Entries - Gender: Male - Starting with R

Ragon, Hiram Heartsill

Hiram Heartsill Ragon was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fifth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-Eighth through the Seventy-Third Congresses, serving from 1923 to 1933. He also served as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas from May 1933 until September 1940. H. Heartsill Ragon was born in Dublin (Johnson County) on March 20, 1884, to Alfred Jackson Ragon and Anne E. Heartsill Ragon. (His congressional biography lists 1885 as his birth year, but his draft card, 1900 census data, and grave stone give 1884 as the year.) He received his early education in the local common schools and at Clarksville High School. He attended the College …

Randolph, Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis Randolph, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson and friend of Andrew Jackson, served as the last secretary of the Arkansas Territory. Despite his strong connections with many influential families in Virginia, as well as intimate friendships with numerous U.S. presidents, he chose to settle on the Arkansas frontier. He obtained thousands of acres of land in Clark County with the intent of establishing a plantation and making his residence there. His education, family, and social ties offered great promise to the new state, but his contributions were cut short by an early death. Some sources have Randolph’s birth date as January 10, 1810. His father, Thomas Mann Randolph, was a member of a prominent Virginia family and served as …

Randolph, Vance

Vance Randolph was a folklorist whose wide-ranging studies in the traditional culture of the Ozarks made him famous with both academic and popular readers from the 1930s to the present. Vance Randolph was born on February 23, 1892, in Pittsburg, Kansas, to John Randolph, an attorney and Republican politician, and Theresa Gould, a public school teacher. He was the eldest of three sons. Born to the respectable center, he was as a young man attracted to the margins, to the rich ethnic and cultural diversity and radical politics of the region’s mining communities. He dropped out of high school and published his first writing for leftist periodicals such as the socialist Appeal to Reason, published in nearby Girard. He graduated …

Raney, Wayne

Wayne Raney was an American country singer and harmonica player best known for his hit song “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me.” Raney, along with fellow Arkansan Lonnie Glosson, played a major role in making the harmonica a popular instrument through their musical performances as well as through their mail-order harmonica business. Wayne Raney was born on August 17, 1921, on a farm near Wolf Bayou (Cleburne County), the youngest of five children of William Franklin (Frank) Raney and Bonnie Davis Raney. Due to a foot deformity, he could not do heavy labor. Instead, he pursued an interest in music, learning to play harmonica at an early age. He was drawn to the harmonica after hearing a street performer …

Rathke, Wade

Wade Rathke is a longtime community organizer and the founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). He was living in Arkansas when he started an organization that would evolve in 1970 into ACORN. His efforts to achieve social justice were highlighted in a 2017 documentary film titled The Organizer. Stephen Wade Rathke was born on August 5, 1948, in Laramie, Wyoming, to Edmann J. Rathke and Cornelia Ratliff Rathke. He was raised in Colorado and New Orleans, Louisiana, and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans in 1966. He then headed to Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which he attended from 1966 to 1968. Dropping out of Williams in 1968, Rathke began his organizing …

Ray, Victor Keith

Victor Keith Ray was a prominent writer and journalist who worked in Arkansas for much of his career. Later in his career, he moved to public relations and advocacy work on behalf of the nation’s farmers. Victor Keith Ray was born on February 10, 1919, in Bernie, Missouri, to Victor Hugo Ray and Myrtle Fonville Ray. He grew up in Missouri and graduated from Southeast Missouri State Teachers College (now Southeast Missouri State University). He married Pearl Downs; the couple had a daughter. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Ray’s wide-ranging writing career began after the war in California, where he wrote a number of mystery stories that appeared in pulp detective magazines such …

Rayburn, Howell A. “Doc”

Howell A. “Doc” Rayburn was a Civil War guerrilla chieftain who operated in the area between West Point (White County) and Des Arc (Prairie County). His legacy is a mix of fact and legend. His attacks and those of other guerrillas on Union outposts and expeditions tied up countless Union military assets that otherwise could have been used elsewhere. Doc Rayburn was born about 1841 in Roane County, Tennessee, one of six children born to farmer Hodge Rayburn and Susan Rayburn. A few years later, the family relocated to Texas. Rayburn joined the Confederate army on October 21, 1861, when he enlisted in Company C, Twelfth Texas Cavalry. The regiment moved to Des Arc in March 1862 and prepared to …

