September 22, 1961
Time magazine wrote of Arkansas journalist Gene Wirges, “Once war was declared, Wirges waged it with unabating belligerence.” 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 Sheriff Marlin Hawkins of Conway County. As a crusading editor and good-government advocate, Wirges, along with his wife, Betty, allied themselves with the forces of reform at serious personal risk. Principally as editor of the Morrilton Democrat, as well as other local papers, Wirges led a campaign for better government and honest elections, which resulted in lawsuits, criminal prosecution, physical altercations, and—allegedly—a contract on his life. His chief nemesis, Hawkins, vehemently denied being involved in such activities.