Re­mem­ber­ing those who left us dur­ing 2018

The Weekly Vista - - Opinion - MAYLON RICE

This tra­di­tion­ally is a week where a col­umn on the pos­i­tive as­pects of the fu­ture is war­ranted, if noth­ing else than by the date on the cal­en­dar, but some­how I am hop­ing to pause and re­mem­ber some folks who left us in 2018.

If we stop and honor those who have gone on, of­ten we can and will find pos­i­tive as­pects for those of us who re­main be­hind to be pos­i­tive and push on to­wards goals that in­spire oth­ers.

I’ll start with Siloam Springs na­tive Pre­ston Bynum who died Oct. 31 at his Florida re­tire­ment home.


I will never un­der­stand the cur­rent Arkansas Repub­li­can lead­er­ship and its lack of in­sti­tu­tional his­tory.

This past year, for­mer state Rep. Pre­ston Bynum, 79, who at one time was the only Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tor in the 100-mem­ber state House, rep­re­sent­ing Siloam Springs, died at his re­tire­ment home in Lake­land, Fla.

Bynum was an icon of lead­er­ship in the House. He helped to build the foun­da­tion for a state House that is to­day in a su­per-ma­jor­ity — with 75 mem­bers as Repub­li­cans — in the lower cham­ber.

At his death, there was the usual con­sum­mate obit­u­ary, but few, if any, great trib­utes from state Repub­li­can lead­er­ship.

Some­how that does not over­shadow the im­pact this for­mer 1957 grad­u­ate of Siloam Springs High School made on state gov­ern­ment in Arkansas. He was first elected to the state House in 1968 and served un­til 1981. He left the House to serve as chief of state to the late Arkansas Gov­er­nor Frank White, who had just de­feated a first-term Demo­cratic gov­er­nor, Bill Clin­ton, who would in the next elec­tion cy­cle take back the gov­er­nor’s of­fice and a decade later be elected the 42nd pres­i­dent of the United States.

Af­ter White’s de­feat, Bynum and White, headed to Stephens Inc., the largest bond house off Wall Street. He worked 13 years at Stephens Inc., ris­ing to be the in­vest­ment house’s di­rec­tor of gov­ern­men­tal re­la­tions.

There was a lit­tle dustup with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, and some time out of pol­i­tics, but Pre­ston Bynum re­turned and never slowed down help­ing oth­ers.

He has been hon­ored by the Ben­ton County Repub­li­cans with a Pi­o­neer Award and the John Brown Univer­sity per­form­ing arts cen­ter is named af­ter him.

He, too, was a gem of a guy.


Next, I will in­clude, Pat Har­ris, the for­mer man­ag­ing ed­i­tor of the Wash­ing­ton County

En­ter­prise-Leader, who died Oct. 25. A na­tive of Prescott in South­west Arkansas, Pat Har­ris was a good ed­i­tor.

She loved her com­mu­nity and she worked hard at her job of pro­vid­ing a good news­pa­per for the read­ers. Pat worked for 18 years at the Hope Star in south­west Arkansas, a dozen of those years as the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor. She joined the

En­ter­prise-Leader in 2011 and re­tired in 2016.

Pat loved her state. She stood up and wrote sto­ries to awaken sleepy school boards, lazy city coun­cils and even shook up some folks in Lit­tle Rock with facts, trends and causes they all should ex­am­ine.

If you had an event that was good for the com­mu­nity, it got great play un­der Pat’s ed­i­tor­ship. She was all about her com­mu­nity.


Lo­cally, the po­lit­i­cal loss of re­cent days was the tragic and un­timely death of James “Jim” House, 70, a two-term Demo­crat state Rep­re­sen­ta­tive who chal­lenged the sit­ting Wash­ing­ton County Judge, a Repub­li­can, in the most re­cent Novem­ber Midterm elec­tions.

House, a ca­reer em­ployee of the Arkansas

Health De­part­ment, was a gen­tle­man. He liked to hang around horses and wore blue jeans and farm clothes to prove he was a small hill farmer at heart.

Even in the “heat” of po­lit­i­cal bat­tle, Jim House never would en­gage in “dirty” pol­i­tics, ru­mors or lies about his op­po­nent.

He lost this last hard­fought race for Wash­ing­ton County Judge. But he lost that po­lit­i­cal bat­tle gra­ciously, ac­cept­ing the will of the vot­ers, with­out any com­plaint.

Jim House was a good man.

Long­time Demo­cratic state House and state Sen­a­tor Jim Ar­gue of Lit­tle Rock, it can be said, af­fected schools all over Arkansas — and did so in a very pos­i­tive way.

Ar­gue, 66, died sud­denly back in May. He was ever a cham­pion of ed­u­ca­tion. Ar­gue, as a leg­is­la­tor, de­vel­oped a state fund­ing plan and nav­i­gated court chal­lenges on school fund­ing across our state.

Stand­ing 6-foot, 7-inches, Ar­gue was a tall, friendly fel­low who, even to­day, casts a long shadow over Arkansas’ pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.

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