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Celebrating Greater Central Arkansas May 2020

COVERING LIFE even in challenging times.





Call Vickey Kirkemier for more information.

501-585-6800 625 Tommy Lewis Drive Conway, AR 72032 2 | 501 LIFE May 2020



THANK YOU for your continued support

HOSPITALS • CLINICS • SPECIALISTS The Searcy community came together to pray over Unity Health and all healthcare workers who are working to keep our communities safe.

Unity-Health.org May 2020 501lifemag.com | 3


Thankful for the helpers

501 LIFE

OWNERS Donna Spears, Sonja J. Keith OFFICE MANAGER Tracey Wilkinson EDITOR Sonja J. Keith


ART DIRECTORS Jennifer Godwin and Nick Walker ASSOCIATE EDITOR Levi Gilbert PHOTO DIRECTOR Mike Kemp

DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Tom Keith CONTRIBUTORS Donna Benton Don Bingham Kellie Bishop Adam Bledsoe Tanner Cangelosi Brittany Gilbert Laurie Green Dwain Hebda Linda Henderson Vivian Hogue Karl Lenser Meagan Lowry Mark McDonald

Mark Oliver Kiera Oluokun Todd Owens Bill Patterson John Patton Susan Peterson Dr. Robert Reising Robin Richards Jan Spann Donna Lampkin Stephens Callie Sterling Jaison Sterling Megan Stroud


The Conway Regional Women’s Council had a “Heroes Work Here” sign placed at Conway Regional Medical Center in appreciation of health system workers. “The sign represents the support of the Women’s Council as well as our prayers,” said Mathilda Hatfield, president of the council. “May God bless them and keep them safe during this difficult and challenging time.” Many similar signs have popped up throughout the 501 as communities show support for healthcare workers on the front lines in the COVID-19 battle. Things have sure changed in our community, state, nation and world in a relatively short period of time, all thanks to an invisible enemy called the COVID-19 coronavirus. There is no “normal” or “routine” anymore. Our world has been turned upside down. To help reduce the possibility of contracting the virus, many businesses and other venues have temporarily closed, furloughing employees or sending them to work from home. Eating establishments that have remained open can only offer drive-thru or delivery service. The effects of the outbreak are felt especially among young people, their families and teachers. Schools are closed, which has been particularly heartbreaking for high school and college seniors as well as studentathletes. Spring sports and typical school activities like prom and graduation have been cancelled. As we have waded through our new normal, we have added new words and phrases to our everyday vocabulary, like “social distancing,” “flattening the curve” and PPE (personal protective equipment). Simple things like washing hands and not touching your face have taken on a new, life and death, importance. Yes, a lot has changed in a matter of weeks. It’s incredible to consider that the entire world shares one common, invisible enemy that has impacted us all. While it tends to prey on older 4 | 501 LIFE May 2020

individuals, those younger are not immune, nor does the virus discriminate between races, gender or economic backgrounds. I would venture to guess that most (if not all) of us know at least one person in our communities who has contracted the illness. It’s a virus they share with celebrities, sports figures and even political leaders. In the last few weeks as this pandemic has made its way to the 501, I’ve noticed a few things: We are blessed with incredible leaders – including Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith, our mayors, county judges and school superintendents. We are thankful for all the helpers during this critical time. We are fortunate to live in an area with outstanding healthcare workers and medical facilities. We salute their bravery and dedication during this difficult time. When things get tough, most people show compassion and kindness for their neighbors and do what they can to lend a hand. While it’s doubtful that we all will return to life the way it was before COVID-19, it’s through this leadership and love for our neighbor that we will find the strength to come through this storm and be all the better for it. Here’s to “Loving LIFE” in the 501 and beyond. Stay safe.

Johnny Adams Jack Bell Don Bingham RaeLynn Callaway Glenn Crockett Kay Dalton Beth Franks Russ Hancock Spencer Hawks athilda atfield Roe Henderson Jerry Hiegel Mike Kemp

Julie LaRue Karl Lenser Lori Melton Kiera Oluokun Deanna Ott Pat Otto Jon Patrom Amy Reed Lori Ross Margaret Smith Jan Spann Kim Tyler Jennifer Whitehead

CONWAY COUNTY EDITORIAL BOARD Mary Clark Shelli Crowell Dr. Larry Davis Shawn Halbrook Alicia Hugen Alisha Koonce

Stephanie Lipsmeyer Stewart Nelson Kristi Strain Jim Taylor Morgan Zimmerman

WHITE COUNTY EDITORIAL BOARD Betsy Bailey Tara Cathey Cassandra Feltrop Phil Hays Natalie Horton Matt LaForce

Hannah Owens Mike Parsons Brooke Pryor Carol Spears Kristi Thurmon

To subscribe or order back issues, visit www.501lifemag.com. The subscription rate is $20 for one year (12 issues). 501 Advertising and Publishing 701 Chestnut St. Conway, Ark. 72032 501.327.1501 info@501lifemag.com 501 LIFE is published monthly by 501 Advertising and Publishing (701 Chestnut St., Conway, Ark. 72032, 501.327.1501). The contents of 501 LIFE are copyrighted and materials presented may not be copied or reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the publishers. Articles should not be considered specific advice, as individual circumstances vary. Products and services advertised are not necessarily endorsed by 501 LIFE. 501 LIFE is produced on recycled paper.


May 2020

Celebrating Greater Central Arkansas May 2020

Volume 13 Issue 1

features&departments 34 Health


Jennifer Rusher credits doctors’ actions in her husband’s survival after his battle with a brain virus.

54 Sports e finally reac e er goal, but oo ter ayle Browning will have to wait a while to actually experience it.


58 Travel Linda Henderson shares the story of the “Sisters of the Traveling Snake Boots” and a trip of a lifetime to Yellowstone National Park in the winter.

On the cover

This month, 501 LIFE takes a look at the COVID-19 pandemic (Pages 25-33), how it has impacted Central Arkansas and how the 501 has responded. (Jeremy Higginbotham design)


neighbors 20 Couples Courtney McKendree and Chase Chism said “I do” on March 21 with a small group in attendance — and hundreds who tuned in via Facebook — thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak.


22 Maumelle Maumelle Fire Department’s John Payne will soon retire after 40 years of public service.


66 Person of the month ite ounty eorge rie ric i a fi t generation farmer but he didn’t immediately go into farming.

4 8-9 10-12 38-45 66

'501 KIDS' 501 LIFE contributors Kellie Bishop and Brittany Gilbert have great tips in this month’s issue. Have a story idea or a young person you would like to see featured? Send suggestions to info@501lifemag.com.

LIFE pics 16-19


6 | 501 LIFE May 2020



Editor’s Note Calendar/News Loving LIFE Home Person of the month

501 LIFE would like to thank its advertising partners for their continued support and encourage our readers to support these businesses:

501 LIFE is you!

twitter.com /501lifemag

A Arkansas Community Foundation, 60


facebook.com /501lifemag

Bledsoe Chiropractic, 21

C Centennial Bank, 33 Conway Corporation, 35 Conway Regional Health System, 67 Conway Regional Rehab, 45

D DJM Orthodontics, 24

E Edward Jones, 47

F First Security Bank, 27, 68 First Service Bank, 13 Freyaldenhoven Heating and Cooling Inc., 43

G Glenrock, 44


Get “LIFE” at home! For a limited time, 501 LIFE is offering a special subscription rate for new subscribers - have the magazine delivered to your home for only $20 for one year, $40 for two years. While the magazine is distributed through more than 700 locations in Central Arkansas, copies go fast. Home delivery ensures readers they won’t miss a single issue. Readers can visit 501lifemag.com or call 501.327.1501 to subscribe.

Writers’ Room

Harding University, 57 Hartman Animal Hospital, 65 Harwood, Ott & Fisher, PA, 59 Heritage Living Center, 5 Hiegel Supply, 61

M MSC Eye Associates, 23 Methodist Family Health, 49 Middleton Heat & Air, 39

O Ott Insurance, 19

P Patterson Eye Care, 51 Pulaski County Special School District, 53

S Salem Place Nursing and Rehab, 37 Shelter Insurance, 61 Sissy’s Log Cabin, 17 Smith Ford, 31 Superior Nursing & Rehab, 2

U Unity Health, 3 University of Arkansas Community College Morrilton, 26 University of Central Arkansas, 41

Tune in at 12:30 p.m. the last Tuesday of each month to KARK Channel 4 for a segment on the current issue of 501 LIFE.

A resident of Central Arkansas most of her life, Linda Hoggard Henderson shares her love of photography and traveling Arkansas each month with 501 LIFE readers. “I enjoy most our small town life in the 501, but we are close to Little Rock and our state parks,” she said. “Also, most of my family and friends live in the 501.” In addition to photography, Linda enjoys traveling backroads and blue line highways, and cooking. “I enjoy eating at every dive, drive-in and every mom and pop restaurant in the 501.” A graduate of the University of Central Arkansas with a bachelor of science degree in nursing, Linda retired from the Conway Human Development Center, where she grew up. She and her husband, Jim, have a son, John Mark, and daughter-in-law, Jenni Henderson. Other family include her dad and mom, Tommy and Peggy Hoggard, and Jim’s parents, Joanne and the late Jack Henderson. To contact Linda, email lindahenderson@conwaycorp. net or follow her on Facebook (Linda Hoggard Henderson) and Instagram (lindahenderson).

Kellie Bishop has lived in Plumerville (Conway County) for nearly 10 years. “There are so many opportunities for engaging with the community and getting outside to enjoy the beautiful area we live in.” Kellie completed her bachelor of science degree in nursing at the University of Arkansas in 2013. She earned a master’s degree in nursing science with a focus as a pediatric nurse practitioner from UAMS in 2016. “I completed my education at UAMS, where I obtained my doctor of nursing practice in 2018.” Kellie and her husband, Greg, have a son and two “fur babies.” She can be reached at kelliebishop827@gmail.com.

Recognized throughout the state as an accomplished chef, Don Bingham has called the 501 his home for 47 years. “I enjoy most the people of the 501 – their heart and passion for life and for each other.” A graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Don has a bachelor’s degree in communications an i a certifie c e e and his wife, Nancy, have fi e arrie c il ren an 1 grandchildren. His interests include music, interior design and event planning. He serves as the board chairman for Renewal Ranch and is a worship pastor. He can be reached at donaldjbingham@gmail.com. May 2020 501lifemag.com | 7


Renewal Ranch seeks help amid outbreak

Renewal Ranch residents gather for prayer before an event in the Restoration Center on campus. The recent coronavirus outbreak has impacted all segments of society, including Renewal Ranch, an addiction recovery ministry in Perry County. “Even during this dark time of COVID-19, drug and alcohol addiction runs rampant in our country and our communities,” said executive director James Loy. “We cannot afford to stop fighting against the evil plague that is destroying our families.” The Ranch is located at 75 Lake Dr. in Houston (Perry County). It is a 12-month, faith-based and Christ-centered program for men 21 years of age and older who are struggling with substance abuse issues. Six months are spent in Phase I and six months in Phase II. During this time, residents are given an opportunity to develop a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ. Through this relationship, they can find freedom from the chains of addiction, forgiveness from their past, and hope for their future. The Ranch typically receives financial support during a Saturday chapel service on campus as well as during special presentations made to churches each Sunday. In light of the outbreak, organizers have suspended both. Chapel services can be viewed on the Renewal Ranch page on Facebook. “We hope this will protect the 30-plus men living on campus as well as the supporters of the Ranch who visit during this time,” James said. In April 2019, the average weekly chapel offer8 | 501 LIFE May 2020

ings and church love offerings were $6,200. “If we are not able to hold these services, our estimated losses will be over $50,000 in support,” James said, asking for help for the men in the program. “As we all continue to feel the devastating impact of COVID-19, we recognize the concern for our ministry, especially our residents and staff members,” James said. “We are over-emphasizing the importance of handwashing, sanitizing and keeping our hands away from our faces. And, while we are a ministry steeped in a culture of Christian hugging and hand-shaking, we are coaching everyone to avoid physical contact during this time of concern.” Cleaning and disinfecting procedures on campus and in Ranch vehicles have been emphasized to maintain a healthy environment. “We’ve instructed anyone who is not feeling well to immediately notify a leader so we can, out of an abundance of caution, isolate them, monitor their symptoms and take them to receive medical attention if needed,” James said. For more information on the Ranch or to make a donation, visit therenewalranch.org. Donations can also be mailed to Renewal Ranch, P.O. Box 1112, Conway, AR 72034; or text the word “GIVE” to 501.214.5387. “Finally, even with all of these precautions, we know our greatest power lies in our Lord Jesus Christ, so we will continue praying fervently — as

we always do at the Ranch — for God to deliver us through this dark time. Please pray with us, and for us.”

As the 501, the state and country continue to take safety measures in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, many events and activities have been postponed or cancelled altogether, including local festivals, spring sporting events and graduations. “Unfortunately, we don’t have any events to help promote in our monthly calendar section of this edition of the magazine,” said 501 LIFE Editor Sonja Keith. “We look forward to working with groups in the future to share with our readers the information about special activities when there are no more directives to maintain social distancing.”

