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

Dixie Cafe

The Dixie Cafe was a chain of home-cooking restaurants based in Little Rock (Pulaski County) that grew into twenty-three locations in three states before abruptly closing in late 2017. In August 1980, Little Rock businessman Dan Lasater, who had founded the Ponderosa steakhouse chain, and partners Garland Streett and Allan Roberts bought a building at 1220 Rebsamen Park Road in Little Rock and announced they were going to convert it into a new restaurant as part of the Black-eyed Pea chain (based in Dallas, Texas), which offered home-style cooking in a casual dining atmosphere. The new restaurant opened in late October 1980. “The food comes close to rivaling that of smaller, well-established restaurants,” an Arkansas Gazette reviewer wrote in November …

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. …

Dog of the South, The

The Dog of the South is the third of five novels written by Charles Portis, Arkansas’s most famous author of fiction. Like each of the other four, it chronicles the odyssey of a young Southerner on some sort of mission—to collect a debt, settle some grievance, solve a mystery, or discover the divine secrets of an ancient order. Portis’s narratives—his most celebrated was True Grit, which was twice made into a movie—are commonly grouped in a category of fiction called the picaresque novel, about oddball characters searching for some meaning for their lives. Portis himself scoffed at such categorizations of his work. Published in 1979, The Dog of the South is the fictional Ray Midge’s account of his journey at …

Dogpatch USA

Dogpatch USA operated from 1968 to 1993 as an amusement park based on characters and locations in Al Capp’s popular “Li’l Abner” comic strip. The town of Marble Falls (Newton County) between Jasper (Newton County) and Harrison (Boone County) changed its name officially to Dogpatch to help promote the park. The name was changed back in 1997. Harrison real estate broker Oscar J. Snow conceived the park when Albert Raney Sr. listed his Ozark trout farm for sale in 1966. Snow and nine other investors formed Recreation Enterprises, Inc. (REI) and approached Bostonian Al Capp with the idea. Capp, who had rejected such offers in the past, agreed to be a partner in the enterprise. The partners acquired 1,000 acres, …

Dombek, George David

The visual artist George Dombek is a nationally recognized master of watercolor. His work has been acquired by major museums and corporate collections, including two paintings and a sculpture in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville (Benton County). George Dombek was born on June 18, 1944, in Paris (Logan County), an economically depressed mining town of about 3,000 at the time. He always had an extremely strained relationship with his father, Stanley Dombek, a coal miner who lost his job when Dombek was in high school and eventually died of black-lung disease. Any encouragement he received came from his mother, Lillian Shirley Dombek, who supported the family of six after her husband became unable to work by …

Donaldson, Jeffrey Richardson (Jeff)

Jeffrey Richardson Donaldson was an important and influential African-American artist and art educator during the second half of the twentieth century. Working within the context of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and beyond, Donaldson pioneered a distinctively Afrocentric—or, using the term he coined, “TransAfrican”—aesthetic that championed the societal contributions of African Americans and, as an artistic counterpart to the Black Power Movement, challenged white hegemony. Jeff Donaldson was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on December 15, 1932, the youngest of four siblings. His parents were Sidney Frank Donaldson Sr. and Clementine Frances Richardson Donaldson. Donaldson’s father, a laborer and World War I veteran, died early in Donaldson’s youth. His widowed mother supported the family by working first as a …

Dorough, Bob

Robert Lrod Dorough was a composer, lyricist, and musician best known for his jazz compositions and 1970s Schoolhouse Rock! shorts on ABC Saturday morning television. Bob Dorough was born on December 12, 1923, in Cherry Hill (Polk County), the oldest of four children of Robert Lee Dorough, who was an automobile and insurance salesman, and Alma Audrey Lewis, a housewife and Singer sewing machine instructor. Dorough’s unusual middle name was suggested by his aunt. He attended elementary schools in De Queen (Sevier County), Mena (Polk County), and Texarkana (Miller County) and graduated from Plainview High School in Plainview, Texas, where the family moved in 1934. The Plainview High School bandmaster inspired Dorough musically and gave him free lessons in harmony and …

Doughty, Frank Lorenzo

Frank Lorenzo Doughty is an architect who worked with Edward Durrell Stone and E. Fay Jones and who designed several houses across Arkansas that were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Frank Lorenzo Doughty was born on June 21, 1930, in Memphis, Tennessee. Though his family owned a large plantation outside of Tunica, Mississippi, the family was by no means wealthy. During his childhood in Tunica, he first developed an interest in architecture when, in 1942, he watched the Tunica Methodist Church being built. A few years later, his family moved briefly to Robinson, Illinois, but eventually settled in Stuttgart (Arkansas County), where he spent his senior year of high school. There, he met his future wife, Suzanne …

