Business Leaders

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Entries - Entry Category: Business Leaders - Starting with G

Garvan, Verna Cook

Verna Mary Cook Garvan was one of the first women in Arkansas to own a construction/manufacturing business and was the benefactor of what is now Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs (Garland County). Verna Cook was born on January 22, 1911, in Groveton, Texas, to Arthur Bacillius Cook and Essie Louise Bordis Cook. Verna Cook and her sister, Dorothy, were raised to be “proper ladies,” but Verna often accompanied her father to work and absorbed his business acumen. In 1916, her father moved the family to Malvern (Hot Spring County) to manage the Wisconsin and Arkansas Lumber Company, an enterprise producing oak and pine flooring. Malvern Brick and Tile was also purchased by Verna’s father, who later served as a …

Gaston, James Albert (Jim)

Jim Gaston was a renowned Arkansas businessman, sportsman, and philanthropist whose legacy includes operating Gaston’s White River Resort, being an advocate for tourism and conservation in the state, and acting as a champion of education. His generosity contributed to significant growth at Arkansas State University–Mountain Home (ASUMH). James (Jim) Albert Gaston was born on December 18, 1941, to Albert (Al) Gaston and Iola Cosey Gaston in Herrin, Illinois. After moving to Arkansas, Al Gaston created Gaston’s White River Resort at Lakeview (Baxter County) in 1958. In 1961, at age twenty, Jim Gaston inherited the property, which at the time consisted of twenty acres, six small cottages, and six boats. Gaston expanded the operation significantly, until it covered 400 acres of land with …

Gibbs, Mifflin Wistar

Mifflin Wistar Gibbs was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman, a politician, and the first elected African-American municipal judge in the United States. Mifflin Gibbs was born on April 17, 1823, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the eldest of four children born to Jonathan and Maria Gibbs. His father, a Methodist minister, died when Mifflin was a child, and his mother worked as a laundress. Gibbs learned carpentry through an apprenticeship. He read widely and attended debates at the Philadelphia Library Company of Colored Persons. He had a chance to practice his own oratory in the 1840s when Frederick Douglass invited him to help conduct an abolitionist lecture tour. Journeying to California soon after the gold rush of 1849, he became a …

Gibson, Herbert Richard (H. R.)

Herbert Richard (H. R.) Gibson Sr. was the founder of Gibson Products Company, parent company of the once prominent discount retail store chain Gibson’s Discount Centers. At its peak in the mid-1970s, Gibson Products Company—founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the 1930s—and its franchisees operated almost 700 stores located throughout much of the United States. H. R. Gibson was a modern discount retailing pioneer, entering the field in 1958, four years ahead of Kmart, Target, and Walmart Inc. As an early business rival of Sam Walton, Gibson influenced discounting and management practices that Walton later used to surpass Gibson and make Walmart Inc. the world’s largest retailer. H. R. Gibson was born near Berryville (Carroll County) on September 16, …

Glascock, Darrell

Darrell Glascock was a well-known political consultant who was an active force in Arkansas politics in the 1980s and 1990s. He also ran for U.S. Congress and sought the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Arkansas. Darrell Glascock was born in Tullos, Louisiana, in 1946 to Ray and Louise Glascock. He was interested in politics at an early age, and friends recalled him campaigning on behalf of state Senator Speedy Long when he was fourteen. He graduated from Georgetown High School in nearby Georgetown; he attended Northeast Louisiana University, Northwestern State University, and Louisiana State University, but he did not earn a degree. Glascock married Kitty Lou Rambo in the 1960s, and the couple had two children, a son and …

Green, Benjamin William

Benjamin William Green was a soldier, planter, mill operator, real estate agent, and advocate for Confederate veterans. Raised in South Carolina, he fought in a Georgia unit during the Civil War. He moved to Arkansas after the war and later served as commander of the Arkansas Division of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV). Benjamin Green was born on September 7, 1846, in Darlington County, South Carolina, to Judge James Green and Sarah Ann Green. He was a descendant of John James, an officer of the American Revolution. Green’s father was a planter, who, according to the 1860 census, owned twenty slaves ranging from age three to eighty years of age. His father was too old to fight in the Civil …

Greeson, Martin White

Martin White Greeson was an attorney and civic activist who spent most of his adult life advocating for the construction of a dam on the Little Missouri River. He believed that such a structure was critical both to flood prevention and economic development. While he did not live to see his dream come to fruition, the dam was completed not long after his death. The resulting Lake Greeson was named in his honor. Martin W. Greeson was born on November 7, 1866, in Clinton (Van Buren County). He was one of two children of Hartwell and Louisa Greeson, and he had two half-sisters from his father’s previous marriage. He received his early education in the local schools, and he himself …