Family medicine Conway Regional names residents

Dylan Cruz

Olufadejimi “Jimmy” Kareem

Ross Lenzen

Conway Regional Health System will welcome four family medicine residents to the inaugural class of its Family Medicine Residency Program, which will begin on Wednesday, July 1. Residents include Dylan Cruz, Olufadejimi “Jimmy” Kareem, M.D., Ross Lenzen and Clayton Preston. “Conway Regional is excited to welcome four fantastic residents to our Family Medicine Residency Program,” said Conway Regional President and CEO Matt Troup. “With this program, we will encourage innovation as we train a generation of physicians who are critical thinkers, compassionate providers, skilled clinicians and future leaders in medicine. Dylan, Dr. Jimmy Kareem, Ross and Clayton will be exceptional additions to our Conway Regional team, and we look forward to encouraging them in their practice, growing them as medical professionals, and preparing each of them for a successful life as a family physician.” On March 20 — Match Day 2020 — medical students around the world learned where they will complete their residency training for the next three to seven years. Match Day is known as the highlight of many physician careers, marking the day that their life-long dream of becoming a physician is made a reality. Conway Regional received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for the Family Medicine Residency program in January. “In 2019, we received Institutional Accreditation and have since been on a journey to establish our Family Medicine Residency program,” said Rebekah Fincher, chief administrative officer and designated institutional officer. “This year, we will

see more Arkansas medical students who graduate in our state but do not have the opportunity to match with a residency in Arkansas, as well as a need for more primary care physicians throughout our state. Establishing this program will allow us to increase health care access by producing exceptionally trained physicians who we hope will stay in Arkansas and provide care.” The four residents will learn to practice as effective members of the health care system through multi-disciplinary team-based care within the inpatient and ambulatory settings. The three-year program will be based in the Conway Regional Medical Center, the Conway Medical Group and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “I am so thankful for the opportunity to lead these bright young people as they pursue their calling to improve the lives of our community and the world around us for years to come,” said Family Medicine Residency Program Director Sarah Robertson, M.D. “The goal of our program is to equip these family physicians with the knowledge, experience and skills necessary to provide excellent patient care and positively impact the health of the communities we serve.” The following physicians will be welcomed to the Conway Regional team: Dylan Cruz is a 2020 graduate of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine in Jonesboro. His hometown is Helena and he is a 2015 graduate of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Olufadejimi “Jimmy” Kareem is a 2019 graduate of Windsor University School of Medicine in Saint Kitts and Nevis. His hometown is Toronto and he is a 2009 nursing graduate of the University of New

Clayton Preston Brunswick/Humber in Saint John, Canada. Ross Lenzen is a 2020 graduate of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine in Jonesboro. His hometown is Greenwood and he is a 2013 graduate of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. Clayton Preston is a 2020 graduate of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine in Jonesboro. His hometown is White Hall. He is a 2011 graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and a 2013 graduate of Mississippi College in Clinton. In addition to Troup, Fincher and Robertson, the accreditation and residency recruitment process was led by Darren Freeman, MD, and Jeremiah Keng, DO, core faculty; and Megan Stelting, residency program coordinator. May 2020 501lifemag.com | 9


Sharing the 501 LIFE spirit

501 readers are enjoying LIFE and sharing their trips and special occasions with others. An overwhelming number of readers are submitting “Loving LIFE” photos for inclusion in the magazine, and every effort is being made to publish them as soon as possible. Headed out on a special trip? Pack a copy of 501 LIFE in your suitcase, snap a photo at your destination and send it to us for publication in a future issue. Have a special occasion or get-together coming up? Take 501 LIFE along, take a photo and send it to us. Photos can be submitted by email to info@501lifemag.com or by mail to Reader Photos, c/o 501 LIFE, 701 Chestnut St., Conway, Ark. 72032. Please include the names of those in the photograph and their hometowns along with contact information. orry, p oto ill not be returne by ail but can be picke up at t e 1 o fice Here’s to “Loving LIFE.” – Sonja Keith

Fourth-graders at Woodrow Cummins Elementary in Conway were “Loving LIFE” with items they donated to the Conway Animal Welfare Unit.

“Loving LIFE” at Tippy’s Restaurant in Eleuthera, Bahamas: Kaynon, Tiffany and Kohen Sprague with Brixton, Wes and Tammy Williams. 10 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Floyd and HD Ray were “Loving LIFE” at Kinderdijk, Holland, a UNESCO world heritage site of 19 historic 18-century windmills.

Nemo Vista FCCLA students took 501 LIFE along as they competed at District 2 Star Events.

Members of the New Horizon Extension Homemakers in Conway County were “Loving LIFE” while showing their many homemade items for sale at the monthly farmers market, which is typically held the first Thursday in May through October.

Kaitlin Lowe was “Loving LIFE.” She drew a cow elk tag from the Arkansas Game and Fish for Zone 2. She was hunting in the Gene Rush WMA in November next to the Buffalo River.

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 11


Conway First Baptist members and friends were “Loving LIFE” in November while sailing on the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

Debra Snuggs and her mother, Gail, were “Loving LIFE” in their living room during an Easter service.

12 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Weston Spears (from left), Karson and Emma Reynolds took 501 LIFE along for a day of ziplining on the Buffalo River.

Frontline healthcare staff at St Andrews Place nursing home and rehab were enjoying Easter and “Loving LIFE” despite these difficult times: Danielle Morgan (LPN), Patience Schatilly (CNA), Margaret Waters (CAN), Easter Bunny - Yvette Jackson (CAN), Taylor Wright (CAN), Amy Byrd (CAN), Debra Schaffer (CAN), Jessica Walker (social worker) and Breanna Robinson (activities director). “This staff is loyal and dependable, and hard workers,” said Heather Sue. “They are handling the struggles associated with this COVID-19 pandemic like a bunch of champs.”


We are... CONWAY | 501.932.5050 | CONWAY | 501-932-9700 CLINTON | 501.745.7200 | GREENBRIER | 501.679.7300 | LITTLE ROCK | 501.801.7402


‘Never a dull moment’ It is normally our choice whether we want to be alone, quiet and unbothered. If we get enough of it we go for a walk, run errands, visit a friend, work outside or enjoy a hobby. In my youth, it was a natural thing for me to entertain myself. Toys were at a minimum, so a lively imagination helped. Vivian Lawson Today I hear both young and older speak of being Hogue “bored,” especially during A native of Conway, Vivian the current home confineLawson Hogue graduated from the University of Central ment recommended Arkansas with a degree in art during the COVID-19 education. A retired teacher, she worked in the Conway School pandemic. “Bored” was District for 23 years. She can be a word and concept not reached at vhogue@conwaycorp. net. used or heard by most children my age. If I told my mother I didn’t have anything to do, as if that were HER problem, she would say, “Go outside, you’ll think of something.” She was usually right. I would lie in the cool clover and make necklaces of blooms; I planted bulbs upside down and they grew anyway; I roller-skated and played hop-scotch on our wide front walk. We had wonderful sidewalk steps at our corner and I would sit on the top step and smile and wave at the occasional drivers and the riders in the city bus traveling College Avenue. My point is that in calm, unscheduled times, we can find worthwhile experiences. So let’s take this up to today’s confinement. I have cleaned house, done laundry, sharpened 300 colored pencils in hopes of having time to draw, and organized drawers. I set up the grow-light and planted seeds, did some writing, worked on genealogy, and photographed flowers. I watched raccoons and illegally roaming cats cross my porch, filled out a new address book, had a blood clot and laid out a 1,200-piece jigsaw puzzle. Granted, it can be difficult if one is an apartment dweller, but that’s when you “go outside and think of something.” During this time of “social distancing” and handwashing, I’m reminded of one brother’s story about his first grade teacher taking all the boys to their restroom at certain times of the day, then the girls to theirs. She would not let them leave until they had washed their hands to her satisfaction. It seems like common sense, but children have to be taught about “bugs” brought on by poor hygiene and habits. There are seven types of human viruses. A few are in animals but can transfer to humans and then become human viruses. I remember the early-1950s Poliovirus, the 1957 Asian Flu, the 1968 Hong Kong Flu and the 2009 Swine Flu. Every flu event seems unusual, but the history of influenzas is long. In 412 B.C., Hippocrates described flu symptoms. The 1580 flu began in Asia, eventually causing 8,000 deaths in Rome. The 1729 flu began in Russia. The 1781 flu began in China. The 14 | 501 LIFE May 2020

A widely distributed poster urging the public of ways to prevent the spread of the 1918 Spanish Flu. 1830 flu also began in China, arriving in America in 1832. The first “modern flu” began in Russia in 1889. In fact, in the past 300 years, the points of origin were Russia, China and other parts of Asia. Most sources involved swine and poultry, and today there could be other possibilities. I once wrote a piece for this space called, “As if war was not enough . . .” (501 LIFE, October 2017). It covered the 1918 Spanish Flu during which 50 million people died worldwide, including 675,000 in America. Our local Oak Grove Cemetery has a number of gravestones placed in 1918 and 1919. Others are not aware that ancestors survived or died from it. Despite living in a sparsely populated area of Arkansas, my father survived after four days of unconsciousness at about age 14. A younger sibling had survived two years earlier. The country doctor contracted it the day he visited my father in their log cabin home. Many in Arkansas do not realize our state’s connec-

tion to this pandemic. The belief of scientists is that the flu began in Haskell, Kansas, a rural area with many pig and poultry farms. A number of local men who had been training in large camps for World War I went home to Haskell before leaving for Europe. Others went to another camp in Eastern Kansas. That March, one soldier became ill at the camp. A few hours later, 100 were sick. During the month, there were 1,000 cases and 50 had died. With France and America already experiencing an earlier flu, it was troops who arrived in July 1918 from Arkansas’s Camp Pike (now Camp Robinson) who brought the Spanish flu into France upon disembarkation. Arkansas did not publish details until after the war. In Conway, Hendrix College had several cases. The Red Cross began producing gauze masks and delivering them to drug stores. Central College (now Central

Vivian continued on Page 62

State title


AAA names Conway team champs by Levi Gilbert

For the fifth time in the program’s history, the Conway Wampus Cats are basketball champions. With Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s recent announcement of the extended closure of public schools through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to the impact of COVID-19, this cemented the fact that Conway’s 6A state championship matchup with the Central Tigers would not be held. “As bad as we wanted to play, this decision had to be made,” said Conway Coach Salty Longing. “We are fortunate that we were able to have our season. I feel terrible for those spring sport athletes and coaches, especially seniors who won’t even get the chance.” For Longing, this experience has opened up unique opportunities to coach his players. “Discipline,” Longing said. “Many of our players now drive or run around with friends during the week or weekend. Social distancing is tough for all of us, but especially for this age group, but it’s the expectation. Keep yourself safe; keep others safe.” After Hutchinson’s announcement, the Arkansas Activities Association released a statement announcing, “Boys’ and girls’ teams who qualified for the finals in class 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A will all be named 2020 State Basketball Champions.” “I was pleased that they didn’t use the term ‘co-champions,’” said Jeff Matthews, play-by-play announcer for Wampus Cat and Lady Cat basketball on Conway Corp. “All of these teams earned the title of state champion for the season that they played and the circumstances surrounding the season.” On paper, a championship game featuring Central and Conway, who were the No. 4 and No. 5 seed out of the 6A Central, seemed highly unlikely. But, if you watched either team through the second half of conference play and in the state tournament, both teams had developed into contenders. “Coach [Brian] Ross has done a tremendous job in revitalizing the Central program in just two short years,” Longing said. “They had soundly beaten us twice, so our kids were geared to have one more chance at beating the Tigers. I think what makes this story interesting is that we were lower seeded teams — teams that maybe weren’t supposed to be there. Both teams had to run a difficult gauntlet to get to the finals. Because of our paths through the state tournament, if two teams were going to share, it should be us.” After surviving a close call against Bentonville in the first round, the Wampus Cats turned in their most dominant performance of the season with a win over top-ranked North Little Rock. Conway followed that up with another confident effort over Fayetteville in the semifinals. “This team overall was not as big, not as athletic and not as deep with talent as our team last year, but

The Conway Wampus Cats were named 2020 6A basketball champions. After the extended closure of public schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year due to COVID-19, the boys’ and girls’ teams who qualified for the finals in class 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A were all named champions by the Arkansas Activities Association. (Justin King photo) this team gelled so well,” Longing said. “Players accepted and played their roles. I think about us going 10-2 in non-conference with an extremely tough schedule, winning two tournaments, including a win over nationally ranked Las Vegas Durango. Coach Harrell and I were a little surprised about our early season success. “The development of Jayden Williams and his dominance in the post down the stretch of the season made us a totally different team. Getting Bryce Bohanon back midway through conference to provide depth and athleticism at the guard position was huge. Lucas Foster developing not only as our primary shooter but becoming our best defender versus great shooters. Role players like Chase Boyd, Paul Harris, Xavier Robinson contributing on both ends of the floor and playing huge roles in many of our wins. Kyler Spencer getting huge minutes this year as a ninth grader. Trey Tull literally carrying us offensively for huge stretches of the state tourney. Caleb, getting his 15 to 20 points every night, but raising his game in the tournament defensively. This team coming together the way it did is the best memory of this season for me.” This group of seniors all contributed on the court to this championship run, which is a rare feat. “I think there is something to be said for seniors that are hungry,” Longing said. “Lucas, Chase and Xavier had not played a meaningful varsity minute until this year. They paid their dues. That is not easy. Many kids in that position quit or transfer. They simply continued to work, and each kid found their role on this team. That is one of the

most rewarding things for our staff. “Trey Tull became the leader of this team. A twoyear starter at point guard, he played huge in our biggest games. His state tournament performances will be historic, averaging 19 points versus Bentonville, North Little Rock and Fayetteville. We are not state champions without his efforts. Caleb was our ‘go-to’ all year. You knew he would get his points, but we were a different team in the state tournament when he was locked in defensively and rebounding the ball the way he did.” London, an Arkansas State commit, leaves Conway with quite the Wampus Cat legacy as a three-year starter, three all-conference and all-state selections and a member of the 1,000-point club. But, most importantly, he earned a state championship ring. “When Wampus Cat great Austin Sullivan spoke to our team a year ago, he told our kids that if you truly want to leave a legacy, win a state championship,” Longing said. “We can talk about numbers and stats and awards all day long, but at the end of the day, Caleb and his senior teammates were responsible for 58 wins during their three years as Wampus Cats and most importantly — a state championship. “These are great kids. Easy going, fun to be around, personable and fierce competitors. They were a lot of fun to coach.” The Wampus Cats’ fifth championship is the first since 2010. Coach Longing was also part of that

Conway continued on Page 62 May 2020 501lifemag.com | 15


Conway Regional hosts Breakfast of Champions

Matt Troup (from left), Bryan Gibbs and Carter Dodd.

Sonja J. Keith photos

Dr. Houston Davis, Susan Gatto (center) and Angie Longing.

Conway Regional Health System hosted its inaugural Breakfast of Champions on March 10. Approximately 50 community leaders and past sponsors of the Conway Regional Golf Classic were in attendance. The 24th annual golf tournament was scheduled for June 1 at Centennial Valley Country Club, but has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Presenting sponsors again for 2020 are Nabholz and Centennial Bank. Proceeds have been used to provide scholarships and continuing education for the community and hospital staff.

Tori Rettig (from left), Taylor Eaves and Priya Gopal. Charles Paschal (left) and Bob Leffert.

Wayne Cox (from left), Marcus Elliott and County Judge Jim Baker.

Wayne Cox (left) and Glenn Crockett.

Dr. Thad Hardin (left) and Kale Gober.

Roy Gutierrez (from left), David Gutierrez and Ron McCarty.

Maegan Dyson (left) and Mary Lackie.

Scot Wanamaker (left) and Kevin Jordan. 16 | 501 LIFE May 2020




May 2020 501lifemag.com | 17


Century League raises $11,000 The Century League of Morrilton held its 37th Annual Charity Ball on March 7 at the Morrilton Country Club. The event brought in approximately $11,000, which will be used to fund charitable activities throughout the year, including a University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton scholarship, the Free Little Pantry and Thanksgiving and Christmas support for local families. This year’s ball was a masquerade with about 100 guests in attendance. The Shannon Boshears band kept the crowd dancing all night, and a delicious feast was provided by Personal Touch Catering. Attendees participated in a silent auction and super raffle with items donated by local businesses and organizations. Club members expressed their appreciation to all contributors who support this event each year, including sponsors. Emerald sponsors ($500) were UACCM, Hawkins Insurance, Healthcare Pharmacy and KVOM. Koontz Electric was the Diamond Sponsor ($1,000). For more information about the Century League of Morrilton, visit facebook.com/CenturyLeague.

