Entries - Time Period: Modern Era (1968 - the Present) - Starting with D

DaBoll, Raymond Franklin

Raymond Franklin DaBoll, one of the most talented calligraphers in America, moved to Newark (Independence County) in 1952, where he continued producing masterpieces of calligraphy. Raymond DaBoll was born on June 19, 1892, in Clyde, New York. Several generations of his family published the well-known Daboll Almanacks from 1773 until 1969, when it merged with the Old Farmer’s Almanac. When DaBoll was a youngster, because of constant mispronunciation of the family name by others, his father and uncles changed the spelling of the name from “Daboll” to “DaBoll.” While in his third year of high school, DaBoll won first place in an art contest sponsored by the Rochester Training School for Teachers. Encouraged by this accomplishment, he dropped out of …

Daddy and Them

Daddy and Them is a comedy-drama written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton that stars Thornton and Laura Dern as Claude and Ruby Montgomery, a passionate but antagonistic married couple from Arkansas. Insecurity about measuring up to one another’s past romantic relationships stands as their biggest point of contention, which is further complicated by Claude’s past relationship with Ruby’s older sister, Rose, before he married Ruby. Claude travels with Ruby, Rose, and his mother-in-law Jewel to support his extended family when his Uncle Hazel is arrested for attempted murder. The plot largely centers around the chronic dysfunction of the Montgomery family. In the DVD commentary, Thornton remarked that “one of the things about this movie, one of the things I …

Daily Record (Little Rock) [Newspaper]

The Daily Record is the only daily newspaper in Little Rock (Pulaski County) that focuses primarily on business, real estate, and legal news. The Daily Record was established around 1953 by longtime newspaperman John F. Wells, who founded many other publications prior to his death in 1987. The Daily Record was then purchased on August 25, 1987, by a group of local investors known collectively as the Business Information Group. In 1990, the Daily Record began printing the Bulletin, the official newsletter of the Pulaski County Bar Association. A Little Rock native, John Fenton Wells was born on July 22, 1902. He graduated from what is now Central High School in Little Rock and then the University of Arkansas (UA) …

Daisy Outdoor Products

Daisy Outdoor Products is the world’s oldest and largest marketer of airguns and airgun accessories. With the town’s name stamped on every Daisy airgun made since 1958, Rogers (Benton County) is well known as the home of Daisy Outdoor Products. However, the company was not always located in Rogers, nor was it always in the airgun business. Daisy traces its history to the founding of the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company in Plymouth, Michigan. Windmills in use throughout the country had traditionally been made of wood. The idea of a steel windmill was conceived by Clarence J. Hamilton, a watch repairman working in the front window of a drug and jewelry store in Plymouth. Hamilton secured a patent, and the Plymouth …

Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center

Arkansas has more than 1.2 million acres of farmland used for rice production and is the largest producer of rice in the United States, supplying fifty percent of the nation’s crop. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), supports this important industry through research conducted at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center (DBNRRC) in genetics, physiology, pathology, agronomy, and cereal chemistry to improve rice yield, grain quality, and resistance to diseases, insects, pests, and environmental stress. USDA ARS has conducted rice research at this site since 1931. In 1998, however, a new state-of-the-art facility was completed that allowed tremendous expansion of the scientific staff and scope of the conducted research. The center was named after …

Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

The Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center is located on 2,214 acres in Booneville (Logan County). The center, part of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), conducts research to develop innovative strategies and technologies for small and medium-size forage/livestock/agroforestry farms in order to conserve natural resources and improve economic viability and environmental quality. Research focuses on strategies for increasing profitability of small farms by reducing parasite load and enhancing the genetics of small ruminants; developing foraging plans for livestock, including organic production systems; and integrating agroforestry systems and sustainable manure management practices. The center employs more than thirty people—including scientists, research specialists, and students—and cooperates with partners throughout the United States. The center was …

