May 5, 1991

James Buel Lile, known as “The Arkansas Knifesmith,” died at his home in Russellville (Pope County). As one of the most accomplished custom knife makers in American history, he is credited with putting American knife-making on the map. He carved his first fixed-blade knife from wood at the age of eight. After attending college without attaining a degree, he worked successfully in several positions, including teaching at Pottsville High School and owning and operating construction and sporting goods businesses, before deciding in 1970 to make knife-making his full-time occupation. Lile made knives used by Sylvester Stallone in the Rambo movies, and his bowie knives were presented to Governor Bill Clinton and Presidents Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford.

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