Richard Lee "Dick" Cisne, a founder of an accounting firm that grew to be one of the state's largest, died Sunday. He was 70 years old.
Hudson Cisne & Co. of Little Rock was No. 6 on Arkansas Business' December list of the state's largest firms, ranked by number of CPAs on staff. But the firm has since gotten bigger, merging with Jones & Co. LTD of Jonesboro on Jan. 1 to form HCJ CPAs & Advisors PLLC of Little Rock. The combined company has about 90 employees and has offices in Little Rock, Jonesboro, White Hall and Rogers.
“As I announced to the firm internally, as I reflect on the many years he's mentored all of us, he definitely put service above self, which is the Rotary [Club] motto, and he followed that to a tee,” Karen Garrett, a managing partner at the firm, said.
“He's truly left a legacy here at the firm and he'll be greatly missed. ... And I think we’ve all kind of commented he was truly one of a kind. He had great humor, along with great mentorship at the same time, and that's hard to find,” she said.
Garrett added that Cisne's clients have reached out to the firm to share stories about him, and that’s been “heartwarming.”
Karen Fetzer, executive director of The Rotary Club of Little Rock, shared news of Cisne's death to club members on Tuesday. Cisne joined the club in 1987, was treasurer in 1995 and 1997, and was named a Paul Harris Fellow.
"Dick was serving as club treasurer when I was hired," Fetzer said. "He was extremely helpful to me as the new executive director. I am forever grateful that he spent much time and extended patience as he taught me the club finances. Dick was a valued member of Club 99 and he will be missed."
Cisne graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in accounting. He soon joined the Arkansas practice of Russell Brown & Co., which merged with Arthur Young & Co. in 1982. Cisne was a tax partner in the Little Rock office until September 1987, when he left the firm — along with Johnny Hudson and Roxy Keeling-Culp — to establish Hudson Cisne Keeling-Culp & Co. LLP, which grew into the fifth largest CPA firm in the state.
Cisne is a past president of the Mississippi Valley Chapter of National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives and, for the past several years, had served as chairman of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives's LTA Subcommittee on Financial Reporting of Agricultural Cooperatives. He was a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Cisne made the Arkansas Business Power List for accounting in 2016. He was also a finalist for Executive of the Year in the 2016 Arkansas Business of the Year Awards.
He had served as board member and treasurer of the Little Rock Boys & Girls Club Foundation and as a director of the Central Arkansas Boys & Girls Club. He was also on the board of Bank of the Ozarks of Little Rock (now Bank OZK) and was a founding director and president of the Arkansas State Police Foundation.
Cisne is survived by his sons, Jay Gentry and Derek Cisne; life partner, Barbara Hays; brother, William Cisne and his wife, Glenda; sister, Janice Kendall; three grandchildren, Madeline Gentry, Logan Cisne and Gavin Gentry; and two daughters-in-law, Courtney Cisne and Dr. Rhonda Gentry. He is preceded in death by his wife, Cheryl; parents, William and Doris Cisne; and brother, Sam Miller.
A graveside service is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Forest Hills Memorial Park. Visitation will be held from 3-7 p.m. Friday at Roller-Chenal Funeral Home of Little Rock. Attendance is limited to 50 at a time, per Arkansas Department of Health guidelines, and masks must be worn.
The family said it will hold a celebration of life for Cisne at a later date, and asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Arkansas State Police Foundation or Little Rock Boys & Girls Club Foundation.