Members of the Century League of Morrilton at the group’s charity ball held at the Morrilton Country Club.

The Price is Right Team: Kyla Kordsmeier (front, from left), Mary Magie, Alisha Geurin, Natalie Dixon; Chris Magie (back), BJ Geurin, Albert Kordsmeier and Zach Dixon. “Seven Sinners and a Priest” members Eric Tyler, Sharon Tyler, Fr. Jason Tyler, Rachel Kordsmeier, Justin and Kim Spickes, Mark Tyler and Colton Kordsmeier.

Members of the Ketchum Team: Trey Mallett (from left), Ronny Ketchum, Lindsey Ketchum, Jess Mallett, Paige Edgin and Chase Mangiapane. Not pictured: Bart Virden and Bryant Virden. 18 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Sacred Heart School hosts Trivia Night Sacred Heart School hosted the Seventh Annual Trivia Night fundraiser in February in the SH gym/Ruff Auditorium. This year’s event drew more than 400 people. Roger Scott of Little Rock radio station 103.7 The Buzz acted as emcee and led the 49 participating teams through six rounds of trivia on topics ranging from sports to movies. The title of Trivia Champion went to the “Seven Sinners and a Priest” (Eric Tyler, Sharon Tyler, Fr. Jason Tyler, Rachel Kordsmeier, Justin and Kim Spickes, Mark Tyler and Colton Kordsmeier). The team took home bragging rights and the option to create a new category for next year’s competition. Based on popular vote, prizes were to the Price is Right team for Best Team Name, Best Table Decorations and Best Costume. Organizers expressed their appreciation to event sponsors Koontz Electric Co. Inc., ArkaValley, Green Bay Packaging, Petit Jean Meats, Petit Jean State Bank, Conway County Farm Bureau, Crow Construction and Hoyt Stone. Proceeds directly benefit the school.


Greenbrier chamber banquet The Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce Annual Community Awards Banquet was held March 5 at the Greenbrier Junior High Cafetorium. The banquet theme was “A Vision for 2020.” The chamber recognized Bryan and Dawne Trent, owners/operators of Trent Management and Mojo’s Hometown Pizza, with the Citizen of the Year Award. Graham Brothers Electric owners Chase, Cody and Clay Graham were presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award. Greenbrier High School senior Payton Riddle was recognized as the Student of the Year.

Dawne and Bryan Trent.

The Graham Brothers: Chase (from left), Cody and Clay.

Loretta Burgess (left) and Lindsay Griffin.

Reita and Larry Johnson.

Greenbrier School Superintendent Scott Spainhour and Payton Riddle.

Sarah Watson (from left), Leslie Littell, Ronda Woodrome and Keith Woodrome.

Other award winners: Business of the Year Kiddieville. New Business of the Year Greenbrier Pharmacy. Small Business of the Year Chef Lin’s. Non-profit or Service Organization of the Year Greenbrier Volunteer Fire Department. In addition, Greenbrier Mayor Sammy Hartwick presented Kim Tyler with the Mayor’s XM (Extra Mile) Award. The event also featured the unveiling of the 2020 edition of the Greenbrier City Guide, produced by 501 Advertising and Publishing. (See more photos in the April edition of 501 LIFE.)

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 19


Wedding plans

Online ‘I do’s’ for friends, family

The COVID-19 outbreak prompted Courtney McKendree and Chase Chism to move their wedding ceremony up, with only a few family and friends in attendance. Other family members, friends and Courtney’s students were able to watch the ceremony as it was streamed on Facebook. (Photo courtesy of Brandy Kelley) by Sonja J. Keith

Courtney McKendree and Chase Chism said “I do” on March 21 with a small group in attendance — and hundreds who tuned in via Facebook — thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. Among those watching were students from Courtney’s kindergarten class, many who dressed up for the occasion. The couple had planned a beautiful and elaborate ceremony and reception on April 17 at the Restoration Center at Renewal Ranch, where Chase works as the Phase 1 supervisor. Invita20 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Bridesmaid Cordelia Wilson (top left) and Courtney’s student, Sawyer Wilson, watch the ceremony on Facebook. Flower girl Blakely Denn (top right) along with Courtney’s students Amelia Anderson (bottom left) and Silas Iverson watched the wedding online.

tions and other items for the wedding had already been purchased when the outbreak occurred. After the quarantine in Italy and the possibility of government offices closing, the couple decided to postpone the wedding but move ahead with getting married. With a laugh, Chase said if he was going to be quarantined, “I would prefer to be quarantined with my wife instead of a group of men.” With little time to spare, the couple acquired their marriage license before the local county clerk’s office closed to the public. After initially being told her wedding dress wasn’t ready, Court-

ney was able to try it on at the bridal shop and pick it up during the 48-hour whirlwind to work out the details. Throughout, they felt God was faithful to them. “It’s been a wild event, but God has been with us,” Chase said. On the morning of Tuesday, March 17, the couple learned that if they wanted to get married at the Ranch, it would have to be that week because the campus was closing to the public in lieu of COVID-19 safety precautions. While many of their plans had changed, it was important to both Courtney and Chase that the ceremony take

place at the Ranch. “All of our plans were altered in the blink of an eye,” Chase said. For the ceremony, Courtney and Chase each chose two family members to join them. There were also a few close friends from the Ranch. When things settle down, hopefully this summer, the couple will have a big reception at the Ranch. They are also planning to reschedule their honeymoon cruise which was postponed because the cruise line shut down. In the meantime, the couple is living in Perryville, where Courtney has worked as a kindergarten teacher since 2012. A Perry County native, she is a fifth-generation teacher. “Her roots run deep in Perryville,” Chase said. In addition to his position with the Ranch, Chase also attends Central Baptist College, where he was named to the President’s List. “It’s amazing what God is doing in my life.” Chase said he and Courtney “absolutely clicked” from the moment they met last June on his birthday. Early in the relationship, Chase shared with Courtney his testimony, including overcoming addiction thanks to Renewal Ranch. “I wanted her to know how important God is in my life,” he said. “She didn’t run away, and she never judged me.” As the two dated, Courtney, too, became a big supporter and believer in the Ranch. “I just love it,” Courtney said of the Ranch. “It has made the man I’m going to marry who he is today. I

We were identically “matched in several ways.

We scored off the charts. That’s another way God is proving that He is in the middle of this.

Chase Chism

wouldn’t have met Chase without the Ranch.” Chase said he knew early on in their relationship that Courtney was the one for him. Courtney said that the first time Chase took her to the Ranch, they walked out to three crosses located near a pond on the campus. Standing in front of them, he told Courtney that he prayed every day for her for six months. “That’s where he proposed to me,” she said, adding that close family were on hand to witness the proposal. “This is essentially where our relationship began to grow.” During their engagement, the couple underwent pre-marital counseling with Bill Clay. He is on staff at the Ranch and officiated the ceremony. Chase said they took a 200-question assessment that helps identify a couple’s strengths and weaknesses and what they need to work on.

“We were identically matched in several ways,” he said. “We scored off the charts. That’s another way God is proving that He is in the middle of this.” Chase said the two were a little emotional about changing their wedding plans, but “there was complete joy in getting married. We were going to get married regardless. No Coronavirus was going to stop that.” Courtney said she has learned in her job as an educator that things change, and you have to adapt. “I’m a planner, but God’s plan is better than mine.” While she was initially a little sad that some family would not be present during the ceremony, she was happy knowing that through Facebook they could watch it. “All of our friends and family could watch it live. I was 100 percent OK with that.” In addition to family and friends in the state, she has relatives in Colorado, Ohio and Tennessee who watched who probably would not have been able to attend in person in April. Her students were also able to watch. The couple’s sweet love story generated a lot of interest, including a news story broadcast by KARK Channel 4 and picked up by a station in Dallas. “At the end of the day, I got to marry the man of my dreams,” Courtney said. “It’s not about the big, elaborate thing. It’s about marrying the one you love.” “There is joy in the middle of the Coronavirus,” said Chase.

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 21

NEIGHBORS maumelle

‘They call me the fireman’

Maumelle Fire Department Division Chief and Fire Marshal John Payne plans to retire in June after 40 years in public service. He also serves in the Oppelo (Conway County) Volunteer Fire Department. Story and photos by Dwain Hebda

Lining a top shelf in his office, six firefighters’ helmets hold silent watch over John Payne, Maumelle Fire Department division chief and fire marshal. It’s a collection that spans 40 years that, combined with the various badges framed and hanging on the wall, tells the story of a remarkable career in public service. “We had an intern one time and I told her your job is to ask me a question every day,” he said. “One day she smacked me right between the eyes with, ‘What’s your favorite part of all this?’ I told her, ‘Driving with red lights and sirens on.’” From his hometown of Oppelo (Conway County), where he’s been a longtime fixture in the volunteer fire department, to Maumelle where he’ll hang it up for good in June, Payne has revved the siren and flashed the lights in route to saving life and property across a good swath of Central Arkansas. 22 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Along the way, he’s formed unbreakable bonds with fellow firefighters, educated the public, attended and taught hours in the classroom and amassed enough stories – both humorous and harrowing – to last him a hundred retirements, none of which is more impactful than the moment he knew he wanted a life of public service. “In high school, I watched a drunk cross the center line and hit a family, which killed him,” he said. “I had taken a first aid course and I splinted one of the other guys’ arm with a magazine. I’d have been 16 or 17, I was a junior. That was when I saw the impact I could have. “Realistically, what pushed me this way was my draft number; the only year I was eligible for the draft for Vietnam, it was 265 so I didn’t have to go. I always felt like I owed something to my country, so this is how I served it.” Payne’s tenure in firefighting is staggering, the kind of career you measure in decades, not years. In addition to his 14 years in Maumelle, he’s spent 23 as department chief in Oppelo and was

industrial fire chief at Green Bay Packaging’s Arkansas Kraft division for 11 of his 30 years there. He has 30 years as an EMT and was honored as the Industrial EMT of the Year in 1999. His list of leadership roles in professional associations, by which he represents and advocates for his industry, is similarly long and distinguished. And since completing his degree in fire and emergency response from SAU Tech 14 years ago – followed by the master’s level Executive Fire Officer Program via the National Fire Academy – he’s taught hundreds of hours of professional courses through the Arkansas Law Enforcement Academy and Arkansas Fire Academy. Given all of that, it’s not surprising to learn of the high level of training and technical expertise held by members of the Maumelle department, a culture of excellence he’s helped perpetuate. “The original chief, Chief George Glenn, put a heavy emphasis on education,” Payne said. “We send three to four people every year to the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md.,

We send three to four people every year to the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md., which is probably one of the best educations in the world. For the number of people we have, percentage-wise this is probably one of the most heavily educated departments around.

— John Payne which is probably one of the best educations in the world. For the number of people we have, percentage-wise this is probably one of the most heavily educated departments around.” Anyone who does a job as dangerous as firefighting as long as Payne has is bound to have some close calls, like the time a would-be arsonist stuck 35 gallons of gasoline in an Oppelo house and lit it. Payne and his crew nearly kicked in the front door, which would have given the improvised bomb its oxygen, killing all the emergency responders and setting adjoining homes ablaze. “That was a time I almost died and didn’t know it at the time,” Payne said. He was at the center of the 2000 fire atop Petit Jean Mountain, spearheading an incident command center that coordinated incoming fire teams and equipment into and out of the action while Blackhawk helicopters equipped with buckets buzzed overhead. “State forestry was technically in charge of the fire, but they were occupied with helicopters and dozers,” he said. “We set up an incident command center right there in the breezeway of Mather Lodge. As every company would come in, they would check in with us and we would put them in rehab and then have them up on deck and tell them you’re the next one out. That’s how we kept up with that.” By far the most colorful story Payne tells involves the paddle wheel Delta Queen on an excursion out of Little Rock. The call came in that the boat’s entertainer was in distress and the Oppelo Fire Department and local EMTs intercepted the craft at Lock & Dam No. 9 outside of Morrilton. Payne ordered the lock master to raise the boat to a certain level, an order countermanded by the ship’s captain, so Payne did what any self-respecting public servant would do. “I became a pirate. I commandeered the ship,” he said with a broad grin. “I said, ‘Lock master I am now in control of this vessel, and you will do it like this.’ Of course, he kind of knew me a little bit and he said, ‘Yes, sir!’ The captain’s like, ‘I’ll have your job!’ And I’m like, ‘I’m a volunteer, get it if you want it.’ “Anyway, we lashed that down and we get on and get the person over and I turned to the lock master and I said, ‘Lock master, he is now

Payne has an impressive collection of firefighter helmets in his office at the Maumelle Fire Department. in control of this vessel.’ And we turned around and left. So yes, I have pirated a paddle wheeler in open water in the state of Arkansas. That’s a

unique story; I don’t think any fire chief can ever say that they ever done that. You can’t make this up.”

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 23


Simply show up In the March edition of 501 LIFE, I shared all about my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, and how we were prepared to fight like never before. Today, I want to share something a little different with you, because now that we are in the fight, and I watch chemotherapy Meagan Lowry take so much from my mom, my thoughts on Meagan Lowry is a Texas native it all have changed a who has lived in the Natural State since 2009. She’s been married to bit. I still firmly believe her 501 born and bred husband, that my mom is kickZak, since 2012. Meagan owns her own business and works from ing cancer’s behind. I home as a social media consultant don’t waiver on that. for multiple companies. But my thoughts on feeling ill-equipped and unprepared to walk through this fight with her have changed. Before she started chemo, I didn’t truly know what to expect. In the same breath, everything I thought I knew about what cancer would do to my mom has drastically changed over the course of a few months. The truth is I cannot know how it is making my mom feel. I cannot grasp the pain she felt in the moment she decided to shave off the hair that chemo had ravaged. I am not walking through cancer myself, but I am walking alongside my mom through cancer, and there is a big difference in that because suffering and walking through hard seasons is not lost on me. I’ve seen my fair share, but even though that is true, I am trying my best to navigate the unknown of cancer with my

24 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Meagan Lowry (right) and her mom, Robin Avance. mom. I’m convinced, at least so far, that showing up for my mom is doing my best for her, because as much as I want healing for her, I can’t provide that. As much as I want to strip the pain from her body, I can’t. The list of “I can’ts” is unbelievably long, especially for a person who preaches that “I can’t” isn’t really an option in a lot of areas of my own life. What I’ve learned is that showing up for my mom in the midst of her suffering is changing the both of us.

