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Community Icons, Others Pass Away In 2021

January 12, 2022 at 7:47 a.m.

The march in life from the cradle to the grave continued at a faster clip in 2021 than current memories recall.

Not to say that many of these finding their way onto this annual listing of those who have died, succumbed to the dreaded covid strains of this pandemic, which has all of us getting vaccines, booster shots and using temporary kits to see if we have an infection to travel, visit and move about – often wearing cloth masks and avoiding crowds of people we do not know.

In no particular order and using the local and statewide newspaper obituary columns, this life of local folks has no rhyme or reason, just a snippet of those men and women who have lived and died, worked and served in this area of Northwest Arkansas, as we note their passing.

Most were good, hard-working folks, included here, and unique little tidbits are offered up by their final announcements in print.

Perhaps the best obituary I have read in the last year, mostly because of the writing and the facts contained therein, was from the obituary of Rada Mae Carrigan Carter, 99, of Elkins.

She died September 20, 2021.

"She was a woman of strong faith and often recounted the story of being left on the back pew at the Elkins Community Church overnight when she was three years old." This could have been in 1925.

She also told of her 1938 classmates on the senior trip. "She and her classmates rode in the back of a truck all the way to the Grand Canyon and back."

She was a WAVE in the Navy during World War II and later was a postal clerk for 34 years at the Elkins Post Office and her husband, Jack Cater, was the postmaster.

Such keen writing surfaces in several area obits in 2021.

Mary Ann Thompson, 79, of Springdale, was the district manager for the Thrifty Nickel sales paper, formed a women's Pool League, could play the banjo and was a lifelong fan of Elvis Presley.

And certainly, Dorothy A. Morgan Rader, 88, a West Fork High honor graduate in 1948, "who could burn up a manual typewriter of that era like few others," her obituary said.

And finally, here is written proof of love for a big family: Alfred "Shug" Reed, 91, of Cane Hill.

Reed's obituary said he "loved big families." He was from a family of 16 children. A lone brother survives him. He had 11 brothers and four sisters in his family.

Others who passed in 2021 from our area were:

Brother Glendon "Glen" Faulkner, 77, of Prairie Grove, a 30-year veteran of the Arkansas Highway Department and life-long minister. He was a chaplain for the Washington County Sheriff's office and pastor of the New Sulfur Free Will Baptist Church.

Donald "Shoe" Thomas, 86, a Farmington native, who repaired shoes in his own shop – Thomas Shoe Repair – in Fayetteville for 40 years. He retired to be a Wal-Mart door greeter for another 20 years. He was an elder of the Church of Christ.

Robert LeRoy Hawley, 94, of Prairie Grove. He was a Rock Springs dairyman, veteran Treasurer of the Prairie Grove American Legion Post; 25-year member of the Washington County Fair Board and Central Arkansas Milk Producers. He also kept bees.

Robert Tunstill, 85, of Farmington, was a 35-year employee of Campbell Soup and for 52 years was an area cattle farmer. He was President of the Arkansas Angus Association, the Washington County Fair Board. He also raised chickens.

James "Ronnie" Davenport, 69, of Prairie Grove was a 49-year employee of the University of Arkansas Physical Plant. He was also a rabid Razorback fan.

Zella Mae Barker, 81, of Lincoln, was an accomplished piano player. She accompanied her preacher father at area revivals from 1955 to 2000.

Thelma Gladys Cole, 91, of Wedington Woods community, died June 5. She and her late husband, Rev. Jay Cole, were politically active in conservative politics for decades.

Marvin Lee Couch, 86, of Prairie Grove, was a business owner and helped move the Latta Barn, Rheas Mill Rock Chimney both to the battlefield park site. He was Prairie Grove's fire chief for 20 years.

Evonne Cloe Hudson Osborn, 91, of Lincoln, worked for the Lincoln Schools for 45 years, as a secretary, teacher, computer instructor and librarian.

Henry D. Rutherford, 78, of Farmington, was a retired research pathologist for Campbell Soup for 32 years and was the FFA instructor at Farmington High.

Thomas Mitchell McCorkle Sr., 88, of West Fork, was a 56-year veteran of the West Fork Fire Department most of that time was Fire Chief. He was honored as the nation's longest serving Fire Chief in recent years. He was also a member of the West Fork School Board, the regional Emergency Medical Services Board and bragged that his great-grandmother rode horseback from West Fork to Prairie Grove to check on her husband at the Battle of Prairie Grove.

Robert L. Kelly, 90, of Farmington "had a handshake that could warm your heart," read his obituary.

John Anthony Duffel, 79, of Farmington. He was a career librarian at Louisiana State University for 32 years from 1968-2000, until retiring back to NWA.

Jerry Allen Leach, 85, of Dutch Mills, worked for Shell Chemical for 30 years and retired back to Lincoln. He was a mainstay and founding board member of the Arkansas Country Doctors Museum in Lincoln and also the Historic Cane Hill in western Washington County. He also advocated for the restoration of Dutch Mills Cemetery in Washington County.

Donna Renee Terry, 59, of Siloam Springs, who helped break the gender barrier for rodeos for women. She was a bull and bronc rider at major rodeos and past President of the Women's Rodeo Association.

James R. Pickney, 63, of Summers, spent 45 years working in the vending business all over Northwest Arkansas.

Robert William Tunstill, 85, was an employee of Campbell Soup for 35 years. He raised Angus cattle, was the past president of the Angus Cattle Association of Arkansas. He had a heritage herd designation, as 50 years as a registered breeder and rancher. He was a Washington County Fair board member for 54 years and was featured on the 2019 cover of the County Fair booklet.

Roy Carson Hummel, 82, of Farmington, was the FFA teacher at Farmington High, retiring in 1998, but kept serving as a member of Washington County Fair Board. He was the Poultry Superintendent at the Fair, and both a School Board member and city alderman in Farmington.

Terri Lynn Strickler, 72, of Farmington, taught 22 years overseas in Christian missionary schools alongside her pastor husband.

Irene Reed, 80, of Cane Hill, a long-time member of the Clyde Community Church. She was secretary-treasurer of the congregation for 35 years and was also the Vacation Bible School Director during that three-and-a-half-decade stretch.

Juanita C. Hulet, 95, of Lincoln. She was a lifelong dairy farmer in the Rheas Mill community. She was a member of the Weddington Missionary Baptist Church and the Weddington Quilters club.

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