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

Bruhin, Joseph Aloysius

Ceramic artist Joseph Aloysius Bruhin III of Fox (Stone County) was awarded the Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship in 1992 and has been the recipient and winner of numerous “best of show” awards. Nationally, Bruhin figures among two dozen potters who are recognized as specializing in wood-fired pottery. He is the first contemporary potter to work continuously with a wood-fired kiln in Arkansas. Joe Bruhin was born on April 7, 1953, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Virginia Bruhin and Joseph Aloysius Bruhin Jr., an electrician; he was one of four boys. At age fifteen, Bruhin was hitchhiking and backpacking to the western states of Colorado, California, and Washington. He graduated from high school in 1971 and spent some time exploring Florida …

Bryan, Leon L. “Doc”

Leon L. “Doc” Bryan was an influential figure in the Arkansas House of Representatives in the final third of the twentieth century. A Democrat, he served for almost thirty years, his tenure ending with his death in office. Leon L. Bryan was born on January 31, 1920, in Coal Hill (Johnson County) to Arthur Hershell Bryan and Gertrude Elnora Jennings Bryan. Bryan grew up in Coal Hill and attended the local schools, graduating from Coal Hill High School in 1939. An outstanding athlete, he was a member of Coal Hill High School’s state championship basketball team. After graduation, he attended what is now Arkansas Tech University in Russellville (Pope County), where he earned letters in both basketball and track before …

Bryant, John Winston

John Winston Bryant is an Arkansas politician and attorney who held an array of high-level offices in state government. Beginning as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill in Washington DC and serving for two decades in statewide offices, Bryant was an influential figure in Arkansas politics over the last quarter of the twentieth century. Winston Bryant was born on October 3, 1938, in Malvern (Hot Spring County) to Johnie Bryant and Hestie Killian Bryant. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County) in 1960. He then earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1963, and he earned a Masters of Law in administrative law from George Washington University in 1970. Bryant …

Buffalo National River

aka: Buffalo River
The Buffalo National River, which runs through Newton, Searcy, Marion, and Baxter counties, became the first national river in the United States on March 1, 1972. It is one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in the lower forty-eight states. The Buffalo National River, administered by the National Park Service, encompasses 135 miles of the 150-mile long river. President Richard M. Nixon signed Public Law 92-237 to put the river under the protection of the National Park Service 100 years after the establishment of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park. The law begins, “That for the purposes of conserving and interpreting an area containing unique scenic and scientific features, and preserving as a free-flowing stream an important segment of …

Bump, Dallas

Dallas Bump of Royal (Garland County) was a fourth-generation chair maker who constructed handcrafted furniture for more than seventy-five years. One of his handmade chairs, the “Bump Rocker,” spread his renown around the world. Along with being named an Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Arts Council in 2013, he saw his work featured in Southern Living magazine, spotlighted on television’s Good Morning America, and lauded by the Smithsonian Institution. One of his rockers found a home in the White House during the Bill Clinton administration. A Bump rocker is unique, as each step, from the fallen tree onward, was controlled by Dallas Bump and his family. The chairs are made one at a time and assembled with the family’s …

Bumpass, Rodger

Rodger Bumpass is an actor and voice performer who was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and attended Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Along with numerous television and film roles, he has achieved fame as the voice of the character Squidward in the popular SpongeBob SquarePants film and TV series. Rodger Bumpass was born on November 20, 1951, in Little Rock to Carroll C. Bumpass and Virginia Cathey Bumpass, owners of Bumpass Cleaners and Dyers in Little Rock. He had two siblings, Leonard and Cathey (the latter of whom died at birth), and attended Little Rock Central High School, where he obtained his first experience in theater, primarily in the area of comedy. In high school, he …

Bumpers, Betty

Betty Bumpers, wife of former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator Dale Bumpers, was known for her far-reaching efforts to promote childhood immunizations and world peace. Betty Lou Flanagan was born on January 11, 1925, to Herman “Babe” Flanagan and Ola Callan Flanagan in Grand Prairie (Franklin County). Her mother was a homemaker, and her father was a cattle farmer and auctioneer. The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) during World War II, and later to Iowa before returning to Franklin County. She attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, the University of Iowa, and the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Flanagan married Dale Bumpers on September 4, 1949, while he was attending law school at Northwestern …

Bumpers, Dale Leon

Dale Leon Bumpers was one of the state’s most successful politicians in the last half of the twentieth century. As governor, Bumpers initiated the enactment of historic legislation, including a restructuring of the tax system and a reorganization of the state’s government, and as a U.S. senator (1975–1999), he was a fiscally conservative, socially liberal legislator recognized for his oratorical skills. Dale Bumpers was born on August 12, 1925, in Charleston (Franklin County). He was one of four children born to William Rufus and Lattie (Jones) Bumpers. His father worked for the Charleston Hardware and Funeral Home beginning in 1924. In 1937, he and a partner bought the business. Bumpers spent his childhood in Charleston in the lean years of …

