September 13, 2009
Conway County journalist Gene Wirges is noted for his crusade against the influence over Arkansas politics exerted in the early 1960s by Governor Orval Faubus and his political ally county sheriff Marlin Hawkins. As editor and owner of the Morrilton Democrat, as well as other local papers, Wirges led a campaign for better government and honest elections. His actions resulted in lawsuits, criminal prosecution, physical altercations, and–allegedly–a contract on his life. He retired in 1988 but continued his journalistic efforts until his death in 2014.