Showing up and being present in the midst of someone else’s suffering will cost you something. There are sacrifices that you have to make in order to show up well for someone. It may be sacrificing your comfort, your schedule, things you thought you believed. But the cost is always worth it, because there has never been a sweeter time with my mom. Now don’t get me wrong. There has never been a harder season that we’ve walked through together, but there has also never been a time that I’ve been so aware of the blessing that having my mom is. Time with her is treasured, not because I think there is little time left, but because I fully believe she will come out of this with a clean bill of health. I just realize that time is precious. I never thought 2020 would start this way, and with the uncertainty of life in general sometimes it takes something like this to make you realize that every day with someone you love is truly a gift. A big part of showing up for someone is just simply being who you’ve always been for them. I don’t approach my mom like this fragile, broken thing. She’s still just my mom. What I’ve tried to learn in this process is that showing up can truly be enough. I don’t have to have the right words; there are no right words. I don’t have to know all the things, even though I’ve tried. I think so often in the midst of grief and suffering, we are missing the mark. We go into this thinking that we need to fix something, when in fact we just need to show up. There is no doubt in my mind that showing up is what those we know who are walking through hard times need. So friends, don’t be afraid to show up when you know someone is having a hard time. Even when they don’t ask for it, they need it.


IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS A 501 LIFE special look at how this global pandemic has hit home. Join us in honoring our healthcare heroes and other essential workers who keep us safe plus personal stories of how local families are affected by the health crisis.

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 25


Wandering through the wilderness The story of the exodus — the delivery of God’s people from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land – is one that has tremendous insight for us today. You may be familiar with the story: the Israelites are slaves in Egypt, and God calls Moses to lead them out of slavery to a land is promised to them. Mark McDonald that They break free from Mark McDonald, a Methodist the Egyptians through minister, has served churches in a series of miracles and Northwest Arkansas, Booneville, Jacksonville and Conway. His then begin their journey family settled in Faulkner County to a land filled with “milk in the 1840s. He attended and honey.” Hendrix College, where he serves as a trustee. He and his wife have For a large group six children all living in Central of men, women and Arkansas. children, traveling with their belongings and animals, it would have taken several weeks to walk; however, it took them 40 years. God’s miracles would give them great strength and hope, then life returned to “normal” and the people became complacent. They had to work hard to survive in the wilderness, and soon they began to complain. They decided they knew better than God and chose to do things their own way. After things fell apart because they acted selfishly, they began to cry out. God had mercy on them, they turned back to follow God’s ways, and God provided what they needed and they moved forward together. But they repeated that cycle, again and again. The more they tried to take care of their own problems, the more difficult it became. The more they worked together as God desired, the better their life became. Lately, it has felt like we have been wandering

through the wilderness. The pandemic seems to have taken the world by surprise. Our lives are already full of conflict, with health concerns, tornados and floods at every turn. The more we try to “fix” our problems, the more they seem to overwhelm us. COVID-19 has done something that we might not have expected. It has brought us back together. We started trying to fight back, but soon realized that we could not fix this problem. The hectic lives we led were slowed down abruptly, and we found ourselves unable to do what we want to do. We found ourselves in a unique situation: we had to work together, perhaps like we had never experienced. As painful as all this has been, we have the chance to learn a lesson: God still wants us to work together, to love our neighbor, and to become united

again. The more we see people finding common ground, the more hope we find. Neighbors shop for one another, congressional leaders agree, and churches unite around the Shema/Great Commandment. We love God and neighbor, and our journey toward a promised land includes a stronger future and closer relationships. God does not want us to suffer, to wander through the wilderness; but God does want to show us that good can come out of any situation, and God does want us to love our neighbor. Our neighbor is not just the person next door; our neighbor is anyone with whom we come in contact. As we face these changes together, we move through the wilderness to a future that God provides, and it exceeds anything we’ve known. Take courage, and stand strong … together!


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Family faces loss from COVID-19 by Sonja J. Keith

The heartache from her father’s death due to the coronavirus is something that Shirley Carlisle doesn’t wish on anyone. Frank Ross, 80, of Morrilton died March 27 in a Little Rock hospital. With no family or friends present. With no one to hold his hand. He was among the first in Arkansas to lose their life in the COVID-19 pandemic. Shirley Carlisle said her dad was smart, strong and had an incredible work ethic. “He was still rolling when he was 80 and got this virus.” Born Dec. 11, 1939 near Jonesboro, Franklin Dale Ross was a son of Henry and Elise Ross. Known as Frank Sr., he returned to Arkansas in 1972 after living in Michigan, where he met his wife, Geraldine. They had five children. At the time of his death, he had 10 grandchildren and 11 greatgrandchildren. The couple settled in the Birdtown community in Conway County, where he owned several businesses including a roofing company, the Overcup Bait Shop and Morrilton Wrecker & Road Service, which he started in the early 80s. Shirley said her dad was very healthy and had overcome loss over the years, but “never skipped a beat.” He lost two brothers in 1985 and his dad died in January 1987. In November of that year, Frank’s wife passed away after battling cancer. “He never broke down,” she said, adding that his focus was on the two children he had at home and maintaining his roofing business. “He was one of a kind.” In addition to his strong work ethic, Shirley said her dad “loved helping people out. He’d give you the shirt off his back. I can’t say enough amazing words about him.” At age 80, his health was “amazing,” according to Shirley, and he could outwork some 20-yearolds. He had no medical issues and did not take any medications, so when Frank mentioned he felt fatigued, Shirley knew something wasn’t right. He didn’t want to go to the doctor and thought perhaps he needed a nap. “You could tell he was just tired,” Shirley said. “He wasn’t a big complainer.” On Sunday, March 22, Shirley took her dad to the emergency room at Conway Regional Medical Center. A chest X-ray revealed a light case of pneumonia. He had no fever, cough or trouble breathing, which have been indicative of the virus. Shirley said she would’ve asked for more tests but he didn’t show any of the COVID-19 symptoms. “I’m just baffled it took him so quickly.” 28 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Frank Ross had his final ride on his wrecker as his casket was taken to the cemetery.

Frank Ross with his daughter, Shirley Ross Carlisle (left), and sister, Annie Pearl Dixon, at his granddaughter Taylor’s wedding. (Photo courtesy of Sterling Imageworks)

Franklin Dale Ross was born in 1939, a son of Henry and Elise Ross. Known as Frank Sr., he and his wife, Geraldine, settled in the Birdtown community in Conway County.

Frank was prescribed antibiotics, which he started taking Monday morning. On Tuesday, Frank was a little cold but his temperature registered 99. Shirley asked about taking him back to the doctor but Frank wanted to wait until the next day. On Wednesday, Frank was still cold and his fatigue worsened. Shirley told him that she wanted to take him back to the doctor but before they left, the phone rang. It was the Arkansas Department of Health with the news that Frank had tested positive for the coronavirus. Instead of returning to Conway, Frank decided to go to St. Vincent Morrilton, thinking he just needed more medicine. Shirley drove him to the hospital and parked near the entrance. Her dad was insistent that he could walk inside by himself, but healthcare workers insisted he use a wheelchair. “I told him, ‘I’ll be right there. Let me park the car.’” It would be the last time Shirley would see him alive and hear his voice. “I walked up to the door and the nurse came running back out. She said, ‘You can’t come in here.’” Shirley discovered that a statewide edict had been announced that morning – no hospital visitors. “They wouldn’t allow me in the hospital.” As she waited for news on her dad, a doctor called her to let her know that Frank was being moved to a Little Rock hospital, where he could receive more specialized treatment. Her brother, Frankie, met her at the Little Rock hospital. She still wasn’t allowed to see their dad. “I’ve never been without him,” she said. “For someone to tell me I couldn’t be in there with my dad, it just broke my heart.”

On Thursday, a doctor called Shirley and asked for Frank’s phone so she could FaceTime with him. “I got to see him (on the phone) but he couldn’t communicate,” Shirley said, adding that her dad was sedated. When the nurse held the phone up to him and Shirley spoke, his eyes opened. On Friday, the doctor called with news that Frank’s condition had worsened. “He said he was pretty sick and I don’t know if he’s going to make it,” Shirley said, adding that her dad needed a kidney procedure but the doctor didn’t think his body could tolerate it. Shirley asked the doctor to do everything possible to help her dad. “I told him, ‘He’s strong and he can beat this. He’s not a typical 80-year-old. He’s 24/7 strong.” A nurse used her personal phone to FaceTime with Shirley and Frankie so they could see their dad, because Frank’s phone had been lost. He was still sedated but the nurse indicated Frank’s vitals were stable and his oxygen level improving. In another call later that day, Shirley was told healthcare workers were performing CPR on Frank. “I can’t put into words the torment of not being able to sit with him and hold his hand,” Shirley said. “This is by far the worst thing our family has been through.” Shirley understands the safety precautions that are needed to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but she said some procedures are needed so relatives can be with their family members. “Not being able to be there, it was just devastating…It hadn’t crossed my mind he wouldn’t make it,” she said. “I’d give my life right now to sit in there with him. I don’t believe you should have to die alone.” The coronavirus also impacted the manner in

which Frank’s family could grieve and celebrate his life. Wearing gloves and masks, only small groups could gather together for a few minutes at the funeral home. “It was horrible. We couldn’t hug each other. We couldn’t mourn in the normal way. There was no leaning on each other. There’s been no family time to grieve. It’s the cherry on top of this devastation that happened to our family.” Shirley said others in the wrecker service business paid their respects, forming a parade through town to the cemetery but only a handful gathered for the graveside service. It is not known when or where Frank contracted the virus, which apparently was not spread to any family or friends. Shirley said in the wrecker business, it’s not unusual to come into contact with 100 or more people in one day. Even though she tested negative, Shirley wears a mask and gloves when in public. Frank’s death has been a tremendous loss for his family and the community. As they grieve, Shirley said the family will do its best to honor his legacy and continue to help others. “He had the biggest heart. He was always helping someone.” Shirley hopes by sharing her dad’s story that others will realize how serious the coronavirus is. “He was strong and healthy, and it took him within days.” She said it is upsetting to hear stories about people who laugh about the virus and don’t adhere to safety measures, like Plexiglass installed at checkout registers in stores. “I wish people understood how dangerous it is,” she said. “This virus is not a joke.” May 2020 501lifemag.com | 29


Class of COVID-19 UCA student adjusts to new normal by Jennifer Godwin

There are no guarantees in life, even when at 18 and seemingly invincible, you think the world is your oyster; not even at 21, when you have a college degree nearly in hand, and you feel ready to rule the world. Like the estimated 4.5 million other college students in the United States whose senior year was cut short, Madison Conklin is adjusting to a new normal as a part of the Class of 2020, now known as the Class of COVID-19. This disruption isn’t entirely new territory for Madison, whose college years have now been bookended by two pivotal events. The first one, cancer, taught her that she could withstand any storm in her path. The second, the coronavirus pandemic that has brought much of the world to its knees, is the storm that is testing Conklin in new ways.

Shocking diagnosis In the fall of 2016, Madison was returning for her fall semester at college in East Tennessee when she discovered a golf-ball sized lump in her neck. She didn’t think much of it at first, because she had been sick off and on that year, first with mono and then with stomach issues, both of which she chalked up to stress. Eight hours from her family in west Tennessee, Madison had her roommate, a nursing major, take her to the hospital. What came next was a flurry of tests. Bloodwork indicated something was amiss, and a CT scan confirmed that it wasn’t stress or mono. A biopsy then revealed a shocking diagnosis: Hodgkin's lymphoma. Rattled but resilient, Madison kept her composure as her college friends broke down in tears upon hearing the news. “I was just thinking to myself, ‘What are my next steps? I need to call my professors and let them know what’s going on.’ I was in planning mode,” she recalls. Madison called her parents, and upon the recommendation from her doctors, she came to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis for her care and treatment, which would come to include four rounds of chemotherapy as well as physical and occupational therapy. Madison’s family was familiar with St. Jude. Her father’s sister was a patient there at 16 in the 1980s. So she knew she was in the best hands possible.

A new path In February 2017, just four months after finding the lump in her neck, Madison’s treatment was completed. She had plans to return to school but needed to find a university closer to St. Jude so she could keep her regular appointments. In the fall of that year, Madison became a University of Central Arkansas Bear, majoring in fine arts. 30 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Madison Conklin is adjusting to a new normal as a part of the Class of 2020, now known as the Class of COVID-19. In Conway, Madison was able to turn a new page. She loved the small-town feel, how relaxed everything was. Being at UCA gave her a sense of normalcy and a security she hadn’t felt since before her cancer diagnosis. “My UCA professors and friends went above and beyond to help me out,” she said. “They embraced my quirks.” Madison took a position at the student-run campus art gallery and bonded with fellow art majors. She had found her second home at UCA. She even held an art-themed event for St. Jude, her other second home.

The world stops Madison had just finished her senior project and was on pace to graduate on time in 2020, without skipping a beat in her college career. Then March 12 happened. It would be the abrupt end to the school year, with the UCA campus closed and no commencement ceremony for its seniors. “My one big goal [after cancer] was to receive my college degree,” Madison said. “It’s meaningful for many reasons, but especially because I am the first

person in my family to graduate from college.” UCA still plans to recognize its graduating seniors, only now with a video message from President Houston Davis and congratulatory messages from the provost and deans. But for Madison and the others, it will mean no ceremony, no standing in front of families cheering them on, no pomp and circumstance and no moving of the tassel or throwing of the mortar board at the end. In fact, she hadn’t yet received her graduation attire, so the senior photos she took were in a cap and gown borrowed from a 2019 graduate, with the wrong year on the tassel slyly hidden. Still, with all that she and the other college seniors are missing, Madison considers herself fortunate. While she doesn’t know what is in store for her future, she knows that she has come through the challenge of cancer a stronger person with a clear perspective on life, that and a dog named Jude, who no doubt helped inspire her senior project, Pairing Animals with Humans (PAWH). Madison may not get to have a real graduation or her senior art show, but COVID-19 or not, she got the opportunity to merge her passion with her purpose, leaving her mark on the world.

