Entries - Entry Category: Business and Economics - Starting with R

Ranger Boats

Ranger Boats, founded in Flippin (Marion County) in 1968 by Forrest Lee Wood and his wife, Nina, is the largest maker of bass boats in the United States. The Woods were instrumental in developing the sport of professional bass fishing, and Forrest Wood is considered the creator of the modern bass boat. Ranger Boats are sold throughout the world and have the reputation of being among the finest bass boats made. Wood, born in 1932 and a native of Marion County, married Nina Kirkland, also a Marion County native, in 1951, and the couple began operating a fishing guide and float trip service in the late 1950s. The Woods took their clients on expeditions on Bull Shoals Lake, the White …

Reader Railroad

The Reader Railroad, which ran through Nevada and Ouachita counties, was one of the last remaining trains drawn by steam locomotives. Though no longer in operation, either in industry or as a tourist attraction, it has drawn many to the area and was a featured set piece in the television miniseries, North & South. Sayre Narrow Gauge, the railroad’s original name, was constructed in 1889 to move the virgin timber that was being harvested south of Reader, which is on the Nevada–Ouachita County border, for a sawmill at the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad located in Gurdon (Clark County). In 1910, the line was purchased by the McVay Lumber Company and, in 1913, was taken over by the …

Recreational and Retirement Communities

Land developers have long capitalized on the American dream of owning real estate or a home in the sun by mass-marketing vacation and retirement home sites to a distant clientele. Land was subdivided into relatively small lots within amenity-based subdivisions and sold as future retirement home sites or as an investment. During the 1950s, property in suburban subdivisions became popular. Lots were mass-marketed by a few large land development corporations, principally in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. The companies created a nationwide market for property sold on the installment plan by mail, often sight unseen. This type of land development soon became a national phenomenon; raw or partially developed acreage was “improved,” subdivided into small parcels, and offered for sale …

Remmel, Harmon Liveright

Harmon Liveright Remmel succeeded Powell Clayton as leader of Arkansas’s Republican Party in 1913. His tenure was plagued by an ongoing dispute between Lily White and African-American Republicans. His role in the movement remains a topic of debate among historians. Harmon Remmel was born on January 15, 1852, in Stratford, New York, to German immigrants Gottlieb Remmel and Henrietta Bever. Gottlieb Remmel was a tanner and a staunch Republican. Harmon Remmel, who had four brothers and two sisters, attended Fairfield Seminary in Fairfield, New York. He taught school for a year, and in 1871, he and his brother Augustus Caleb (A. C.) Remmel entered the lumber business in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1874, he returned to New York, and in …

Renfrow, William Cary

William Cary Renfrow was an influential political figure during the early territorial years of Oklahoma. A North Carolina native who moved to Arkansas following the Civil War, Renfrow moved to the growing Oklahoma Territory in the late 1880s, where he would play an important role in Oklahoma’s journey toward statehood. William Cary Renfrow was born on March 15, 1845, in Smithville, North Carolina, to Perry Renfrow and Lucinda Atkinson Renfrow. He got his early schooling there but stopped attending school at the age of sixteen to enlist in the Confederate army. He initially joined Company C in the Fiftieth North Carolina Regiment in February 1862, where he advanced to sergeant. As the war progressed, he transferred to Company F of …

Rice Industry

Rice, the most popular grain in the world, is Arkansas’s leading agricultural product. Although it was only rarely grown in Arkansas before the twentieth century, rice came to dominate eastern Arkansas farms, beginning in the Grand Prairie but rapidly expanding into the Mississippi Delta and the Arkansas Valley. Domesticated rice (Oryza sativa) is not native to North America. It has been cultivated in central Asia for up to 6,500 years, and its use gradually spread to eastern and western Asia, the Mediterranean basin, and Africa. Roughly 40,000 official varieties of rice are recognized, but they usually are sorted into three categories: short-grain, medium-grain, and long-grain. While most rice is consumed as a grain, rice is also an ingredient in many …

Rice-Upshaw House

The Rice-Upshaw House stands on its original site in the Eleven Point River valley near the rural community of Dalton in northwestern Randolph County. Known locally as “Reuben Rice’s,” it was constructed in 1828 by merchant and artisan Reuben Rice to serve as a store and loom house for his 1820s rural trading center. Standing near the Rice-Upshaw House is a 1820s granary. These three structures are among the oldest structures of these kind in the state and represent the state’s only surviving example of a rural trading center. Reuben Rice arrived in the valley in 1812 by wagon train as part of an inter-connected group of Anglo-American farmers with their few slaves. Settling approximately one mile from Rice and …

Rice, J. Donald

J. Donald (Don) Rice Jr. is founder, president, and chief executive officer of Rice Financial Products Company in New York, the only minority-owned derivatives firm in the nation. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2003. James Donald Rice Jr. was born on August 22, 1958, to the Reverend James Donald Rice Sr. and Ellen Rice. He has an older sister, Donnellda. In 1962, his family moved from Kansas City, Missouri, to Hot Springs (Garland County). His father founded and served as the pastor of Roanoke Baptist Church and was president of the Hot Springs chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Ellen Rice funded and operated the first Head Start …