Dallas County Museum

In September 1993, the State of Arkansas chartered the Dallas County Museum in Fordyce (Dallas County). In the spring of 1995, Frank Hickingbotham, owner of Citizens Bank, donated the old bank building to the museum; the museum materials had previously been housed in a back room at the local Chamber of Commerce. Formerly the McKee Building, the 1907 structure was restored to include a new, native red oak staircase and a new elevator; original bank vaults and safes remain in the building. The Dallas County Museum provides 13,000 square feet of exhibition and office space at 221 North Main Street in the Fordyce Commercial Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. An annex opened in the …

Dalton, Donald

Donald Dalton served as a brigadier general in the Arkansas National Guard. At the end of his career, he was the commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard. Donald Dalton was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 10, 1939, to John and Dora Dalton. His father worked as a baker, and Donald had an older brother and two older sisters at the time of his birth. While he was a child, the family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Dalton graduated from Central High School in 1957. Dalton enlisted in the Air National Guard as a weapons mechanic that same year. In 1961, he received a commission as a second lieutenant and entered undergraduate pilot training at Laredo …

Daly, John Patrick

John Patrick Daly has been a professional golfer on the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour since 1990, having stunned the golf world by winning the PGA Championship as a rookie. He owns a golf course in his hometown of Dardanelle (Yell County), and he is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. John Daly was born the youngest of three children on April 28, 1966, in Carmichael, California, to Jim Daly, a construction worker on nuclear power facilities, and Lou Daly. Daly’s family moved to Dardanelle when he was five because his father took a job at Nuclear One in Russellville (Pope County), and he began playing golf soon after. The family moved several times as his father …

Daniels, Charlie

Longtime state official Charlie Daniels began public service as a member of his local school board. A career that spanned over three decades included lengthy tenures in a number of statewide offices: commissioner of state lands, secretary of state, and state auditor. Charlie Daniels was born on December 7, 1939, in Parkers Chapel (Union County) to Louie Green Daniels and Ruby Marie Hill Daniels. He grew up in nearby El Dorado (Union County). He joined the U.S. Air Force after graduating from high school, and his four years of active duty were followed by fifteen years in the Air Force Reserves. Upon completing his active duty, Daniels attended Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia (Columbia County) and then the University of …

Darr, Mark

Mark Darr served as lieutenant governor of Arkansas from 2011 to 2014. Elected as part of a wave of political newcomers in 2010, he quickly became embroiled in a series of investigations relating to alleged ethics violations. In January 2014, with almost a year left in his term, Darr resigned his office. Mark Darr was born on July 3, 1973, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), the youngest of five children born to the Reverend Johnnie Darr, who was a Southern Baptist minister, and his wife, Patsy Darr. Darr grew up in Mansfield (Sebastian and Scott counties), graduating from Mansfield High School in 1991. In 1997, he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark …

Dassault Falcon Jet

aka: Falcon Jet
The Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation is one of Arkansas’s largest private employers and is largely responsible for the state ranking eleventh in the nation in annual aviation exports. The company’s Little Rock (Pulaski County) site houses both completion and service centers for Dassault Aviation, Dassault Falcon Jet’s parent company based in Paris, France. Falcon jets are manufactured in France and then flown into the Little Rock site at Adams Field near the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport for painting of exteriors and installation of optional avionics and custom interiors. In 1971, FedEx founder Fred Smith purchased a company called Arkansas Aviation Sales that was located at the site of the current completion center. Smith acquired the company Little Rock …

Davies, Ronald Norwood

Ronald Norwood Davies was the U.S. district judge who presided over the litigation involving the 1957 integration of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Ronald N. Davies was born on December 11, 1904, in Crookston, Minnesota, to country editor Norwood S. Davies and his wife Minnie M. Davies. In 1917, the family of seven moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where Davies completed elementary school. In 1922, he graduated from Central High School in Grand Forks and went on to attend the University of North Dakota. Davies received his BA degree from the University of North Dakota, College of Liberal Arts, in 1927 and, three years later, earned a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington DC. Davies …

Davis, Danny K.