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 31



‘We were both so sick’ by Sonja J. Keith

Home never looked so good to Linda and Danny Linn upon their release from Conway Regional Medical Center after battling COVID-19. The two returned to their Conway home on April 3. “Danny and I have both been in the Conway hospital for the coronavirus,” Linda wrote on Facebook. “I took Danny a little over a week ago (March 27) and they kept him. (Daughters) Susie (McCoy) and Christy (Priester) sent me on Sunday (March 29). We came home today late this afternoon and it is so good to be home. We are both still really weak and just feel pretty awful. But home never looked so good.” The Conway couple have been open with others about their illness, in hopes of helping others keep from contracting the virus. “In thinking back, we haven’t been on any trips where you think you could contact the coronavirus,” she said, explaining that they had gone to their farm in Quitman and had stopped on the way home to get gas. “He had to have gotten it there and guess I got it from him.” Danny started running a high fever and after a couple of days, Linda called their physician. “He told me to take him to the hospital to make sure he didn’t have pneumonia. He did and they checked him for the virus and kept him at the hospital. He was in isolation so we couldn’t see him for over a week and a half.” Then, Linda became ill. “The girls sent me by ambulance. I was next door to Danny but couldn’t see him. We were both so sick and didn’t feel like it anyway. Danny’s symptoms were a lot worse than mine.” During their hospital stay, Linda and Danny were in isolation, which was difficult. There were no visitors allowed. “There are no TVs, so you entertain yourself by sleeping or looking at the walls. I’ve never been so depressed, so I cried a lot.” At home, Danny and Linda quarantined to an office, a screened porch and their bedroom. “Meals were brought to us in the office so we weren’t in the main part of the house. A friend (Niki) moved in upstairs and saw that we got everything we needed. She wore a mask and gloves at all times,” said Linda. Upon their return home, Linda thought they would quickly fall back into their routine but the recovery has been slower than expected. “I just knew that we would come home and everything would go straight back to normal. We are still easing around pretty slow. You feel good for a while and then the next hour you just start feeling bad again.” On April 9, the state health department notified the Linns that they were not required to quarantine 32 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Danny and Linda Linn contracted the coronavirus and were admitted to Conway Regional Medical Center. any longer because they were not running a fever. “We chose to stay at home and not be around people until we saw our doctor. If all checks out, we will gradually get out. To be honest, it’s felt pretty good to be at home so we are pretty content being home.” Linda had sound advice for others and stressed how serious COVID-19 can be. She encourages others to wear a mask and stay away from crowds. “I hope that you will take some of what I have said to keep you or your family safe. Practice social distancing. Don’t take your kids to Walmart or any of the other big stores. If you cause them to be sick and they are in isolation by themselves, you will want to kick yourself. And you should.” At service stations, she recommends wearing gloves when pumping gas and taking them off before

getting back in your vehicle. Linda and Danny are thankful for the care they received at Conway Regional, and expressed their appreciation for their nurses, Dr. Greg Kendrick and Lori Ross, chief development officer for the Conway Regional Health Foundation. They also are thankful for the prayers on their behalf and the love and support of their family and friend Niki. “We want to thank everyone for praying for us. Without prayer and the love of God, our church and our friends, it would be hard to get through this. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you so much for the thought and the heartfelt prayers. We love each one of you.” Linda encourages others to pray for those in the

Virus continued on Page 62

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 33


A life saved

Couple thankful for doctors’ actions by John Patton

Brad Rusher had not felt well for a couple of weeks but had attributed those feelings to being stressed out from the pressures of life. He was working full time while his wife, Jennifer, worked part time in the Conway Regional Imaging Department and homeschooled their children. They were also selling their old house and building a new one. Brad learned that his condition was, in fact, something more serious. He experienced a piercing headache while working on their property north of Greenbrier on a Saturday. The headaches would come and go and he continued to feel tired. Attributing his condition to stress and being “run down,” he pushed through the work that weekend. When Jennifer came home from work Monday morning, Brad was continuing to feel bad. She was running errands, when he sent a text saying he couldn’t get up. Jennifer rushed home and a friend met her there to help get Brad to the car. “He was talking out of his head, disoriented and mixing up words,” Jennifer said. Worried that Brad was experiencing a stroke, Jennifer drove him to the emergency room. Brad awoke five days later with no memory of what had happened. “I woke up in the hospital and wondering why nobody had come to see me, and she said, ‘It’s Saturday.’” Jennifer filled in the blanks. Brad owed his life to Conway Regional physicians who prescribed acyclovir, a medicine that treats certain types of infections, including one that is caused by HSV1 meningoencephalitis. When the Rushers arrived at the ER, the staff began a series of tests based on his initial symptoms. Dr. Wade Gregory ordered blood work, a CT scan and an MRI, but something about Brad’s case was not adding up for Gregory and Dr. Keith Schluterman, a neurologist with the Conway Regional Neuroscience Center. “We were suspicious of infection from the beginning as he had a low-grade fever and his presentation and age made stroke a less likely cause. The blood work and CT came back relatively unremarkable, but his CSF studies and MRI were still pending,” said Gregory. Broad-spectrum antibiotics and acyclovir (and anti-viral medication) were given while awaiting the test results. Shortly afterward, Brad’s blood pressure spiked and he experienced a 45-second grand mal seizure, which is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Once he was sedated, a lumbar puncture was ordered and performed by Gregory in the ER before Brad was moved to a critical care unit. On Thursday night, the test results came back from the 34 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Brad Rusher is surrounded by his wife and children: Emma (from left), Jennifer, Braden and Abbie. (Mike Kemp photo)

Dr. Keith Schluterman.

Dr. Wade Gregory.

Mayo Clinic and the mystery illness was diagnosed by Schluterman as HSV1 meningoencephalitis. It is inflammation of the brain and meninges (membranous covering of the brain and spinal cord), typically caused by an infection. Brad’s infection occurred when a virus invaded his brain and meninges. “Dr. Schluterman said he has a patient with this condition, maybe once every three years at Conway Regional,” Jennifer said. It is typically present in patients whose immune systems have been suppressed, such as people with cancer or HIV. “He said the great news is that we started acyclovir immediately and that is the drug that treats it,” she added. Brad spent the next 21 days on acyclovir before

able in Conway,” said Jennifer. “Even at UAMS, they said they hardly ever see this in healthy people. Brad was kind of a celebrity because the residents don’t typically see it in 39-yearold healthy individuals. This is the kind of thing medical students read about in the textbooks,” said Jennifer. “HSV1 is an extremely common virus but it will rarely infect the brain,” said Schluterman. “It’s more common in folks as they get older or they become immunocompromised, so it’s unusual to have a young, healthy person encounter this.

a second episode of headaches sent him back to the Conway Regional Emergency Department. “Jennifer called me with questions about what to do,” said Gregory, “and we brought him back to the ER.” Brad went through another round of testing, including a repeat lumbar puncture, to determine if the infection had returned. The tests showed some increased inflammation of the brain. Gregory consulted with colleagues at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and a determination was made that he should go to UAMS, where a specialized treatment regimen was available. “We only went there because the treatment is only offered at a few specialized hospital centers and wasn’t avail-


Rusher continued on Page 62

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May 2020 501lifemag.com | 35


Team-based therapy ‘I am so blessed to be here’ by Taryn Brown

Alan Stannard knows hard work and a willing attitude go a long way. In December 2018, Stannard suffered from a stroke that damaged the right side of his brain, leaving the left side of his body unable to function properly. He completed a round of therapy that left him completely dependent on a caregiver to help him walk. After seeing Unity Health Director of Rehabilitation Services C.W. Siler, PT, on a news segment, Stannard and his home health nurse asked his providers to refer him to the Unity Health Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Center in Searcy, almost a year after his stroke. “I am so blessed to be here,” Stannard said. “The staff here are caring and they work well as a team. I only wish I could have come here earlier.” Last year, Unity Health became the first facility in the state to have the SafeGait 360 and the G-EO system. Both the G-EO and the SafeGait help reduce patients’ fear of falling and improve patient recovery and safety with the ability to walk. These machines provide increased safety for both the patient and clinician, while allowing the therapists to provide a more intense approach to therapy; patients are able to start therapy sooner and generally have an earlier discharge at a higher functional level. Physical Therapist Melanie Adams, Occupational Therapist Marla Mason and Speech Language Pathologist Cheryl Reaves made up Stannard’s primary therapy team. Siler said the Inpatient Rehab unit moved to team-based therapy a few years ago for therapists in order to provide greater treatment consistency and to help patients be more successful. With more than 65 years of collective experience, Stannard’s three therapists and Siler said they had never seen someone with such successful outcomes this long after the initial stroke. “He has such a good sense of humor,” Reaves said. “He is always smiling and works so hard,” Adams said. “He cracked a joke to me the first day he was here,” Mason said. 36 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Physical Therapist Melanie Adams helps Alan work on mobility on the G-EO system.

Occupational Therapist Marla Mason and Alan Stannard work on functional activities with the help of the SafeGait 360. “Patients have to want to make a change when they come here, and that is obvious in Mr. Stannard’s case,” Siler said. Adams, his physical therapist, helped Stannard use both the SafeGait 360 and the G-EO system for weight-bearing activities to help strengthen his arms and legs and to improve his ability to walk. Mason, OT, assisted him in functional training activities such as getting in and out of a car and getting dressed. Reaves, SLP, worked with Stannard’s cognitive skills to aid in the sequencing and problem solving needed to learn to walk and better utilize the side of his body impacted by the stroke. Before coming to Unity Health, Stannard could not walk. Now he is well on his way to walking with only occasional contact assistance. In order to succeed, therapists said patients must trust the therapists, want to make a change and try things they have not been able to do. All three of Stannard’s therapists said he embodies all of those things. Unity Health is the only hospital in the state to have both the SafeGait 360 and G-EO system available to aid in a patient’s rehab. At the Unity Health Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Center, patients receive an individualized plan of care consisting of daily physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and nursing and physician services. The intensity of service in this acute rehabilitation setting is high, with patients participating in a minimum of three hours of therapy per day for at least five of every seven days they are in the facility. The physician assesses and modifies each patient’s rehab plan daily to achieve maximum functional improvement. For more information about all of Unity Health’s rehabilitation services, please visit unity-health.org/ services/rehabilitation/.

Alan was always smiling through therapy and cracking jokes. May 2020 501lifemag.com | 37


Mothers keep on giving Many of us recall the old timeless song “Mis-for-the-many-thingsshe-gave-me”, which continues to spell the word “Mother.” Never was there more true lyrics! One grand example of this in the 501 area is that of Bettye Davis Ricard. Perhaps many of you have not met Bettye Don Bingham Ricard, but if we told you she was the mother of Recognized throughout the the popular lyric soprano state as an accomplished chef, Don Bingham has authored soloist Suzanne Banister cookbooks, presented television and the mother-in-law programs and planned elaborate events. of local dentist Dr. Brad Banister, you might be more acquainted with this local resident and mom. Bettye is a native of Denham Springs, La., and was married to Frank Johyn Ricard. Both Frank and Bettye were educators in the Jennings, La., Public School System in elementary education and in the high school music program. The Ricards also owned and operated a florist shop, “Floral Arts,” for 15 years. They have three children — a daughter in Houston, Texas, a son in Shreveport, La., and Suzanne Banister of Conway. This is where the story gets more interesting! Among many things, Suzanne is a vocal instructor at the University of Central Arkansas and Central Baptist College. Her mom, Bettye, now makes her home in Conway. Bettye expresses that “apartment living is a new experience for me but I have come to enjoy life here and have met some wonderful friends — along with the friends that we met when Frank and I were here many years ago.” In a conversation with her mom, Suzanne mentioned she would be going home that day for a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. The statement began a regular weekday time of friendship and encouragement from Bettye — a continual giving to her adult daughter each Thursday of the week. What was meant to be a simple lunch turned into an elaborate presentation of an amazing array of triedand-true recipe favorites originating from the family heritage of Louisiana cooking and church potluck favorite gems! Not only are the menus a delightful experience for Brad and Suzanne, but occasionally others will join from out of town, such as Elizabeth Banister, Brad and Suzanne’s daughter. There are many of us who have “geared down” and given away collected family treasures we have garnered through the years. Suzanne and her sister were recipients of sets of dishes that were packed in a box and placed in the attic. For these lunches, Suzanne retrieved the dishes and returned them to her mom for the Thursday luncheons! Suzanne also began to post the menus and pictures of the food, dishes and floral art on Facebook. What a delight! Moms are always giving back in so many ways! Bettye shared with us that “it has been fun planning meals and decorating my table each week — 38 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Bettye Davis Ricard enjoys preparing a delicious meal for her family. (Mike Kemp photos) especially in this time of confinement!” Hard times may come and go — yet we will always be thankful for our moms!

REVELER’S CHICKEN c icken brea t fillet 1 can mushroom soup table poon our crea o arella c ee e

Breadcrumbs li ere al on Butter alt an pepper Sauté chicken in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper; put into baking dish. Mix mushroom soup and sour cream; put on top of chicken. Sprinkle cheese on top, then breadcrumbs and almonds. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

BREAD PUDDING 2 cups cubed bread 2 cups scalded milk 1/4 cup butter 2 eggs 1/2 cup sugar Pinch of salt 1 teaspoon vanilla Beat eggs, salt, sugar, butter and vanilla; add milk. Put bread cubes in a greased casserole dish; pour milk mixture over the bread cubes. Optional: add sliced apples, coconut or pecans.

Sauce 1 cup sugar 1 can Pet evaporated milk 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch 3 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon vanilla Cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened; pour over bread pudding and serve warm.

MEXICAN CASSEROLE 2 cans crescent dough sheets 1 lb. ground sirloin meat 1 package taco seasoning 1 can yellow corn 1 can black beans 1 cup salsa 4 oz. sour cream 1 cup Mexican cheese Grease a casserole dish. Press part of the dough on the bottom for the crust; bake for 10 minutes until browned. Brown the meat and drain; add the seasonings, corn, beans, salsa and sour cream; cook on medium heat. Pour onto crust. Sprinkle cheese on top of beef mixture. Cut the remaining crescent dough into strips and form a lattice on the top of the casserole. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees until browned.

PORK CHOP CASSEROLE 4 boneless pork chops 1 can mushroom soup 1 can Pet evaporated milk

Bettye Davis Ricard is surrounded by family: daughter Suzanne Banister (from left), granddaughter Elizabeth Banister and her son-in-law Brad Banister. 3 russet potatoes, sliced Brown the pork chops; put into a casserole dish. Mix the soup and Pet milk. Put sliced potatoes on top of the meat, and the soup mixture on top of the potatoes. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, then uncovered for 15 minutes.

SHRIMP CREOLE Roux 2 large cans tomato sauce 1 package celery, cut up fine 1 onion, cut up fine 1 green bell pepper, cut up fine Water Medium shrimp, peeled and deveined Salt and pepper (black and red) Make a roux with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup oil; cook until browned on medium heat, stirring. SautĂŠ vegetables until tender; add tomato sauce and seasonings. Cook 1 1/2 hours on medium heat,

stirring; add water if too thick. Add shrimp and cook an additional 15 minutes, until shrimp is done. Serve over rice.

CREAM CHEESE CORN 6 oz. cream cheese, cubed 1/4 cup unsalted butter 3 cloves of garlic, minced 1/3 cup milk 2 cups frozen corn Kosher salt and black pepper to taste 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves for garnish Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 9-inch dish or coat with non-stick spray. Combine cream cheese, butter and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in milk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in corn, salt and pepper. Spread mixture into baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Place in oven and bake until bubbly, about 15-17 minutes. Garnish with parsley.


