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Obituaries for June 29, 2021

June 30, 2021 at 8:04 a.m.

BARBARA GARRETT

Barbara Carolyn Freedman Garrett, age 74, of Texarkana, Arkansas passed away peacefully in her sleep during the wee morning hours on Saturday, June 19, 2021, after several months of intense hospitalization, painful surgeries and complications following heart surgery. Alone with her daughter in her home and in her own bed for the first time in months, she literally went to sleep and woke up in heaven.

Barbara was a 1964 graduate of Stamps High School where she excelled in every subject, especially English and graduated as the Valedictorian of her class. Her classmates recalled that she never had a hair out of place and always looked like she had stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. Although accepted into Rice University, poverty restricted her educational choices. As a working student, she studied at Southern Arkansas University until financial constraints forced her to drop out. She later received her bachelors and masters degrees plus 60 hours towards her doctorate in education from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma where her husband was a Professor of sociology and criminal justice.

She was a 30 year veteran of the public schools and served as Principal at multiple schools in Muskogee, Oklahoma and Texarkana, Arkansas. However, her all time favorite staff and fellow teachers were the excellent, committed teachers and professionals at College Hill Elementary where she served for 17 years. During that time, she regularly held parenting classes in her office for free, counseled children and parents alike and held a before school voluntary Bible study. Under her leadership, College Hill Elementary was chosen to host Presidential candidate and then Governor of Texas, George W. Bush. All major media and the U.S. Secret Service descended on the elementary school for this event. She considered it her career highlight to introduce the future President of the United States on national television.

During her professional career, she had many commendations and honors. First, she was the youngest Principal in the state of Oklahoma at that time serving only three years as a first grade teacher before becoming a Principal. During the Oklahoma years, Barbara worked closely with the Cherokee Nation on behalf of many families and helped one special elementary aged Indian child get off hard street drugs and out of an abusive home to be reunited with his Cherokee family. The Elementary school in Oklahoma where she was Principal was a Blue Ribbon School of Distinction bestowed by the U.S. Department of Education. In Texarkana, Arkansas she piloted year round school for the state of Arkansas at College Hill Elementary. Finally, Barbara piloted one of the first magnet schools for Texarkana Arkansas School District, the Fairview Aerospace & Environmental Magnet School. She was delighted to take the first group of Texarkana, Arkansas TASD fourth grade students to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama on the grounds of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Many of these children had never even been across the line to Texarkana, Texas, much less to attend a world famous educational camp out of state. When the District ran short of money at the last minute, Barbara and her family personally financed the way for several students so that every fourth grade student could attend the camp.

In the 1970s, Barbara and her beloved daughter Amy were charter members of a Baptist mission in Tahlequah, Oklahoma under Pastor Herbert Watts, where they along with a handful of other committed Christians literally dug the ground for the church, planted all shrubs and flowers and worked alongside the construction crew to build the church. For many, many years, Barbara taught Sunday School, Wednesday night ladies Bible study and Vacation Bible Study. In more recent years, Barbara was a longtime faithful member of Northern Hills Baptist Church (formerly County Avenue Baptist) where she served in the RU Recovery addiction ministry and assisted her husband, Frank Garrett, in jail ministry and nursing home ministry. She was a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club of Texarkana whose motto is to serve the children of the world, which she held dear. She was a graduate of Leadership Texarkana and participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for over twenty (20) years.

After her retirement in 2008, Barbara had a very full second career as her daughter’s faithful, trustworthy and diligent paralegal. During her lengthy hospital stay, despite her painful surgeries and therapies at the Arkansas Heart Hospital, Barbara actually consulted on cases, edited legal briefs and gave her opinion on cases that she was assisting on. She was indispensable to her daughter’s law practice.

Barbara’s best and most cherished times were attending church at Northern Hills Baptist Church and listening to her favorite preachers Pastor Roger Copeland, Pastor Jim Harris, Pastor Jeff Schreve, David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley and Adrian Rogers. It was a highlight of her Christian life to hear Adrian Rogers preach live.

Barbara loved the Bible. She was an extremely well read and intelligent woman and lifelong Bible student. She talked her daughter, Amy into doing a three year intensive Bible study through the Faith Bible Institute. She was ecstatic to learn prophecy and deep Bible truths. It meant everything to share that with her only child. Her favorite Bible verse was Romans 8:28 “And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to HIS purpose.” She quoted it regularly and loved to tell others about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Barbara was passionate about helping abused children and families. She herself was a survivor of child abuse and was witness to horrific domestic violence as a child. She dedicated her entire adult life to helping children and families. She was also equally committed to helping the unborn have the right to life. To put it succinctly, she was a champion for children.

