Business Leaders

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Entry Category: Business Leaders

Jones, Harvey

Harvey Jones founded Jones Truck Lines and made it the largest privately owned and operated truck line in the United States. By 1980, Jones Truck Lines was traveling more than 100,000 miles a day, with forty-one terminals in fifteen states and 2,300 employees. Harvey Jones was born on August 19, 1900, just east of Springdale (Washington County) to farmers Taylor and Jimmie Jones; he was the older of two children. At age sixteen, Jones moved to Springdale, where he set up his first business venture, a mercantile store. Two years later, in 1918, when the railroad went on strike, Jones purchased an old Springfield wagon and two mules and began hauling goods between Rogers (Benton County), Springdale, and Fayetteville (Washington …

Jones, Maxine Temple

Maxine Temple Jones was a Hot Springs (Garland County) businesswoman during the period from 1945 to the early 1970s. A well-known madam with numerous political connections, she managed a lucrative brothel operation that catered to politicians, businessmen, and mobsters. She documented her life in an autobiography published in 1983 titled Maxine “Call Me Madam”: The Life and Times of a Hot Springs Madam. Dora Maxine Temple was born on June 15, 1915, in Johnsville (Bradley County) to David F. Temple and Maude Orr Temple. She had five brothers and one sister. Her father was a farmer and logging contractor. When referring to her early youth, Temple described herself as a “tomboy” who preferred spending time with her father in the …

Jones, Myra

Myra Jones was a political activist and governmental official as well as an entrepreneur in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the latter part of the twentieth century. Throughout two decades in elective office, Jones made a substantive impact on the direction of both Little Rock and the state, becoming the first woman elected to the Little Rock Board of Directors and later serving from 1985 through 1998 in the Arkansas General Assembly. Myra Lee Gutsche was born on March 8, 1936, near Belle Fourche, South Dakota, to Ernest and Edith Gutsche. She was raised on a ranch in Belle Fourche, which was north of Rapid City. She learned to drive a tractor at an early age and was active in …

Jones, Wiley

aka: Walter Jones
Walter “Wiley” Jones was one of the first wealthy African Americans in the South. Jones, a leading businessman, was an ex-slave who became a barber and a saloon owner. Wiley Jones was born on July 14, 1848, in Madison County, Georgia. He was one of six children of George Jones, a white planter, and Ann, a slave. His mother named him Walter after her doctor, but he got the nickname “Wiley” for being untamed and playful. In 1853, five-year-old Jones moved with his family to Arkansas. They settled on the former acting governor Richard Byrd’s plantation in Jefferson County, twelve miles north of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on the Arkansas River. Shortly before George Jones’s death in 1858, he claimed …

Joshua, Ernest Parnell

Ernest Parnell Joshua Sr. was an entrepreneur and founder of J. M. Products, Incorporated, which grew to become the largest black-owned company in Arkansas. The multimillion-dollar manufacturer of ethnic haircare products was one of the largest in the country. Joshua was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994. Ernest P. Joshua was born on November 3, 1928, in northern Pulaski County. He was the son of Morris “Mars” Joshua and Mable Byrd Joshua. His mother died during his early teen years, and he was raised by his father. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1946 at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri and was discharged in 1949. He married Thelma Lee Ready, a childhood acquaintance, that same year. …

Landers, Steve

Steve Landers is a businessman and philanthropist from Benton (Saline County) who founded Arkansas’s largest chain of automotive dealerships. In 2004, Landers Auto Sales, Inc., had the highest reported revenue among car dealers in the state according to business analysts Dun & Bradstreet. Steve Landers was born in Benton on September 23, 1953, to Bob and Bonnie Landers. He has two brothers. Reportedly, when Landers was five years old, he would walk to the Benton Courier office to buy newspapers using his allowance; he bought them for three cents each and then sold them on the street for five cents each. As a young man, he attended livestock and automotive auctions with his maternal step-grandfather, who taught him the art …

Lawhon, Jay Noal

Jay Noal Lawhon of McCrory (Woodruff County) was a star Razorback football player. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1944 but turned down the offer on doctor’s advice. During World War II, Lawhon served in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. After the war, he taught vocational agriculture in Arkansas high schools and was a high school principal. He was the founder of Lawhon Farm Services, the 1988 Arkansas Business of the Year. In 1975, Lawhon and wife Lillian founded a non-denominational charity, the World Christian Relief Fund, Inc. (WCRF). Jay Lawhon was born on July 16, 1919, in Monarch (Marion County), a small hill community near Harrison (Boone County), to Thomas Jefferson and Sarah McPherson Lawhon. He was …

Linebarger, Clarence A.

