On July 18, 1928, future Little Rock Mayor Harold E. “Sonney” Henson, Jr. was born in Fayetteville to Harold E Henson Sr. and Dollie Croxdale Henson. He and his sister Sara Sue grew up in Springdale.
On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 lifted off from Florida as 528 million people (15% of the world’s population at the time) viewed it on television. As would be expected for that historic trip to the moon, both the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat were filled with stories covering all aspects of the preparations and the launch.
The Gazette carried a story in which Sargent Shriver, then Ambassador to France, recalled his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy saying that if he died before the US landed on the moon, he would be watching it from his rocking chair in heaven and would have a better view than anyone on earth. The comments were made on May 25, 1962, the same day President Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress about the quest to send man to the moon.
But Apollo 11 was not the only thing in the newspapers.
- July 16 was the first preliminary night for the Miss Arkansas pageant.
- Ruth the elephant was ailing at the Little Rock Zoo.
- The Arkansas Constitutional Convention continued
- The Loch Ness Monster had gone into hiding according to Scottish officials
- Plans were underway to bring private Little Rock University into the University of Arkansas System
Sports headlines included:
- The Cardinals beat the Phillies 5 to 0
- The Travelers were rained out at home.
- Joe Namath was in secret meetings with NFL leadership regarding his retirement plans. He’d announced them rather than give up ownership of a club frequented by mobsters.
- Brooks Robinson was named to his 13th consecutive All-Star game.
In advertisements (and there were pages and pages and pages of advertisements – comparing them to papers of today one really sees how much a drop in revenue newspapers are facing):
- Curtis Finch Furniture offered a side by side refrigerator with icemaker for $499
- Bruno’s was now serving wine and cocktails
- Moses Melody Shop had a color TV for $399.50
- Pfeifer-Blass was selling shoes for $3.50 and women’s jersey dresses for $11.99
Future Little Rock Mayor Dan T. Sprick was born on May 19, 1902. He served three terms on the Little Rock City Council (from 1935 to 1941). In 1945, he was elected Mayor of Little Rock and served one term. During his tenure on the City Council, he was the sole vote against locating Robinson Auditorium at Markham and Broadway. He had favored another location.
He was not alone, however, in being held in contempt of court and spending part of the day in jail. On Monday, December 4, a dozen of Little Rock’s aldermen (which included Sprick) reported to the county jail to serve sentences for contempt of court. The previous Monday, the twelve council members had voted against an ordinance which had been ordered by the judge in an improvement district matter. The other aldermen had either voted in the affirmative or had been absent. Because the twelve had refused to change their votes since that meeting, the judge ordered them jailed. After the aldermen changed their votes later in the day, they were freed.
His tenure as Mayor was relatively quiet. He took office the same month that World War II ended. While in office, the Sprick administration was marked by growth in the city budget and in city positions. As a part of that growth, there were many more new purchases taking place which had prompted extra scrutiny of the City’s purchasing procedures. A thorough investigation toward the end of his tenure found no malfeasance or misfeasance, it did note that the city needed to do a better job of anticipating cash flow. Much of the City’s focus during the Sprick tenure was on growth and keeping up infrastructure needs.
Sprick later served for ten years in the Arkansas State Senate (from 1961 to 1970). During his tenure in the Senate, Sprick was closely aligned with Gov. Orval Faubus. When the Little Rock high schools had been closed a year to ensure segregation, Sprick had served on the board of a private school set up by some of the leaders of the segregation movement.
His time in the Senate was also marked by controversy. He was one of three Senators to opposed Muhammad Ali’s speaking at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. After an Arkansas Gazette editorial lambasted him, Sprick sued the paper for libel. The Gazette settled with him out of court because his health was poor.
One of the landmark pieces of legislation he guided through the Arkansas General Assembly allowed cities to collect advertising and promotion taxes. The 1972 and 1973 upgrades to Robinson Center were funded by this tax (as have some subsequent upgrades). So the building he voted against while on the LR City Council benefited from legislation he championed while in the General Assembly.