Rayburn, Otto Ernest

Otto Ernest Rayburn was a writer, magazine publisher, and collector of Arkansas and Ozark lore. Vance Randolph, in his introduction to Rayburn’s autobiography, Forty Years in the Ozarks (1957), defined Rayburn as a “dedicated regionalist” and added, “There is no denying that, in the period between 1925 and 1950, Rayburn did more to arouse popular interest in Ozark folklore than all of the professors put together.” Otto Rayburn was born on May 6, 1891, in Hacklebarney settlement, Davis County, Iowa, to William Grant Rayburn, a farmer, and Sarah Jane Turpin Rayburn. The family soon moved to Woodson County, Kansas, where Rayburn grew up. In 1909–1910, he attended Marionville College in Marionville, Missouri. In the spring of 1917, Rayburn bought forty …

Raye, Collin

aka: Floyd Elliott Wray
With five platinum records and fifteen number-one singles to his credit, country star Collin Raye is one of the most successful recording artists to ever have emerged from Arkansas. Joining the ranks of acclaimed country performers Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and K. T. Oslin, Raye has proven to be a versatile performer, turning out diverse hits ranging from tender ballads to socially relevant tunes. Collin Raye was born Floyd Elliott Wray on August 22, 1960, in De Queen (Sevier County). His mother, Lois Wray, had achieved notoriety in the 1950s as a regional musician, opening shows for Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Later in her solo career, Raye’s mother had Raye and his older brother accompany her on …

Read, Opie Pope

Opie Pope Read was a newspaperman, author, and lecturer. He cofounded the comic newspaper The Arkansas Traveler and wrote several successful novels. Arkansas provided much of his education as he worked for three Little Rock (Pulaski County) newspapers: the Arkansas Gazette, the Arkansas Evening Democrat, and the Evening Ledger. His work as city editor and his associations with the state’s antebellum elite provided him with decades of literary material. Opie Read was born on December 22, 1852, in Nashville, Tennessee, the youngest of eleven children. His parents were Guilford and Elizabeth Wallace Read. Read’s early life was spent in Gallatin, Tennessee. His formal education was limited, but he read extensively. After writing his first anonymously published piece for a local …

Rector, Elias

Elias Rector was appointed U.S. marshal for the Territory of Arkansas later served as superintendent of Indian Affairs. During the Civil War, he sought to make treaties with Native American tribes on behalf of the Confederacy. Rector was the subject of the poem “The Fine Arkansas Gentleman, Close to the Choctaw Line,” written by his friend Albert Pike. Elias Rector was born on September 28, 1802, in Fauquier County, Virginia. He was the youngest of nine sons born to Wharton Rector and Mary Vance Rector, who was a native of North Carolina. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Illinois, where Elias Rector spent the early part of his youth. The family relocated again, this time to St. Louis, …

Rector, Henry Massie

Henry Massie Rector was the state’s sixth governor. He was part of Arkansas’s political dynasty during the antebellum period, but he was not always comfortable in that role and played a part in its downfall. Henry Rector was born on May 1, 1816, at Fontaine’s Ferry near Louisville, Kentucky, to Elias Rector and Fannie Bardell Thurston. He was the only one of their children to survive to maturity. Elias Rector, one of the numerous Rectors who worked as deputy surveyors under William Rector, the surveyor-general for Illinois and Missouri, served in the Missouri legislature in 1820 and as postmaster of St. Louis, Missouri. He also surveyed in Arkansas and acquired, among other speculations, a claim to the site of the …

Rector, James Alcorn “Indian”

James Alcorn “Indian” Rector, who took the silver medal in the 100 meters at the 1908 Olympic Games, was the first Arkansan to win an Olympic medal. His nickname “Indian” is said to have been given to him by his teammates or East Coast track fans who said he ran like an Indian. Born on June 22, 1884, in Hot Springs (Garland County), James Alcorn Rector was the fourth of six children of Elias William Rector and Rosebud Alcorn Rector. His paternal grandfather, Henry Massie Rector, served as governor of Arkansas, while his maternal grandfather, James Lusk Alcorn, served as governor of Mississippi. His father practiced law and was a representative in the Arkansas General Assembly. After attending schools in Hot Springs, …