Clarence A. Linebarger was the general manager and part-owner of Bella Vista (Benton County), a successful summer resort in northwest Arkansas, from 1917 to 1952. In addition to the day-to-day management, he designed most of the resort’s amenities, including more than 500 summer residents’ cottages, accommodating the owners’ specifications while preserving the natural landscape. C. A. Linebarger was born on August 17, 1889, in West Union, Indiana, to Samuel and Mary Linebarger. He was the third of three children. His family passed through Benton County later that year en route from Indiana to Crowley, Louisiana, where they became rice farmers. After his mother contracted tuberculosis, she asked her husband to take her to Bentonville (Benton County), because she was impressed …

Manning, Henry Grady

Henry Grady Manning was a leader in Arkansas’s hotel industry. The company he founded, Southwest Hotels Inc., continued his work after his death. Several incarnations of Manning’s legacy hotels still exist in the twenty-first century. Manning’s properties included the Albert Pike Hotel, Grady Manning Hotel, and Lafayette Hotel, all in Little Rock (Pulaski County), as well as the Arlington Hotel, Majestic Hotel, and Hot Springs Country Club, all in Hot Springs (Garland County). Manning made many charitable and civic contributions to Arkansas and was a member of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. Grady Manning was born on March 14, 1892, in rural Scott County. His parents were Dr. Henry Manning and Virginia …

Markle, John Lawrence

John Lawrence Markle was the perpetrator of a headline-grabbing crime in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in November 1987. The son of Academy Award–winning actress Mercedes McCambridge, Markle murdered his wife and two daughters before taking his own life on November 16, 1987. John Markle was born on December 25, 1941, in Hollywood, California, to Mercedes McCambridge and William Fifield. McCambridge was a radio actress who eventually moved into films, and Fifield was a writer. They divorced in 1946, and when McCambridge remarried in 1950, her second husband, film and television director Fletcher Markle, adopted the boy. John Markle was eight when his mother, who would become known to a later generation through her role as the voice of the demon …

Massey, Mary Elizabeth Smith

Mary Elizabeth Smith Massey—businesswoman, public official, and civic and political leader—was a woman with an average, middle-class, mountain background, meaning her family neither depended upon subsistence farming, sharecropping, or seasonal labor in the Arkansas River bottoms, nor did they have a big store in the county seat or hundreds of acres let to sharecroppers. She became an early Arkansas female success story in the period from 1920 to 1930, when Arkansas women were just beginning to assume prominence in state and national life. In the 1950s, she reaped the results of her early endeavors by serving as Worthy Grand Matron of the Arkansas Order of the Eastern Star and by being admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. …

Matthews, Justin, Sr.

Justin Matthews Sr. was a prominent Arkansas businessman, real estate developer, and community leader best known for his role in the development of the North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Sherwood (Pulaski County) areas. Justin Matthews was born on a farm near Monticello (Drew County) to Samuel James Matthews and Anna Wilson Matthews on December 23, 1875. The Matthewses were a very wealthy family in Drew County, as Samuel Matthews owned a law firm, a large nursery, and a fruit business. Samuel Matthews also served as Drew County judge and encouraged his son to study law, but Justin Matthews decided to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Matthews married Mary Agnes Somers in 1901; they had three children. Around that …

McAllister, James Thomas (Tom)

James Thomas (Tom) McAllister Sr., a longtime resident of Gurdon (Clark County), was an early twentieth-century southern Arkansas lumberman. In addition to selling lumber, he was a Knight Templar, a 33rd Degree Mason, a Shriner, a member of the Gurdon Chamber of Commerce, president of two Rotary Clubs, and the 1951 winner of the District Scouter Award from the Boy Scouts of America. Tom McAllister was born on May 28, 1899, near Diehlstadt, Missouri, to Alexander Jackson McAllister and Addie Caroline Reynolds McAllister. His mother died shortly after his birth, so he was raised by his grandparents, who were tenant farmers in southeastern Missouri. McAllister attended school through the tenth grade. His first job was working in Arkansas for the …