Barbara was the baby of her family of five siblings. She was in awe of all her older siblings and considered them “celebrities” and her protectors. She was particularly close to her older sister Daisy who was a second mother to her. She idolized her only big brother Jesse who she was closest to in age.

Barbara cherished her only child, Amy and was content to do whatever they planned or Amy needed for her case work including lavish trips to NYC, Hawaii, Europe, Florida, California, Branson and all places in between. She would often ask Amy “where are we going next? I want to anticipate and look forward to the next trip.” There was always a next trip, whether it was to Dallas, El Dorado or the exotic California coast. Just a few years ago, they traveled to Florida on their own dime to visit children and make sure the court plan was in the children’s best interest. She and Amy were literally joined at the hip in life and love. Best friends. Partners in crime, love and business. Never did a mother and daughter love each other so deeply.

She is preceded in death by husbands Alex S. Freedman and Franklin Garrett; her sisters Ruth Elmore, Ester Baker and husband C.P. Baker, Mary Beene Smith; brother Jesse Paul Beene; nephews Raymond Elmore, Curtis Harrison and Great Niece Kimberly Britt.

She is survived by her daughter, Amy Freedman of Texarkana, Texas and fiancee Clint Hanna; her sister, Daisy Dudley and brother in law Robert of Lake Erling, Arkansas, Sister in law Brenda Beene of Stamps, Arkansas, nephews Steve Warren and wife Marilyn of Black Springs, Arkansas, Gerry Britt and wife Megan of Benton, Arkansas, Michael Britt and wife Connie of Benton, Arkansas, David Baker, Angie Baker of Stamps, Arkansas, Donna Newton, husband Kenny of Texarkana, Arkansas; Debbie Wright, husband Gerald of Texarkana, Arkansas, Lori Robinson, husband Eddie of Stamps, Arkansas, Cheryl McMahen and husband Chad of Stamps, Arkansas, and great nephews Ryan Harrison and wife Ivy; Lance Harrison and wife Brittany, Christopher Warren, Bryan Bolt and wife Laura; John Newton and wife Cassie; Cole Newton; Hayden Britt; Garrett Britt; Phillip Britt; Collin Paul Baker; Jon David Baker; Kelby Robinson and wife Michelle; Brady Robinson and wife Kim; and Dusty Robinson and wife Hayley; Great nieces Amanda Warren Bailey and husband Brian, Jamie Bolt Wilkie and husband Bill; Keri Jester; Hannah Powell and husband James; Christen Johnson and husband Casey and Laura Britt and a number of Great Great Nieces and Nephews and her adopted “church daughter” Deby Turrentine and one very special friend, Byron F. Johnson of Texarkana, Arkansas. Finally, she is also survived by her “favorite” child Grayson Garrett, her beloved British Longhair.

Funeral Services were held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 26, 2021 at Northern Hills Baptist Church located at 6000 Sammy Lane, Texarkana, AR with Pastor Roger Copeland and Pastor Jim Harris (of Bethel Baptist Church) officiating. Burial will follow at Lakeside Cemetery in Stamps, Arkansas. The family received friends from 1 to 2 p.m. at Northern Hills Baptist Church prior to the service.

The family would like to express our deepest gratitude to the excellent physicians, nurses and staff at the Arkansas Heart Hospital. Specifically, Dr. C.D. Williams, Dr. Paulo Ribeiro, Dr. William Rollefson, Dr. Vasili Lendel along with exceptionally gifted and special nurses Stacey Webb, Audrey Koontz and Jody Richardson in administration. Without these consummate professionals who worked tirelessly and often all night and on weekends even when they were scheduled to be off, during multiple near death calls, the family was given an additional ten (10) weeks with Barbara. For that, we will be forever grateful. Each one of you is God’s angel on earth. However, Dr. C.D. Williams is God’s special instrument on this earth. He is an extraordinary physician who puts his patient’s needs ahead of his own. Through you, Dr. Williams, her life was extended and we had more time. May God richly bless each and every one of you and your families all the days of your lives and forever more.

If desired, friends may make memorial contributions to Northern Hills Baptist Church (for mission projects), CASA of NE Texas (to protect abused children) or 1st Choice Pregnancy Center (to protect unborn babies.)

• • • •

LOIS RUSSELL

Lois Gene Greer Russell, 90, of Conway and formerly of Magnolia, passed peacefully on Sunday, June 27, 2021 in her home surrounded by her family. She was born on August 15, 1930, to Homer Floyd and Julia Powledge Greer. She grew up in Magnolia and moved back to Magnolia in 2000 after living in Lewisville for many years. Lois Gene was a 1948 graduate of Magnolia High School and graduated from Magnolia A & M College, now Southern Arkansas University, where she obtained a business degree.

