Passages: Summer 2022

Mary Lee Strawn Jorgenson (’50), 94, of Bettendorf, Iowa, died March 6, 2022. Graduating from high school in 1945 as WWII was winding down, she went directly to Washington, D.C., where she became a specialist in fingerprint analysis for the FBI. She married on Harding’s campus on May 29, 1947, where she had completed her first two years of college. Following her husband’s career, she attended classes at Southeastern Christian College in Kentucky, Texas Woman’s University, Bethany College in West Virginia and Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, from which she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She began teaching English after her children were all school age, first at Brashear High School and later at Ophelia Parrish Junior High School in Kirksville, retiring in 1987. She traveled to 49 states and made 14 trips to Europe supporting her husband in academic research and professional meetings. She edited every article or book he wrote. She sang in church and choruses, participating in performances of major oratorios, as well as in college musicals and concerts. She became a Christian in 1944 and served six congregations as a minister’s wife. She was a member of Kirksville Christian Church. She was preceded in death by her husband of 73 years, Dale (’48). She is survived by five children, Dale, Rebekah Stringert, Mark, Janet and Eric; a sister, Colleen Martsolf; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. 

Richard Bandell “Dick” Homard (’51), 94, of Little Rock, Arkansas, died April 4, 2022. He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and in the U.S. Army in Korea. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from University of Arkansas and a doctorate from University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1988. He volunteered at Harding, building scientific instruments. He earned the title of Professional Engineer #1408 and was an executive at Arkansas Power and Light. He was a past member of many Masonic organizations and past president of the Arkansas Academy of Electric Engineers, Sigma Xi and Heritage Seekers. He was a member of Rotary Club 99 and Lakewood United Methodist Church. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Margie Brown (’48); and his second wife, Patricia. 

Jack Dean Poland (’52), 92, of Fort Collins, Colorado, died Feb. 18, 2022. After his army duty, he entered University of Kansas medical school and later completed an Epidemic Intelligence Service fellowship which set the course for the rest of his career. In 1968, he moved his family to Fort Collins where he would serve the remainder of his career as chief of CDC’s Plague Lab. His scientific accomplishments there included elucidating the biology of Colorado Tick Fever, decreasing the incidence of human plague and evaluating the Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Sue Allen (’53); two children, Robert and Cindy Burnham; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. 

Jackie Francis “Jack” Purdom (’52), 89, of Monett, Missouri, died Jan. 19, 2022. He earned his master’s in education from Drury University. He was a school teacher, coach and elementary principal, retiring in 1987. He was a member of East Side Church of Christ in Monett and enjoyed farming. He was preceded in death by two daughters, Norma and Tammy Smallwood. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Maxine Risley; three children, Michael (’78), Jacquelyn Schlessman (’77), and Martha Sue Welch (’81); three siblings, Larry, Barbara Paulus and Carolyn Courtney; 15 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; and a great-great-granddaughter. 

Lola Dene Eades Courtright (’57), 87, of Abilene, Texas, died Jan. 7, 2022. Her family moved to San Diego during World War II where she received a home economics degree from San Diego State University and met her husband, a Navy pilot. They moved to Texas where she sold real estate, was a small business owner and served as her husband’s legal secretary. She volunteered at local public libraries and the Salvation Army. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ken. She is survived by two children, Leslie Andrews and Christopher; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. 

Norman Dykes (’57), 86, of Lafayette, Louisiana, died April 17, 2022. He served two years in the U.S. Air Force in Wichita Falls, Texas, before attending Harding. He graduated from University of Arkansas Medical School in Little Rock and completed his internship and residency at Menorah Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. He then completed a fellowship program in gastroenterology at Little Rock Medical Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, and practiced internal medicine and gastroenterology until his retirement 50 years later. After retirement, he worked with Freedom Recovery Addiction Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was a Christian. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Carol; two children, Lisa Morton and Kevin; and four grandchildren. 

David Spence Eldridge (’58), 85, of Oklahoma City, died March 8, 2022. He taught English for one year in Tucumcari, New Mexico. He briefly attended University of Oklahoma in a graduate English program and then enrolled in law school at Oklahoma City University where he graduated second in his class. He was an expert in banking, bankruptcy and commercial law. He also was a businessman who led a public company, developing housing and commercial properties. He established a foundation, Go, Set a Watchman, in order to fund “the little guy” battling a Goliath. He is survived by three children, Mike, Gregory and Robin Bell, and her son, Nicholas; a brother, Kent; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. 