Rector, Rickey Ray (Execution of)

Rickey (or Ricky) Ray Rector was the third death row inmate to be executed in Arkansas after the reinstatement of capital punishment in the state in 1990. He was executed despite concerns over his ability to understand the difference between life and death or the consequences of his actions. On March 22, 1981, Rector entered Tommy’s Old Fashioned Home-style Restaurant in Conway (Faulkner County), where he had previously been denied entrance to a private party. Rector fired several shots, killing Arthur Criswell and wounding two others. Two days later, Rector entered his mother’s home while the police were there questioning his mother and sister. Rector shot and killed Robert Martin, a Conway police officer, before running outside and shooting himself …

Reed, Eddie

Eddie Reed was a cancer researcher, medical oncologist, and leader in public policy addressing disparities in healthcare in the United States. Reed is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Eddie Reed was born on December 17, 1953, the son of Floyd and Gennora Reed, who raised a family of eighteen children on a farm near Hughes (St. Francis County). Reed and his siblings received their early education in Hughes’s public schools, and all received a college education and had distinguished careers as lawyers, doctors, teachers, and public servants. Reed attended Philander Smith College, a historically black institution in Little Rock (Pulaski County), where he achieved academic distinction. In the summer following his sophomore year, he was chosen …

Reed, James Byron

James Byron Reed was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Sixth District of Arkansas in the Sixty-eighth through the Seventieth Congresses, serving from 1923 to 1929. James B. Reed was born near Lonoke (Lonoke County) on January 2, 1881, to William R. Reed and Georgia A. Reed. He attended the local schools as well as Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) before ultimately graduating from the law department of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1906. He was admitted to the bar that same year and began a private practice. He also ventured into politics, winning election to the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he served in 1907. Reed was …

Reed, Pearlie Sylvester

Pearlie Sylvester Reed spent more than a quarter century of his career working in agriculture, serving four major regions of the United States and initiating sweeping progressive and anti-discrimination policies in the 1990s. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2012. Pearlie S. Reed was born in Heth (St. Francis County) on June 14, 1948. He was one of eighteen children of Floyd L. Reed and Gennora Reed. Reed attended school in the nearby town of Hughes (St. Francis County) and graduated from the segregated Mildred Jackson High School. As a student at what is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), Reed began his career in agriculture in 1968 as an intern in …

Reed, Roy

Roy Reed, author of an incisive biography of Governor Orval Faubus, was a renowned writer and reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and The New York Times. He taught journalism for sixteen years at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). As a teacher, he stressed not only the importance of telling stories accurately but of telling them well, with careful attention to language. Roy Reed was born on February 14, 1930, in Hot Springs (Garland County) to Roy E. Reed, a mail carrier and later a storeowner, and Ella Meredith Reed, a homemaker. His younger sister, Hattie, died in 1964. Reed grew up in Piney, an unincorporated Garland County community near Hot Springs. Piney was racially mixed, and …

Reeves, Bass

Arkansas native Bass Reeves was one of the first black lawmen west of the Mississippi River. As one of the most respected lawmen working in Indian Territory, he achieved legendary status for the number of criminals he captured. Bass Reeves was born a slave in Crawford County in July 1838. His owners, the William S. Reeves family, moved to Grayson County, Texas, in 1846. During the Civil War, Bass became a fugitive slave and found refuge in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma) amongst the Creek and Seminole Indians. Reeves is believed to have served with the irregular or regular Union Indians that fought in Indian Territory during the Civil War. After the Civil War, Reeves settled in Van Buren (Crawford County) …

Reid, Charles Chester

Charles Chester Reid was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Fifty-Seventh Congress, but following redistricting, he represented Arkansas’s Fifth District in the Fifty-Eighth through the Sixty-First Congress. His overall tenure in the House ran from 1901 to 1911. Charles Chester Reid was born on June 15, 1868, in Clarksville (Johnson County) to Charles C. Reid and Sarah Robinson Reid. He received his early education in the local public schools before attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) for three years. There, Reid won the annual debate medal, besting a son of U.S. Senator James D. Walker. Reid graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in …

