Passages: spring 2022

Edwina Gae Ransom Cox (’46), 96, of Little Rock, Arkansas, died Oct. 23, 2021. For 22 years, she taught eighth-grade English at Cloverdale Junior High. She was a member of Windsong Church of Christ. She was preceded in death by her husband of 40 years, Ray Cox Sr. She is survived by two children, Ray and Pamela Womack; a sister, Georgie Cathey; a granddaughter; and three great-grandchildren. 

L. Gene Hightower (’50), 91, of Houston, died Sept. 11, 2021. He became a licensed pilot at age 16, the youngest ever in the state of Arkansas. He worked at Brown and Root, an engineering firm, where he retired after 30 years. He was a member of the AOPA, a 33-degree Master Mason and an Arabian Shriner. He was a member of Garden Oaks Baptist Church for more than 50 years. He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Ora Delle Huffstuttler (’50).

Elizabeth “Liz” Russell Sims (’51), 91, of Mesquite, Texas, died June 9, 2021. She met her husband at Harding, and they started their married life together in Minden, Louisiana, while he served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. From Minden they moved to Texarkana, Texas, and she completed both her bachelor’s in education and master’s in English from East Texas State University. She first taught men in prison and later elementary students in Mesquite. She was a member of Mesquite Church of Christ since 1980. She was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Jwill (’51). She is survived by her three children, Jwill Jr., Shannon Messick and Russell; 13 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.  

Elmer Gathright (’53), 92, of Quitman, Arkansas, died Nov. 21, 2021. He taught school in Heber Springs for two years before becoming superintendent of West Side School District whose original gymnasium bears his name. He then became a longtime owner of Gathright Ready Mix Concrete in Heber Springs. After retirement, he enjoyed being a cattle and hay rancher until the age of 90. He was a member of Heber Springs Church of Christ. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Mildred. He is survived by three daughters, Sandra Howard, Sharon Thomas (’79) and Karen Gathright; a brother, Kirby; three grandchildren; and a great-grandchild. 

Andy T. Ritchie III (’56), 87, of Searcy, died Jan. 4, 2022. He followed the same calling as both his father and grandfather, preaching the gospel for more than 60 years for congregations in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia and New Mexico. He also served as a missionary to Liege, Belgium, and preached at various congregations around southern Ontario, Canada, while working with Great Lakes Christian College. He was a believer in Christian camping and had a special relationship with Camp Hunt. In the late 40s, he was a counselor, and in the 60s and 70s, he served as camp director and board president. He was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Phyllis Robertson (’68); and by a daughter, Elizabeth Roach (’80). He is survived by his wife of five years, LaVera Haynes (’57); three children, Thomas (’80), Alice Ramsey (’81) and Bob (’85); three siblings, Ed (’59), Bettye Casey (’65) and Joan Toepel (’67); 11 grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.

Marjorie “Margie” McGinnis Wiley (’56), 86, of Denton, Texas, died Oct. 11, 2021. In 1957, she worked as a dietetic intern at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. As a licensed dietitian and member of the American Dietetic Association, she worked at Hermann Hospital in Houston; Christian Care Centers in Dallas; VA Hospital in Bonham, Texas; Hilltop Haven in Gunter, Texas; and River Gardens in New Braunfels, Texas. She was a preacher’s wife and worked with her husband serving churches of Christ throughout Texas. Retiring in 1998, the couple lived at Saint Francis Village in Crowley, Texas, and attended Western Hills Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas. They moved to Denton in January 2021 to live closer to family. She is survived by her husband, Bill; two daughters, Mary Perry and Julie Slate (’90); two siblings, Dorothy and Buddy McGinnis; and a granddaughter.  

Carl Lee Blanchard (’57), 93, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, died July 13, 2021. He joined the Army as a reservist in 1950, serving until 1956. He worked for the United States Geological Survey in Anchorage, Alaska, and was transferred to Stone Mountain in October 1973, after calling Alaska home for 27 years. He spent the next 47 years in Stone Mountain and was a member of Avondale Church of Christ. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Mary Lorraine. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marie Garner; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. 

Larry Peebles (’60), 83, of Texarkana, Texas, died Oct. 31, 2021. He played basketball and baseball at Harding and then attended University of Arkansas Medical School to become a physician while also playing semi-pro basketball and baseball. He joined the U.S. Air Force and became a major before being honorably discharged. He began practicing family medicine in Texarkana in 1965 and later specialized in radiology. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Tish Maynard (’61). He is survived by three children, Laura Fidone (’85), Skipper Simmons (’91) and Mason (’92); two brothers, David (’66) and Sammy (’70); nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. 

