Central Arkansas is home to some of the region's most indomitable supporters of the arts and nonprofits.
Though they leave mighty legacies when they're gone, the absence of their presence is deeply felt in our communities.
Join us in remembering some of the titans we lost in the past decade and in rededicating ourselves to taking up their mantle of service.
Delaney “Todd” Bagwell
1966 - 2017
Bagwell worked in the banking industry for years before pursuing his love of design and event planning. He was the longtime wedding director at Marlsgate Plantation until 1996 when he was hired by Helen Benton of Vera Wang and moved to New York. He worked with designer Ulla Maija until 2003 before starting Delaney T. Bagwell and Associates to offer all-inclusive event planning. He designed weddings for central Arkansas brides and dreamt up some of Arkansas’ most memorable fundraising events, including Saints & Sinners for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Tabriz for the Arkansas Arts Center.
Howard Ashley Ted Bailey Jr.
1925 - 2019
Bailey was a physician who, with his wife Virginia, founded Bailey Corporation among other companies, as well as the Bailey Foundation which provides charitable support for medicine, education and the arts. He was a professor of otolaryngology at UAMS and head of the division of otolaryngology for 10 years, as well as chief of staff at Baptist Hospital. He served on the boards of numerous nonprofits including United Way, the Little Rock Boys Club, the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation, Baptist Health Foundation and was a member of Rotary Club 99 for more than 60 years.
Cliff Fannin Baker
1948 - 2018
Baker was a founder of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre who also served for 23 years as its producing artistic director. He built The Rep into a theater with a national reputation, stepping down in 1999 and later returning as interim artistic director after it suspended operations in April of 2018. From 2007-2012, Baker was the artistic director of Wildwood Park for the Arts. He was a dearly beloved part of the local performing arts scene and received the 1999 Arts Council Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Individual Artist.
1947 - 2014
Baskin was the executive director of the William F. Laman Public Library System in North Little Rock. He joined the Laman Library as director in 1987 after working to expand the library at UAMS. He oversaw the expansion of the Laman Library, including the opening of its first branch, the Argenta Branch Library.
William H. Bowen
1923 - 2014
Bowen was a lawyer, banker and political adviser. He served as dean of UA Little Rock’s law school for two years and after stepping down, gave the school it’s largest gift in its history. The school was renamed the William H. Bowen School of Law in 1999. Bowen served on many boards, including for the Arkansas Arts Center and Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.
1936 - 2020
Brandon served as editor of High Profile for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for 25 years where she was responsible for highlighting numerous volunteers, donors and events supporting our city’s nonprofit organizations. She was a member and supporter of Rotary Club 99.
1923 - 2018
Bumpers served as a former Arkansas first lady alongside her husband Dale, former Arkansas governor and U.S. Senator. Bumpers campaigned on behalf of childhood immunization and worked with first lady Rosalynn Carter, wife of then-President Jimmy Carter, to expand the immunization program. She later helped found Peace Links, which promoted world peace.
1926 - 2016
Bumpers was a former Arkansas governor who also served in the U.S. Senate for 24 years. During his two terms as governor, Arkansas created many programs including adopting a state-supported kindergarten program as well as free textbooks for high school students.
1925 - 2016
Caldwell was a pioneer in the field of early childhood development, an educator and a member of the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame class of 2016. She was a professor at UA Little Rock, becoming a Donaghey Distinguished Professor in 1978 and a professor of pediatrics at UAMS in 1993, where her research led to the creation of Project Head Start.
1933 - 2020
Cranford was an advertising pioneer and civic leader serving on boards and supporting the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Childrens’, Thea Foundation and more.
1917 - 2013
Dillard was the wife of Dillard’s Inc. founder William T. Dillard and mother of top leaders in the retail chain. The couple helped establish the UAMS Chair for Geriatric Medicine. She was a member of the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and a dedicated supporter of many local charities throughout her time in Little Rock.
James Trester Dyke
1937 - 2021
Dyke was the longtime head of building material supplier Dyke Industries Inc. of Little Rock and an established philanthropist. He was a president and chairman of the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts and on the advisory board of the National Gallery of Art.
1936 - 2020
Flaherty was the first executive director of Our House, responsible for bringing the organization to national prominence and positioning Our House as a model for many other states.
L. Dickson Flake
1939 - 2020
Flake was a keystone in the commercial real estate industry and equally important to a number of nonprofits in the city. He was the founder of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pulaski County, president of Fifty for the Future and served on the boards of CHI St. Vincent, Mount St. Mary Academy, Downtown Little Rock Partnership and Pulaski County Red Cross.
1970 - 2021
Gamewell was the chairman and CEO of SBS CyberSecurity with decades of experience in banking and business. Gamewell and his wife Rene' were known for their support of CARTI, even insisting on going through with a Soirée feature highlighting CARTI despite his own terminal cancer diagnosis.
Ellen Matilda Gray
1930 - 2021
Gray was the former executive vice president of Stephens Inc. She was a life board member of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, president of Wildwood Park for the Arts and board chairman of the Arkansas Museum of Science & History when it transitioned from MacArthur Park to become the Museum of Discovery. Gray was also a charter member of the Arkansas Women’s Leadership Forum and of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas.