Sprick died in January 1972.
Giving at Graduation has been a tradition at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service since 2010, when the school collected pencils, pens, and other school supplies for the Little Rock School District’s Volunteers in Public Schools (ViPS) at its commencement.
Each year, the Clinton School selects a local organization and encourages students and graduation attendees to bring items for that organization. This year it is A Bridge to Work, a City of Little Rock Partnership with Canvas Community Church that offers same-day work
opportunities to individuals experiencing homelessness through a six-month pilot program with the goal of connecting participants to stable employment. Guests are encouraged to bring new men’s and women’s socks.
Giving at Graduation started as an idea by 2010 graduate Nicholas Hall, who drew the inspiration from his Clinton School project research.
“I attempted to start a philanthropic business in the model of TOMS Shoes and Ethos Water,” Hall said. “I was researching them, but while I was researching I ended up forming a business where the whole idea was to use large-scale events as places where good can be done.”
Hall, currently a second-year student at the University of North Carolina School of Law and officer in the North Carolina National Guard, used his business idea to partner with other organizations as well, including Arkansas Foodbank and Habitat for Humanity.
Other previous Giving at Graduation organizational recipients include Our House, Arkansas Children’s Hospital Mobile Dental Clinic, the Van, Jericho Way Resource Center, Central Arkansas Library System’s Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library, Arkansas Foodbank, UA Little Rock Trojan Campus Food Pantry, and Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.
In the nine years since the initiative started, thousands of items have been donated and thousands of dollars have been raised.
“We see every graduation as an opportunity to help others, and we hope high schools and other college and universities around the country will do the same,” Clinton School Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III said. “One year we asked for toothbrushes and toothpaste. We’ve found that even small acts of giving go a very long way.”
At the graduation ceremony Dr. Christina Standerfer, a Clinton School faculty member, will deliver the commencement address.
“In recognition and appreciation of Dr. Standerfer’s Clinton School career, she will deliver the commencement address at this year’s graduation,” Rutherford said. “I am very pleased she has agreed to do so.”
The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees recently named Dr. Christina Standerfer Professor Emeritus of Communication. Her emeritus status is effective July 1, 2019.
Standerfer is the first Clinton School faculty member to achieve emeritus status. Tom Bruce was named Dean Emeritus in 2008.
Clinton School Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III made the recommendation to University of Arkansas System President Dr. Don Bobbitt who approved it and recommended it to the board of trustees.
Standerfer joined the Clinton School of Public Service in 2007 and has most recently served as Faculty Director for the Office of Community Engagement.
In 1977, Peggy S. Bosmyer was ordained an Episcopal priest at Little Rock’s Trinity Cathedral. Not only was she the first woman in Arkansas to be ordained to a full priesthood in the Episcopal Church, she was the first woman south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Born in Helena, she was a graduate of the University of Arkansas and Virginia Theological Seminary. She served as a deacon at Grace Episcopal in Pine Bluff before serving as a curate at Little Rock’s St. Mark’s Episcopal. In 1976, the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood. It was after that she was able to be ordained in 1977. Her ordination was front page news in the Arkansas Gazette.
Following ordination, she was appointed Vicar of Little Rock’s St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, then a part-time position. She also served as a program director for the Diocese of Arkansas, which included oversight of Camp Mitchell. In 1985, Rev. Bosmyer was appointed full-time Vicar of St. Michael’s. Nine years later, she left Little Rock to be a professor on the faculty of the School of Theology at the University of the South. While there she served as Co-Vicar of St. James at Sewanee. She also received her Doctor of Divinity from the University of the South in 1999.
Rev. Dr. Bosmyer returned to Little Rock in 2001 to be Vicar of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. She held that position until her death in December 2008 from pancreatic cancer. She is interred at the columbarium of St. Margaret’s. She was survived by her husband of 24 years, Reverend Dr. Dennis Campbell, and four children.