Reid, Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson Reid was a physician and a colonel in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Reid not only fought during the war—and at one point escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp—he also served at times in a medical role. After the war, he practiced medicine in Arkansas. He moved to Illinois around 1880, where he lived the rest of his life. Thomas Jefferson Reid was born on January 6, 1838, in Caswell County, North Carolina. He was one of twelve children born to Thomas Jefferson Reid and Frances Lightfoot Edwards “Fannie” Reid. Thomas Sr. was a descendant of Major John Reid of Virginia, who had served in the American Revolution. Reid’s mother was well educated and from a slaveholding …

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 …

Remmel, Pratt

Pratt Cates Remmel was a longtime Republican activist who served as mayor of Little Rock (Pulaski County) for two terms in the 1950s. The first Republican to serve in that office since Reconstruction, he was also the Republican Party’s nominee for governor in 1954. Pratt C. Remmel was born on October 26, 1915, in Little Rock, one of five children of Augustus Caleb and Ellen Lucy Remmel. His father died when he was five, and his mother raised the children by herself. Remmel graduated from Little Rock High School in 1933 and then attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1937. Returning to Little Rock, Remmel became involved in local politics. …

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 …

Reng, Carl Raymond

Carl Reng served as president of what is now Arkansas State University in Jonesboro (Craighead County) from 1951 to 1975. When he started, the school had an enrollment of only 863 students and faculty numbering eighty-one. By the time he retired in 1975, the school had evolved into a major educational institution with more than 7,300 students, taught by a faculty of 342. In addition, he oversaw the school’s transition from a college to full university status, becoming the second such university in the state. Carl Raymond Reng was born on May 13, 1910, to a farming family near Sioux Rapids, Iowa. His parents were John Gilbert Reng and Anna Marie Severson Reng, a Norwegian immigrant. Carl was the third …

Reynolds, Dan (Lynching of)

In late December 1888, Dan Reynolds, an African American, was beaten and left for dead near Coffee Creek (Phillips County) by nine other African-American men who apparently disapproved of his relationship with a local black woman. The Arkansas Gazette referred to this incident as “one of the most atrocious crimes ever committed in this or any other country.” Coffee Creek is located in Big Creek Township, and Dan Reynolds had been living there for almost twenty years. He is listed in the 1870 census as a farm laborer, living with his wife, Vester (or Vesta) who was thirty-nine. By 1880, they had a ten-year-old daughter named Eliza. According to a report published in the Arkansas Gazette on January 15, 1889, …

Reynolds, Daniel Harris

Daniel Harris Reynolds was a lawyer, Confederate general, and state senator who ranks as one of Arkansas’s most talented and dedicated citizen-soldiers during the Civil War. Daniel Reynolds was born on December 14, 1832, in Centerburg, Ohio, to Amos and Sophia (Houck) Reynolds. He studied at Ohio Wesleyan University in the town of Delaware, where he joined the Masonic order in 1853. He studied law privately in Louisa County, Iowa, and Somerville, Tennessee, where he befriended fellow future Confederate general Otho French Strahl. Admitted to the bar in 1858, he established a legal practice in Lake Village (Chicot County) At the outset of the Civil War, Reynolds raised a cavalry company, the “Chicot Rangers,” and entered Confederate service as a …

Reynolds, John Hugh

John Hugh Reynolds—Arkansas author, longtime president of Hendrix College, and founder of the Arkansas History Commission (now called the Arkansas State Archives)—was born near Enola (Faulkner County) on January 3, 1869. He was one of the seven children born to Jesse M. and Elizabeth Grimes Reynolds. His father was a carpenter, a mechanic, a blacksmith, and a county doctor. After a stint as a rural schoolteacher, Reynolds graduated from Hendrix College, a Methodist institution, in Conway (Faulkner County) in 1893. Four years later, he received an MA degree in political science from the University of Chicago. Returning to Arkansas, he became a professor of history and political science at Hendrix College. During his tenure, he also served for four years …

Rhodes, Richard (Hanging of)