Danny K. Davis is an Arkansas-born politician who has represented the Seventh District of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives for almost two decades. First elected in 1996 to the 105th Congress, he began his congressional service in 1997. In 2014, Davis was reelected to the 114th Congress, beginning his tenth term in January 2015. Davis was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1998. Daniel K. Davis was born in Parkdale (Ashley County) on September 6, 1941, to Hezekiah Davis and Mazzie Davis. He received his early education in the local schools before graduating from Savage High School in 1957. After earning his BA in history from Arkansas AM&N College (now the University of Arkansas at …

Davis, Erma Lee Glasco

Erma Lee Glasco Davis is a historian, civic leader, and educator. She is best known for preserving and communicating the legacy of her alma mater, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Junior College (the building is in use in the twenty-first century as Dunbar Magnet Middle School), and highlighting the impact this historically black institution had in Arkansas. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Erma Lee Glasco was born on December 31, 1928, in Eagle Township of Pulaski County, near Keo (Lonoke County), to Anderson Glasco and Rodelia Glasco. Her father was a stone and masonry contractor, a deacon at Mount Zion Baptist Church, a member of the Arkansas Minority Contractors Association, and a former …

Davis, Gregory A.

Gregory A. Davis is the founder of Davis Broadcasting, a regional media company that owns several radio stations in Columbus and Atlanta, Georgia; the stations range from urban contemporary and gospel to sports and Spanish-language formats. Davis serves as the president and CEO of Davis Broadcasting. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016, the same year that marked the thirtieth anniversary of the company he founded. Gregory Davis was born in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in 1948. His mother was an educator at the local black school, and his father worked in a bakery before opening a shoeshine parlor. He attended twelve years of Catholic school, graduating from St. Anne’s Academy, where he was the …

Davis, L. Clifford

L. Clifford Davis is an attorney whose active participation in the legal challenges of the civil rights movement began when he first sought admission to the all-white University of Arkansas School of Law. That effort was the precursor to a distinguished career in the legal profession, one that included two decades of service as a judge in the Texas court system. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2007. L. Clifford Davis was born on October 12, 1924, in Wilton (Little River County). The youngest of seven children of Augustus Davis and Dora Duckett Davis, he was raised on the family farm and received his early education in the Wilton schools. As the town’s educational offerings …

Davis, William Delford (Willie)

Willie Davis was a millionaire business executive, civic leader, and former football standout who grew up in Miller County. Davis achieved athletic success in football at the high school, college, and professional levels. After retiring from a National Football League (NFL) career of twelve seasons (1958–1969), he moved into the business world, where he attained equal success. Davis was a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. William Delford (Willie) Davis was born on July 24, 1934, in Lisbon, Louisiana, to David and Nodie Davis. After his parents separated when he was eight, his mother moved the family to Texarkana (Miller County). His mother supported the family by working as a cook at the Texarkana Country Club. Willie Davis …

Davis, William Emmet

Photographer William Emmett Davis distinguished himself as a commercial photographer for forty years and, beginning in 1983, worked as a fine art photographer. Davis had aesthetic connections with photographers on the West Coast and worked almost exclusively in Arkansas. William E. Davis was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 14, 1918, to E. N. Davis and Mayson Wise Davis; he had no siblings. His father was a physician. Davis attended local schools and then the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). There, he took two years of pre-med courses. The course of study was interrupted when Davis enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. From 1941 to 1945, he was a fighter pilot aboard …

Davis, William Henry (Willie)