Gaylon Hannah Gwin (’63), 80, of Sellers, Alabama, died Nov. 4, 2021. She wrote for Alabama Conservation magazine as well as many other periodicals. She was a member of Liberty Church of Christ. She is survived by her husband of 58 years, Gerald (’64); three children, Nick, Eric and Susan; a brother, Rich Bach; and 11 grandchildren. 

Curtis C. McKnight (’66), 76, of Norman, Oklahoma, died Sept. 11, 2021. He earned a master’s in mathematics from Western Illinois University and his doctorate in mathematics education from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He made Norman his home in 1981 when he joined the Oklahoma University Department of Mathematics. He served as associate department chair for a time and retired as an emeritus professor in 2011. Mathematics education was his passion, and to that end he researched and taught the best evidence-based instruction methods, developing a mathematics education doctoral program within the department. For more than 20 years he was a U.S. coordinator and played other major roles in two very large international research projects: Second International Mathematics Study and Third International Math and Science Study. He authored and co-authored hundreds of presentations and journal publications from those studies as well as many books. An elder at First Christian Church of Norman, he taught Bible classes for more than three decades and served on the education committee. He is survived by his wife, Michelynn Smith. 

Bobby Dan Orr (’67), 79, of Dallas, died Sept. 14, 2021. Immediately after high school graduation, he enlisted in the Army and served for three years under the 84th Engineer Co. stationed in Nuremberg, Germany. He spent the next decade working in the mission field with churches in Central and South America where he learned to read, write and speak fluent Spanish. It was a small group Bible study that brought him to the Velez household where he met his wife. The couple lived in Farmers Branch, Texas, for the next 40 years. He worked in several different fields, ultimately settling on home improvement work with Orr Enterprises, all the while pursuing his true calling in ministry. He continued to preach and teach Bible studies for the Spanish-speaking congregations throughout the metroplex for more than 20 years. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Bertha Velez; three daughters, Rachel, Paula and Briana; three siblings, Earl, Frances Ramsey and Norma Smith; and six grandchildren. 

Alice Ann Hendrix Straughn (’69), 74, of Little Rock, Arkansas, died Sept. 25, 2021. She completed her bachelor’s in nursing at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1970. After being hired at UAMS as  a charge nurse on the pediatric floor, she was recruited to be part of the first nurse practitioner program in Arkansas. After time off to raise two sons, she began teaching in the licensed practical nursing program at Saint Vincent Infirmary. In the mid-1980s, she began working on her master’s in nursing at University of Central Arkansas, where she joined the faculty upon completing her degree. She joined the faculty at University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1991, teaching pediatrics and medical surgical nursing and especially enjoyed clinical practice. She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Keith (’67); two sons, Greg and Matt; and three grandchildren. 

Judith Giddens Howard (’70), 74, of Hoover, Alabama, died Dec. 7, 2021. She was a member of Homewood Church of Christ. She is survived by her husband, Will Jr. (’68); three children, Will III (’05), Anna Dreyfus and Katie Towell (’02); two sisters, Sara Rogers and Evelyn Shelton; and
five grandchildren.

Elizabeth Nan “Beth” Holloway Watson (’71), 72, of Searcy, died Jan. 7, 2022. She received her associate degree from Freed-Hardeman, attended Harding and graduated from Memphis State University in 1972. Her first job out of college was staff administrator at Baptist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. She next became secretary to Dr. Jimmy Carr Sr. at Harding and served in that role for almost two years. She was a Bible class teacher and was involved in ladies’ Bible classes, prayer groups and home Bible studies. She was a member of College Church of Christ. She is survived by her husband of 51 years, Bob (’70); four children, Rachel Welch (’97), Todd (’89), Mark (’05) and Russ (’08); and nine grandchildren. 

James Thomas “Tommy” Beasley (’72), 71 of Longwood, Florida, died Oct. 14, 2021. He worked as a computer analyst in information technology. He was a talented artist and gardener and enjoyed reading. He is survived by his wife, Zulima Sosa; three children, Davis, Julie Jones and Annie; two stepsons, Billy and Michael Litsey; a brother, Robert (’73); and seven grandchildren. 

Carl Wiley May (’73), 70, of Columbia, Tennessee, died Sept. 25, 2021. He was the retired owner of R.C. May Jewelers and a master jeweler. He was a minister, having preached at Berea Church of Christ for many years and at Shipps Bend Church of Christ. He was preceded in death by his wife, Wanda Lee Monteith (’73). He is survived by three children, Elizabeth Chapman, David and Michael; a brother, Al; and six grandchildren. 

Richard Lee McEuen (’80), 64, of Paragould, Arkansas, died Dec. 20, 2021. He earned his Master of Business Administration from Washington State University and taught business classes at Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould and York College in Nebraska. He was a deacon and led singing at Hillcrest Church of Christ in Paragould. He previously served as a deacon at Centralia Church of Christ and Kennewick Church of Christ in Washington and East Hill Church of Christ in Nebraska. He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Glenda Hardman (’78); three children, Michael, Kristen Ashby (’12) and Matthew (’13); two brothers, Kirk (’90) and John; and two grandchildren.