Celebrating May Day For at least a century or so, April flowers led to showers of May baskets on the front doors of American homes. The May Day basket is a somewhat forgotten, but lovely rite of spring that involves hanging a small basket of flowers and sometimes candies on Julianne Milner the doors of friends and neighbors. It happens A self-taught baker, Julianne on May 1 and is a Milner is a caterer, seasonal stylist and owner of Julianne’s Southern welcoming of warmer Table. She can be reached at weather. julianne60@gmail.com. In some parts of the United States, the baskets were made as part of a May Day tradition to celebrate spring and also included dancing around a maypole and the crowning of the queen of May. Years ago, May Day was seen as a mini Valentine’s Day because basket hangers would often leave their bouquets tied to the door of someone they had a crush on. If the recipient caught someone in the act of hanging the basket on his or her door, he or she had to chase the other person and give them a kiss! I, for one, would love to see a strong resurgence of this wonderful holiday. Who wouldn’t love to find a little bouquet of flowers tied to their doorknob? Join me this month in celebrating friendship and the coming of warmer weather with a collection of May Day baskets of your own! The container for your May basket might be a recycled tin can covered with a piece of scrapbook paper, a mini jar that once held yogurt, a paper egg carton or a little berry basket – the options are endless. Think outside the box when searching for your container. The flowers can be fresh cut stems (using a water pick on these will keep them looking great longer), a package of flowers from your lawn and garden store or nursery (recipient can pop the flowers out and plant them directly in their yard), or even silk flowers. I hope you are getting the idea that you have many options on which way you want to go with your baskets. I would also suggest that if you are in a book club, a bunko group, a Sunday school class or any group that has several members, consider gathering a good assortment of supplies needed and call the members over to create the baskets together the day before May Day! It would be fun to see the assortment of styles each person creates. Have each attendee bring their favorite spring appetizer or dessert and make it a May Day party! I’ve shared one of MY favorite spring mini dessert recipes that will be perfect to serve at a May Day basket making party along with a refreshing Raspberry Lemonade recipe. I hope you 40 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes are a perfect way to celebrate spring. (Mike Kemp photos)

will give these a try as you create your variety of baskets with friends and carry on this lovely tradition. Brighten someone’s day with a little May Day bouquet! Follow along on my Instagram site – juliannessoutherntable – for more ideas to celebrate spring. Happy May Day from my family to yours!

MINI BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKES These bake up as pretty as petit fours and can be finished with any kind of berry and preserves. 12 baking cups 14 crisp gourmet cookies (such as Lotus Biscoff) 2 tablespoons Land O’Lakes Butter

until finely crushed. Stir together cookie crumbs, butter and pinch of salt. Firmly press about 1 1/2 tablespoons of crumb mixture into the bottom of each baking cup. Bake at 325 degrees for 6 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and next three ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Divide mixture among prepared baking cups. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes until just set. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours. Gently remove cheesecakes from the pan. Top each with 1 teaspoon of preserves and a few blueberries along with garnish.

RASPBERRY LEMONADE (Makes 3 1/4 quarts)

The fresh flowers in the May Baskets are by Lollie Flowers/Lynn Raney and Catherine Gatlin (lollieflowers.com/ follow on Facebook and Instagram). Stickers and tags for the baskets are by Ashley Bonds (on Instagram at calicocottagegifts). Pinch of salt 1 1/2 (8 ounce) packages Philadelphia cream cheese (room temperature) 1/3 cup sugar 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 large eggs

1/4 cup blueberry preserves 1/2 cup fresh blueberries Lime zest for garnish Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place paper cups in (12 cup) standard size muffin pan. Pulse cookies in a food processor 8 to 10 times or

2 (12-ounce) cans frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed 6 cups water 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 4 cups ginger ale 3 cups ice 2 lemons, sliced 2 pints fresh raspberries In a large pitcher, stir together lemonade concentrate, water and the lime juice until concentrate is dissolved. Add ginger ale, stirring to combine. Top with ice, lemon slices and fresh raspberries. Enjoy!




May 2020 501lifemag.com | 41


Baker sees the world through rose-colored glasses

At its peak, John Baker’s rose collection exceeded 300 bushes, but today it numbers about 165 specimens. Story and photos by Dwain Hebda

John Baker didn’t start out as one of the leading rose authorities in Central Arkansas. In fact, he got a rather late start tending hybrid teas and climbers. But once he got started, the Rhode Island native quickly made up for lost time. “I’ve lived in different parts of the country in Ohio, Mississippi, Kansas City, different places,” he said. “We moved to Little Rock and we’ve been here in Conway since 1980. “I had a few roses when I lived in Little Rock, but the lot I had was mostly shade and you need mostly sun for roses. When we moved to Conway, I have a couple acres here with lots of sun and lots of space to grow roses. When I went to a class at the University of Central Arkansas on growing roses, I 42 | 501 LIFE May 2020

really got involved and met a lot of great rosarians and got a lot of good information. I joined the Rose Society and have gone from there.” Today, Baker’s appetite for roses can best be described as voracious. At its peak, his collection exceeded 300 bushes, although he admits to winnowing it back to a paltry 165 specimens or so these days. “The varieties are quite extensive – old garden roses as well as the new hybrids, floribundas,” he said. “I’m not getting any younger, so I’ve just been slowly trimming back the numbers but I have plenty of roses. They keep me busy.” The variety of roses he’s planted makes it hard to narrow down to just one favorite, but when pressed, he mentions Double Delight, a hybrid tea rose known for its intense fragrance. “Double Delight is from the 1950s and 1960s,”

he said. “It’s a red and white rose and it is one of the most fragrant roses available. More modern roses don’t have as great a fragrance as you’d like. So that’s really one of my favorites.” You don’t get to be an expert in the field of roses on the back of just one species, and Baker has grown them all, from David Austin English roses (of which he has about 40) to climbers that he trains and coaxes over trellises around his property. “The old garden roses have a unique form; they’re not as big as a traditional modern hybrid tea rose but they have their own style of beauty,” he said. “I like to have a few of each and watch how they grow and watch how they bloom. Some blooms have five or six petals and others may have 100 petals. It’s always interesting to see how they come out.” Along the way, Baker has found kindred spirits in local growing guilds, including as a Master Gardener

Building better buds There may be no widely-known or betterloved flower on earth than the rose. John Baker has been perfecting the art of growing roses for decades; here are some of his tips. Try not to do too much with the plants themselves too early. Getting ahead of yourself in February and early March exposes rose plants to a late freeze which can devastate your collection. Instead, focus on cleaning up and preparing the garden itself by cleaning out weeds and adding soil amendments. Roses take a lot out of the soil, so be sure to fortify it regularly. Baker recommends compost, all kinds of manure and any other organics. If you choose chemical fertilizer, do so sparingly. Work those into the soil well to allow the plant’s roots to access the nutrients. In mid-March, it’s pruning time. Timing is critical here, as once you prune roses, they start growing and blooming. If you get caught by a late cold snap, those flowers will die back and you have to start all over again. When in doubt, wait a little longer to be sure you’re out of frost season. Heading into late March it’s a good time to start planting new roses as most years, the soil is warm enough to get all the micronutrients working. From April through October, it’s showtime and a lot of pampering – feeding, watering, spraying to address disease or pests. One thing beginners overlook is deadheading their plants. Deadheading means pinching off spent blooms to encourage the plant to produce new blooms more quickly.

since 2014, and particularly the Central Arkansas Rose Society, of which he has served as president. Baker’s rules for success growing roses: don’t stray far from the tried-and-true; make sure there’s plenty of sun (4-6 hours) and make sure the soil is the right pH; without these you’re wasting your time. Also, plant with purpose. Knowing the growth habit and the size requirements of adult plants ensures you’ve allowed enough room for them. You should also plant in the proximity to water as roses drink a lot and if you’re trucking five-gallon buckets everywhere, it takes a lot of the enjoyment out of the activity. Following these simple rules will improve the vigor of rose bushes, even if you’re not likely to reach the proportions Baker has in his rose garden. Then again... “There was a plan to (my collection); I didn’t realize it was going to get as big as it got,” he said. “I’ve shrunk the plan a little bit. The roses don’t go away, they just get transferred to another rose grower. Master gardeners share their plants with other people and rosarians do pretty much the same thing.” May 2020 501lifemag.com | 43

MUSIC in the 501

‘ Cabin Fever Buster’ Conway Institute of Music offers classes During this very difficult time, many music schools have stopped offering music lessons. Guitar Center suspended its music lesson program nationwide. About two weeks ago, the Conway Institute of Music took all of its students online for private lessons; however, the school wanted to offer more to its students so it launched an online music program with free classes/lessons for its students called “Cabin Fever Busters.” For any student at the school taking weekly online lessons, they also get access to the Cabin Fever Buster group. In that group, there is daily online programming, all for free, including: • Ukulele classes • Trivia tournaments • Young children music classes • Guitar lessons • Drum lessons • Violin lessons • Garage band classes • Virtual choir (vocalists record their parts and the school edits them into one large video layering the audio) • Pro Tools classes • Rock band ’name that tune’ tournaments • Fiddle classes • Ear training • Piano classes • Rock band jams “And the list goes on as we’re still adding courses,” said Conway Music Institute Director Jim Skelton. “The cost for our students? All free. How much free education resources are they getting? Almost 40 hours per month. “This is a great way for students to break ‘Cabin Fever,’ try new instruments and expand their music abilities, and the parents have been having a blast as well. It also gives parents back much needed time as they have to adjust with having a house full of children who are ready to have their energy channeled in a positive and educational way.” The Conway Institute of Music has also taken this to the next level by partnering with more than 50 music schools in the U.S. and Canada to be part of the group and add content. For more information, email james@conwayinstituteofmusic.com. 44 | 501 LIFE May 2020

About two weeks ago, the Conway Institute of Music took all of its students online for private lessons. The school wanted to offer more to its students, so it launched an online music program with free classes /lessons called “Cabin Fever Busters.” Institute teacher Israel Carlisle (pictured) presents a lesson to Michaela Etters.





Tips to prepare for summer It’s easy to prepare your home for summer and for lower energy bills by simply completing these eight easy tips before the temperatures get too hot. Even following just two or three suggestions can make a home more energy efficient and help reduce energy bills. Change the air filter. Beth Once you change Jimmerson it, set an alert on your A long-time Conway resident, phone or computer Beth McCullough Jimmerson is calendar to remind you the manager for marketing and communications for Conway to change it out every Corp. She has a bachelor’s degree month during the sumfrom the University of Central mer. It may seem like a Arkansas and a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas. lot of upkeep, but it will She can be reached at beth. help extend the life of the jimmerson@conwaycorp.com. HVAC system. Stock up on air filters at the beginning of the summer and store them away for easy access. This way you won’t forget to change it for another month and you’ll save a trip to the store. Test the system. If you haven’t already, turn the AC on and turn down the temperature to force the system to turn on. When you hear the system starting to blow air, be sure to place your hand in front of a vent to make sure the air coming through is considerably cool. If any problems arise such as the system not turning on or warm air coming through the vents, be sure to call an air conditioning repair company to remedy the system right away. The earlier in the season you can get the repair done, the less likely you will have to pay

more during a peak-of-the-season emergency. Check the ducts. You may have a faulty duct system if you experience uneven cooling or extremely high energy bills. Many air conditioning contractors can perform a duct test to locate faulty areas. If you’re more of the do-it-yourself type, check out Conway Corporation Energy Smart’s guide to “Sealing Leaks and Sealing Ducts” at conwaycorp.com. Maintain the outdoor unit. A simple task you can complete on your outdoor unit is to clear any debris immediately around it. Anything that would affect the unit from pulling air into it should be removed. To complete a thorough cleaning and check-up on your unit, call an air conditioning professional. Install a programmable thermostat. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, installing one is simple and can save you loads on your energy bill. The benefit to having a programmable thermostat is being able to schedule it to an energy-saving temperature while you aren’t home. For example, when the family leaves for work or school, you can program your thermostat to 78 or 80 degrees. This temperature may be a little warm when everyone is home, but it is a great temperature to keep an empty home. Install attic insulation/attic fan. Another great energy saver is attic insulation. It

keeps the hot air in your attic and not in the living spaces of your home. Install an attic fan for an inexpensive way to keep your attic even cooler and therefore keep your home cooler. Seal any air leaks to the outside. Close any air leaks by windows or doors with caulk or a weather-stripping material. The more airtight your home is, the less your air conditioner needs to work. Add a UV film to your windows. UV film is a thin plastic that sticks to your windows and can block almost all UV rays as well as a high percentage of solar heat. Not only does this film keep your home cooler when the sun is blazing, but it also protects your furniture, carpets and wood flooring from UV damage. Zero interest loans for certain energy efficiency home improvements are available to Conway Corp customers through its Energy Smart program. All you need to do is schedule a free energy audit with a Conway Corp energy professional, provide an estimate from a vendor and apply for the Energy Smart Loan. It’s that easy to start saving money with a more energy efficient home. To find out more about free energy audits, the loan program or more about Conway Corp’s Energy Smart program, contact Conway Corp at 501.450.6000 or visit ConwayCorp.com/EnergySmart.

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 45


Financial spring cleaning

Submitted by Edward Jones

Spring is officially here – and for many of us, that means it’s time for some spring cleaning around our homes and yards. But why stop there? This year, why not do some financial spring cleaning, too? You can apply some of the same principles of traditional spring cleaning to your financial environment. Here are a few suggestions:

Clear your vision Spring brings extra hours of sunshine – and to enjoy them, you’ll want to clean your windows, inside and out. As an investor, you also need to take a clear-eyed view of your situation periodically. Are you on track toward achieving your goals? If not, what moves can you make to get back on the right path? You need to be honest with yourself to see if you’re doing all you can to help make progress toward your objectives.

‘De-clutter’ your portfolio As you go about sprucing up your house, you may find that you have a lot of clutter. Do you really need three mops? And are you holding on to those old calendars for any good reason? You’ll probably 46 | 501 LIFE May 2020

feel much better about your surroundings when you de-clutter them – and the same may be true of your investment portfolio. For example, do you own several investments that are virtually identical? If so, you might want to consider ways to help diversify your holdings. While diversification can’t guarantee profits or protect against losses in a declining market, it might help reduce the impact of market volatility on your portfolio.

Recharge your batteries When you do your household spring cleaning, you may want to check the batteries on your smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector and other devices. And as part of your financial spring cleaning, you might need to recharge your own investment “batteries,” so to speak. In other words, increase the power you’re providing to your portfolio. You can do this in a few different ways. First, you can increase your contributions to your 401(k) or similar retirement plan every time your salary goes up. You can also try to “max out” on your IRA contributions each year. (For 2020, you can put in up to $6,000 in an IRA, or $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older). Another way to increase

your investment voltage is to make sure you’ve got adequate growth potential in your portfolio based on your goals and risk tolerance.