Lois Gene worked for KVMA Radio for a number of years selling advertising, writing jingles and hosting her own radio programs. She had a wonderful gift of creative writing and music. Through the decades she wrote song lyrics, advertising copy, spots for political campaigns, party invitations, and poems for all occasions including the annual family Christmas scavenger hunt.

Lois Gene married Paul J. Russell, Jr. in 1955. Together they partnered in marriage and in the Russell/Joella Farm for over 60 years where they raised cotton, soybeans, pecans and cattle on the Red River in Lafayette County.

Lois Gene and Paul (who predeceased her in 2013) had one daughter who survives, Jeanie and her husband, Robin White of Conway. She is also survived by two grandchildren whom she loved very much, Russell White and Julia White, both of Conway. In fact, Lois Gene moved to Conway so they could all be together. The three generations, mother, daughter and granddaughter enjoyed favorite hobbies together of gardening, cooking and entertaining.

Lois Gene was part of a very close family. She is also survived by a much-loved brother, Homer F. “Sonny” Greer, Jr. of Magnolia as well as cherished nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Lois Gene was preceded in death by her parents and three sisters, Margaret Reagan, Mildred Ruff and Marian “Tootsie” Schmidt.

Full of life, with that one-in-a-million smile, Lois Gene will be remembered for her readiness to “go” and her fun-loving, kind spirit. She was genuinely interested in others and made everyone feel important and loved. Friends and family cherished her gifts of chicken pie and fudge. The special fudge recipe was carefully dropped by tablespoons and presented in decorative boxes or tins, always on a white doily which was her special trademark.

Lois Gene was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Magnolia, the Clegg/Open Door Sunday School class, Magnolia PEO Sisterhood Chapter AN, BBB Bookclub, Magnolia Junior Charity League and Follies Dollies. After moving to Conway, she became a member of the Joyful Listeners Small Group at Second Baptist Church.

The family extends heartfelt thanks to her special caregivers - Flora Burke, Patsy Glover, and Kelsey Hilemon for their compassionate and dedicated care.

Lois Gene had the heart of a servant. She was a wonderful sister, aunt, mother, grandmother and friend. Her loved ones find comfort knowing she had a host of family and friends who were there to welcome her home.

A memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church in Magnolia at 1 Saturday, July 17, 2021. Dr. Gary Maskell will officiate. The family requests memorials be sent to First United Methodist Church in Magnolia, 320 West Main, Magnolia, AR 71753.

• • • •

LARRY MCNEAL

Larry McNeal of Waldo died June 17, 2021 at Life Touch Hospice in El Dorado, Arkansas. Larry was born Feb 29, 1940 at home in Paris, Arkansas to Bernice and Glenn O. McNeal. Larry was a retired professor at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas. His brother, Glenn O. McNeal Jr, his sister Gayle Garner and her husband Larry Garner, his sister-in-law Ann Sessoms, and his nephew Danny McNeal preceded him in death. His beloved wife Judy, son Mark and his wife Debbie of Parker, Colorado, daughter Christy Gray and her husband Steve, his brother David McNeal and wife Alice of Covington, Louisiana, his sister-in-law Cherie McNeal of Arab, Alabama, and six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren survive him.

Larry graduated 10th in his senior class of 70 from Paris Arkansas Public Schools in 1958, and was selected to play in the 3rd Annual Arkansas All-Star football game and started at offensive guard. He received a football scholarship from Southern State College where he met and married Judy Sessoms in 1960. He played football at SSC for four years and was co-captain of the football team and a first-team All-Conference player for his junior and senior seasons. He was inducted into the Southern Arkansas University Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Larry was also a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society. Upon graduation, Larry and Judy moved to Camden, Arkansas where Larry taught and coached for two years before receiving a teaching apprenticeship from Auburn University. His Camden Junior High track team won District championships both years and finished third in the state in 1963, and were State champions in 1964.

Larry returned to his first love (classroom teaching) in 1984, and served in the College of Education until his retirement in 2000. The University recognized Larry for his contributions by being named the 1992 Honor Professor, the recipient of the 1997 Calvin Wetzig Excellent in Teaching Award, the 1998 Outstanding Service Award, and the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from the SAU Alumni Association.

Larry headed a national accreditation effort for the School of Education in 1988 that resulted in the program being moved from probationary status to full accreditation status, passing 20 out of 20 standards.

Larry was also honored as Waldo Citizen of the Year in 1994 after initiating a community needs assessment for a Headstart program in Waldo, which lead to the first Headstart program in that community.

His last request to his wife was “Don’t bury me in a neck tie. I hate neck ties.”

A graveside services was held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 20, 2021 at Marysville Cemetery with Bro. Elvis Griffin officiating under the direction of Lewis Funeral Home, Inc.

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