William Henry (Willie) Davis was a professional baseball player who spent eighteen years in the major leagues before retiring at the end of the 1979 season. Spending most of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Davis played a key role on the franchise’s 1963 and 1965 World Series championship teams, and, while he finished his career with the California Angels, Davis held a number of Los Angeles Dodgers batting records at the time of his retirement. Willie Davis was born on April 15, 1940, in Mineral Springs (Howard County), but he grew up in Los Angeles, California. A multi-sport athletic star at Theodore Roosevelt High School, Davis was a world-class performer in track and field, specializing in the 100-yard dash …

Day It Came to Earth, The

The Day It Came to Earth is a 1977 horror/science fiction feature film directed by Arkansan Harry Thomason. It was filmed in and around Little Rock (Pulaski County). Running at eighty-eight minutes and rated PG (for violence), the movie features a number of local Arkansas actors, such as Little Rock advertising executive Robert (Bob) Ginnaven (1937–2008) in addition to comedian George Gobel near the end of his career and actress Rita Wilson at the beginning of hers. The story, written by Paul Fisk, begins with a glowing meteorite falling into a secluded pond. Gangsters have dumped the body of one of their victims into the pond. The water takes on rejuvenating powers from the meteorite, causing the dead body to …

Day, Patrick Alan (Pat)

Patrick Alan Day is a retired thoroughbred jockey with 8,803 victories, many of which came at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County). Born on October 13, 1953, in Brush, Colorado, Pat Day wrestled in high school, once winning the state championship for his weight class. After graduating, he participated briefly in professional rodeo bull riding before turning his attention to thoroughbred horse racing. Standing four feet eleven inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds, Day adapted quickly to the sport, riding Foreblunged to his first career victory on July 29, 1973, at the Prescott Downs Racetrack in Prescott, Arizona. Day dominated thoroughbred racing throughout the Midwest in the 1970s and secured his first major win on the East …

Dearmore, Thomas Lee (Tom)

Thomas Lee Dearmore was a nationally recognized journalist and newspaper editor. A native of the Ozarks, Dearmore focused on politics and music in his writing. He worked at newspapers in Washington DC and San Francisco, California, and was an editor at the Arkansas Gazette for two years in the 1970s. Like his contemporary Harry Ashmore, Dearmore was a new breed of southern journalist who sought to distance Arkansas and the South from a segregationist past. Tom Dearmore was born in Mountain Home (Baxter County) on September 11, 1927. He was the son of Benjamin Dearmore and Ethel Shiras Dearmore, both of whom were natives of Arkansas. During World War II, he was stationed in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he …

DeGray Dam and Lake

DeGray Dam, located about eight miles northwest of Arkadelphia (Clark County), impounds the 13,400-acre DeGray Lake on the Caddo River. It was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for purposes of electricity generation and flood control, as well as establishing a drinking water supply for Arkadelphia, and is the first “pump back capable impoundment” in the Corps’s history. A reregulation dam forms a 400-acre impoundment below the main lake, providing a supply of water that can be pumped back into DeGray Lake during times of drought and used again for hydropower generation and to provide a steady flow of water on the Caddo River. The site where DeGray Dam stands had been considered for a dam since …

DeGray Lake Resort State Park

DeGray Lake Resort State Park, located in southwest Arkansas, features a ninety-four-room lodge, an eighteen-hole championship golf course, a full service marina, a convention center, tennis courts, and a pool. It is the state’s only resort state park. While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was constructing DeGray Lake (1963–1972) by damming the Caddo River, support grew within the State Parks Division and surrounding communities for developing along the 13,400-acre lake a state park to rival resort state parks in neighboring Oklahoma and Texas. The Corps and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism reached an agreement in November 1971 for the construction and management of a resort and recreation area on the lake’s north shore. Effective May 1, 1972, …

Delray, Martin

aka: Michael Ray Martin
American country music artist Michael Ray Martin (known professionally as Martin Delray) is best known for his 1991 cover of the Johnny Cash song “Get Rhythm.” Michael Ray Martin was born on September 29, 1949, in Texarkana (Miller County). After graduating from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1972 with a BA in English, he served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. After he left military service at the rank of private first class, Martin relocated to North Hollywood, California, and began playing the West Coast club circuit, opening for such acts as Doug Kershaw and Juice Newton. Martin eventually became a staff songwriter at a music publishing company owned by Seals and Crofts. One …

