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

Tucker Unit

aka: Tucker Prison Farm
Tucker Unit, often referred to simply as Tucker or Tucker prison farm, is a 4,500-acre maximum security prison and working farm located in Tucker (Jefferson County), roughly twenty-five miles northeast of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). It is one of thirteen prison units in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Tucker Unit is not to be confused with the Maximum Security Unit, which was built in 1983 and is also located in Tucker. Tucker is the second-oldest prison in Arkansas (Cummins Unit is the oldest). Tucker was accredited by the American Correctional Association in 1983, but for many years, the prison had a tarnished reputation and was at the center of the prison scandals of the 1960s and subsequent reform efforts of …

Tucker, Betty Jeane Allen

Betty Jeanne Allen Tucker is the wife of Jim Guy Tucker (the forty-third governor of Arkansas) and was the state’s thirty-eighth first lady. Outside of politics, she is best known for her work with the Arkansas Arts Center (now the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts) and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Betty Jeanne Allen was born on February 28, 1943, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Emmett Allen and Gertrude Allen; she was raised in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Her father served during World War II as an aviator and later practiced law in Brookhaven. During the war, Allan lived with her mother’s parents, who owned a farm and had a lucrative cotton-trading business. She married Lance Alworth in 1958 and …

Tucker, Jim Guy, Jr.

aka: James Guy Tucker Jr.
James Guy Tucker, the forty-third governor of Arkansas, had a brief gubernatorial career that abruptly ended due to criminal conviction. His administration carried Arkansas from the end of the Bill Clinton administration, during which Tucker essentially acted as governor the last year because of Clinton’s campaigning for president, to the beginning of the Mike Huckabee gubernatorial administration, which remained in power long enough to be stopped only by term limits. In his personal life, Tucker weathered political challenges, survived health problems, and faced a criminal indictment. Jim Guy Tucker was born on June 13, 1943, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to James Guy and Willie Maude (White) Tucker. His family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was a child, …

Turner Bell, Debbye

aka: Debrah Lynn Turner
Debrah Lynn (Debbye) Turner Bell, who grew up in Jonesboro (Craighead County), was crowned Miss America 1990. After her reign as Miss America, she became a veterinarian, has appeared on national television, and is a motivational speaker on youth-related and Christian topics. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994. “Debbye” Turner was born on September 19, 1965, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Gussie Turner and Frederick Turner Jr., who was stationed there in the military. As a child, she set her goal to become a veterinarian but recognized the financial challenges ahead, especially after her parents’ divorce. Living in Jonesboro with her sister, Suzette, and her mother, who became an academic counselor at Arkansas State University …

Turner, Grover White “Buddy,” Jr.

G. W. “Buddy” Turner Jr. was an influential member of the Arkansas House of Representatives in the latter part of the twentieth century who helped shape state policy throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Grover White Turner Jr. was born on August 15, 1923, in Thornton (Calhoun County) to Grover White Turner and Ollie Robinson Turner. He grew up in Rison (Cleveland County), where he helped his family on the farm his father had bought during the Great Depression. In addition to picking and chopping cotton on the farm, he worked at the family store, which, in addition to a sawmill, his father had also acquired. Eventually, Turner became an accomplished meat cutter. By the time he graduated from Rison …

Turner, Otis Hawes

Otis Hawes Turner was a widely respected trial lawyer who practiced in Arkadelphia (Clark County) and then later served as a circuit judge before being appointed justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court by Governor Bill Clinton in 1990. Otis Turner was born on October 18, 1927, in Arkadelphia, one of seven children of Cleveland “Cleve” (or “Bear”) Turner and Laura Eva Flanagin Turner. Before he became a pharmacist, Turner’s father was a baseball player from Hope (Hempstead County) who played in three professional leagues in Arkansas and Texas in the first decade of the twentieth century. Two of his sons, Cleve Jr. and Otis, inherited his athletic acumen. The elder Turner attended Henderson College and Ouachita Baptist College at Arkadelphia …

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge near Eureka Springs (Carroll County) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing lifetime homes for abandoned, abused, and neglected big cats and other endangered wildlife. With over 450 acres and more than 120 exotic cats, the refuge is one of the largest big cat sanctuaries in North America licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The sanctuary is rated a “Must See” attraction by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and is one of the most popular destinations in the Eureka Springs area. Don Jackson, a former employee of the Dallas Zoo, along with his wife, Hilda, and their daughter, Tanya Smith, founded the refuge in 1992. After a friend acquired a lion cub and realized …

Twitty, Conway

aka: Harold Lloyd Jenkins
A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Conway Twitty has sold over 50 million records. Twitty had anywhere from forty-one to fifty-three No. 1 singles on the country and rock charts, depending upon the industry source used. He recorded 110 albums. Harold Lloyd Jenkins was born on September 1, 1933, in Friars Point, Mississippi, and was named after the famous silent film actor, Harold Lloyd. Jenkins had an older brother and sister. He was given his first guitar at age four. The family moved to Helena (Phillips County)—now Helena-West Helena—when Jenkins was ten, and soon thereafter, he formed his first band, the Phillips County Ramblers. His father worked off and on as a Mississippi riverboat captain, though his …

Two Rivers Museum

The Two Rivers Museum, located on the corner of Constitution Avenue (Highway 71) and Main Street in Ashdown (Little River County), opened in 2005. The museum, which was created by the nonprofit Little River County Historical Society has a mission of preserving the history of the local community. The museum gets its name from the two major rivers that flow through Little River County: the Red River and Little River. The Two Rivers Museum is located in the Bishop building in the Ashdown Commercial Historic District. The building is a renovated hundred-year-old storefront that was once a pharmacy and, more recently, an antique store. The Bishop building, built in 1908, is a two-story brick structure with a flat roof and …

Tyson Foods, Inc.

Founded in 1935 in Springdale (Washington County), Tyson Foods has emerged as one of Arkansas’s most prominent companies, employing more than 100,000 workers. By the end of the twentieth century, it had become one of the largest meat-processing companies in the world, with millions of customers in the United States and in more than eighty countries worldwide. Forbes magazine currently lists it as one of America’s 100 largest companies, and it continues to play a pivotal role in the state’s economy. Following the collapse of the fruit industry in northwest Arkansas in the late 1920s, many farmers turned to raising poultry as a source of income. The connection of Highway 71 to Midwest markets such as Kansas City, Missouri, allowed …

Tyson, Don

Donald John Tyson was president and CEO of Tyson Foods. By the close of the twentieth century, along with Walmart Inc. founder Sam Walton, Don Tyson was considered one of the pioneers of modern Arkansas economic history, as well as a giant in the global poultry business. At the time of his death in 2011, he was among the richest people in the world, with a personal net worth of $1 billion. Don Tyson was born on April 21, 1930, in Olathe, Kansas, to John Tyson, founder of Tyson Foods, Inc., and Mildred Ernst Tyson. His family resettled in northwest Arkansas in 1931, and Tyson grew up in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties). He studied at Kemper Military School in …