Time Period: World War II through the Faubus Era (1941 - 1967) - Starting with R

Ragon, Imogene McConnell

Imogene McConnell Ragon was a well-known twentieth-century Arkansas educator and plein air (outdoor) artist. Her paintings have been exhibited throughout Arkansas and nationally. Today, she is best remembered for her watercolors of native wildflowers and landscapes, and her architectural renderings of historic buildings all around Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains. The dogwood and the magnolia are among her most popular subjects. Imogene McConnell was born on May 21, 1887, in Clarksville (Johnson County) into the pioneer family of Edward Taylor McConnell and Alice Adele Porter McConnell. She was the third of four children. In 1894, when she was six years old, her father was appointed superintendent of the Arkansas prison by Governor William Meade Fishback. The family moved to Little …

Ravenden Springs School

The former Ravenden Springs School is a Craftsman-style school building in Ravenden Springs (Randolph County). Built in 1941, the one-story rectangular building operated as a school until it was closed during consolidation in 1974. The school changed ownership many times but was acquired by the town of Ravenden Springs in 1990. The school was originally built with four classrooms and a library, but the building was later renovated to be used as the local town hall and community center. The school no longer retains its original interior design, but it still possesses significant historical integrity. The first documented school in Ravenden Springs was known as the Cave School. Run by Caleb Lindsey, this school dates back to 1815, where classes …

Read, Opie

Opie Read was a newspaperman, author, and lecturer. He cofounded the comic newspaper the Arkansaw 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 middle name is recorded various sources as either Pope or Percival, with the consensus being that it was like the latter.) His parents were Guilford and Elizabeth Wallace Read. Read’s early life was spent in …

Rebsamen, Raymond Henry

Raymond Henry Rebsamen was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman who started a number of small businesses in different industries including insurance, printing, real estate, and automobile sales. Rebsamen was deeply involved in shaping the landscape of modern Little Rock through urban planning organizations like Metroplan, of which he was a founding member, and through his donations of land within the city for public use in sports, leisure, and education. Raymond Rebsamen was born on April 8, 1898, in Lancaster, Texas, to William Frederick Rebsamen and Edna May Miller Rebsamen. The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), where Raymond and his younger brothers, Paul and Lloyd, were educated in the public schools. Rebsamen attended the University of Arkansas (UA) …

Rector, William Field (Billy), Sr.

William Field Rector was a Little Rock (Pulaski County) businessman and civic leader who founded the real estate firm Rector-Phillips-Morse, Inc. (now RPM Group) and the nonprofit group 50 for the Future. He played a dominant role in shaping the development of Little Rock from the 1950s into the 1970s, especially in his attempt to serve what he believed to be the business community’s interests during the Desegregation of Central High School in the mid-1950s and busing efforts in the decades following. William Field (Billy) Rector was born on June 28, 1912, on a farm near Palarm in Faulkner County to Henry M. Rector and Nancy Rector. He was the great-grandson of Henry Massie Rector, the Confederate governor of Arkansas …

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. …

Revenue Stabilization Act

aka: Act 311 of 1945
The Revenue Stabilization Act is an act of the Arkansas General Assembly that categorizes and prioritizes spending for the operation of state government. The act establishes a formula by which to perform an orderly monthly distribution of revenues. The original act eliminated more than 100 special funds and substituted a single general fund from which appropriations are funded. It also provided for paying off all non-highway-related bond indebtedness. The act is revised each legislative session to adapt to economic cycles, revenue forecasts, and program priorities. While Amendments 19 and 20 to the Arkansas Constitution, also known as the “Futrell Amendments,” sharply curtailed the ability of state government to become indebted, the problems of inflexibility and inefficiency in state finances remained …

Rice Bowl

Established in 1936, the World’s Champion Duck Calling Contest has annually attracted the finest duck callers and duck hunting enthusiasts in North America to the city of Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The contest is held on the weekend following Thanksgiving Day, just as the college football season is beginning to wind down and the season’s bowl games are on the horizon. In 1957, contest organizers sought to capitalize on the popularity of college football in Arkansas by adding a college football game, known as the Rice Bowl, to the calendar of events. The Rice Bowl’s goal was to showcase the finest small college football teams in the state of Arkansas. In 1957, Rice Bowl committee chairman Shannon Flowers signed an agreement …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Right to Work Law

aka: Amendment 34
In November 1944, Arkansas and Florida became the first two states to enact what are commonly known as “Right to Work” measures. These laws prohibit employers and employee-chosen unions from agreeing to contracts that require employees to join the union as a condition of employment. Thus, rather than simply granting an individual the right to work, such laws regulate the collective bargaining process to the detriment of unions. The effort to enact Right to Work laws originated on Labor Day in 1941, when Dallas Morning News editorial writer William Ruggles called for the passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting contracts that required employees to become union members. Soon thereafter, Vance Muse, founder of the Christian American Association, …

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, …

Rimrock Records

Rimrock Records was founded by country music artist Wayne Raney and his son, Zyndall, in Concord (Cleburne County) in 1961. It is said to be Arkansas’s first and only record-manufacturing company. It was located on Rimrock Road off Heber Springs Road just west of the point at which Highway 87 from Banner (Cleburne County) intersects with Highway 25 at Concord. Such luminaries as the Stanley Brothers and Red Smiley made records, both 45 RPM and LPs, for Rimrock, and Elvis Presley and Ike and Tina Turner did dubbing and studio work there in the early 1970s. Big-name celebrities were often flown in to the Batesville Regional Airport at Southside (Independence County), slipping into Concord at night unbeknownst to the media. …

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 …

Roberts, Terrence James

Terrence James Roberts made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed integration of the formerly all-white high school. Terrence Roberts, the eldest of seven children, was born on December 3, 1941, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to William and Margaret Roberts. His father was a World War II naval veteran who worked at the Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), and his mother ran a catering service from home. Roberts was a sophomore at Horace Mann High School when he volunteered to integrate Little Rock’s Central High …