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Arkansas Business: Notable Arkansas Deaths of 2012

5 min read

William Nolan Jr., Casey Laman and Robert Wilson Sr. and Jr. were among 34 Arkansas business leaders and notable professionals who died during the last year.

December 2011

Theodore Evert “Ted” Larimer, 91, the former publisher of the Green Forest Tribune and past president of the Arkansas Press Association, died Dec. 31, 2011. Larimer was also mayor of Green Forest for 20 years.


Lauraetta McBride Edgar, 81, founder of North Little Rock’s Star Bolt & Screw Co., died Jan. 24. Edgar co-founded Star Bolt & Screw in 1973 with her husband of 41 years, Rayburn J. Edgar, who preceded her in death in 1988.


Johnny Goode, 52, a longtime advertising executive for Arkansas Business, died Feb. 2 after a five-year battle with cancer. Goode joined the company in 1991 and retired in May 2011 due to the illness.

George Eugene Wimberly, 92, a former Little Rock mayor, city director, state representative and pharmacist, died Feb. 5. Wimberly was known for his friendship with former Little Rock Police Chief Jess F. “Doc” Hale, who fatally shot himself in 1988 after being accused of stealing less than $200 from Wimberly’s store.


William Nolan Jr., 72, chairman of Murphy Oil Corp.’s board of directors, died March 13. Nolan had been chairman since 2002 of the company founded by his uncle, Charles Murphy Jr.

Carl Wendell Flemister Jr., 50, owner and CEO of Vacation Tour & Travel Inc. of Conway, died March 19. Flemister was at a Mexican beach when he suffered a heart attack after nearly drowning in the ocean.

Jane Krutz, 86, supporter of the Arkansas Educational Television Network, died March 25. Krutz recruited and advocated for AETN for nearly 50 years.

Betty Magie, 84, former community newspaper owner, died March 26. She and her late husband, Cone Magie, once owned five central Arkansas newspapers.

Rick Redden, 63, founder of AMR Architects Inc., died March 27 of cancer. Redden founded the firm in 1982.


Casey Laman, 98, former mayor of North Little Rock, died April 16. Laman was well-known for his transformative leadership of North Little Rock between 1958 and 1980.


H.G. “Jack” Frost Sr., 80, an accountant and convicted embezzler, died May 11. Jones, who in 1974 founded the firm now known as Frost PLLC, was indicted in 1999 and convicted on 69 counts of fraud for his dealings with the Jones Charitable Trust of Springdale. He was released from federal prison in 2007 at the age of 75.

E.A. Ostedgaard, 86, a North Little Rock businessman and civic leader, died May 12. Ostedgaard was a former president of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and a founding director of the Foundation Fund at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

Nolan Richardson III, 47, son of former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson, died May 12.


Joe Hatcher, 75, former Hendrix College president and former interim president and board member for Pulaski Academy, died June 1. Hatcher led Hendrix from 1981 to 1991.

Robert Wilson Sr., 89, former CEO of Central Bank & Trust of Little Rock, died June 28 following a stroke. Wilson organized Central Bank & Trust in 1996 before it was sold to Arvest in 2000 for about $15.7 million.


Tommy Caubble, 65, Republican candidate for state Senate, died July 5. Caubble had won the GOP nomination for state Senate District 23 without opposition in the May primary.

Brig. Gen. Oliver William “Dub” Myers, 82, former commander of the 39th Infantry Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard, died July 5. He was the father of Olivia Myers Farrell, CEO of Arkansas Business Publishing Group.

James Harris, 64, a partner in the Little Rock law firm of Friday Eldredge & Clark, died unexpectedly July 24. Harris was the son of the late Oren Harris, who represented Arkansas’ 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives before being appointed to a federal judgeship in El Dorado.


Robert M. “Robby” Wilson Jr., 60, managing partner of Little Rock law firm Wilson & Associates PLLC and founder of Wilson History & Research Center, died Aug. 3, five weeks after his father.

Gary Combs, 59, a former northwest Arkansas real estate developer, died from cancer-related complications on Aug. 11. Combs was known as much for his publicity stunts and legal battles as for his business interests.

Helen Gurley Brown, 90, a longtime editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, died Aug. 13. The native of Green Forest (Carroll County) was hired at Cosmo in 1965 and was charged with turning the foundering magazine around. Her input thereafter characterized the growing sexual revolution.

William Brock Johnson, 63, CEO of Garver LLC of Little Rock, died Aug. 21. He led Garver from 2003 until shortly before his death.


James Toler “Jim” Harvey, 72, former CEO of Central Arkansas Water, died Sept. 11. Harvey was employed by the waterworks in Little Rock for almost 40 years and had been named Arkansas Business Executive of the Year in 2003.

Charles White, 83, former executive at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, died Sept. 24. White was notable for being an African-American leader at the hospital during the civil rights era.

Larry Farrar, 68, general manager of the Hilton Little Rock Medical Center and past general manager of the Embassy Suites Little Rock, died Sept. 29.


Matt Turner, 32, a news anchor for CBS affiliate KTHV-TV, Channel 11, in Little Rock, died in a single-vehicle automobile accident Oct. 6. Turner was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

Julius Breckling, 83, a longtime head of the Little Rock Parks & Recreation Department, died Oct. 22. Breckling had served the department for 35 years before retiring in 1991.

Bill Simmons, 71, a former Associated Press bureau chief who covered Arkansas politics, died Oct. 29. Simmons worked for the AP for 34 years, then another 16 years as political editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


Perrin Jones, 80, a longtime editor of The Daily Citizen in Searcy, died Nov. 2. Jones’ family owned the Citizen for three generations. He served as editor from 1954 to 1986, several years after the paper was sold.

Christopher C. Mercer, 88, one of the six students who integrated the University of Arkansas School of Law, died Nov. 20. Mercer was the first African-American in the South to be a deputy state prosecutor.

Dewayne Graham, 63, a former Little Rock television reporter best known for his time at KATV, died Nov. 28.

John Lewis Ward, 81, founder of Conway’s Toad Suck Daze and former director of the University of Central Arkansas’ Oxford American literary magazine, died Nov. 29. Ward was also a professor of journalism at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and managing editor of the Log Cabin Democrat, Conway’s daily paper.


John Charles Dodge, 67, a Benton County lawyer, died Dec. 4. Dodge was known for his litigious zeal on behalf of serial entrepreneurs Jim Bolt and Melvin Robinson, with whom Dodge (and a fourth defendant, Leroy Hoback) was indicted and acquitted on federal securities fraud charges. Among the many targets of Dodge’s lawsuits was, in the early 2000s, this very publication.

Joan Duffy, 61, former Little Rock bureau chief for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, died Dec. 6 of complications from cancer. Duffy had spent the past decade working for the Office of Communications at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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