Riceland Foods

Riceland Foods, Inc., headquartered in Stuttgart (Arkansas County), is the world’s largest rice miller and rice marketer. It also operates one of the world’s largest rice mills, which is located in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Founded in 1921 as a farmers’ cooperative to market crops, Riceland is one of the top companies in Arkansas. It is the largest supplier of rice for the food industry in the United States, a major rice exporter to foreign countries, one of the nation’s largest grain storage companies, and is also one of the Mid-South’s largest soybean processors. In the late nineteenth century, most of America’s rice was grown in Louisiana. Around 1900, William H. Fuller from Carlisle (Lonoke County) went to Louisiana on a …

Riggs, John Andrew

John Andrew Riggs was a pioneer, politician, early aviator, patent medicine business proprietor, and father of women’s suffrage in Arkansas. Riggs’s Act 186 of 1917 allowed women to vote in the Democratic primary in Arkansas. This enfranchisement of women paved the way for Arkansas’s ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. John Riggs was born on November 5, 1867, in Shelby County, Illinois, the eldest of six children of Elbridge Marion Riggs and Sarah Ann Hubbartt. His parents were farmers and merchants. In 1877, the extended Riggs family moved to Sumner County, Kansas, the Southern border of which was Indian Territory. In 1889, Riggs was one of over 50,000 pioneers in a line stretching for 100 miles along …

Right to Work Law

aka: Amendment 34
In November 1944, Arkansas and Florida became the first two states to enact what are commonly known as “Right to Work” measures. These laws prohibit employers and employee-chosen unions from agreeing to contracts that require employees to join the union as a condition of employment. Thus, rather than simply granting an individual the right to work, such laws regulate the collective bargaining process to the detriment of unions. The effort to enact Right to Work laws originated on Labor Day in 1941, when Dallas Morning News editorial writer William Ruggles called for the passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting contracts that required employees to become union members. Soon thereafter, Vance Muse, founder of the Christian American Association, …

Rimrock Records

Rimrock Records was founded by country music artist Wayne Raney and his son, Zyndall, in Concord (Cleburne County) in 1961. It is said to be Arkansas’s first and only record-manufacturing company. It was located on Rimrock Road off Heber Springs Road just west of the point at which Highway 87 from Banner (Cleburne County) intersects with Highway 25 at Concord. Such luminaries as the Stanley Brothers and Red Smiley made records, both 45 RPM and LPs, for Rimrock, and Elvis Presley and Ike and Tina Turner did dubbing and studio work there in the early 1970s. Big-name celebrities were often flown in to the Batesville Regional Airport at Southside (Independence County), slipping into Concord at night unbeknownst to the media. …

Roberts, Roy

Roy Roberts, a native of Magnolia (Columbia County), rose through the ranks of the automotive industry from management trainee to vice president of General Motors Corporation (GM), only the second African American to hold such a high position in the corporation. He was a pioneer in the field, and by the end of his over twenty-year leadership career with GM, he was one of the most powerful executives in the automotive industry. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2000. Roy Stewart Roberts was born in Magnolia on March 26, 1939. He was one of ten children of Turner Ray Roberts and Erma Lee Livingston Roberts. His father worked at several jobs, and his mother was …

Rock Town Distillery

Founded in 2010, Rock Town Distillery is “the first legal distillery of any kind in Arkansas since prohibition.” Its spirits are sold in at least sixteen states and in the United Kingdom. Its current lineup includes more than thirteen different spirits with names referencing the Natural State; all the grains needed to make their vodka, whiskey, and gin—such as corn, wheat, rye, and barley—are acquired from Arkansas farms. Rock Town Distillery has won numerous international awards, including the prestigious double-gold award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in March 2011. In 2015, Rock Town Distillery’s world-class Arkansas whiskey won the U.S. Micro Whiskey of the Year Award from Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible. In 2009, Little Rock–based Alltel Communications, LLC, …

Rockefeller, Jeannette Edris

Jeannette Edris Rockefeller was a socialite, arts promoter, and civic activist. She was first lady of Arkansas (1967–1971) during Winthrop Rockefeller’s terms as the state’s thirty-seventh governor. Jeannette Edris was born on July 13, 1918, in Seattle, Washington, to William Edris—a high-profile capitalist of Spokane, Washington—and Frances Skinner Edris, who died during the birth of the family’s second daughter. After the death of her mother, Edris found herself under the strong influence of her grandmother, socialite Jeannette E. Skinner (her namesake), who was the wife of capitalist David Skinner, co-founder and president of Skinner & Eddy Shipyard. During her elementary school years, Edris often traveled with her grandmother to places such as Pasadena, California, and Port Maitland, British Columbia. At …

Rockefeller, Winthrop Paul

Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, known in his adopted state of Arkansas as Win (or Win Paul to differentiate him from his father, Winthrop Rockefeller), was a scion of Rockefeller family, which made its fortune with Standard Oil. Like his father, who was the first Republican to be elected governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction, Winthrop Paul Rockefeller abandoned his East Coast roots and established a life in the more rural environs of Arkansas before making a name for himself in Republican politics, eventually being elected lieutenant governor. However, his political career was cut short when, at the age of fifty-seven, he died of complications related to a rare blood disorder. Win Rockefeller was born on September 17, 1948, in New York, the …

Rodgers, James Ronald, Sr.

