Wo­mack praises Tram­mel in speech

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Northwest Arkansas - FRANK E. LOCK­WOOD

WASH­ING­TON — Re­tired Ar­vest banker Dick Tram­mel wit­nessed the po­lit­i­cal equiv­a­lent of a dou­ble-header Tues­day: two speeches in the his­toric cham­bers of the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­liv­ered the prime-time mes­sage, an 82-minute-long State of the Union ad­dress that was viewed by tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans.

It fol­lowed an af­ter­noon speech by U.S. Rep. Steve Wo­mack, R-Ark., that high­lighted Tram­mel’s life­time of ser­vice to the Nat­u­ral State, par­tic­u­larly in Rogers and the com­mu­ni­ties sur­round­ing it.

“No one I know of has loved, served and pro­moted North­west Arkansas more than Dick Tram­mel,” said Wo­mack.

Since mov­ing there in 1975, “he’s been the area’s most avid cheer­leader,” the con­gress­man added.

“Noth­ing of im­por­tance in our area has hap­pened in the last 40-plus years that doesn’t have Dick Tram­mel’s fin­ger­prints on it,” Wo­mack said, call­ing him “a pil­lar of my com­mu­nity, an ex­em­plary busi­ness­man, ded­i­cated pub­lic ser­vant, dear friend and all-around great Amer­i­can.”

The man Wo­mack calls “Mr. North­west Arkansas” wasn’t told ahead of time about the trib­ute; he watched it un­fold while sit­ting in the House gallery.

“I was think­ing he was go­ing to do con­gres­sional busi­ness, so it was a to­tal sur­prise,” Tram­mel said Fri­day.

Af­ter the speech, Wo­mack por­trayed the Rogers banker as a “liv­ing, walk­ing, breath­ing cham­ber of com­merce” and a prodi­gious fundraiser for char­i­ta­ble causes.

“There may be peo­ple that im­i­tate Dick Tram­mel, but they don’t du­pli­cate Dick Tram­mel,” Wo­mack said. “He’s one of a kind.”

In­ter­viewed on Capi­tol Hill the day of the speeches, Tram­mel said he was en­joy­ing spend­ing time with Wo­mack, Rogers’ for­mer mayor.

“Steve has been my friend for­ever. … He and his dad. I was their banker when they came to Rogers, and they both have done re­ally well,” he said.

Re­ceiv­ing an in­vi­ta­tion to the State of the Union was ex­cit­ing, he said.

“In 81 years, I’ve never been to any­thing like this,” he said.

Orig­i­nally from Ran­dolph County, Tram­mel moved into Wal­mart’s back­yard at the urg­ing of its founder. For decades, he served as an ex­ec­u­tive at First Na­tional Bank & Trust Co., which later be­came Ar­vest Bank.

He would re­main there for 43 years, fi­nally re­tir­ing Dec. 31.

The change of lo­ca­tion — he was 38 at the time — is one he doesn’t re­gret.

“For a coun­try boy from Poc­a­hon­tas, Ark., I am so thank­ful,” he said. “I give thanks that Mr. Sam Wal­ton hired me him­self and said, ‘Come to North­west and help me make it a good place.’ I’ve been blessed.”

Tram­mel’s pub­lic ser­vice pre­dates his move to Ben­ton County.

As a Poc­a­hon­tas banker, he had served on the state Live­stock and Poul­try Com­mis­sion. He was also pres­i­dent of the town’s Cham­ber of Com­merce.

The ex­pe­ri­ence came in handy. He would go on to lead the Rogers-Low­ell Area Cham­ber of Com­merce, as well.

Ac­tive in a long list of civic, ed­u­ca­tional and phil­an­thropic causes, he is for­mer chair­man of the state’s Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Co­or­di­nat­ing Board, as well as the Arkansas Arts Coun­cil.

He also served on the Arkansas High­way Com­mis­sion for a decade, leav­ing it last month.

Some of the in­fra­struc­ture he helped build will now bear his name: The com­mis­sion has voted to name part of Arkansas 265 in honor of its de­parted chair­man. The 30-mile stretch be­tween Fayet­teville and Rogers will be known as the Dick Tram­mel High­way.

Last week, Tram­mel ex­pressed pride in the state’s Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion em­ploy­ees.

He also praised the vot­ers of Rogers for ap­prov­ing school levies and the peo­ple of Arkansas for ap­prov­ing a half-per­cent sales-tax in­crease to im­prove the state’s road­ways.

But he ex­pressed con­cerns about the di­vi­sion he sees on Capi­tol Hill.

“I’m just awed at how [po­lit­i­cal] par­ties can’t come to­gether,” he said.

“When I think about gov­ern­ment, I do hope that there can be more com­pro­mise,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of room for im­prove­ment for the good of the peo­ple.”

He would later give Trump’s speech high marks.

“I thought he did a tremen­dous job try­ing to bring Amer­ica to­gether,” Tram­mel said. “The pres­i­dent did say we need to com­pro­mise and come to­gether for the good of the peo­ple.”

De­spite the par­ti­san di­vi­sions, the state of the econ­omy is en­cour­ag­ing, he said.

“I’ve never seen it per­fect in 81 years. There’s al­ways room for im­prove­ment, but it can al­ways go the other way,” he said. “I think right now, most peo­ple are happy. We did get a farm bill passed. The pas­sage of a farm bill was very, very im­por­tant to Arkansas. So I’d say the econ­omy is good.”

It re­mains a priv­i­lege to dwell in the United States, he said.

“God blesses all of us, and we live in the best coun­try in the world. I don’t have any doubt about that,” he said.

“Noth­ing of im­por­tance in our area has hap­pened in the last 40-plus years that doesn’t have Dick Tram­mel’s fin­ger­prints on it.”

— U.S. Rep. Steve Wo­mack


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