McCoy, Kerrin Lou Krouse (Kerry)

Kerry McCoy is an Arkansas entrepreneur who founded Arkansas Flag and Banner, Inc. (now FlagandBanner.com) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1975. McCoy is publisher of Brave Magazine and host of the radio show Up in Your Business, and she also drew wide acclaim for overseeing the restoration of the historic Dreamland Ballroom. Kerrin Lou Krouse was born on September 27, 1954, in Little Rock to Edwin Ormond Krouse and Sara Lee Rhea Krouse. Her parents met during World War II while her father was serving in the military and had married in Walla Walla, Washington. After the war, the couple moved to Little Rock and had three children. There, Ed Krouse dabbled in many small businesses. The family moved …

McDonnell, James Smith, Jr.

James Smith McDonnell Jr. was one of the most significant aerospace industrialists of the twentieth century, building McDonnell-Douglas into the second largest military and commercial aviation corporation in the United States. James McDonnell was born on April 9, 1899, in Denver, Colorado, to James Smith McDonnell Sr. and Susie Belle McDonnell. The youngest of four McDonnell children, he was raised in central Arkansas, graduating from Little Rock High School (later Central High School). He spent his childhood in Altheimer (Jefferson County), where his parents had one of their two mercantile stores. Although McDonnell initially leaned toward a career in politics, his father encouraged him to pursue a career more suited to his personality. Completing his BS in physics with honors …

McIntosh, Robert “Say”

Robert “Say” McIntosh is a restaurant owner, political activist, and community organizer distinctly tied to the Little Rock (Pulaski County) area and Arkansas politics. A political gadfly during the 1980s and 1990s, McIntosh was responsible for many political protests that were statewide news during the time. Say McIntosh was born in 1943 in Osceola (Mississippi County), the fifth of eleven children. In 1949, he and his family moved to the Granite Mountain area of Little Rock. McIntosh attended Horace Mann High School but dropped out in the tenth grade. He spent much of his early life learning the restaurant business, which led him to establish his own eatery, serving home-style cooking and his famous sweet potato pie. “The Sweet Potato …

Merrell, Henry

Henry Merrell of New York was both an industrialist and an evangelical who contributed to the development of Arkansas and Georgia. He has been credited with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Arkansas, and he also served the state as a Confederate major and as an effective Presbyterian elder. Henry Merrell was born in Utica, New York, on December 8, 1816, to Andrew Merrell, an influential printer, and Harriet Camp Merrell; he had two brothers and two sisters. Merrell began working at the Oneida textile factory in Whitesboro, New York, when he was fourteen. He participated in the religious movement of “The Second Great Awakening” and attended the abolitionist Oneida Institute in Whitesboro. Concerning his 1856 arrival in Arkansas, …

Miller, Abraham Hugo

The Reverend Abraham Hugo Miller was an African-American businessman, a legislator during Reconstruction, and a church and educational leader in Helena (Phillips County). During Reconstruction, he served in the Arkansas General Assembly as a representative from Phillips County. At the peak of his business operations, he was considered the wealthiest black man in Arkansas. Abraham Miller was born a slave in Colt (St. Francis County) on March 12, 1849. He was the son of Boyer Miller, who was born in Virginia in 1827; the name of his mother is unknown, though his stepmother was Henrietta Miller. During the Civil War, Miller moved with his mother to Helena. Like his father, he became a drayman, which involved hauling cotton, flour, meat, …

Miller, Eliza Ann Ross

Eliza Ann Ross Miller was an African-American businesswoman and educator, as well as the first woman to build and operate a movie theater in Arkansas. She was the wife of prosperous Helena (Phillips County) businessman, state legislator, and church leader Abraham Hugo Miller. After her husband’s death, she continued his business operations while also providing leadership in the Helena school system. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Eliza Ross was born in Arkadelphia (Clark County) on September 6, 1869, to George and Sarah Ross. On June 15, 1887, she married Abraham H. Miller in Arkadelphia. The couple had eight children, five of whom survived into adulthood. Abraham Miller, who had been successful in real …

Mullins, David Wiley, Jr.