James Ronald Rodgers Sr. was the nation’s first African American to be appointed manager of a major commercial airport, the first black head of a major independent city agency in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and the state’s first black commercial loan officer. James Rodgers was born on March 15, 1947, in Little Rock to Homer and Ruth Rodgers. The fifth of six children, he spent his childhood in the Tuxedo Courts housing development south of Roosevelt Road. Rodgers grew up working with his mother, brothers, and sister for his father’s janitorial service. After graduating from Horace Mann High School in 1965, Rodgers attended Little Rock University—now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR)—for a year and a half. In …

Rooker, Oley Eldon

Oley Eldon Rooker was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman whose neighborhood engagement and support of library funding led to a branch of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) that opened in 2010 being named in his honor. Oley Eldon Rooker was born on November 2, 1931, in Des Arc (Prairie County) to Darrell Rooker and Tura Louise Guess Rooker. Young Oley and his mother moved to Little Rock at some point—the 1940 census shows him as a resident of the Working Women’s Home in the capital city. His mother married D. Wylie Hall, who would later stand as Rooker’s best man at his wedding. He was an active student, and newspaper accounts of the period show him involved in …

Roots, Logan Holt

Logan Holt Roots settled in Arkansas after serving the Union in the Civil War. He was a congressman, banker, and promoter of the state. Born at Locust Hill, near Tamaroa, Illinois, on March 26, 1841, Roots was the third of four children of Benajah Guernsey Roots, an educator, and Martha Sibley Holt. His early academic interest focused on mathematics, although he worked with an engineering corps engaged in railroad construction at fifteen, acquiring a lifetime interest in railroad development. He enrolled in Illinois State Normal University in 1857, taught for a year then returned and graduated valedictorian in 1862. After graduation, Roots enlisted in the Eighty-first Illinois Infantry, a volunteer regiment, and served in the Union Army until the Civil …

Rosewater, Benjamin J. (B. J.)

Modern Eureka Springs (Carroll County), including the historic Carnegie Library and Basin Spring Park, owes much of its development to early resident of the city Benjamin J. Rosewater. An energetic advocate of civic improvement and a business leader serving for several years as postmaster, the Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe left a lasting mark on the Ozarks mountain town where he lived for more than sixty years. Born in Hungary in 1857, B. J. Rosewater first came to the United States to visit family in Chicago, Illinois. After moving briefly to Cairo, Illinois, Rosewater visited Eureka Springs in August 1882 in an effort to improve his health. Rosewater quickly recovered from his illness, and he liked the chaotic frontier town …

Ross, Jane

Jane Ross was a prominent businesswoman and philanthropist in Clark County. She served in the Women’s Army Corps of the Army Air Force during World War II. Ross owned a photography studio in Arkadelphia (Clark County) and operated her family’s timber enterprise. She also received several awards and honors during her lifetime. Jane Ross was born in Arkadelphia on December 23, 1920, to Hugh Thomas Ross and Esther Clark Ross. She had one sister. She grew up in Arkadelphia and graduated from Arkadelphia High School in May 1938. Ross graduated from Henderson State Teachers College (now Henderson State University,) with a BA in May of 1942. Ross worked as a Navy photographer in Washington DC for six months in 1943. …

Rottaken, Herbert H.

Herbert H. Rottaken was a larger-than-life presence in post–Civil War Little Rock (Pulaski County). A Union army officer during the Civil War, he moved to Little Rock in 1868 and, six years later, was a colonel in Governor Elisha Baxter’s militia during the Brooks-Baxter War. Afterward, he served as Pulaski County sheriff, chief of the city’s volunteer fire department, county assessor, and two-term city alderman. An ardent sportsman and renowned marksman, he was, the Arkansas Gazette declared, “as great a Nimrod as ever was.” In his eclectic business career, Rottaken was a successful planter, developer, inventor, and investor, often dealing in highly speculative ventures as well as conventional ones. Herbert Rottaken was born in Elberfeld, in what is now Germany, …

Roundtop Filling Station

The Roundtop Filling Station in Sherwood (Pulaski County), which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1936 by the Pierce Oil Company. Pierce Oil was one of the “baby Standards” formed after the U.S. government ordered the breakup of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company in 1911. Pierce operated gasoline stations in Arkansas, southern Missouri, western Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico. In 1936, Pierce Oil contracted with the Justin Matthews Company to construct a uniquely shaped gasoline station along U.S. Highway 67. With its mushroom-shaped roof and arched windows and doors, the Roundtop is anexample of the Mimetic/Programmatic architecture style common in smaller oil company station designs from the 1920s through the 1960s.It is believed …