Delta Cultural Center

The Delta Cultural Center in historic downtown Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) is a museum dedicated to the history of the Arkansas Delta. The center, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, opened in 1990 with the mission of preserving, interpreting, and presenting the cultural heritage of a twenty-seven-county region. The Delta Cultural Center was created by the Arkansas legislature via Act 109 of 1989, which specified that the Delta Cultural Center would be an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. At the time, no facility existed to interpret the agricultural, ethnic, and cultural history of the Delta region. The stated goals were to preserve the region’s history and to promote tourism there. The center features two museum locations—the …

Delta Symposium

The Delta Symposium is an annual conference sponsored by the Department of English, Philosophy, and World Languages at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). The symposium welcomes multidisciplinary submissions and presentations dealing with the Mississippi Delta region; of particular interest are submissions that engage the question of the Delta’s culture, arts, and lifestyles, and their effect upon the blues. The Delta Symposium was created in 1994 as a conference that would appeal to both the general public and the academic community. First organized under the name of the Delta Studies Symposium, this changed when it became evident that the genre of the blues offered the most wide-ranging and multidisciplinary topic for exploration. A committee composed of faculty members of …

DeMent, Iris 

Arkansas native Iris DeMent has used her distinctive voice to sing folk, country, bluegrass, and gospel music. She has written songs about family, religion, people, places, and political ideas in a time when few were doing so. Iris DeMent was born on January 5, 1961, in Paragould (Greene County), the youngest of fourteen children. Her parents, Patrick Shaw and Flora Mae DeMent, were farmers on an island in the St. Francis River outside Paragould. When Iris was three, her father lost his factory job after a failed attempt to unionize, and the family hit hard times, sold the farm, and moved to Buena Park, California. They lived there until she was seventeen and then moved to Sacramento, California. Eventually, her …

Democratic Party Caucuses of 1984

On March 17, 1984, the state Democratic Party initiated the formal process of delegate selection to the upcoming Democratic National Convention. Participatory caucuses convened in the state’s 767 precincts with the expectation that thirty-five of the forty-two delegates chosen would reflect, proportionally, the participants’ candidate preferences. Seven slots were reserved for super-delegates, elected officials, and party organization leaders. The state party organization had traditionally taken responsibility for convention delegate selection, but national party reforms had substantially altered delegate selection processes in the states by making them more open to participation by the party rank-and-file. In this spirit, the Arkansas Democratic Party conducted presidential preferential primaries in 1976 and 1980. Those contests attracted some 500,000 and 440,000 voters, respectively. In 1983, …

Denton, Herbert Jr.

Herbert Denton Jr. was a leading African-American journalist at the Washington Post. Raised in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the son of a prominent public educator, Denton became the first person of color to hold a supervisory position at the Post. During his career, Denton reported for the metro, national, and foreign desks; served as both Maryland and District editor; hired and mentored a generation of minority journalists (especially African Americans and women); and built a potent legacy of journalistic excellence at the Washington Post. Herbert H. Denton Jr. was born on July 10, 1943, in Muncie, Indiana, the first of four children of Herbert Denton Sr. and Lucille Battle Denton. “Herbert Junior” spent part of his infancy in Arkadelphia (Clark …

Denton, Ivan

Ivan Denton, a pioneering Ozark woodcarver specializing in wildlife and Western scenes, was one of the most prominent artists in Arkansas. Ivan Denton was born Marlin Ivan Denton in 1927 in Ferrells, North Carolina, to William Denton and Mary Magdalena Massey Denton. Denton never had any formal artistic training but took up carving in the 1930s because he, like most boys in the Great Depression, often made his own toys. Denton whittled wood, pine bark, soap, soft stone, and, occasionally, bone and ivory. He ran away from home in 1945 and worked as a cowboy during a branding season in Texas and New Mexico. Denton spent a year as a first mate aboard a U.S. Army transport vessel, Leapin’ Lena, …