Dowd, Clark Wayne

Wayne Dowd was a lawyer and politician from Texarkana (Miller County) who accumulated power and influence during twenty-two years in the Arkansas Senate. He had a hand in nearly all the judicial reforms during that period and was the architect of a complete overhaul of Arkansas juvenile justice laws in 1985. He died while attending a convention of the Arkansas Bar Association at Hot Springs (Garland County), where he was about to be honored for fifty years of service to the legal system as a lawyer and lawmaker. Clark Wayne Dowd was born on November 1, 1941, in Texarkana, Texas, one of three sons of Tillman L. Dowd and Blanche Ethel Pope Dowd, both salespeople. He attended a junior college, …

Down from the Hills

Down From the Hills is a two-volume memoir written by Orval Eugene Faubus, the long-serving Arkansas governor who precipitated the national constitutional crisis over school desegregation in 1957 by sending soldiers to block nine Black children from entering Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Down From the Hills, which essentially covered his first four years as governor and included the school crisis, was published in 1980, while Down From the Hills II appeared in 1986 and covered the last eight years of his administration and his three-time struggle to regain the office while navigating personal and family ordeals. The two volumes, each on oversized eight-by-eleven-inch pages, totaled 1,074 pages. An earlier memoir, In This Faraway Land, published in …

Dragonwagon, Crescent

aka: Ellen Zolotow
Crescent Dragonwagon, born Ellen Zolotow, is the author of more than fifty books in a number of genres. She was also one of the founders of Dairy Hollow House, one of the earliest bed-and-breakfast inns in Arkansas and the Ozarks. Her children’s books and her culinary writings have won many awards. She received the Porter Prize in 1991. Ellen Zolotow was born on November 25, 1952, in New York City. Her mother, Charlotte Zolotow, was a writer of children’s books and a renowned children’s book editor at Harper Collins. Her father, Maurice Zolotow, wrote biographies of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and Billy Wilder. Zolotow attended school in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but did not finish high …

Drew County Museum and Archives

aka: Southeast Arkansas Research and Archives Center
The Drew County Museum got its start when the Drew County Historical Society officially incorporated as a nonprofit corporation on March 4, 1969. On February 27, 1970, the Drew County Historical Society purchased the historic Cavaness House from the Hoyle family in order to establish the museum. The Cavaness House is a Southern Colonial Revival Mansion on South Main Street that was built in stages from 1906 until 1916 by Monticello (Drew County) businessman Garvin Cavaness and his wife, Phenton Wells Cavaness. After his wife’s death in 1947, Cavaness sold the house to J. Porter Hoyle and his wife Lillian Hoyle. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. A walnut spool bed owned by Cavaness’s …

Driftwood, Jimmy

aka: James Corbett Morris
Jimmy Driftwood was a prolific folk singer/songwriter who wrote over 6,000 songs. He gained national fame in 1959 when Johnny Horton recorded Driftwood’s song, “The Battle of New Orleans.” Even after Driftwood had risen to fame, he continued living in rural Stone County, spending most of his time promoting and preserving the music and heritage of the Ozark Mountains. Jimmy Driftwood was born James Corbett Morris in West Richwoods (Stone County) near Mountain View (Stone County) on June 20, 1907, to Neal and Allie Risner-Morris. He was given the name Driftwood as the result of a joke his grandfather had played on his grandmother. When the two went to visit their new grandson, Driftwood’s grandfather arrived first and wrapped a bundle …

Drug Courts

aka: Adult Drug Courts
Drug courts are a specialty court in the Arkansas judicial system designed to channel those accused of drug infractions into rehabilitation rather than prison. The first drug court in the United States was established in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and the first in Arkansas began in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1994, created by Pulaski County circuit judge Mary Ann McGowan. By 2016, fifty-eight of Arkansas’s seventy-five counties had drug courts. Adult drug courts deal with individuals eighteen years of age and above who have been arrested and charged for some type of infraction involving drugs. A drug court is an alternative to a standard term of probation or a trial, as a trial could result in a prison …

Drummond-Webb, Jonathan

Jonathan Drummond-Webb was the chief pediatric heart surgeon at Arkansas Children’s Hospital from 2001 to 2004. He brought the David Clark Heart Center into national prominence through his high success rate, averaging 600 surgeries per year with only a two percent mortality rate. He also performed the first-ever successful surgery using the DeBakey ventricular assist device (VAD), a miniature heart pump, in 2004. Jonathan Drummond-Webb was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 29, 1959, toErrol Praine Drummond and Anne Drummond-Webb. He was first inspired to become a heart surgeon after Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant, in Cape Town, South Africa. Drummond-Webb stated in an interview that when he learned of this, he was “amazed …

Dudley, Robert Hamilton (Bob)