Burgess, Franklin

Arkansas native Franklin Burgess earned All-American honors in basketball at Washington State’s Gonzaga University and played professionally before going on to a successful career as a lawyer and judge. Franklin D. Burgess was born on March 9, 1935, in Eudora (Chicot County) to Morris and Ollie Burgess. Burgess attended Eudora Colored High School and then spent one year at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N), which is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, before joining the U.S. Air Force. After his discharge in 1958, he entered Gonzaga University. By this time, he and his wife, Treava Burgess, had twin daughters, so Burgess focused on the school’s academic offerings as well as its basketball program. He earned a …

Burks, Ruth Coker

Ruth Burks is an Arkansas woman who, in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, provided support for dozens of men who were dying of AIDS—men who were often abandoned by their families, with even some health professionals being reluctant to treat them. Burks treated the men with dignity and compassion that eased the pain, physical and emotional, that marked their final days. She also ensured that they would have a proper final resting place, providing for the burial of dozens of men in Files Cemetery. Frances Ruth Coker was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on March 19, 1959, to James Isham Coker and Aline Lawlor Coker. Her father, who was almost twenty years older than her mother, served …

Burris, Sidney

Sidney Johnson Burris is a prolific writer of essays, criticism, and poetry. His poetry is as influenced by his classical studies in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit as it is the images of his Southern boyhood. A significant portion of Burris’s critical work has been devoted to the study of Irish poet Seamus Heaney. He has served in various posts at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) since 1986, including as director of the Fulbright College Honors Program. He also co-founded the Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas.  Sidney Burris was born on March 9, 1953, in Danville, Virginia. His father, John Colton Burris, was a salesman and a World War II U.S. Air Force veteran. His mother, Helen …

Bussey, Charles E., Jr.

Charles E. Bussey Jr. was the first African American elected to serve on the Little Rock (Pulaski County) City Board of Directors since Reconstruction, the first African-American deputy sheriff of Pulaski County, and the first African-American mayor of Little Rock. Charles Bussey Avenue in Little Rock was named for him in 2005, and he was posthumously inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006. Charles Bussey—often called Charlie—was born in Stamps (Lafayette County) on December 18, 1918, the eldest child of Annie Bussey and Charles Bussey Sr. Acclaimed author Maya Angelou, who also grew up in Stamps, recalled that her uncle gave Bussey a job in his store and taught him his multiplication tables and a love of …

Butler, Jack

aka: Jack Armand Butler Jr.
Jack Armand Butler Jr. is a poet and novelist known for structurally experimental writing, usually dealing with the development of a religious self-awareness transcending orthodox views. His work is often sexually charged and humorous. Jack Butler was born May 8, 1944, in Alligator, Mississippi, to Jack Butler, a Baptist preacher, and Dorothy Butler, a homemaker. He attended high school in Clinton, Mississippi. He was ordained a Baptist minister in Sedalia, Missouri, in 1965, and pastored the Bethlehem Baptist Church briefly in 1966. He received a BS in math and a BA in English from Central Missouri State College (now Central Missouri State University) in 1966. That year, he married Lynnice McDonald, with whom he had two children, Lynnika and Sarah; …

Butler, Richard Colburn III

Richard Colburn Butler III was a noted historic preservationist who saved historic buildings in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Washington (Hempstead County) and was active with organizations promoting preservation and Arkansas history. Richard Colburn Butler III was born at Trinity Hospital in Little Rock on September 21, 1937, the son of Richard C. Butler Jr. and Gertrude Marjorie Remmel Butler (the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies is named for his father). He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1955, after which he attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, earning an AB in history in 1959. Butler was a student at the University of Arkansas School of Law, receiving an LLB in 1962, …

Bynum, Preston Conrad

Preston Bynum was a political leader in the later part of the 1960s into the early 1980s. In addition to his work in the Arkansas General Assembly, he also played a major role in the growth and development of a vibrant and competitive Republican Party in Arkansas. He later served prison time for bribery. Preston Conrad Bynum was born on June 8, 1939, in Pryor, Oklahoma, to Homer and Roma Bynum. He grew up in Siloam Springs (Benton County), where his father headed Bynum Motor Company. He was a 1957 graduate of Siloam Springs High School and was three times elected class president. In his high school athletic career, he earned three varsity letters in each of his four years, …

Byrd, Conley F

Conley F Byrd Sr. was a sharecroppers’ son from northeastern Arkansas who, after World War II, became a lawyer and a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He proved to be a maverick on the court by dissenting often, and he frustrated some members of the elite court with his obstinacy. Injuries from vehicle accidents left him in so much pain that he retired in 1980 and spent the last thirty-four years of his life farming in the woods east of Redfield (Jefferson County). Conley F Byrd (he had no middle name, just the initial) was born on January 14, 1925, in Poughkeepsie (Sharp County). His parents, Robert Lee Byrd and Artie Elizabeth Barnes Byrd, were sharecroppers. They lived in …