Dermott Crawfish Festival

The Dermott Crawfish Festival is one of the longest continuously running festivals in Arkansas. Every third weekend of May, Dermott (Chicot County) transforms its downtown streets into an entertainment district offering carnival amusements, arts and crafts, specialty foods, pancake breakfasts, live music, a disc jockey, beauty pageants, basketball contests, fire truck rides, magic shows, bingo, karate demonstrations, a “Show Your Rims” competition, and a dog show, as well as educational exhibits and visiting local and state politicians. The festival originated with the expansion of this Delta community’s farm-based economy into aquaculture. In the early 1980s, local agriculturists Ronnie Thomas, John Green, Jimmy Duncan, and Jerry Duncan began crawfish farming. Thomas, a fishery biologist, researched superior farming and food-preparation techniques. The …

Desert Storm

aka: Gulf War
aka: First Gulf War
aka: Desert Shield
aka: Persian Gulf War
aka: Operation Desert Storm
On August 2, 1990, the Iraq Army under the command of President Saddam Hussein and General Ali Hassan al-Majid invaded and occupied the country of Kuwait. Following the occupation, Ali Hassan was placed in Kuwait as military governor. In response to this, the United Nations Security Council condemned the Iraqi administration and issued economic sanctions on the country. From the invasion until February 28, 1991, U.S. president George H. W. Bush, along with a coalition of thirty-eight other countries, supported the military forces deployed to the Middle East to counter this action. This build-up of forces became the first part of the 1990/1991 Gulf War and was codenamed Operation Desert Shield (August 7, 1990–January 17, 1991). The counter-strike and combat …

Desha County Historical Society

The Desha County Historical Society (DCHS) was founded in January 1969 at the county courthouse in Arkansas City (Desha County). The four charter members were C. C. Stuart, Mildred Stroud, Mary Gayle Tutt, and Pat Sherland. Later, the group decided to incorporate the organization, and a certificate of incorporation was issued to the Desha County Historical Society by the office of the Secretary of State on May 29, 1973. Since its inception, the society has gathered historical documents and a few artifacts. These items are located at the McGehee (Desha County) library in the Desha County Historical Society Research Room. The first issue of the society’s publication The Doctors of Desha County was published in 1969. From 1973 until 2000, …

Devil’s Knot

Mara Leveritt’s 2002 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three focuses on the facts of the 1993 murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis (Crittenden County) and the controversial court case that followed. One of the teenagers of the so-called West Memphis Three convicted in the case was sentenced to death, while two others were condemned to life in jail without parole; the three were freed in 2011. The murders remained unsolved. The book depicts a bleak picture of small-town Arkansas in the 1990s, providing background for how, in the author’s view, this case assumed a level of hysteria that in many ways equaled the Salem Witch Trials. The book provoked a larger discussion about …

Dexter, Maury

aka: Morris Gene Poindexter
Maury Dexter was a film and television director and producer perhaps best remembered for his work on low-budget horror films during the early 1960s, as well as his long professional association with television legend Michael Landon. Dexter’s career paralleled that of an elder Arkansas-born film maker, Jean Yarbrough of Marianna (Lee County). Both were known less for their artistry than for their efficiency, directing or producing numerous competent but unexceptional films for “Poverty Row” studios within the constraints of tight budgets and deadlines. Reflecting on his career, Dexter observed: “I’m first and foremost a filmmaker. Even when I first started out, my intent was to take a script, whatever that script was, and do the best I could under the …

