John Barker

John Barker

John Patrick Barker was born February 24, 1997, in Little Rock, the youngest child of Patty and Matt Barker. He died March 30, 2017, in San Francisco at the age of 20 from a traumatic brain injury following a skateboarding accident.

Growing up in Little Rock, John excelled as a student. He attended Jefferson Elementary, Pulaski Heights Middle School, and Little Rock Central High School, where he won the “Most School Spirit” award from his senior class in 2015. He graduated from Central with honors as a member of the Cum Laude Society and the National Honor Society and received an academic scholarship to attend the University of San Francisco, where he was pursuing a business degree at the time of his death.

An active member of First United Methodist Church, John participated in a wide range of church-sponsored activities, including overnight church lock-ins, the Quapaw Quarter breakfast program, and youth choir. He attended Ozark Mission Project multiple times.

John’s passion for sports was a constant throughout his life. He lettered in varsity soccer three times at Central High School. In addition to many years playing club soccer, he enjoyed playing church league basketball in Little Rock—at 6’3", he truly stood out on the court. Beyond his participation in team sports, John sought thrill and excitement in every hobby. He loved skateboarding and snowboarding and had a genuine passion for music. While living in San Francisco, he thrived on the music scene and attended live shows whenever he could. Never doing anything halfheartedly, John had a fearlessness and love of life that shone through every activity he took part in.

John was predeceased by his maternal grandfather, Bill Bowen, in 2015 and his paternal grandfather, Jim Barker, in 2005. He is survived by his parents, Patty and Matt Barker of Little Rock; his maternal grandmother, Connie Bowen; his paternal grandmother, Mary Barker; his siblings, Mary Katherine, Henry, and Will and Lauren Barker; his aunt and uncle, Cynthia and Charlie Blanchard; his uncle, Scott Bowen; his aunt, Ann Barker; and his many cousins. He also leaves behind countless friends he made in every stage of life and kept close throughout the years. John will be remembered especially as a great friend, devoted to his family—kind, loving, and unapologetically himself. He was a leader who made friends readily, put others at ease, and could always make people laugh. Honest, strong-willed, and confident, he was a leader and a risk-taker, full of exuberance and life.

His service will be at the First United Methodist Church, Little Rock at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, with the Rev. David Freeman officiating. A reception will immediately follow the service at First United Methodist Church.

Memorials are suggested to the John Barker Helmet Advocacy and Injury Prevention Fund at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Center. The family thanks their loved ones and John’s multitude of friends for the outpouring of love and support.


Oleda Gardner

Oleda Gardner

Born in Crossett on July 6, 1942, Oleda Gardner lived her whole life here, except for a brief period in California as an infant when her father, Waymond Brantley, worked in the Oakland shipyards during World War II. He and Oleda’s mother, Leona (Cornelison) Brantley, raised six children here: Irene Willis (Jack), Lettie Moore (Billy), Minnie Brennon (Charles), Oleda herself, D.C., and W.L. (Julie). They all preceded her in death, except for W.L., who alone remains and even felt able to sing at all of his brother’s and sisters’ funerals.

Oleda married James Sanford (Jimmy) Gardner in 1966, and they had two children: Lisa Marie, who died soon after birth, and James Scott, now Rev. Scott Gardner, a Roman Catholic priest based in Kansas City, MO. Jimmy preceded her in death in 1980, and she lived for 37 years as a faithful widow, certain that she would never do as well, much less better, and that it was pointless to try.

Known for her musical talent, her cheerful disposition, and her willingness to help out in any way she could, “Miss Oleda” got to know countless people when she ran the old Fina station in North Crossett and in her other jobs in retail and at Superior Surgical in Hamburg. Her fried chicken was the toast of family and workplace potlucks, and her avid and voracious reading habit kept the librarians at the old Paul Sullins Library in business. She was a dedicated Baptist and called Pine Forest Missionary Baptist Church home for longer than any other. Her church family certainly repaid her dedication during the years of her declining health with visits, little gifts, encouragement, and, most of all, prayers.

After the death of Jimmy, Oleda never spared herself for a moment in doing what was necessary to raise Scott alone, and the health problems that eventually took her life began then. She had an incredible tolerance for pain and a strong, stubborn will. Diabetes, amputations, a heart attack, a stroke, and kidney failure may have threatened her and laid her low, but it was heart failure that finally sapped her strength and spirit. God will reward the loving care Miss Oleda experienced at Crossett Rehab and Health (as one of their longest residents) and Davita Dialysis Center, and the staff of Hospice Home Care eased her final days immensely.

Oleda came face to face with Jesus Christ on April 5, 2017, at the age of 74.

