Remembering those who left us during 2018
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.