Entries - Gender: Male - Starting with V

Valentine, Bill, Jr.

aka: William Terry Valentine Jr.
William Terry Valentine Jr. served as general manager of the Arkansas Travelers baseball team in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1976 until 2009. During his tenure, the organization underwent many changes that included leaving the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm organization for the Anaheim Angels’ and reaching an agreement to relocate the Travelers from historic Ray Winder Field, one of the oldest professional baseball parks in the country, to a new ballpark on the riverfront of downtown North Little Rock (Pulaski County). In his first five years as general manager, he instituted a new promotional program that dramatically increased attendance. Valentine was also a professional baseball umpire who was fired for trying to organize an American League umpires union. Bill Valentine was …

Van Dalsem, Paul

  Representative Paul Van Dalsem—with his cigars, his aggressive style, and his fiscal conservatism—came to represent the classic southern politician. He was a master of the legislative process and parliamentary procedure. This mastery served him well, allowing him to serve on and off for thirty years in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Paul Van Dalsem was born in Aplin (Perry County) in 1907 to Pyke Van Dalsem and May Thompson Van Dalsem. He had one sister. He attended public school in Perryville (Perry County) and began college at what is now Arkansas Tech University before transferring to Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana, where he earned his degree. He later attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), earning …

Van Dorn, Earl

A noted Mexican War veteran and Indian fighter, Earl Van Dorn was the Confederate general defeated at the Battle of Pea Ridge and at Corinth, Mississippi. Following the defeat at Pea Ridge, he stripped Arkansas of badly needed Confederate troops, leaving the state nearly destitute of defenders. Earl Van Dorn was born near Port Gibson, Mississippi, on September 17, 1820, to Sophia Donelson Caffery, a niece of Andrew Jackson, and Peter Aaron Van Dorn, a lawyer and judge. He married Caroline Godbold in December 1843. They had one son, Earl Jr., and one daughter, Olivia. Some believe that Van Dorn fathered other children through adulterous affairs prior to, and possibly during, the Civil War. Graduating fifty-second of fifty-six cadets from …

Van Dyke, Jerry

Jerry Van Dyke was a famous comedian and actor who lived in Arkansas; he was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame in 1998. He was perhaps most noted for his Emmy-nominated performance as Luther Van Dam on the television show Coach. Van Dyke and his wife, Shirley Jones, owned a ranch in Hot Spring County, and, in the late 1990s, they purchased and renovated a city block in Benton (Saline County), including the Royal Theatre and a soda shop that bears his name. Jerry Van Dyke was born in Danville, Illinois, on July 27, 1931, to Loren and Hazel Van Dyke. Loren Van Dyke was a traveling salesman for the Sunshine Biscuit Company. Both their sons had successful …

van Zandt, Elliott C.

Elliott van Zandt was a pioneering figure in international athletics. A physical education instructor, he served in the U.S. Army in World War II. Afterward, he remained in Europe, and at a time when the national athletic landscape in the United States was still hampered by segregation, van Zandt (who was African American) became a critical figure in the development of national programs for a number of different sports, especially basketball, in countries across the European continent. He coached a number of different teams and sports, serving as the Olympic coach for multiple national teams while also teaching both players and coaches around the world. Elliott C. van Zandt was born in 1915 in Hot Springs (Garland County) to Una …

Vance, Rupert Bayliss

Rupert Bayliss Vance was a sociologist on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), who, along with fellow sociology faculty member Howard Odum, established the field of “regional sociology”—in their case, an extensive study of the South. The two helped provide a progressive counterweight at UNC in the 1930s to the conservative agrarian philosophy centered with the faculty at Vanderbilt University and expressed in their collection of essays I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1930). Rupert B. Vance was born on March 15, 1899, in Plumerville (Conway County), the oldest of four children of Walter Vance and Mary Bayliss Vance. Walter Vance owned a general store, though the Vances lived on …

Varner Unit

The Varner Unit is a detention facility run by the Arkansas Department of Correction. It is located in the Choctaw Township of Lincoln County, along U.S. Highway 65, about thirty miles south of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The Varner Unit was constructed in response to the state’s fast-growing inmate population; other state facilities had been expanded prior to Varner’s construction. When it opened in 1987, it could accommodate 300 prisoners; its capacity was increased to 700 and then later to around 1,700. The Varner Unit is made up of two separate units: the Supermax Unit and the Varner Unit. The Supermax Unit was opened in 2000 and in 2003 became home to all the state’s male death row inmates. In …

Vaughan, Joseph Floyd “Arky”

Joseph Floyd “Arky” Vaughan was a professional baseball player and one of six native Arkansans elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Considered one of the best shortstops in baseball history, Vaughan was also one of the premier hitters in the 1930s. Arky Vaughan was born on March 9, 1912, in Clifty (Madison County) to Robert Vaughan and Laura Denny Vaughan. He was one of six children. When he was an infant, the family moved to Fullerton, California, where his father became an oilfield worker. Vaughan never returned to Arkansas. Throughout much of his life, Vaughan was linked to the state because of his nickname, given to him as a child because he talked with an Arkansas accent acquired …

Vick, Volmer “Cactus”

Volmer “Cactus” Vick was one of Arkansas’s first radio and television personalities in the post–World War II era. As a showman, Vick was a combination of magician, ventriloquist, comedian, preacher, and cowboy. Vick’s three-decade-long career began on a local radio station in the late 1940s. He made thousands of appearances, in character, while working as spokesperson for the Finkbeiner Meat Packing Company and for the Continental Baking Company in Little Rock (Pulaski County), makers of Arkansas Maid Wieners and Wonder Bread, respectively. Volmer Voss Vick was born on a plantation at Varner (Lincoln County) on November 2, 1911. His father, K. P. Vick, had a general store there before he died, leaving Vick—the oldest of three children—to help his mother, …

Villines, Floyd Galloway “Buddy”, III

Buddy Villines, who retired in 2014, was a longtime public official in central Arkansas. Following service on the Little Rock Board of Directors, he became the city’s mayor before serving for over two decades as Pulaski County judge. Over that time, he oversaw a significant transformation of Arkansas’s capital city. Floyd G. “Buddy” Villines III was born on June 23, 1947, in Roxboro, North Carolina. Nicknamed Buddy at an early age due to his pleasant demeanor, he was one of three children born to Floyd Villines and Hazel Villines. As his father was a Methodist minister who served numerous counties all over the state, the family led a nomadic existence, moving frequently during Villines’s youth. In 1969, he graduated from …

Von Berg, Charles Ludwig “Old Scout”

Carlos Ludwig von Berg was a German immigrant, a Civil War soldier, a postwar scout during the last Indian Wars, and an artist and guide who settled in the Fayetteville (Washington County) area later in life. He was featured in the 2012 documentary Up Among the Hills: The Story of Fayetteville. Carlos Ludwig von Berg was born on October 18, 1835, in the Duchy of Baden, where his family members were foresters. His first schooling was in Karlsruhe, followed by the University of Heidelberg. His studies were interrupted by the 1848 revolutions that caused his family to flee to Switzerland. He returned to Heidelberg but in 1854 immigrated to the United States. He traveled west, and he took up trading …