Robert Hamilton Dudley—who followed a lineage of lawyers, politicians, and judges—was a longtime trial judge and justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He retired in 1996. Robert H. (Bob) Dudley was born on November 18, 1933, in Jonesboro (Craighead County), the son of Denver Layton Dudley, who was a lawyer, and Helen Paslay Dudley, a schoolteacher and clinical psychologist. An older brother died as an infant. Dudley’s family had a long history in Arkansas. After fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War, Dudley’s great-grandfather left Kentucky and settled in northeastern Arkansas at Piggott (Clay County). Dudley’s grandfather, Robert H. Dudley, was elected treasurer of Clay County in 1900, to the Arkansas House of Representatives for a single term in …

Duggar Family

aka: 19 and Counting [Television Show]
aka: Counting On [Television Show]
The Duggars are an Arkansas family who became famous on the TLC network show 19 Kids and Counting. The family is known for its strict adherence to the Baptist faith and conservative values, which include restrictions against any birth control methods. However, the Duggars have been criticized by those who believe that such large families are not healthy for children and those who oppose their anti-contraceptive activism. On May 22, 2015, TLC announced that they were pulling all episodes of 19 Kids and Counting after Josh Duggar, the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, admitted publicly that he had engaged in acts of child molestation as a teenager; the show was officially canceled later that year. However, certain …

Dumas, Ernest Clifton (Ernie)

Ernie Dumas was the dean of the Arkansas political press corps for most of the second half of the twentieth century. His days as a journalist extended back to high school, when he worked for the El Dorado Daily News, and he was later an associate editor and a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and a columnist for the Arkansas Times.  Ernest Clifton Dumas was born on December 13, 1937, in El Dorado (Union County), the younger of two sons born to Joseph Clifton Dumas and Berta Canady Dumas. His mother was an educator who stopped teaching when she got married, but she taught Dumas to read before he started school and later taught his son as well. Dumas grew up in El Dorado and graduated from El Dorado High School in 1955.  At the start of his …

DuMond, Wayne Eugene

aka: Wayne Dumond Affair
Wayne Eugene DuMond was a serial rapist and killer whose crimes and efforts to gain his freedom from prison vexed the political careers of three Arkansas governors: Bill Clinton, Jim Guy Tucker, and Mike Huckabee. Suspecting that DuMond might have been framed for the rape of a Forrest City (St. Francis County) woman because DuMond’s accuser was a distant cousin of Clinton, who was by then president of the United States, Governor Huckabee arranged his parole to Missouri in 1999. DuMond was convicted soon thereafter of the rape and murder of a Missouri woman and was suspected of raping and killing another woman. When Huckabee ran for president in 2007–08, DuMond’s parole and subsequent crimes became a major detriment because …

Dunn, Charles DeWitt

Charles DeWitt Dunn served as the president of Henderson State University from 1986 until 2008, making him the longest-serving president in the institution’s history. Charles Dunn was born on December 2, 1945, to Charles E. Dunn and Lucille Dunn in Magnolia (Columbia County). The Dunn family operated a restaurant in McNeil (Columbia County), where Charles graduated from high school in 1963. Attending Southern State College (now Southern Arkansas University), Dunn earned an undergraduate degree in political science in 1967. He earned a graduate degree in government at the University of North Texas in 1970 and a doctoral degree in political science at Southern Illinois University in 1973. Dunn married Donna Jane Parsons in 1966, and the couple had two daughters …

Dunn, Ronnie Gene

With a slew of chart-topping singles to his credit as half of the duo Brooks & Dunn, Ronnie Gene Dunn established himself as a member of the most award-winning duo in country music. Though Arkansas is not considered his home state, he has earned a spot in its musical history. Ronnie Dunn was born on June 1, 1953, in Coleman, Texas, to Jesse Eugene Dunn and Gladys Inez Thurmon Dunn. His father was a musician who also worked in the oil fields and drove trucks; his mother was a devout Baptist who, in the 1960s, lived in El Dorado (Union County) and worked as a bookkeeper at the First National Bank and then as a telephone operator at Warner Brown …

Duvall, Leland Blaine

Leland Blaine Duvall was a writer and editor who wrote columns, editorials, and historical articles for the Arkansas Gazette for forty years after World War II. Self-educated and reared on a hardscrabble Ozark Mountain farm, Duvall was an itinerant farm laborer until World War II. His voluminous correspondence from training camps and the war front with family members, friends, and his future wife impelled him to college and a writing career. His commentary on agriculture and economics for the Arkansas Gazette attracted a wide following and won numerous awards. Leland Duvall was born on June 19, 1911, the eldest of four sons of Omer Duvall and Esther Singleton Duvall. His father was a sharecropper, but he acquired forty acres in …