Put your house in order As part of your spring cleanup, you may want to check for damage on your roof, windows, siding and so on. But you also need to put your financial house in order, especially as it regards to protection. Do you have adequate life insurance? If not, your family could suffer if something were to happen to you. And have you thought about how you could pay for long-term care if you needed it? The average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is about $100,000, according to the insurance company Genworth. To retain your financial independence – and also to help protect your grown children from possibly having to deal with these costs – you may want to explore some type of long-term care insurance. By doing some spring cleaning around your home, you’ll lighten up your living space. And doing some financial spring cleaning may help you brighten your future.


Conway Corp announces promotions, certification

Jason Schaal

Ben Lawrence

Conway Corp recently announced several employee promotions and accomplishments.

Cable Department Brent Brown was promoted to Foreman, CATV Trouble. Brown has been with the company since March 2004 when he was hired as an Installer Trainee. He has worked as a Senior Service Technician the last 10 years. Ben Lawrence was promoted to Foreman, CATV Construction. Lawrence was hired in June 2010 as an Installer Trainee and worked most recently as Senior Construction Techni-

Brent Brown

Tracy Ferrell

cian. Tommy Nolen was promoted to Senior Foreman, Telecom Systems. His career with the company began 20 years ago as an Installer Trainee. He has worked the last eight years as a CATV Training/Special Projects Coordinator. Jason Schaal has been promoted to Foreman, CATV Maintenance. He has been with the company since 2008, when he was hired as a Service Technician. He was a Senior System Technician prior to his recent promotion. In addition, Tracy Ferrell has been promoted

Landon Green

Tommy Nolen

to Senior Customer Service Specialist. She will serve as an expert customer contact to provide Conway Corp product and service information, manage customer inquiries with accuracy and efficiency and work with all departments in the company to support customer requests. Ferrell was hired in March 2014 as a Customer Service Specialist.

Wastewater Department Landon Green, has passed the Wastewater Class 1 exam and is now a Certified Wastewater Operator.

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 47


501 kids


Staying social during social distancing

Canaan Gilbert takes a music lesson via online instruction. Declan Gilbert visits with friends. This spring season is unlike any we’ve ever experienced. Instead of scheduling play dates at the park, we’re having to distance ourselves from our friends. It can get discouraging quickly, especially if your family has any extroverts that get their energy tank filled by being with people. Brittany Even if your house is Gilbert full of homebodies, like Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS ours, you still start to feel teacher at Maumelle High School. the blues whenever you She and her husband, Levi, have three children and live in can’t spend time with Conway. Brittany can be reached at b.gilbert37@gmail.com. friends. We’ve had to get creative to socialize, and thankfully, the rest of the world has shared their ideas, too. 48 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Zoom‌ Zoom‌ Zoom This online video conferencing platform has been a blessing for us in so many ways. Our homeschool community has met using Zoom, with tutors teaching parents and kids so they can be successful at home. The kids get to interact with their friends, and it’s also a neat way to get to see their friends’ home environments all at one time. Churches are using Zoom for children’s ministry, life groups and other meetings so people can socialize and learn together. It’s easy to create meetings and then send the link to friends so they can attend.

Chalk it up or light it up All of social media is an invitation to decorate driveways so friends and neighbors can drive by and admire your creation. Some are writing encouraging words or scriptures, while others are getting really creative with different drawings. It’s been really neat to drive around and see. Another neighborhood created a “bear hunt� where the houses in the neighborhood were asked to

put a stuffed animal in a window, and others would drive around in search for them. This idea was created after the classic book by Michael Rosen, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.� Other places all around the country are putting their Christmas lights back up in hopes of making spirits bright, even in a dark season.

Old fashioned way This is a great time to teach your kids about sending letters to friends. It’s a great lesson for handwriting, spelling, etc., and also provides a great life skill to learn how to send a letter. Kids will also learn an important lesson in patience through the art of sending something and waiting for a reply that won’t happen right away. It’s the original asynchronous messaging system! We are truly living in an unprecedented time for our generation, but social distancing doesn’t have to keep us apart. We are blessed to face this difficult time equipped with technology that can easily erase all distances with just a few clicks. I, for one, am looking on the bright side. What if social distancing turns out to be the very thing that brings us all together?




Justice AGE: 6. CITY: Greenbrier. SCHOOL/GRADE LEVEL: Kindergarten. FAVORITE SUBJECT: Art/music. FAMILY: I have two younger brothers, Isaac (3) and Luke (1). FAVORITE MEAL OR SNACK: Crab legs, deer steak, mac and cheese, and oranges. MOST CHERISHED POSSESSION: My art supplies and dress up clothes. MORE INFORMATION: Justice loves school, writing songs, making art and dancing all day long.


One Crucial Component of Our Continuum of Care

MethodistFamily.org May 2020 501lifemag.com | 49


501 kids



Fostering healthy, sustainable relationships

Kellie Bishop Kellie Bishop is a pediatric nurse practitioner at Central Arkansas Pediatrics in Conway. She lives in Plumerville with her husband, Greg, their son and two dogs. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Central Arkansas and her master’s and doctorate degrees in pediatric primary care at UAMS.

When we think back to our childhoods, some of the most precious memories are those spent with friends. Childhood friendships are crucial to social and emotional development. Children learn how to interact and communicate with their peers while also developing a sense of empathy and appreciation for the feelings and opinions of others. You may notice that your child acts differently depending on which friends they have spent time with recently. This is normal behavior as they develop social skills and learn age-appropriate behaviors from different

friends. Friendships also promote healthy mental development as those with fulfilling friendships tend to be happy, but those who are isolated and left out tend to develop depression and low self-esteem. Friends 50 | 501 LIFE May 2020

can and will impact your child in many ways, both positive and negative, so it is crucial to help foster healthy and sustainable friendships for your children. We should strive to model good friendship behavior for our children. As adults, we often get busy and lose touch with longtime friends. You may find yourself being more friendly with people you work with or parents of your child’s friends because those are the people you can currently connect with and relate to. This will teach your children how to adapt and socialize with different people in various situations and allow them to observe how friends can come from different places in our lives. Kids often think they have to just be friends with other kids in their class. They do not realize that it is ok, and healthy, to befriend kids in other classes or grades, kids at church, or other kids within their neighborhood. Modeling these good friendship skills and adaptability will demonstrate for your children how to socialize with different types of people to form many meaningful relationships. As parents, we tend to encourage our children to form friendships with our own friends’ children. While this is ok and makes our own friendships easier when our children get along and can play together, it is also important to understand our own child’s personality and encourage the friendships that are important to them. If your child loves sports, he may not have as much in common with a child

who prefers art and theatrical play. It is important to teach your child to form friendships with those who may have different interests, but be careful not to force those relationships if they do not come naturally. If your child gets along really well and is happy with another child on her t-ball team instead, encourage that friendship. Meaningful and fulfilling friendships will allow your child to develop socially and emotionally without becoming anxious about “fitting in.� Friendships help form who we are, both positively and negatively. Therefore, you want to make sure your child is not befriending someone who may encourage negative behavior or introduce your child to dangerous situations. However, you also do not want to discourage your child from being friendly to someone who may need a good influence. Encourage your child to be friendly to everyone because you never know when that positive influence could be exactly what another child needs in a friend. Fostering healthy friendships and encouraging friendly interactions between your child and other children will allow your child to develop the social and emotional skills that are crucial to appropriate adult interactions. Encouraging healthy and fulfilling friendships for your children will help them make lifelong memories of those friendships while also encouraging the development of social skills that will help them throughout their lives.


Author shares ‘unique voice’ Tara Lynn Johnson says she is no stranger to pain – physical pain, grief, rejection, abandonment, anxiety, loneliness. After all, it is part of what makes us human. But it is how we handle pain and what we turn to to help us that is most important, which is the message that Tara chooses to impart in her Susan stories. Peterson Born in Oregon, she Susan Peterson holds a PhD in spent most of her formaeducation and taught tive years in Arkansas. at the University of Central Arkansas and Slippery Rock Her father was a preacher University in Pennsylvania. She who ministered in variretired in 2004 and now spends her time doing artwork (painting ous locales around the and pottery). She is the executive state. secretary of the Arkansas Reading Association, a professional As a child, Tara was organization for educators gifted with a beautiful that has about 800 members voice. She loved music, statewide. imitated her favorite singers, and dreamed of a career on stage. But she was also intrigued by historical figures and was an avid reader. To this day, the “Little House on the Prairie” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder is one of her most valued possessions. She chose to pursue her love of music, and in 2001 she earned a music degree from University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her dream came true when she signed on as a roster artist with a Christian ministry and record label group. After 10 years as a singer, Tara was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a condition that causes muscle spasms that affected her singing. It was a devastating blow. She shared her pain and disappointments with her many fans on her blog. They related to her direct style, honesty and openness – so much that many asked her to continue writing. Another friend encouraged her into attending an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference. At the conference, Tara heard a presenter speak about the power of each author’s unique voice, and it was then that she had the revelation that she could exchange her singing voice for a written one. She threw herself into learning the craft. Tara, a strong proponent of networking, met Janet Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency through a friend. Janet decided to represent Tara, and she negotiated a three-book contract for her with Tyndale House Publishers. Tara’s first book with Tyndale was a historical novel titled “Engraved on the Heart” (2018), a suspenseful Civil War romance that encompasses secrets, bravery, love, betrayal and divided loyalties. Tara says that although she likes her readers to be swept away, she thinks it’s important that they learn about the fascinating historical occurrences of the

Author Tara Lynn Johnson. time. “Where Dandelions Bloom” (2019) again takes place during the Civil War, telling the story of Cassie Kendrick, a protagonist who runs from an arranged marriage and disguises herself as a Union soldier. Tara’s books have numerous reviews on Amazon, with 5-stars being the most abundant. Her fans seem to want more and say they can’t wait for her next book. She’s currently working on “All Through the Night,” scheduled to come out later this year. Tara has also been published in Plain Truth magazine and has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio and Enduring Word radio. Early on, she published a self-help book, “Hollow Victory: How to Identify and Disarm Five Landmines that Make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie.” In it she tackles the topics of grief, depression, perfectionism, people-pleasing, fear and anxiety, which can disable one’s spiritual life. She enjoys speaking to groups on a variety of topics and often incorporates song and humor into her presentations. Tara and her husband, Todd, live in Alexander (Pulaski/Saline counties) with their children, Bethany, Callie and Nate. Tara homeschools Callie. Two other children, Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane, are with Jesus. Thanks to the imagination of her young son Nate, she is also contemplating writing a children’s book. More about Tara can be found on her Facebook page, which she posts to regularly. Her website, TaraJohnsonstories.com, has songs, a blog and even advice on writing. Her books may be purchased from Amazon and other online book sellers.

get f ra m e d at

Pa t t e r s o n E y e C a re

2505 Donaghey, Ste 102 • Conway, AR



May 2020 501lifemag.com | 51


Amid pandemic Staff still committed to helping students by Jessica Duff

We are living in unprecedented times as we all do our part to fight against the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. At the Pulaski County Special School District, we continuously look for equitable and innovative ways to educate our students in these uncertain times and in often challenging circumstances. In March, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced he was closing schools for two weeks with the hope of reuniting at school on March 30. However, one week into the closure, we saw that closure extended to April 17 by state officials. Now, after nearly one month apart from our schools, Gov. Hutchinson announced that schools would remain closed through the end of the school year. This announcement was one that rocked educators, students and communities to the core. The extended closure didn’t mean that school was over for the year. It means more at-home learning. That means no end-of-the-year parties in our classrooms. It means a completely different end to PCSSD education for more than 800 high school seniors. Important, memorable events are no longer available to our students and staff, all in an effort to keep them safe from a virus that continues to take lives everyday throughout the United States. Educators across the Pulaski County Special School District are adapting their lessons to fit an online learning environment, while also utilizing technology to remain in contact and available for their students. This includes video Google Hangout and Google Meet for class and individual instruction. Many teachers are reaching out and calling students and families to make sure students are keeping up with their school work. Principals and teachers are now using social media in new and unique ways to communicate with students and families. Whether it’s a Facebook Live video of teachers reading their favorite book or P.E. coaches posting entertaining exercise options for the home, everyone continues to make adjustments for the betterment of student education. This sudden transition to online and at-home learning is difficult for all involved. Students are adjusting to a new way of learning online and at home while teachers are modifying their lessons and interactions with students. Meanwhile, parents are taking on new roles that include working with their children on assignments and, in some cases, actually teaching their children. All this is while continuing to report to work or having to work from home. This worldwide pandemic is 52 | 501 LIFE May 2020

PCSSD Executive Director of Communications Jessica Duff works from home during pandemic.

Sherwood Elementary School student Elizabeth Turner. uncharted territory for everyone and the Pulaski County Special School District continues to work toward what is best for our students every day. In addition to an education, many students rely on other school resources daily from PCSSD, including breakfast and lunch. Though it was a complex process to initiate, leaders from the PCSSD Central Office quickly realized the necessity to continue providing food resources during a worldwide pandemic. Preparing and delivering food for an entire district while maintaining social distancing and CDC guidelines for groups of people proved to be difficult. As educators, we know the impact food insecurity has on students and the importance of providing meals for our students in order to help them focus on school rather than the fear of where they might get their next meal. We understand that some PCSSD families do not have internet access in their homes. Unfortunately, the recent circumstances required us to move to online AMI instruction, proving to be a hardship for some. Schools across the district are working feverishly to provide printed AMI

Student messages in chalk to Maumelle Middle School Principal Ryan Burgess at his home. packets for those families who do not have daily internet access. Additionally, many internet service providers are stepping up to provide accessibility to families who may be unable to afford a connection under typical circumstances. All of us at the Pulaski County Special School District are heartbroken over the COVID-19 outbreak across the United States. It continues to impact families in our district, state and country in ways we cannot even imagine. The 2019-2020 school year will end on Thursday, May 28, under the most unusual circumstances due to this worldwide pandemic. The administration and staff at Pulaski County Special School District would like to say thank you to our families and students for everything. We appreciate the way they adapted when we left our buildings on March 12, and how they continue to adjust as we look ahead to May 28. Every day in the PCSSD, we are working to find solutions to continue to provide a quality education, equity and excellence to our students. We are #pcssdproud!

PCSSD buses are loaded with meals for delivery.