David Wiley Mullins Jr. was a prominent economist whose professional experience includes stints working in both the Department of the Treasury and as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, as well as in the private sector. David W. Mullins Jr. was born on April 28, 1946, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was one of three children of David Wiley Mullins, who was a longtime educator, and Eula Elizabeth Harrell Mullins. Mullins’s family lived in Alabama, where his father worked for Auburn University. In 1960, his father became president of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), and David Mullins Jr. attended high school in Fayetteville, graduating from Fayetteville High School in 1964. Mullins earned a BS …

Murphy, Charles H., Jr.

Charles Haywood Murphy Jr. became the leader of his family businesses in 1941 at the age of twenty-one after his father suffered a stroke. Under his leadership, the family ownership of timber land, oil interests, and banking in southern Arkansas eventually became the Murphy Oil Corporation, a company with international operations. Charles H. Murphy Jr. was born in El Dorado (Union County) on March 6, 1920, to Charles Haywood Murphy Sr. and Bertie Wilson Murphy. He had three sisters. In 1904, his father moved to El Dorado (Union County) to operate a bank and, by 1907, owned thirteen banks in Arkansas and the Indian Territory. Subsequently, he built a sawmill at Cargile (Union County), south of El Dorado, and then …

Nash, Bob J.

Bob J. Nash is a businessman and consultant who has assisted political, corporate, and nonprofit organizations. Most notably, he served in the administration of Governor Bill Clinton in the 1980s and then was part of the administration of President Clinton in the 1990s. Bob Nash was born on September 26, 1947, in Texarkana (Miller County). He graduated from Washington High School in Texarkana and then earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1969. Nash went on to receive a master’s degree in urban studies from Howard University in Washington DC in 1972. For the next two years, Nash held jobs in municipal government in Washington and in Fairfax, Virginia. Returning …

Nelson, Edward Sheffield

Edward Sheffield Nelson, a Little Rock (Pulaski County) attorney, utility executive, and political leader, served as president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company (Arkla) from 1973 to 1984 and twice ran for governor of Arkansas. Sheffield Nelson was born on April 23, 1941, near Keevil in rural Monroe County to Robert F. Nelson and Thelma Mayberry Nelson. He, his parents, and three sisters lived an itinerant life, moving from place to place in eastern Arkansas for work. His father abandoned the family in 1957, leaving his sixteen-year old-son as the main breadwinner. Nelson worked after school in a Brinkley (Monroe County) grocery store until he graduated from high school. He married his high school sweetheart, Mary Lynn …

Notrebe, Frederick

Frederick Notrebe was a prominent merchant, planter, and land speculator at Arkansas Post (Arkansas County). One of the wealthiest men in territorial and antebellum Arkansas, he operated a trading house, dealing mostly in furs and peltries. As one of the first cotton factors at Arkansas Post, he was instrumental in establishing cotton as a staple crop in territorial Arkansas. He is credited with founding the town of Napoleon (Desha County) at the mouth of the Arkansas River in the 1820s. He was also an early supporter of the State Bank branch at Arkansas Post, providing the lot on which it was built. Frederick Notrebe was born in 1780 (exact date not known) in France. Nothing is known about his parents …

Ottenheimer, Gus

Gus Ottenheimer, an industrialist, became known nationally through his successful efforts in manufacturing women’s garments. He was a land developer as well, and he spent much of the last one-third of his life promoting higher education in central Arkansas Ottenheimer was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 18, 1897, to Daniel Ottenheimer and Hannah Berger. He was the youngest of four children. The Ottenheimers were a Jewish pioneer family, some of whom came to the state in the 1850s. Ottenheimer’s father died in 1908. The eldest son, Leonard, became the family breadwinner at age sixteen and forfeited his education to his younger brother. Ottenheimer graduated in 1918 from Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia, …

Pankey, Josephine Irvin Harris

Josephine Irvin Harris Pankey was a real estate developer, educator, philanthropist, and leader in the African-American community of Little Rock (Pulaski County) for the first half of the twentieth century. Josephine Irvin was born on November 17, 1869, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents were William R. Irvin and Katherine Harris Irvin. She was the oldest of their five children. Her father was a self-employed whitewasher, her mother a homemaker. Irvin attended elementary school in Cleveland, including at Oberlin College’s Academy, a preparatory school connected with the college. After graduation, she enrolled in Oberlin College but withdrew because of an illness. She was musically talented and studied at the conservatory that was connected with the academy and the college. By 1892, …