Few people survive a hanging, but Dr. Richard Rhodes—a plantation owner in Dallas County, living just south of present-day Sheridan (Grant County)—may have survived two. Richard Clinton Rhodes was born in North Carolina in 1801 to a prominent family. He received medical training in Europe and then opened a practice in Robeson County, North Carolina. There, he invested in land and quickly became a rich plantation owner with nearly 200 slaves. Rhodes married Susan Davis Russell when she was sixteen and he was forty-six. The Rhodes family’s oral history says that while practicing medicine in North Carolina, Rhodes delivered Susan as a newborn. The Russell family could not afford to pay Rhodes’s medical fee, so the baby girl was offered …

Rhoton, Lewis Nathan

Lewis Nathan Rhoton was a Little Rock lawyer who, as Sixth District prosecuting attorney (covering Pulaski and Perry counties) from 1904 to 1908, exposed the Boodle Scandal in the spring 1905 session of the Arkansas General Assembly (“boodle” is a slang term meaning bribe money). His actions in fighting corruption played an important role in the rise of Progressivism in the state. President Theodore Roosevelt, while visiting Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 25, 1905, congratulated him for “invaluable service to the state and nation” in calling corrupt public officials to account. Lewis Rhoton was born on May 13, 1868, to Franklin Rhoton and Susannah Garrett Rhoton, in Henry County, Indiana. An outstanding student, Rhoton received his higher education from …

Rice, Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Rice was a Reconstruction-era U.S. senator from Arkansas, as well as an attorney, politician, and businessman who helped to reestablish the state following the turmoil of the Civil War. His career as senator was bookended by his involvement in the trial of David O. Dodd and the Brooks-Baxter War. Benjamin Rice was born on May 26, 1828, in East Otto, New York, to Elijah Rice and Hannah Hanks Rice; he was one of four sons, all of whom became lawyers. After attending private schools and studying law, Rice was admitted to the bar. He then moved to Irvine, Kentucky, where he practiced law for several years and also became involved in politics. He served as a member of …

Rice, Glen Anthony

Glen Anthony Rice was a professional basketball player from Jacksonville (Pulaski County). Rice played for the Miami Heat (1989–1995), the Charlotte Hornets (1995–1998), the Los Angeles Lakers (1998–2000), the New York Knicks (2000–2001), the Houston Rockets (2001–2003), and the Los Angeles Clippers (2003–2004). His son, Glen Jr., also became an NBA player. Although often billed as being from Flint, Michigan, Glen Anthony Rice was born on May 28, 1967, in Jacksonville. When Rice was a few months old, the family moved to Benton (Saline County), where the Rice family lived in Benton’s Ralph Bunche Community. While in Benton, Rice attended both Angie Grant and Howard Perrin elementary schools. When Rice was twelve, the Rice family moved to Flint, Michigan, where …

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 …

Rice, Wilburn Steven (Bill)

Wilburn Steven “Bill” Rice is an award-winning Arkansas musician and songwriter who, along with writing partner Jerry Foster, wrote hit records for some of the best-known figures in American music, including Elvis Presley, Charley Pride, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Conway Twitty. Rice has received many songwriting awards and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1994. Bill Rice was born on April 19, 1939, in the small town of Datto (Clay County) to Arkansas natives Dewey Wilburn “Wid” Rice and Nova Stevens Rice. When he was a child, his family struggled to make a living in a tiny rural town in the throes of the Great Depression. According to the 1940 census, Rice’s father worked only twenty …

Rich, Charlie

Charlie Rich was a gospel, blues, and country singer and songwriter, and was probably the most musically gifted of the first generation of rockabilly stars. Charlie Rich was born on December 14, 1932, in Colt (St. Francis County), the only son (he had two sisters) of devout Missionary Baptist parents who sang in a church quartet; his mother also played piano. He grew up immersed in the whole range of southern music—along with the church music, there was the country music on the radio and the blues he learned from a sharecropper named C. J., who taught him piano. Rich played in his high school band in Forrest City (St. Francis County), where he was already known as Charlie Kenton …

Richards, Dusty

aka: Ronald Lee Richards
Dusty Richards was an author of numerous Western novels and a noted mentor each year to hundreds of beginning writers. Beginning in 2000, he was a patron contributor of the Arkansas Writers’ Conference. In 2005, he received the Cowboy Culture Award for the many hours he has volunteered in helping aspiring authors. Ronald Lee “Dusty” Richards was born on November 11, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois, to John C. Richards and Jean E. Hogenbirk Richards. His father was a stationary power plant engineer, and his mother was a homemaker. He had one brother and one sister. At thirteen, he moved with his family to Mesa, Arizona. A year later, they moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He graduated from North Phoenix High School …