Dhonau, Jerry Franklin

Jerry Franklin Dhonau, a longtime newspaper reporter and editor, contributed to the Arkansas Gazette’s winning of a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting and commentary on the historic desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957. Later, he served as an editorial writer at the newspaper for twenty-seven years and was chief of the opinion section when the Gazette closed on October 18, 1991. Jerry Dhonau was born on September 20, 1934, in Little Rock to Charles Mitchell Dhonau and Lura Hill Dhonau. His father settled damage claims for the Cotton Belt Railroad. An older brother, Charles Mitchell Dhonau Jr., was killed in combat in World War II. While he was a student at Little Rock High …

Dial, Rick

Rick Dial was a character actor, musician, and businessman from Malvern (Hot Spring County). Dial acted in fourteen Hollywood films, first appearing alongside childhood friend and fellow actor Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade (1996). In addition to his acting, Dial was part-owner of a furniture store in Malvern and was “the Voice of the Malvern Leopards,” announcing high school football games. Richard Halley Dial was born on March 9, 1955, in Malvern to Bill J. Dial and DeNora VanDusen Dial; he was one of three children. He graduated from Malvern High School in 1973, where he earned All-Conference honors on the Malvern Leopards football team. Dial married Phyllis Voss on September 22, 1973; they had three children. After high …

Diamond Bear Brewery

Diamond Bear Brewery in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) revived beer brewing in the state of Arkansas. Its name is derived from two previous monikers used by Arkansas: the “Diamond State” and the “Bear State.” Russ Melton, president and chief executive officer of Diamond Bear, served in the military in Germany for four years, where he acquired a taste for fine beers. He and his wife, Sue Melton, came up with the concept of a local brewery in 1999 and, along with seven other owners, started production in the fall of 2000 at a Little Rock (Pulaski County) facility. The mission statement of the company is: “To provide the people of Arkansas and the surrounding region with their own local brewery, which produces great …

Diamond State Chorus

The Diamond State Chorus is the performance group of the Greater Little Rock Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, Inc. (SPEBSQSA). The international men’s singing group, also known as the Barbershop Harmony Society, has more than 34,000 members. It was founded on April 11, 1938, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The local chapter is a grandchild of the Memphis, Tennessee, chapter. In 1952, seven barbershoppers from Memphis went to Stuttgart (Arkansas County) to start a chapter. The subsequent Grand Prairie Chorus attracted the attention of a quartet from Little Rock (Pulaski County)—The Four Specs—which made the 120-mile round trip to Stuttgart for a couple of years before deciding to form a chapter …

Dickey, Ben

Ben Dickey is an Arkansas-born musician, actor, singer, and songwriter. In addition to his music, he is known for his role in the 2018 movie Blaze, in which he played Arkansas musician Blaze Foley. A guitarist with a voice reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s, Dickey has released two solo albums. He also worked with actor/director Ethan Hawke on several movie projects. Benjamin Dickey was born on June 24, 1977, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the youngest of three children born to David and Robyn Dickey. His parents separated when he was five and later divorced. Dickey’s father, who had been a star running back for the Razorbacks football team in the late 1960s and worked in finance and real estate, later …

Dickey, Betty

Betty Clark Dickey is a former chief justice and justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. She became the first woman to serve as the court’s chief justice. Betty Clark was born in Black Rock (Lawrence County) on February 23, 1940, to Millard Morris Clark and Myrtle Norris Clark. She grew up in nearby Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County), graduating as valedictorian from Walnut Ridge High School in 1958, where she played forward on the girls’ basketball team. She went on to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where she studied education, graduating in 1962 with a BA. She married Jay Woodson Dickey Jr., a lawyer from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) who later served as the Fourth District congressman …

Dickey, Jay Woodson, Jr.

