostate cancer for 10 years. Smith, who grew up in Pine Bluff and Stuttgart, worked about 13 years for Stephens Inc. before establishing his own investment firm in 1984. He sold it in 2000 to an investor group led by the firm's then-vice president, Stephen W. Chaffin.

Larry Griffin, 62, was a former banker and lobbyist who was part-owner of the Cotham's restaurants in Scott and Little Rock. Griffin, an avid hunter, also carried an affinity for the grills that created his restaurant's famous Hubcap Burger. "I just got this thing about grills," he told Arkansas Business in 1999. "I think after 20 years, grills get a certain character, you know. You just take it with you."


Robert L. Peterson, 71, was the former chairman and CEO of IBP Inc. He died at his home in Dakota Dunes, S.D., after a seven-month battle with cancer. Peterson was one of IBP's original cattle buyers when the company began in 1961 and was named president and chief operating officer in July 1977. He became CEO in March 1980, chair-man in 1981 and also served as IBP's chairman and CEO until Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale bought the company in 2001.

Sandra "Sandy" Shumard Ledbetter, 55, was the former senior assistant to Gov. Jim "Guy" Tucker and an appointee of Gov. and President Bill Clinton. She suffered a heart attack in January and died from subsequent complications May 7.

Silas D. Snow, 94, was a longtime president of the University of Central Arkansas at Conway. He served as UCA president from 1953 to 1975 and oversaw its transition from Arkansas State Teachers College. The college grew from being primarily a teacher training school to a comprehensive university. Some 9,500 students now attend UCA, compared with 953 when Snow became president.


David Tucker, 44, was the general manager of the Red Lobster restaurant in North Little Rock. With Tucker at the helm for 10 years, it was perennially the highest-grossing restaurant in Pulaski County. The Amarillo, Texas, native served on the American Heart Association board, and his restaurant won numerous awards.

P.L. "Buddy" Montesi, 69, was the president, chief financial officer and treasurer of ThermoEnergy Corp. of Little Rock. He had planned to retire in 2005.


Plato Alexander Skouras, 74, was a former independent movie producer who moved to Brinkley in 1974 and opened a restaurant with his wife. He was the son of former 20th Century Fox president Spyros P. Skouras.

Susan Collins Smith, 50, was the first woman president of the Home Builders Association of Little Rock. She was owner of Susan Collins Smith Con-struction.

Clark McClinton, 91, was the former owner of McClinton-An-chor Construction of Fayetteville, which paved many of the highways and streets throughout northwest Arkansas. As a member of the Fayetteville School Board, he is remembered as seconding the motion to integrate Fayetteville schools in 1954.

Laurance Rockefeller, 94, a conservationist, philanthropist and venture capitalist, was also the uncle of Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller and brother of former Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller. He gave 50,000 acres to the National Park Service to form Virgin Islands National Park, was instrumental in the establishment of Redwood National Park in California, and donated his ranch to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.


Reeves Estes Ritchie, 90, was the former president, CEO and chairman of Arkansas Power and Light Co., now Entergy Arkansas Inc. He led the company's move toward energy independence by building nuclear and coal-fired plants rather than relying on natural gas and oil. He became the company's president in 1962 and retired in 1979.

Ray Hobbs, 53, was a 25-year newspaperman at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was assistant managing editor for production at the paper. He was city editor with the paper from 1985-94 and in the mid-1990s became assistant managing editor, then deputy managing editor, before taking his latest position in April.

Stephen Reasoner, 60, served 16 years as a federal judge in the East-ern District of Arkansas. Ap-pointed by Presi-dent Reagan, he began serving as a federal judge in 1988. He had a heart transplant in May and died Aug. 14, having never fully recovered.

E. Fay Jones, 83, was a world-renowned architect whose creations included the Thorncrown Chapel at Eureka Springs. He was professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. In 1990, Jones won American architecture's highest honor, the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, and he was the best known of Frank Lloyd Wright's students. In 1991, AIA members ranked Jones among the 10 most influential architects of the time.


Richard Sheppard Arnold, 68, was a judge on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. The bow-tied judge's significant Arkansas decisions included a bluntly worded 1985 opinion in which he held that consolidation was not the answer to school segregation. There was also a landmark 1989 decision he authored for a three-judge panel requiring the Arkansas Board of Apportionment to create supermajority districts to ensure Delta voters could elect black legislators. Former President Bill Clinton wrote in his autobiography that he would have nominated Arnold to the U.S. Supreme Court had he cleared a clean bill of health.


Joe B. Ford, 63, former chief executive of Capital Bank of Little Rock, led the formation of Capital Bank in 1997 and served as its president and CEO — and "one-man loan committee" — until early 2003. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Barbara Broyles, 79, wife of University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Athletic Director Frank Broyles, succumbed to complications related to Alzheimer's at her Fayetteville home. She was diagnosed with the disease in 1999.


Larry Waschka, 42, was a Little Rock financial adviser who turned a fascination with economics into a prominent investment firm. He drowned while on vacation with family in Mexico. Waschka was president and CEO of Waschka Capital Investments, which provided portfolio management and financial planning, typically for clients with $500,000 or more to invest. He wrote "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Rich" in 1996, taught thousands of workshops and gave financial-planning advice on local and national TV, radio and cable news shows. In the mid-1990s, he wrote columns for Arkansas Business.

Jerry Davis, 64, was the CEO of Little Rock wholesale grocery cooperative Affiliated Foods Southwest. In addition to leading Affiliated Foods for 17 years, Davis was appointed by Gov. Mike Huckabee to the State Police Commission in 1998 and was involved in a wide variety of civic and charitable causes. Affiliated Foods ranked fifth on Arkansas Business' 2004 list of the state's largest private companies with revenue of $737 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2003.