Pearson, John

John Pearson was a renowned gunsmith noted for his early work with Samuel Colt in developing the first working revolver. He later worked as a gunsmith in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Fort Smith (Sebastian County). John Pearson was born in England around 1811 and, by the 1830s, had immigrated to the United States, where he established himself as a tradesman and gunsmith in Baltimore, Maryland. He was operating there when Samuel Colt began developing his design for a revolving pistol that could fire multiple rounds before being reloaded. Colt worked with several contractors, but Pearson was his favored gunsmith and consultant, and Colt would bring him designs to build with hand tools and early machinery. As one biographer noted, …

Penzel, Charles Ferdinand

Charles Ferdinand Penzel emigrated from Austria to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1857 and, after the Civil War, became a leading merchant, pioneering banker, and prolific investor who rose to the first rank of capitalists in the city. He was also active, often as an officer, in numerous city economic development, religious, civic, and charitable organizations. At the time of his death, he was perhaps the richest German American in Arkansas. Born on October 8, 1840, to Johann Christof Penzel and Maria Elizabeth Penzel, Charles Penzel was one of twenty-eight emigrants from Asch, a Bohemian city of about 9,000 and a district of about 20,000 people, who settled in Pulaski County between 1848 and 1857. When he arrived in Pulaski …

Person, Charline Woodford Beasley

Charline Woodford Beasley Person ran a 5,000-acre cotton plantation in Miller County, Arkansas, after the death of her husband. Person was an active community and church leader, helping build the community church in Garland (Miller County) and steering her hometown through the Great Depression. She was also the only woman chosen to represent Arkansas at the St. Louis Exposition of 1926. Charline Woodford Beasley was born on December 2, 1876, in Lewisville (Lafayette County), the daughter of Charles Hunter Beasley and Lucy Lungren Beasley. Beasley attended Lewisville School, and she was not quite seventeen when she married Levin King Person Jr. (1862–1911) in “Old Lewisville” in 1893. They had three children. In January 1911, Levin Person died suddenly from a …

Phillips, Charles E., Jr

Charles Phillips Jr. is the CEO of Infor, a company that specializes in industry-specific software. His long career on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley include high-level positions in financial services corporation Morgan Stanley and the computer technology corporation Oracle. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2012. Charles Phillips was born in 1959 in Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father was stationed at the nearby Little Rock Air Force Base, and the family moved frequently during his youth, including stints in Germany and Spain. Aiming to follow in his father’s footsteps, Phillips enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Although he graduated with a degree in computer science in 1981, worsening …

Pomeroy, Leslie Klett (Les)

Although Sierra Club founder John Muir championed forest conservation by setting aside large acreages, it was Leslie Klett Pomeroy who devised a conservation plan for growing and harvesting timber that both conserved it and turned it into a renewable resource. His science-based management plans regenerated timberlands across the South after cut-out-and-get-out practices had decimated its forests. Pomeroy’s groundbreaking work carried out in Arkansas ultimately affected forestry in the South and across America. Leslie Pomeroy was born on December 12, 1896, in Hub City, Wisconsin. He was the only child of William Justis Pomeroy and Anna Barbara Klett Pomeroy. His mother was a housewife, and his father began his employment with Madison Bus Company in 1922 as a motorman on streetcars, …

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, 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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, …

Sharp, Ephraim [of Fulton County]

Ephraim Sharp, nephew of the Ephraim Sharp after whom Sharp County was named, was an important early settler and mercantilist in neighboring Fulton County. He established a mill, and the community of Sharp’s Mill, now Saddle (Fulton County), grew up around it. His mercantile establishment helped to provide the goods that sustained the growth of the Mammoth Spring (Fulton County) area. Ephraim Sharp was born in Sandtown Township, Decatur County, Indiana, on June 23, 1833, to John Elston Sharp (called Jackson) and Susannah Armstrong Sharp. He was the fifth child and third son of this family of seven children. His mother died in 1841 when he was eight years old. His father married Sarah Armstrong, his mother’s sister. When Sarah …