As the pages of the old calendar flip over into another year, it is only fitting to stop and say a fond farewell to the many in our Benton County communities who have left us much better off because of their presence on this earth.
The list, as readers will see, includes many whose names will be familiar to us all, others, however, may have trod mightily in smaller circles in Northwest Arkansas, but all in all are people we have over the years come to admire and appreciate their influences on this earth.
Some of my suggestions are obvious, others you may be scratching your head over, but all in my way of thinking, deserve some mention.
Longtime Walmart executive and former owner of the Kansas City Royals, David Glass, died Jan. 9. He was the "right hand" man to Sam Moore Walton in many ways. He loved baseball and is THE reason the NWA Naturals are located in Springdale.
Another name made famous with a Walmart legacy is Marilyn Bogle, civic benefactor, who died Jan. 23. She and her late husband Bob, endowed the University of Arkansas Lady Razorbacks with a softball field named among other area charities that all benefited from the Bogles.
Dora Laurine Barnett of Siloam Springs, died June 10. Her patriotic spirit was her personal driving force to sell "Veterans' Poppies," each year. That drive endured long after other communities had stopped this practice. She had an unbridled love for this nation, and the Republican Party.
Ellen Compton, 81, a native of Bentonville, who was an expert historical researcher and valued member of the Washington County Historical Society and the Arkansas Historical Association, died in March.
Jo Parsons of Bella Vista, was a longtime Benton County historian, who died June 30. She was longtime school teacher who thrived later in life as a historian in Northwest Arkansas.
A prolific letter to the editor writer and staunch political theorist, Barbara Foreman of Siloam Springs, died July 13. She was first and foremost, a seeker of the truth and real Republican activist.
A real estate broker and civic leader for western Benton County, Walter Gray of Siloam Springs, died August 18. He was a former AIDC commissioner, a political mover-and-shaker and community booster.
Former Siloam Springs Mayor, John Brown University professor, a minister and well-known author, Dr. John V. Terry, left this earth on Sept. 9. His influence was felt in many corners of Siloam Springs and all over the John Brown University campus.
Former Pea Ridge Mayor, businessman and civic leader, John Easley, died Sept. 25. The banker and owner of the Ace Hardware franchise served on the Arvest Bank Board longer than almost anyone of local standing – except for his longtime friend – Jim Walton.
Gerald L. Harp, a Springdale icon and heir to the Harps' Food Stores fortune, died Oct. 16. He helped orchestrate the employee buy-out of the supermarket chain before his death. He was a civic leader in so many corners of Northwest Arkansas.
A former director of the University of Arkansas news bureau and journalist/news editor on the old Arkansas Gazette, Jim Clark, 86, of Rogers, died Nov. 13, 2020. He left his journalism job at the UA at age 46 and entered law school. He became an attorney at Clark and Crabtree and was later tapped as the Deputy City Attorney in Rogers.
Jim may have been the only man in recorded Benton County history to be elected and serve on both the Bentonville City Council and Rogers City Council. He served the Bentonville Council in the 1980s and later served on the Rogers City Council two different times. He was also one of the last of the "Yellow Dog Democrats" who was well respected in Benton County.
Another Siloam Springs power-broker, was Al Waggoner, 86, who died Nov. 5. A former Vice President for Distribution at Allen Canning for 31 years, Waggoner was also a vice president for Arkansas Western Gas in Van Buren for nine years.
Loyd Phillips, 75, of Springdale, the only Outland Trophy winner and two-time All-American for the Arkansas Razorbacks, died Dec. 27. He was also known as a kind, effective leader of school administrations in Springdale and Rogers middle schools and junior high schools. A native of Texas, Phillips played on the 1964 National Championship Razorback team and was a first-round draft choice in 1967 and the No. 1 pick of the Chicago Bears. A quiet man, Phillips was in the Halls of Fame in Arkansas, Texas, Southwest Conference and finally the National College Football Hall of Fame.
These are but a few in our communities, who passed away in 2020, may the prayers of the readers of this space comfort these families and others who have died in the past year.
-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.