Richards, Jack Spage “Spadjo”

Jack “Spadjo” Richards was an amateur boxer, former Razorback, and professional football player from Benton (Saline County). From March 1942 to 1943, he served as a U.S. Marine, notably in the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. He was a letterman at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1948 and 1950. Between 1951 and 1955, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, and Chicago Bears. Following his sports career, he worked for Alcoa and as an iron worker and heavy equipment operator until his death in 2009. Jack Spage Richards was born on March 22, 1926, to Frank William Richards and Ludy Ann Miller in Benton. He was the youngest of seven children. He …

Richardson, Nolan

Nolan Richardson is one of the most famous coaches to have served the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) Razorbacks basketball program. Richardson won nearly 400 games at UA using his unique style, known as “forty minutes of hell.” Nolan Richardson was born on December 27, 1941, in El Paso, Texas. He lived only a short distance from Mexico and grew up in a predominantly Mexican El Paso neighborhood. Richardson was three when his mother died, and, as his father was an alcoholic, Richardson was raised by his grandmother. While playing basketball at Bowie High School, Nolan caught the eye of legendary coach Don Haskins and was recruited to play collegiately at Texas Western College (now the University …

Richmond, Ted

aka: James Theodore Richmond
James Theodore (Ted) Richmond was the founder of the Wilderness Library on Mount Sherman in Newton County. For twenty-five years, the library provided free reading material to citizens in northwest Arkansas. Ted Richmond was born in Ogallala, Nebraska, on May 26, 1890, the second of five sons of Albert, a pioneer physician, and Etta Richmond. Drafted in 1917, he served during World War I as a private in the infantry and helped establish an American library at the University of Toulouse, France, after the war. He attended several educational institutions: Iowa Business College, University of Chicago, and Missouri Teachers College (now Missouri State University). His journalistic career included editorial and reporting positions at many newspapers: the Quincy Whig, Gem City …

Ricks, Earl Thornton

Major General Earl Thornton Ricks served as chief of the Air Force Division, National Guard Bureau, in Washington DC and as mayor of Hot Springs (Garland County), helping end Leo McLaughlin’s political domination there. The Ricks National Guard Armory in Little Rock (Pulaski County) was named for him to commemorate his career, which spanned the most significant years of early aviation history. Earl Ricks was born on July 9, 1908, in West Point, Mississippi, the only child of Nancy Jordan and Earl Paul Ricks, an ice plant owner/manager. The family moved to Stamps (Lafayette County) in about 1916. After high school graduation at Stamps, Ricks followed his lifelong interest in flying at Parks Air College in St. Louis, Missouri. After …

Ricks, G. W. and Moses (Lynching of)

In June 1898, prosperous African-American farmer G. W. Ricks and his son, Rev. Moses Ricks, were lynched in southern Monroe County for the alleged assault of a white farmer’s wife. According to historian Terence Finegan, whose A Deed so Accursed is a study of lynching in South Carolina and Mississippi, prosperous African Americans were occasionally lynched because their success threatened the notion of white superiority. Census information both illuminates and confuses the story. In 1870, there was a black farmer named Jim Ricks living in Monroe County’s Duncan Township. He was twenty-seven years old, and living with him were his wife, Miriam, and several other family members, all of them too old to be the Rickses’ children. Ricks was a …

Rideout, Conrad Alfred

Conrad Alfred Rideout was an African-American man whose travels and controversial activities stretched from Florida and Arkansas to Seattle, Washington, to Africa and then back to the United States. His identity seemed to balance perilously on the border between activist and con man. With Rideout having left behind a trail of unverifiable claims and a legacy of unfulfilled hopes, the effort to chronicle his life becomes a lesson in separating fact from fiction. Little is known about Rideout’s early years. According to one source, he was born in Ohio, and he apparently stayed in the Midwest through college, as he is alternately reported to be a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor or the non-existent University of …