Donna Carole Thomas Isom (’60), 83, of Searcy, died March 5, 2022. She began her teaching career at Harding Academy in Memphis, Tennessee, where she taught three years. After moving to Searcy, she taught first grade at Harding Academy for 17 years. She was a member of College Church of Christ. She was preceded in death by two children, Danny and Alana Rose (’86). She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Allan (’60); two daughters, Susan Henry (’91) and Jeanne Burks (’94), a sister, Norma Dorris (’62); 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. 

Robert “Bob” Howard Jones (’61), 81, of Durham, North Carolina, died Jan. 26, 2022. He received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1965. His residency at Duke University was interrupted by military service as a captain in the Air Force. He then completed his residency and joined the Duke Department of Surgery as an assistant professor in 1975. His Duke career spanned 40 years as a cardiac surgeon, clinical investigator, resident educator and an agent of change in the provision of cardiac care at Duke and around the world. Beginning as a Howard Hughes Investigator, he made a number of seminal contributions in the field of lung scanning and nuclear cardiology imaging. His major interest was in the treatment of patients with coronary artery disease. He published more than 250 manuscripts and co-founded the Heart Center in 1989. He retired in 2014 as the Mary and Deryl Hart Professor of Surgery. He was named Harding’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1990 and was a member of Cole Mill Road Church of Christ. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Catherine Ann Peters; three children, Julie Anne King, Natalie Beyer, and David; two sisters, Doris Lee Bever (’57) and Rose Marie Rice (’59); and eight grandchildren. 

Anne Kirk Ritchie (’61), 83, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, died April 30, 2022. She retired from the mission field in Switzerland and Belgium and from the Murfreesboro Symphony as an office assistant. She was a former member of Middle Tennessee Choral Society. She was a member of North Boulevard Church of Christ where she taught ladies Bible classes and operated the church bookstore. She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Edward (’59); three children, Rachel Perkins (’82), Rosemary Ramsey (’85),and Ronnie (’89); a brother, David Kirk (’62); and 11 grandchildren.

Ward Bryce Roberson

Ward Bryce Roberson (’61), 82, of Searcy, died Jan. 12, 2022. After receiving both his master’s and doctoral degrees from Utah State University, he returned to Harding in 1967 and taught biology, microbiology, genetics and anatomy-physiology. He retired in 2002. He attended College Church of Christ for 40 years and was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church since 2007. He was a master gardener for 10 years. He is survived by his wife, Rachel Rivers (’70); a daughter, Lydia (’95); and three siblings, Philip (’69), Laurie Tyra and Keith.  

James “Don” Stanley (’63), 80, of Kennesaw, Georgia, died Aug. 8, 2021. He worked for Lockheed for almost 40 years and was an avid golfer. He served as elder for Blairsville Church of Christ and loved doing visitation. He also attended Piedmont Church of Christ. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Carol Sue Cook; two children, Dana (’88) and Steve; a sister, Brenda Rains; and two grandchildren. 

Mary Haley Stoddart (’63), 79, of Ringgold, Virginia, died Jan. 15, 2022. In 1990, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting at Averett University. She worked in the health care industry as a transcriptionist at multiple doctors’ offices and hospitals. She is survived by two daughters, Lisa Wintrode and Amy Beth; three siblings, Howard Haley, Betty Rega (’67) and David Haley; and a granddaughter. 

James Thomas “Tom” Watson (’64), 83, of Columbia, Missouri, died April 19, 2022. After graduating high school in 1956, he served in the Missouri National Guard and then attended Harding on a basketball scholarship. After graduating with a degree in art, he became a member of Harding’s art faculty, beginning a lifelong career in higher education. He completed two Master of Fine Arts degrees at the University of Missouri in 1977 and 1979. From 1971 to his retirement in 2012, he served on Columbia College’s faculty as professor of art, chairman of the art department and professor emeritus. Referred to as “the Renaissance man,” he mastered techniques in multiple art disciplines. He is survived by his wife, Kim; four children, Tina Wheeler, Lee Keith, Thomas and Severin; a sister, Marjean Crane; and seven grandchildren. 