In addition to her brother, W.L., and her son, Rev. Scott, Oleda leaves behind in particular her nieces and nephews: Mike Willis (LaDonna), Karla Addington, Charles Brennon (Becky), Karen Haas (Tim), Sue Brennon, Pamela Hamilton (Gary), and Deborah Moore, as well as a host of other great and great-great nieces and nephews, cousins, and inlaws.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Medders Funeral Home in North Crossett. Visitation will be held from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on Monday April 10, 2017, at the funeral home, and the funeral service will begin in the funeral home chapel at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday April 11, 2017, with Rev. Willie Thornhill officiating. A graveside service will follow immediately, weather permitting, at Simms Cemetery, North Crossett, with Rev. Don Justice officiating.

Aunt, Sister, loving Mother: may God grant her eternal rest.


Bobbie Halley

Bobbie Nell Halley

Bobbie Nell Halley, age 76, of Crossett died April 8, 2017 at her residence. She was born Jan. 7, 1941 in Baskin, La., and was a 1958 graduate of Baskin High School where she was an All-State Basketball player. She was a homemaker and a member of Mt. Olive Baptist Church, having served as a Sunday school teacher.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Richard Jessie and Nena Searcy Wilson; three brothers, Lavon Wilson, Basil Wilson, and Tommy Ray Wilson; and three sisters, Ruby Bungess, Doris Thompson and Carolyn Wilson.

Survivors include her husband of 58 years, Terry Max Halley of Crossett; three sons, Terry Max Halley (Linda) of Brookhaven, Miss., Kevin Halley (Lisa) of Madison, Miss., Greg Halley of Crossett; one daughter, Jill Halley of Monticello; one sister, Sue Eubanks (Joe) of Crossett; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at Jones Funeral Home Chapel with Bro. Travis Roberts and Bro. Eric Hodge officiating. Burial will follow in Crossroads Cemetery under the direction of Jones Funeral Home.

Visitation will be 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.


Mary Kelley

Mary F. Kelley

Mary F. Kelley, 93, of Wilmot, died Monday, April 3, 2017 at Chicot Memorial Medical Center in Lake Village. She was a native of Fountain Hill and a resident of Wilmot for most of her life. She was a homemaker and worked at Wilmot Nursing Home and Place Nursing Home for many years.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles Wesley Kelley in 1978; one grandson, Billy Roy Kelley Jr.; two granddaughters, Crystal Rena Kelley and Patsy Lynn Vossburg; her parents, William Henry and Mattie Burch McDaniel; and four daughters, Diane Kelley, Joyce Pruitt, Mary Hall and infant, Betty Faye Kelley.

She is survived by four sons, Glen Kelley of Oceana, Calif., John Kelley of West Monroe, La., Billy Roy Kelley of Wilmot and Jim Kelley of Gilmer, Texas; three daughters, Virginia Studavin of West Monroe, Bernice Tubbs of Monroe, La., and Annette Adcock of Gilmer; one sister, Calimay Slaughter of Meza, Ariz.; 18 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren.

Graveside funeral services and burial were at 2 p.m. Friday, April 7 in Wilmot Cemetery with Bro. Carlos Pitts officiating. Funeral arrangements were under the direction of Jones-Hartshorn Funeral Home.


Raymond Lochala

Raymond Edgar Lochala

Raymond Edgar Lochala, age 87, of Crossett, died Saturday, April 8, 2017. He was born July 20, 1929. He was a veteran in the United States Army and a member of American Legion Post # 111. He taught in the Crossett Public School District from 1960-1986 and was a member of Beulahland Assembly of God Church.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ira Whitney and Nora Ray Lochala; his wife, Marceil Davis Lochala; one son, Michael Lochala; one sister, Nettie Jean Tietz; and one great-grandchild.

Survivors include one son, Steven Lochala of Crossett; two grandsons; and several great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 12 at Beulahland Assembly of God Church with Bro. Ricky Tyler officiating. Burial will follow in Pinewood Memorial Park under the direction of Jones Funeral Home of Crossett.

Visitation will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. 7 p.m. at Beulahland Assembly of God Church.


Joyce Murphy

Joyce Jones Murphy

Joyce Jones Murphy, 83, of Hamburg, died Thursday, April 6, 2017. She was born Sept. 10, 1933 in Thornton. She graduated from Manila High School in 1951 and resided in Norfolk, Va.; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Bastrop, La.; Dunoon, Scotland; and Santee, Calif.; before returning to the Milo community outside Hamburg. She was a member of Egypt Missionary Baptist Church.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 51 years, W.E. “Hoss” Murphy; her parents, Jesse and Rachel Ellis Jones; and one sister, Lanora Jones.

She is survived by four children, Susan Murphy of Little Rock; Bob Murphy and wife, Linda, of Pine Valley, Calif., John Murphy and wife, Marion, of Clinton, La., and Thomas “Buck” Murphy of Plano, Texas; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Graveside services and burial were at 11 a.m. Monday, April 10 in Dailey Cemetery with Bro. Buddy Boykin officiating. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Alzheimer’s Arkansas, 201 Markham Center Drive, Little Rock, AR  72205-1569 or the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, PO Box 96105, Washington, D.C. 20090-6105.