Riedel, Teddy DeLano

aka: Teddy Redell
Teddy DeLano Riedel was a professional musician and songwriter. He toured widely throughout the nation and world, and his songs were recorded by artists such as Elvis Presley and country music star Sonny James. Teddy Riedel was born on June 7, 1937, in Quitman (Cleburne and Faulkner counties) to Ted Wilson Riedel and Mabel Quinn Riedel. His parents were farmers, primarily growing strawberries, which were a major crop in the region. Riedel graduated from Rose Bud High School in Rose Bud (White County). While in high school, Riedel played piano on KWCB radio in Searcy (White County) and became a member of radio show host Lloyd Sutherland’s band. He was befriended by the harmonica virtuoso Wayne Raney, who recruited the …

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 …

Riley, Billy Lee

Billy Lee Riley was a rockabilly musician whose career began in the Arkansas Delta and peaked in the 1950s after he signed a record deal with Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. He recorded many songs during his life, alternating between the rockabilly style that made him famous and the blues music that he loved. Billy Lee Riley was born in Pocahontas (Randolph County) on October 5, 1933, to Amos and Mae Riley; he was one of nine children. Although his father was a house painter by trade, the economic disparities of the time led the family into sharecropping. As a result, the Riley family moved frequently to different towns in Arkansas, at times living in intense poverty. Through this lifestyle, …

Riley, Bob Cowley

Bob Cowley Riley was a politician and educator who overcame debilitating World War II injuries to serve with distinction in both arenas. His career in state and local politics spanned four decades and culminated in two terms as lieutenant governor (1971–1975) and eleven days as governor (1975). He taught social sciences at Little Rock University (now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock) and Ouachita Baptist University (OBU). On the political stump and in the classroom, Riley was a legendary raconteur. A black patch covering his blinded left eye was his trademark. Bob Riley was born on September 18, 1924, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son of Columbus Allen and Winnie (Craig) Riley. He attended Pulaski County Rural School …

Ringo, Daniel

Daniel Ringo was the first chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and helped to develop the foundation for the state’s legal system. Daniel Ringo was born on October 27, 1803, in Cross Plains, Kentucky, but little else is known about his life prior to his arrival in Arkansas. Ringo came to Arkansas in 1820, settling first in Batesville (Independence County) and then moving on to Clark County, where he served as a deputy clerk of the district court. He was elected clerk in 1825 and served most of three terms. He studied the law throughout this time and was admitted to the bar in 1830, at which time he moved to Hempstead County, where he established a partnership with …

Risner, James Robinson

James Robinson (Robbie) Risner, a native of Mammoth Spring (Fulton County), was a much-decorated fighter pilot famed for his resistance to his North Vietnamese captors as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Robbie Risner was born on January 16, 1925, in Mammoth Spring, the son of sharecroppers Grover W. Risner and Lora Grace Robinson Risner. He was the fifth of seven children. Risner apparently did not live in Arkansas for long, with census records showing the family living in Oak Grove, Missouri, in 1930, and in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by 1940. Risner joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 at age eighteen and served in Panama during World War II, seeing no action, although he trained as a …

Riviere, Paul

Paul Riviere served as Arkansas Secretary of State from 1979 until 1985 and was a candidate for Arkansas’s Second Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1984. Unsuccessful in that bid, he moved to Brentwood, Tennessee, in 1986, where he established himself as a respected and successful real estate professional in the central Tennessee area. Paul Riviere was born on July 17, 1947, in Monticello (Drew County) to Frank Riviere and Maybell Barnett Riviere. Raised in Monticello, he developed an interest in politics while campaigning with his father, who sought the position of Drew County tax assessor. While a student at Monticello High School, Riviere was elected student body president and selected to be a delegate to …

Roaf, William (Willie)

Willie Roaf became one of the greatest football players in Arkansas sports history and one of the best offensive linemen ever in the National Football League (NFL). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. William Roaf was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on April 18, 1970, one of four children of dentist Clifton Roaf and attorney Andree Layton Roaf. (Andree Roaf was the first African-American female member of the Arkansas Supreme Court and the second woman ever to serve in that capacity.) Though he played football at Pine Bluff High School, graduating in 1988, he was not recruited by any major colleges. After he was told that he would need to gain more weight …