Timothy Donald Flatt (’81), 62, of Collierville, Tennessee, died Dec. 1, 2020. He excelled in basketball and is 10th on the career scoring list and ran track at Harding. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Memphis State University in 1983. He had a successful career as a businessman specializing in marketing and administration and most recently worked as the practice administrator at Pediatrics East. He was a member of Highland Church of Christ where he served as a deacon. He served as a faith encourager at Hope Works. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Pamela Jean McFarlin (’81); two children, David (’08) and Kevin (’12); his parents, Bill (’62) and Louise; two brothers, Steve (’78) and Daniel (’82); and three grandchildren. 

Jason T. Flooding (’98), 47, of Vincent, Ohio, died Oct. 21, 2021. He worked for the Bureau of Fiscal Services in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and was a member of Belpre Church of Christ. Before moving back to the Ohio Valley, he lived in Alabama where he was regional manager for Pioneer Electronic. He is survived by two children, Nathaniel and Jolie; and his parents, Ken and Brenda. 

Christopher “Chris” Michael Burchett (’16), 36, of Searcy, died Dec. 4, 2021. He spent the last several months of his life traveling South America. Prior to that, he worked for Timothy Hill, most recently at their Center Hill Lake location in Smithville, Tennessee. He also had worked for College Church of Christ, where he was a member. He was preceded in death by his father, Michael (’93). He is survived by his mother, Sonya Petway Hardin (’81); and a sister, Anna Layne. 

Ann Bell Guffey, 84, of Searcy, died Nov. 8, 2021. She received a degree in English from Lyon College. She was part of the Harding family for more than 33 years, serving in financial aid. Devoted to Harding, she helped thousands of students attain their degrees. She was a member of West Side Church of Christ. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ollie “Gus.” She is survived by two children, Timothy (’84) and Ginann Swindle; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. 

Wanda Faye Huffstickler, 79, of Beebe, Arkansas, died Dec. 1, 2021. She worked in the business office at Harding from 1982-2007. She was preceded in death by her husband, John; two sons, John Jr. and Phillip, and a grandson. She is survived by four children, Beth Conner, Heather (’97), Morgan and Jordan (’19); a sister, Duella Cope; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. 

Bob J. Corbin, 88, of Searcy, died Dec. 15, 2021. He played baseball at University of Oklahoma until he was drafted into the service. He spent two years in the U.S. Navy during the Korean Conflict. He then went to East Central State College in Ada, Oklahoma, to play baseball and basketball. He returned to University of Oklahoma and graduated in 1961 with a Master of Education in health and physical education. He moved to Holdenville, Oklahoma, where he taught and coached at both junior and senior high school levels. On July 1, 1964, he became research assistant and director of the testing lab at Harding, his employer for the next 44 years. He and colleagues Dr. Harry Olree and Dr. Carroll Smith produced ground breaking physical fitness and sports medicine research funded by NASA into the 1970s, supplying information essential to the Apollo and SkyLab programs. He rose to the rank of professor in the kinesiology department and helped develop the text and curriculum for the PE 101 “Introduction to Wellness” course. A member of College Church of Christ since 1964, he served as an elder. Active in mission work, he spent 15 summers leading students to Italy for the University’s international campaigns. He was preceded in death by his wife of 44 years, Ruthann Latimer (’97). He is survived by his wife of 17 years, Joyce Pruitt; three children, Connie White (’82), Cheryl Finley (’86), and Scott (’88); three stepsons, Larry Pruitt, Marty Pruitt and Eric Pruitt; a brother, Billy Gene; nine grandchildren; six step grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. 

Dr. Henry North III, 41, of Searcy, died Dec. 22, 2021. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology from Texas Southern University in 2004 and obtained a Master of Science in 2005. He then worked on the Human Genome Project at Stanford University. He then matriculated to Howard University and defended his dissertation in pharmaceutical sciences with a focus in medicinal chemistry in May 2011 and was hooded in May 2012. Immediately, he began working as a post-doctoral fellow at Howard University’s School of Pharmacy. After completing his research, he joined Harding’s College of Pharmacy in 2013 as an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences. He was known as a “gentle giant” among his colleagues. He mentored many young African American youths with the 100 Black Men, served as president and vice president of Searcy Lions Club, and was voted Lion of the Year in 2017. He was the co-editor of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Drug Discovery and Development Interface. He was a member of West Pleasure Church of Christ. He is survived by his father, Henry; stepmother, Marjorie Ruth; and three siblings, Frank, Alise and Anson. 

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