Ronald Lee Thomas (’65), 78, of Spokane, Missouri, died Feb. 19, 2022. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1965 from Pittsburg State University in Kansas and his master’s degree in business administration from Oklahoma City University. He was a navigator on C-130 transport missions for the Oklahoma Air National Guard and served in Vietnam. He worked in accounting and personnel management before retiring in 2009. He also held licenses in insurance and real estate. He was a member of Union Hill Church of Christ in Nixa, Missouri. He had an outstanding baritone voice and raised horses and purebred dogs. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Carol Sexson (’65); five children, Craig, Trina, Gretchen Davis, Rhonda Newman, and Shane; two siblings, Lowell and Betty Griffith; and eight grandchildren. 

Nancy Watson Gautney (’67), 76, of Florence, Alabama, died Feb. 22, 2022. After teaching a few years, she continued her education at University of Alabama, where she earned master’s and specialist degrees in education with a strong focus on history. She was a member of University of North Alabama Institute for Learning in Retirement, Muscle Shoals Sailing Club, Lauderdale County Cemetery Rehabilitation Committee and Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Shoals. She was a longtime and dedicated volunteer at the Friends Bookstore in the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library. She is survived by her husband of 49 years, Larry Jr.; and two sisters, Ellen Tipper and Becky Lewis. 

Linda Minor Thompson

Linda Minor Thompson (’72), 72, of Searcy, died Feb. 2, 2022. She earned her master’s degree in counselor education from University of Arkansas and doctorate in higher education from Memphis State University. She obtained two certifications from Appalachian State University in developmental education. She was the initial director of the PASS, Student Support Services and McNair Scholars programs at Harding. She was president of the Arkansas Association for Development Education and was president of the National Association for Development Education. For many years she chaired the Accreditation Council of NADE. Additionally, she served on the editorial review boards for the Journal of Development Education, the Journal of College Reading and Learning and CASP Journal. She co-authored “Factors Influencing the Teaching and Learning Process” in the revised NADE guidelines. She was named a fellow of the Council of Learning Assistance and Development Education, the field’s highest honor. For many years, she sponsored the Sign Language Club at Harding. She taught Bible classes for the deaf while a member of White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana, from 1971-73. Upon returning to Harding in 1985, she resumed her interest in sign language and scheduled interpreting services for the deaf at College Church of Christ. She loved singing and everything Disney. She is survived by her husband of 53 years, Travis (’71); a son, John (’98); two siblings, Sara and Steven; and two grandchildren. 

Brenda Joyce Davis Layman

Brenda Joyce Davis Layman (’81), 62, of Guthrie, Oklahoma, died Feb. 18, 2022. She had many jobs including being a postwoman and driving a rural route. Her hardest but most rewarding jobs were working at Southern Christian Children’s Home in Morrilton, Arkansas, and Fair Haven Children’s Home in Strafford, Missouri, as a foster parent. She worked as a part-time secretary in parking services at Harding from 2012-14. She is survived by her husband, Timothy (’14); three children, Chase, Paige Bailey and Sean; two brothers, Brad (’77) and Bryan (’78); and five grandchildren. 

Cora Genelle Porter (M.Ed ’82), 82, of Duluth, Georgia, died Feb. 2, 2022. After graduating from Lipscomb College, she began teaching at David Lipscomb Elementary School in Nashville, Tennessee, and later at Searcy’s Southwest Middle School for 16 years before retiring in 2000. She enjoyed sewing and provided aid and support to African children by making clothes and “Ouchie Baby” dolls. She was preceded in death by her husband, Walter Lee; and a daughter, Genette. She is survived by a son, Harold “Hal” (’96); and two grandchildren.

Dennis Wayne Ard (’82), 62, of Mineral Bluff, Georgia, died Feb. 23, 2022, from cancer. He worked for Ard/Knox Insurance until his retirement in 2019. He was a member of Murphy (North Carolina) Church of Christ where he led singing, taught classes and provided messages. He went nine times to Lithuania on mission trips soon after its liberation from Russia. He had an avid prison ministry and at one time was writing and/or visiting 30 individuals. He is survived by his wife, Nell Calvert (’83); and his parents, James and Sarah. 