1955 - 2014
Hamilton was a musician and Broadway star who had parts in shows including “The Wiz,” “Blues in the Night” and “Ragtime.” His other professional accomplishments included performances for President Ronald Reagan and for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. Hamilton also served as director of cultural affairs at Philander Smith College and was a member of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. He served many nonprofits, including work with the Historic Arkansas Museum.
1962 - 2019
Hastings was the owner and president of Trivia Marketing and Wear Luck. She was a 2015 Little Rock Soirée Woman to Watch and served on numerous boards and committees, including the transition committee for Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and on the board for the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute.
1985 - 2020
Landers was a managing partner of the Steve Landers automotive dealerships. He worked with his father Steve Landers and brother Steve Landers Jr. in the family auto business for many years. Landers was passionate about the work of the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission and Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
1930 - 2017
Lewellen was a former state representative who also served as a Little Rock city director and as a member of the Pulaski County Quorum Court. One of Lewellen’s greatest contributions to the city was helping to pass a $5 million appropriation to restore the Mosaic Templars building into an award-winning museum of the state’s African-American history.
1935 - 2013
Lowe was the former medical director and a longtime advocate of Arkansas Children’s Hospital. She is considered to have played a major role in making ACH one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals.
1935 - 2018
A Little Rock native, Montague was a naval engineer credited with creating the first computer-generated rough draft of a U.S. naval ship. She was the U.S. Navy’s first female program manager of ships and was considered a pioneer for female and minority engineers. Montage was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2013, the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018 and recognized by the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas at their annual Power of the Purse Luncheon.
1934 - 2020
Portis was best known for his classic novel “True Grit,” which was made into two movies, one of which won John Wayne his only Academy Award. A master of quirky characters and deadpan humor, Portis, a former newspaper reporter and columnist, wrote five novels over 35 years, becoming the state’s great literary figure of the 20th century.
1936 - 2022
Ronnel was the founder of Metal Recycling Corp., a philanthropist and community leader. He was a talented pianist and spoke fluent Russian. He gave both his time and financial support to UAMS and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, among others.
1942 - 2020
Schueck was the founder of steel company Lexicon and grew it into one of the state’s largest private companies. He was a public servant who devoted time to state and city commissions and boards (serving as the chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission) and in various capacities with organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, UAMS and the Arkansas Parks, Recreation & Travel Commission. Schueck was also a key supporter of Arkansas Children's Hospital.
1931 - 2019
Shell was the former chairman of the Little Rock construction company Baldwin & Shell. He retired as chairman in 2017 after nearly 70 years as a fixture at the firm. Shell served as a board member for Baptist Health Foundation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Alzheimer’s Arkansas.
William H. “Buddy” Sutton
1931 - 2015
Sutton was a former chairman and managing partner of Friday Eldredge & Clark. He joined the Friday firm in 1959 and led the firm’s trial department. His philanthropy and volunteer efforts bolstered universities, a law school and nonprofits throughout the state. In 2002, he received the National Humanitarian Award from the National Conference for Community & Justice of Arkansas and Easterseals named him Arkansan of the Year in 2004.
1949 - 2021
Tenenbaum was a philanthropist and staple in the local nonprofit community. She was recognized for her work with CHI St. Vincent, Temple B’nai Israel, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and City Year. One of her greatest contributions was the Argenta Community Theater, which she founded in 2010 with her friend Vincent Inssalaco.
1938 - 2017
Upton was founder of the multimillion-dollar company Aromatique. She was recognized by the International Women’s Forum, the Society of Entrepreneurs, and many other organizations, including induction into the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame in 2016. Upton was also a dedicated philanthropist, creating “The Natural State” fragrance line in 1993 in part to benefit The Nature Conservancy. Since its launch at Saks Fifth Avenue, more than $1 million has been donated to the organization.
William Terry “Bill” Valentine Jr.
1933 - 2015
Valentine was general manager of the Arkansas Travelers baseball team from 1976-2009 where he was known for creating incentives to bring families back to what he called "the greatest show on dirt." The National Association of Minor League Baseball Teams named Valentine “The King of Baseball” in December 2014. Bill was actively involved with the North Little Rock Boys Club and inducted into their alumni hall of fame.
1969 - 2014
Wells was an accountant, nonprofit adviser and avid runner. He worked for more than 20 years as an accountant, including 16 years at JPMS Cox, and frequently assisted nonprofits with their accounting, served on several nonprofit boards and posthumously received the 2014 Public Service Award from the Arkansas Society of Certified Public Accountants.
Wells was a member of several running clubs, serving as an official for races benefiting a variety of charities, and the annual Jacob Wells 3 Bridges Marathon is now run in his honor each winter.
Steve N. Wilson
1945 - 2021
Wilson was director of the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission from 1979 until his retirement in June 2000. He oversaw the passage of Amendment 75 in 1996, which established the one-eighth-cent Conservation Sales Tax divided among the GFC, Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission.
1936 - 2017
Wolfe was a transformative figure for the arts in Arkansas. He served as director of the Arkansas Arts Center from 1968 until his retirement in 2002. During his tenure, Wolfe transformed the center to represent the visual arts in Arkansas. Annual attendance at exhibits during his leadership grew by hundreds of thousands, while the value of the center’s collection rose to $35 million and the foundation endowment grew to $21 million.
1944 - 2013
Worthen served as president of the Bank of Little Rock for 22 years and was a community leader who supported various nonprofits through his lifetime, including the Elizabeth Mitchell Children’s Center and Centers for Youth & Families.