The family would like to thank all her caregivers that made her life easier and as comfortable as possible. Funeral arrangements were under the direction of Jones-Hartshorn Funeral Home.


Charles Nelson

Charles Edwin Nelson

Charles Edwin Nelson, 99, of Hot Springs and formerly of Crossett, died Sunday, April 9, 2017. He was a member of First United Methodist Church and was retired from Georgia Pacific Corp after 47 years of service.

He is survived by one daughter, Nancy Holm (and Ron) of Johns Creek, Ga.; two sons, Tom Nelson (and Dixie) of Horseshoe Bay, Texas, and David Nelson (and Bill McManus) of Rehoboth Beach, Del.; and one brother, Robert Nelson (and Carolyn) of Little Rock.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Mildred Drake Nelson; his parents, Willie Mashburn and Perry F. Nelson; stepmother, Grace Nelson; sister, Edith Fish; and brother, Paul Nelson.

He was a World War II veteran and a 32nd degree Mason. He was a member of the Lions Club for over 50 years and was a recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award.

Visitation will be held Wednesday, April 12 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Jones Funeral Home Chapel in Crossett. Graveside services will be conducted on Thursday, April 13 at 10 a.m. in Pinewood Memorial Park under the direction of Jones Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Caring Place in Hot Springs, 101 Quapaw Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71901, or to First Methodist Church, 500 Main Street, Crossett, AR 71635.


Henry Thomas

Henry Morgan Thomas

February 13, 1939 - April 1, 2017

Funeral services for Henry Morgan Thomas, 78, of Many, LA, will be held on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 2:00 PM at First United Methodist Church of Many. Burial will follow in the Many Cemetery. Visitation will begin on Thursday, April 6, 2017, at 1:00 PM at First United Methodist Church of Many.

Henry Morgan Thomas was born February 13, 1939, in Camden-Fairview, Arkansas, to Henry Cornelius Thomas and his wife, Alta Berry Thomas. He graduated from Neville High School in Monroe, Louisiana in 1957. While at Neville, he was active in athletics.  Henry graduated from Louisiana Tech in 1962 with a degree in Forestry. He retired from Georgia Pacific Corporation as Lumber Operations Manager of its Central and Eastern Operations. While employed with Georgia Pacific, he was a pioneer in the field of high-speed small log manufacturing.

He served on the Executive Board of Southern Pine Inspection Bureau; he was a member of the Board of Directors of the AD&N Railroad and First State Bank of Crossett, Arkansas.

Mr. Thomas received the Georgia Pacific Distinguished Service Award, the Vice President of the Mid-Continent Division Award, and listed as Who’s Who in American Business. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Many.  

Henry is survived by his wife of 53 years, Gail Sawyer Thomas, their five children: Joseph Henry Thomas and wife, Vee; Sally Thomas Maloch and husband, Layne; Wesley Morgan Thomas and wife, Cindy; Sharon Thomas Meyers and husband, Derek; Karen Thomas Highland and husband, Kevin; thirteen grandchildren; one brother Joseph Berry Thomas and wife, Mary Lynn; one stepsister Mary Eva Bagwell; brothers-in-law Tom Sawyer and wife, Barbara and Roger Chapman and wife, Charlene; sisters-in-law Verline Olinde and husband, Al; Carol Costello and husband, Mike; Maria Butler and husband, Mike; a host of nieces and nephews; two special sisters: Jane Temple Johnson and Carolyn McCormick Myrick as well as a special mother Sally Hines of Monroe and daughter and son-in-law, Linda and Terry Reeves.

Pallbearers: Pete Abington, Tommy Joe Andres, Hilton Ebarb, Bob Groves, Calvin Jones, Butch (Gloyd) Martin, Larry Rhame, Charles Richey, Bart Rumsey, Shelly Wiggins

Honorary Pallbearers: Billy Dan Files, Georgia Pacific Lumber Mill Managers, and the 1957 Neville High School State Championship football team.


Gary Dale Willis

Gary Dale Willis

Gary Dale Willis, 73, of Crossett, died Monday, April 3, 2017 at Christus Highland Medical Center in Shreveport, La. He was a native of Fountain Hill; a resident of Crossett since 1980 and a former resident of Hamburg. He worked for Georgia-Pacific Corporation Paper Mill for 40 years having retired in 2007. He was a member of North Main Baptist Church.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Bailey and Annie Sharp Willis; two brothers, Gerald Willis and Kenneth Wayne Willis; and one sister, Helen Kathleen Walker Mann.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Barbara Rowe Willis of Crossett; two sons, Bobby Willis and wife, Lori, of Hopkinsville, Kent., and Paul Willis and wife, Christine, of Columbus, Ga.; one brother, Charles Willis and wife, Julia, of Demopolis, Ala.; two sisters, Norma Ray of Meridian, Miss., and MaryJo Humphrey of Alexandria, La.; and four grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the donor’s choice. Arrangements were under the direction of Jones-Hartshorn Funeral Home.