Tami Rhinehart Thomas

Tami Rhinehart Thomas (’84), 58, of Homewood, Alabama, died Nov. 19, 2019, from ovarian cancer. She worked in health care administration prior to devoting herself to full-time care of her three sons. As they grew older, she found her true calling in early education and spent many years at Homewood Day School teaching and running special projects. Passionate about children’s literature, she collected shelves of books and served as school librarian. She was a member of Homewood Church of Christ and ran the connections program for young adults away at college. She is survived by her husband, Frank; three sons, Marcus, Miles and Mason; and two siblings, Tracy Ishman (’85) and Todd (’92).

Steven Loyd Jones (’86), 58, of Garland, Texas, died Aug. 19, 2021 from COVID-19. He was employed as a computer information technician for several firms in the Dallas area. He was a member of the church of Christ and a longtime member of Vocal Majority, an all male singing group featuring barbershop harmony. He also was a member of Single Action Shooting Society. He was survived by his wife of 28 years, Tammy Johnson (’91), who died Sept. 11, 2021; three children, India, Autumn and Benjamin; his parents, Milton and Bobbie; and four siblings, Stuart (’82), Sylvia McDonough (’80), Teresa Owings and Cheryl Smith. 

John “Scott” Ripley (’86), 58, of Boise, Idaho, died, Feb. 18, 2022. He spent the majority of his working career with Fedcomp as a senior software developer. He is survived by his wife, Lynne Harden; two daughters, Sarah Tucker and Suzanne; a stepson, Eric Harden; his father, Richard; two sisters, Judy Graham and Dawn Richardson (’84); and three grandchildren. 

Patrick William Simpson (’88), 56, of Cave City, Arkansas, died March 14, 2022, from cancer. After Harding, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served four years. He had a 10-year career at Indco Cable Co., eventually becoming a licensed contractor providing home improvement services for more than 20 years. He enjoyed woodworking and
playing the guitar, violin and banjo. He was a Christian. He is survived by his wife, Robin; a daughter, Shelby; two stepsons, Brandon and Cameron Ward; a brother, Erik; four grandchildren; and a great-grandson. 

Bradley “Brad” Keith McAfee (’90), 58, of Manchester, Tennessee, died, March 21, 2022. He worked as director of recruitment and development for the School of Biblical Studies at Harding from 2002-05. He was a member of the church of Christ and was a minister and missionary. He is survived by his wife of five years, Diana Keele-Williams; two children, Joshua (’09) and Rebecca (’12); his mother, Brenda; two brothers, Greg and Carson; and three grandchildren. 

Tammy Lynn Johnson Jones (’91), 53, of Garland, Texas, died Sept. 11, 2021, from COVID-19. She was a homemaker and home-schooled her children, teaching classes in her children’s home-school co-ops. She was a member of the church of Christ. She was preceded in death by three weeks by her husband of 28 years, Steven Loyd Jones (’86). She is survived by three children, India, Autumn and Benjamin; her parents, Lloyd and Joyce Johnson; and two siblings, Wendy Crownover and Craig Johnson. 

Derek Lee Waddell (MSN ’21), 31, of Maynard, Arkansas, died April 18, 2022. He earned his Bachelor of Science in nursing at Arkansas State University. He served as a family nurse practitioner at Access Medical Clinic and as a clinical/lab nursing instructor with Arkansas Northeastern College. He is survived by his parents, Ligie Jr. and Kim; a brother, Ryan; and grandmother,
Minnie Barber. 

Alfred Heber Taylor II

Alfred Heber Taylor II, 97, of Searcy, died Feb. 28, 2022. He finished his freshman year at Memphis State before being drafted into the army in July 1943. Deployed to France in September 1944, as part of Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army, he was a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge. During the occupation, he wrote sports for the Bremen Port Commander and traveled with the teams until he repatriated in March 1946. Utilizing the GI Bill, he earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Arkansas in 1948, serving as sports editor and then managing editor for the Arkansas Traveler. He received a master’s from Vanderbilt in 1949. In 1955, he was among the first to earn a doctorate in journalism from the University of Missouri, the only institution then offering the degree. As recipient of Fulbright and Rockefeller Fellowships, he traveled to Oslo to study the Norwegian press in 1953. His dissertation surveyed Morgenbladet, one of the leading newspapers of Scandinavia. He taught at public and private universities, including Abilene Christian, Tennessee at Martin, Wisconsin at Superior, Memphis, Arkansas at Little Rock, Texas State, Stephen F. Austin and Harding. He also chaired journalism departments and advised student publications. At the age of 90, he represented the Greatest Generation when President Francois Hollande of France selected him to be the only American decorated in 2014 at the Palace of Salm, the seat of the Legion of Honor, in Paris. He was the only veteran to attend the inauguration of the only monument in all of France dedicated to his 10th Armored Division in 2016. In 2017, he was received at the George C. Marshall Museum of Lexington, Virginia, as the last apparent surviving American witness of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony of 1953 honoring Gen. Marshall. He was a member of the church of Christ. He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean Capiker. He is survived by two sons, Heber III (’84) and Jeff.