She was not only one of the first female Episcopal priests in the U.S, she was on the forefront of women serving as ordained priests and preachers in mainline denominations. Certainly her ordination was not without controversy. There are still those who disagree with women serving as priests (though likely few remain within the Episcopal church).
The legacy of Rev. Dr. Bosmyer continues today with the women serving as rectors, vicars, priests in charge, and associate rectors throughout the state of Arkansas. While Arkansas has not had a woman serve as Bishop, Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori served as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from 2006 to 2015.
Stephanie S. Streett is the executive director of the Clinton Foundation. In this role she oversees the day-to-day operations of the Clinton Presidential Center, including the development and implementation of its educational programs, special events, exhibits, and services as well as staff management.
She establishes and cultivates strategic partnerships and cooperative arrangements with state and local governments, the non-profit and private sector, community groups and other organizations. Stephanie also serves as the corporate secretary for the Clinton Foundation Board of Directors.
Stephanie has used her position to broaden culture in Little Rock through the wide variety of exhibits which the Clinton Center has hosted. A wide variety of styles of visual arts, design, contemporary craft, sports, science and history have been showcased in exhibits at the Clinton Center. She also was instrumental in planning the special events in conjunction with the Clinton Center 10th Anniversary in 2014 and the 2017 celebration of the 25th anniversary of President Clinton’s election.
In addition, she has been active in promoting partnerships with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Together with Kaki Hockersmith, she has facilitated several seminars which have brought key Kennedy Center leaders to Little Rock. Together they lead the effort known as Fusion: Arts + Humanities Arkansas. Now in its second year, Fusion promotes heritage and culture and celebrates human achievement by weaving the arts and humanities together.
She has been the president of the University of Arkansas Alumni Association National Board of Directors and is co-chair of the Board of Directors for City Year Little Rock. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Downtown Partnership of Little Rock and is a member of the International Women’s Forum Arkansas. In April 2018, she was honored with the 2018 City Year Little Rock Lifetime of Service Award at the Red Jacket Ball.
On March 18, 1947, Governor Ben T. Laney signed the bill into law which authorized the construction of War Memorial Stadium.
The plans for the stadium were the brainchild of Arkansas Secretary of State C.G. “Crip” Hall and University of Arkansas Athletic Director John Barnhill.
Apparently the Southwest Conference was threatening to kick Arkansas out because of an inadequate football facility. Since the University did not have the funds to build a new one on its campus, Barnhill and Hall decided that the state should build one. Many other states were building War Memorial facilities of a variety of natures. The duo decided that the new football facility could be a War Memorial Stadium to pay tribute to the men who died in the recently concluded World War II. While the stadium was touted as being of use to all colleges in the state and a variety of other types of activities, it was very much designed to be a home for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Getting the stadium through the Arkansas General Assembly was not easy. The bill to create the stadium commission sailed through both houses. But even some who voted for it said they would oppose any funding bills. When time came to vote for the funding, the bill fell far short of the three-quarters vote that was needed in the House for an appropriation bill.
WWII veterans were on both sides of the issue. Some felt it was an appropriate way to honor those who died. Others felt it was a gimmick to get the stadium approved. Some of the opponents felt that a new state hospital for UAMS would be the more appropriate way to honor those who died during the war. The debates were often heated and personal.
Overnight a new bill was created. It would pay for the stadium through the issuing of bonds. In addition to the state issuing bonds, any city which wished to bid for it would have to put up money for it as well as provide land. This new bill would require only 51 votes to pass the House. It was able to pass that threshold. The Senate made a few amendments (mostly dealing with the composition of the stadium commission and the amount of dollars that the host city had to pledge). Finally the House agreed to the Senate amendments and it went to Governor Laney.
The next hurdle for the stadium was choosing a location. That process would occupy stadium proponents throughout the spring and summer of 1947.