Jay Woodson Dickey Jr. was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the 103rd through the 106th Congresses, serving from 1993 to 2001. Jay W. Dickey Jr. was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on December 14, 1939, to Jay W. Dickey and Margaret Dickey. He graduated from Pine Bluff High School in 1957, before attending Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) for a brief time. He transferred to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1961. Continuing his studies at UA, Dickey earned a law degree in 1963. After being admitted to the state bar, he entered into private practice in …

Dillard, William Thomas

William Thomas Dillard was the founder of Dillard’s, Inc., one of the nation’s largest fashion apparel and home-furnishings retailers. From an $8,000 investment in a single store in Nashville (Howard County), Dillard, an Arkansas native, built a premier retail chain with a national presence of more than 300 stores in twenty-nine states. William T. Dillard was born on September 2, 1914, in Mineral Springs (Howard County), the only son of Thomas Dillard and Hattie Gibson Dillard, who were prominent farmers and merchants in the close-knit Mineral Springs community. Retailing excited Dillard from a very young age, and he spent many hours in his father’s store. Dillard attended the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he majored in …

Dillon, Melinda Rose

Melinda Rose Dillon is an American actress who has appeared in dozens of movies, plays, and television shows. She has been nominated for several major awards, including an Academy Award and a Tony Award; in addition, the Screen Actors Guild recognized her for her role in Magnolia (1999). Other memorable films include Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), A Christmas Story (1983), and Harry and the Hendersons (1987). She has also appeared on television in episodes of Bonanza and the TV movie A Painted House (2003). Melinda Dillon was born on October 13, 1939, in Hope (Hempstead County). Information about her early life is sparse, as Dillon remains an intensely private person. She studied acting with both Lee Strasberg …

Ditto, Beth

aka: Mary Beth Patterson
White County native Beth Ditto is the singer and songwriter for Gossip, an indie, dance-punk band based in Portland, Oregon. Ditto is also known for being a model and fashion designer who promotes positive body image, as well as for her outspoken support of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights. In 2006, she became the first woman voted “Coolest Person in Rock” by NME, a long-running British music magazine. She also released her first solo album in 2017. Beth Ditto was born Mary Beth Patterson on February 19, 1981. She was raised by a single mother, Velmyra Estel, and grew up in Judsonia (White County), near Searcy (White County); she did not know her father and was given the last name …

Division of Arkansas Heritage

DAH was created in 1975 to preserve and promote Arkansas’s natural and cultural heritage as a source of pride and enjoyment for all. The original legislation named the agency the Department of Arkansas Natural and Cultural Heritage and grouped together culturally oriented agencies in one department. The agency’s name was changed to the Department of Arkansas Heritage in 1985, and then to the Division of Arkansas Heritage in 2019. DAH consists of a number of agencies, each with its own special contributions, and a director’s office, which manages general administrative and marketing operations. The agencies are the Arkansas Arts Council (AAC), which seeks to advance the arts in Arkansas; the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP), which manages the state’s historic …

Dixon, Martha

Martha Smith Dixon is an internationally recognized clothing designer and entrepreneur. Her designs of couture gowns worn by Hillary Clinton during Clinton’s husband’s 1987 gubernatorial inauguration and 1993 presidential inauguration helped launch her career in fashion design and sales. Dixon is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Martha Smith was born in Clark County on February 2, 1946, the seventeenth of twenty children of James G. Smith and Beatrice Cook Smith, impoverished cotton pickers and sharecroppers in the South Central community in Clark County. She attended public school in Gurdon (Clark County) when work allowed and graduated from Peake High School in Arkadelphia (Clark County) in 1965. The first in her family to attend college, she spent …

Dodson v. Arkansas Activities Association

Dodson v. Arkansas Activities Association (1979) was a federal court decision concerning the rules for girls’ junior high and high school basketball in Arkansas. Diana Lee Dodson, then a fourteen-year-old student in the Arkadelphia (Clark County) public school system, filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA), the governing body of public and private school athletic programs, asking that girls in Arkansas be permitted to play under the same full-court basketball rules as Arkansas boys played. Arkansas schools at that time required that basketball for girls be played under “half-court” rules. In this version of the game, which had been played in Arkansas and other states since at least the World War II era, girls’ teams had six players. …