Judy Smith Morris

Judy Smith Morris, 81, of Little Rock, Arkansas, died March 4, 2022, from multiple myeloma. She was a lifelong member of Mabelvale Church of Christ and supported Christian education, serving on the Harding board from 1993-99 and also the board at Central Arkansas Christian Schools. She is survived by her husband of 58 years, Dale; two children, Scott (’88) and Jill Horton (’90); a brother, Lynwood Smith; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. 

Elizabeth Soisouvanh

Elizabeth Soisouvanh, 21, of Waldron, Arkansas, died March 9, 2022. She was a Christian and a junior nursing major at Harding. She was a member of the Air Force Reserves with plans to commission as an officer and become an Air Force nurse upon graduation. She is survived by her parents, Victor and Ouphavanh; and three siblings, Alice Price, Olivia Wood and Archibald. 

Bonnie Byron “Sarge” Napier, 87, of Pangburn, Arkansas, died March 14, 2022. He served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years, winning many medals and honors, while working as an airplane crew chief flying missions, many in Vietnam. After retiring from the military, he worked at Harding from 1974-97 in custodial services. He was a Christian who served as a deacon, building manager and treasurer. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Gwendolyn; two children, Barry (’80) and Lavon (’82); a sister, Caroline Hodges; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.  

Robert “Bobby” Michael Barnett

Robert “Bobby” Michael Barnett, 67, of Judsonia, Arkansas, died March 22, 2022. Known as “Bob the builder,” he was first hired as a temporary worker at Harding in 2007 to install Christmas lights. He was offered full-time employment in the Department of Physical Resources in 2011 where he worked until his retirement in 2021. He received one of Harding’s Staff Achievement Awards in 2021 and also received the first Heart of a Servant award from Women for Harding. He and his wife were members of the President’s Council. He is survived by his wife, Edie; two stepchildren, Denise Norwood and Frank Davis; his parents, J.R. Barnett and Jamie Querry; four siblings, Robin Seals, Leah Colclasure, Laynie Ashlock and Jason Barnett; three stepsiblings, Nikki Dillard, Steve Mauldin and Bill Querry; a half sister, Leann Stevenson; and 10 stepgrandchildren. 

Deborah Elliott Johnson

Deborah Elliott Johnson, 67, of Searcy, died March 23, 2022. She worked in the library at Harding from 1996-2005, and in the American Studies Institute from 2005-19. A member of Downtown Church of Christ, she was a talented artist and owner of Red Suit Studios. She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Floyd; three children, Michelle Organ (’03), Kyle (’06), and Billie Jean “BJ” Connally (’12); four sisters, Pam Boettcher, Susan Miller, Mary Beth Hake and Sara Turner; and four grandchildren. 

Hallie Hellen O’Quine

Hallie Hellen O’Quine, 27, of Marksville, Louisiana, died May 30, 2022. She received her bachelor’s in chemistry from Xavier University in New Orleans in 2017 and was pursuing both a Doctor of Pharmacy as a member of the Class of 2023 and a Master of Business Administration at Harding. She was a member at Starlight Baptist Church in Marksville. She was preceded in death by her brother, Jayden. She is survived by her mother, Gretta Lavalais; her father and stepmother, Lorenzo and Yolanda O’Quine; a step-grandfather, Emanuel Murray; a stepgrandmother, Agnes Ford; and a sister, Ebony O’Quine. 

Mark Andrew Emberson

Mark Andrew Emberson, 21, of Searcy, died May 31, 2022. An avid outdoorsman, he loved to hike, kayak, hunt and fish. He had completed his junior year at Harding as a nursing major. He worked in Physical Resources at Harding as well as being a CSA at Unity Health. His passion was to care for and serve others. He is survived by his parents, Mark and Monica; his grandparents, Melvin and Christine Querry; and two siblings, Adam and Amy Dreher (’20).

Categories: Passages.

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