Richard L. (Dick) Barclay (1937–2019)
Richard L. (Dick) Barclay was a major figure in state and Republican politics in the last part of the twentieth century. Serving in both the Arkansas General Assembly and the executive branch, he became an influential governmental figure while also playing a substantive role in the party’s growth during that period.
Richard Barclay was born on June 5, 1937, in Oberlin, Kansas, to John Francis Barclay and Margaret Ellen Bobbitt Barclay. Barclay grew up in Kansas and graduated from Topeka High School, where he was a member of the school newspaper staff. He then earned a dual degree in both business administration and social services from Kansas State University, graduating in 1960.
Barclay married Janice (Jan) Forbes in 1960. The couple had a daughter and two sons. They honeymooned in Rogers (Benton County) and soon relocated there when Barclay started his accounting career working with his brother, Charles. The Barclay brothers built a successful certified public accounting business, of which Barclay was a contributing member until 1999. Barclay was also involved in public and community affairs, both in elective politics and through service in community organizations.
He first entered the political arena in 1970 when he began a six-year tenure on the Rogers City Council. He next moved into state government when, running as a Republican, he won election in 1976 to the Arkansas House of Representatives. He would serve there until 1992, when he unsuccessfully ran for the party’s nomination for the Third Congressional District seat, losing to Tim Hutchinson. Befitting his background in accounting, Barclay served on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee and sponsored legislation on tax reform. His professional experience, as well as his time on the Rogers City Council, informed his work as a member of the House’s City, County and Local Auditing Committee as well as the Joint Auditing Committee. He was also a member of the powerful House Rules Committee and the Legislative Joint Performance Review Committee. He also sponsored legislation on educational standards and funding, as well as economic development. Beginning with his involvement in the initial funding of the off-campus program in Benton County, Barclay was also a major figure in the effort to build upon the Benton County program and the ultimate establishment of the Northwest Arkansas Community College. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Northwest Arkansas Community College Foundation and was a supporter of the effort to relocate U.S. Highway 71.
He served as the executive director of Budget, Legislative Affairs, and Policy during Governor Mike Huckabee’s first term beginning in 1996. He would later serve in the governor’s cabinet as the state’s chief fiscal officer and director of finance and administration, retiring from that post in 2002.
Following his retirement from government service, he returned to his private accounting practice at Beall Barclay & Company, PLC.
Barclay served as treasurer and as a director of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, while also serving in a leadership capacity in the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. He also held leadership posts in the Benton County Republican Party, First Christian Church of Rogers, the Rogers Little Theater, the Northwest Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute, and the Mercy Health System, among others. A one-time member of the Rogers Park Commission, he also served as president of both the Rogers United Fund and the Rogers Lion Club. In 2018, the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce honored Barclay’s years of legislative service by establishing the Barclay-Matthews Award for Distinguished Legislative Leadership. Barclay also played in a bluegrass band with friends (although it is unknown which instrument he played) and sang in a barbershop quartet.
Barclay died on January 4, 2019, in Rogers.
For additional information:
Gatling, Paul. “Former State Rep. Dick Barclay of Rogers Dies at 81.” Talk Business and Politics, January 5, 2019. https://talkbusiness.net/2019/01/former-state-rep-dick-barclay-of-rogers-dies-at-81/ (accessed November 18, 2020).
Jones, Mike. “Longtime Legislator, Community Servant Barclay Dies at 81.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 7, 2019, p. 2B.
Obituary of Richard “Dick” Barclay. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 6, 2019. https://www.arkansasonline.com/obituaries/2019/jan/06/richard-barclay-2019-01-06/ (accessed November 18, 2020).
William H. Pruden III
Last Updated: 11/18/2020