PCSSD remains committed to supporting students & families during the COVID-19 pandemic. May 2020 501lifemag.com | 53


Olympic dream

Wooster’s Browning looks to next year’s games

Kayle Browning made the USA Women’s Trap Team for the 2020 Summer Olympics. She won the two-stage U.S. Olympic Team Trials in February, but her Olympics dream of competing at Tokyo will have to wait a year because of the pandemic. (Thaddius Bedford photos) by Donna Lampkin Stephens

She’s finally reached her goal, but Wooster’s Kayle Browning will have to wait a while to actually experience it. Browning, 27, made the USA Women’s Trap Team for the 2020 Summer Olympics when she won the two-stage U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun in Tucson, Ariz., in February. But with the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc across the world, the Tokyo Games, scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9, have been postponed. On March 24, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the Games would be held by the summer of 2021. 54 | 501 LIFE May 2020

“I think it is best for everyone’s health and safety to come first, so the postponement is OK with me,” said Browning, an alternate for Team USA in 2012. “I don’t have an answer as to when the games will be rescheduled yet, but it is a unique and cool opportunity to be able to have extra time to train for the Games.” Browning began shooting when she was about 8. Her father, Tommy Browning, won five national championships in the National Sporting Clays Association, which is not an Olympic event. She made the open women’s All-American team at 12 before making the switch to the international trap game, which includes 15 machines in an underground bunker. A computer sets the targets, which can range from 45 degrees left to 45 degrees right, from one

meter to three meters high — at 75 mph. Browning progressed from USA Shooting’s Junior Olympic team to the National Development team to the National and World Cup teams before attaining her Olympic dream. As a 2012 alternate, she took bronze in a preOlympic competition in London. In 2016, she finished third in the Trials, but there was only one spot available. For 2020, Team USA is made up of two women and two men — the first time the Americans have fielded a full team since 2008. Browning took gold in the first half of the Trials in September and extended her lead through the second half.

Kayle Browning began shooting when she was about 8. Her father, Tommy Browning, won five national championships in the National Sporting Clays Association.

don’t now that ta ent w se ’ any etter now t enta y de n te y a hen yo et o der erta n th n s don’t other yo e they do when yo ’re a teena er n and experience and learning how to o ete a e a d eren e

— Kayle Browning

Approximately 250 countries compete in Olympic-style shooting, but the field for the Games is limited to fewer than 30 countries. Browning said during the shooting season, which runs January through September, she travels overseas with her team about once a month. Between that and training camps, she’s away about two weeks a month. Her training includes weight training for specific muscles and eye exercises/sensory training to help with balance and response time. She lives near the training facility her father built several years ago. “I literally can walk 15 steps out my front door and train,” she said. She said traveling was the best part of her sport. “I’ve been to over 17 or 18 countries now. I’ve got-

ten to see the world with it.” Tokyo will be her first time in Japan except through the airport. Browning, who earned a degree in interior design from the University of Central Arkansas, met her boyfriend, David Radulovich, through her sport. He’s a competitive sporting clay shooter from Ohio. She flips houses around the 501 when she’s not shooting, but she’s making a living with her guns. “If you’d asked me that maybe five years ago, I probably would’ve said I’d go a different way and find something else to do,” she said. “But I’ve kind of made a career out of it. Sponsorships have incentives, and if you’re on Team USA, there’s a stipend.” When she was 17, Browning told a reporter that she never told herself before a competition that she had to hit a certain score. “If you do, you beat yourself,” she said then. “You just go out with a clear mind and be your best. Whatever happens, happens.” At 27, she still has that same mindset. “I don’t know that talent-wise I’m any better now, but mentally, I definitely am,” she said. “When you get older, certain things don’t bother you like they do when you’re a teenager. Aging and experience and learning how to compete make a big difference.” She has a similar goal whenever the Tokyo Olympics happen. “I’m really hoping just to be able to enjoy the whole experience,” she said. “I hope my family can come. By not putting too much pressure on myself, I will do better. If I win, I can celebrate afterward.” Even delayed, she’ll have plenty of company.

Kayle Browning’s career highlights 2019 Mixed Team — silver medal, world record (149 of 150) 2018 CAT — gold medalist, quota 2018 Mixed Team — gold 2016 National Championships — silver 2015 Pan American Games — silver 2015 Shotgun Selection — gold 2012 World Cup London — bronze 2011 Pan American Games — bronze 2011 National Championship — gold, national record 2011 National Junior Olympic Championships — bronze 2010 National Championship — jr gold 2009 National Championship — jr gold 2009 World Championship — team bronze 2007 National Junior Olympic Championships — bronze Source: usashooting.org

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 55

White County: Ronnie Huckeba Dr. Robert Reising Dr. Robert Reising retired from the University of Central Arkansas in 2013 after holding a variety of teaching, coaching and administrative posts during more than a half-century in education. His doctoral dissertation at Duke treated literature and sports.

Conversing with Ronnie Huckeba is pure pleasure. “A people person,” he exudes humility, intelligence and understanding. Within minutes of entering his orbit, strangers are invariably convinced they have gained a new friend. His warm and winning personality has served him commendably through more than four decades in athletics; at age 64, he now enjoys near iconic status as a football coach and a spokesperson for education. Just one year after his birth in Carrollton, Ga., on July 22, 1955, he departed his father’s native city for Smyrna, in the same state. At age 9, he moved again, this time to Irving, Texas, to allow his father to transition from part-time to full-time preaching. Yet another move four years later permitted him to acquire his high school diploma in 1972 in Claxton, Ga., where he was a four-sport athlete. He refrains from waxing eloquent when assessing the 15 letters he earned, preferring a concise but cordial “I was a good athlete.” Harding University beckoned a short time later. By 1978, while proving to be a stalwart offensive guard on the Bison football team, Huckeba had completed the baccalaureate in science education and, no less significantly, acquired a love and respect for Harding that continues to the moment. Eight seasons of successful high school coaching interrupted – one in Arkansas, another in Texas and six in Louisiana — before he returned to his beloved alma mater as an assistant football coach. The master’s degree he earned in 1983 also permitted him to qualify for a faculty appointment in kinesiology. Twenty-one seasons in that dual capacity, 13 of them as Harding’s defensive coach, allowed him, in the words of a colleague, to influence “hundreds and hundreds of young” people, especially football players, in ways consistent with Harding’s Christian commitments. He lived his faith as well on the gridiron and in the classroom, and to no one’s surprise, the University named him its 12th head football coach in October 2007. His impact on students in that key athletic and campus post continued to be significant, and the longer he remained the program’s overseer, the more respect his teams and leadership garnered. From Connecticut to California, Harding became noteworthy for its gridiron success and 56 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Harding University named Ronnie Huckeba its 12th head football coach in October 2007. His impact on students in that key athletic and campus post has been significant, and the longer he remained the program’s overseer, the more respect his teams and leadership garnered. principled coach. The first half of his decade-long stay as head coach hardly harbingered the win-loss record and

prestige the Bisons would enjoy during his final five seasons. Huckeba’s football genius was to merge with his recruiting skills and ingratiating personality

HARDING UNIVERSITY is proud to salute all of our Bison teams and coaches for the outstanding ways they represent our University.

Division II sports including baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball

Last fall, Harding University dedicated its new indoor football practice facility in honor of longtime football head coach Ronnie Huckeba. The facility not only provides a place to practice in inclement weather but also provides additional space to be more effective in their preparation each week. This indoor football practice facility is the largest indoor practice facility in NCAA Division II and one of the largest in the country for any level. (Jeff Montgomery photo courtesy of Harding University)

Captured the 2018-19 Great American Conference All-Sports Trophy with seven of our programs recording top-three finishes in the final GAC standings

501 LIFE is once again profiling noteworthy athletes, men and women who were born outside of Central Arkansas but who made their mark in the 501. The “Celebrating athletic excellence” series features one from each of the 11 counties in the 501. The 11 are representatives of the quality of athletes found throughout Central Arkansas and are not meant to be the best or the most noteworthy. This is the final installment in the third “Celebrating athletic excellence” series. to replace a 22 and 29 mark with one of 47 and 11 and to claim 69 career wins, third highest among Harding coaches, and a career winning percentage of .633, highest among coaches. Four of his last five teams went on to post-season play. In 2012 and 2016, Harding reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs, and the 2013 team won the Texarkana Live United Bowl. Three of his last five teams, moreover, climbed to national distinction, earning places among the Top 25 Teams in the American Football Coaches Association Division II: No. 19 in 2012, No. 17 in 2014 and No. 6 in 2016. Especially gratifying to Huckeba during that decade were the 21 players gaining All-American status and the three winning Academic All-America honors. Gaining his glowing praise is his All-American whose “story” he labels “fantastic.” From disadvantaged circumstances in California to three seasons in the National Football League to his present position as head strength coach for the Bisons, Ty Powell has succeeded against obstacles overcome

only by humans with indomitable emotional and spiritual strength. Retired from coaching and teaching, Powell’s mentor has not retired from aiding the institution the two hold dear. Now living in Siloam Springs in Northwest Arkansas, Huckeba serves as senior advancement officer for his alma mater, raising financial support for Harding. Awards from his final seasons of coaching accompany him on his important quest, including one coming in 2010, Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year, and four in 2016: Great American Conference Coach of the Year, AFCA Region 4 Coach of the Year, Don Hansen Region 3 Coach of the Year and Don Hansen National Coach of the Year. In 2019, Harding added to the modest Huckeba’s honors by naming its ultra-modern indoor practice facility Huckeba Field House. A longtime Harding colleague of the Georgia native maintains that he possesses “the perfect mix of influence, determination and humanity.” White County and the 501 agree, and are proud he does.



Linda Henderson Jim and Linda Henderson are lifelong residents of the 501. They travel the 501 and other areas of Arkansas. Jim drives and hauls equipment. Linda takes photographs of Arkansas. During their travels, they have gained appreciation and love for The Natural State. They have found the 501 has so much to offer for fun and beauty to photograph.

Recently, my “Sisters of the Traveling Snake Boots” and our husbands took a trip of a lifetime together. The trip was to Yellowstone National Park in the winter. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen many references to my Sisters of the Traveling Snake Boots. Over the years, I have received several messages and comments from followers requesting I tell the story of the Sisterhood.

FINDING SISTERS The “Sisters” story began in 2011. The first sister was Karla Riker Hall. She and I became acquainted because I was a customer of the photo printing company where she worked. The more we talked, the more we found we had lots of things in common. We discovered we both enjoyed taking short road trips around Arkansas and the first adventure was planned. After that first excursion together, there haven’t been many weekends that we haven’t gone on a photography adventure. Our husbands have 58 | 501 LIFE May 2020

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ARCF Ford Andrews501 LIFE.pdf



4:25 PM

To find out how the Community Foundation is responding to COVID-19 in Arkansas, go to arcf.org/COVID19

Jeannie Ford and Collins Andrews of Little Rock both share a passion for giving back to their community. By making a gift from their IRA, they partnered with the Community Foundation so they could support several causes while receiving the greatest C

tax benefit.



Like Jeannie and Collins, you can make a gift from your IRA to the


Community Foundation and support the causes you care about


most. We use a simple, flexible and efficient process to make


giving easy. To learn more, contact Foundation staff today.



Options for arcf.org/givesmart 60 | 501 LIFE May 2020

joined in on our trips too. Karla’s husband, Mike Hall, is also a photographer and my husband, Jim, has earned the nickname Sherpa, because as he loves to say, he just drives ‘the bus’ and hauls my equipment. Next to join was Lisa Schmatjen McCarley. Lisa and her husband, Ricky, first met Karla and her husband in the woods while photographing waterfalls. Karla invited Lisa and Ricky to attend a landscape photography gathering. They came and as it is said, the rest is history. The next sister to become a part our group was Eilish Reding Palmer. Eilish entered the circle after a chance meeting. Eilish and I were Facebook friends and had messaged each other a few times, but had never met each other in person. Jim and I happened upon Eilish while photographing elk in the Buffalo National Park. An instant friendship was formed and she and her husband, Charlie, became a part of our little tribe.

YELLOWSTONE Eilish and Charlie have made many trips to Yellowstone in the winter. I loved hearing their stories about how special Yellowstone is in the winter and how few people are in the park during this time. Eilish and Charlie were right; there were times while we were there that we would go 15 to 20 minutes without seeing anyone and the only traffic we encountered were the bison jams. The sights of America’s first National Park in the winter time are very different than I had expected. I anticipated a very cold, snowy and desolate landscape, filled with snow-covered mountain ranges. It is so very different from Arkansas in the winter. We get a little snow and it melts away by the next day, leaving a muddy countryside. Not so in Yellowstone. I found deep, white snow blanketing everything. The mountain peaks and valley road appears to be cut around otherworldly rock formations, boulder beds and sharp rock ledges. The snowy forest takes on a magical appearance and I kept expecting to see snow fairies dancing around towering lodge pole pines. Early in the morning the trees and valleys were covered with a thick icy fog. When the sunlight touches the trees, they look like sparkling diamonds and jewels. We didn’t get to see it snow many times during our visit, but when it does, it coats everything with a dry wispy cover. It was cold. The lowest that we saw was -19, but

we had the right kind of clothing and dressed in layers. I was never uncomfortable. In Yellowstone, steam and pungent odors of sulfur billow up from the hot springs, lakes and the geysers of the caldera area. The hydrothermal features and colorful pools are sometime hidden by thick steam. For a few, brief moments the steam stops and their brilliant colors can be seen. I didn’t expect to see wildlife so close to the road. I had assumed they were far from the road and required a big zoom lens or high-powered scopes to see. I was definitely wrong about that as the park is filled with frosty, snow-covered bison roaming on the open roads from field to field. They dig deep into the snow with their massive heads, trying to find blades of last summer’s grass. The bachelor elk groups are also close to the road in the high forest. They too search for grass, pawing their hooves into the snowy ground. Coyotes and foxes patrol the Lamar Valley in search of small rodents, rabbits or recent fallen prey. A lone moose lingered close to the steam-fed river at the edge of the forest. In the Lamar Valley, bighorn rams climb up steep jagged peaks right next to the road. Every morning, we rose early to photograph the sunrise and the feeding wildlife. Each morning the sky was gray and foggy. It didn’t appear the light would be optimum for a beautiful sunrise but as the sunlight would break the tops of the mountains, the light changed and the clouds parted and the sky filled with pinks, purples and oranges. Light hit the tops of the mountains and filled the valleys with sunshine and we were rewarded for getting up early with a stunning sunrise to photograph. The sunsets were also magnificent. The sky hues varied with each moment till sunlight changed to evening shades. Travel within the park during the winter time is limited to only the roads that are plowed. To enter the interior of Yellowstone requires that you hire a snow coach or take a snowmobile tour. The snow coaches are four-wheel drive vans or buses with huge (48-inch) tires. Our trip into the interior was the highlight of our trip. We got to see the back county and the vast open spaces of the park. My favorite wildlife sighting was while we were on our snow coach tour. It was a long line of bison wandering across a vast, snow-covered field in a single row. The backdrop for the scene was thick gray steam rising high in the sky from the hot springs and the geysers in the Geyser Basin. Yellowstone National Park is more than 2 million acres with more than 400 miles of roads and 1,000 miles of trails that weave through the spectacular park. There is no way it could all be seen. It is a great gift that our forefathers gave us and it should be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of all Americans.

SISTERHOOD NAME So, where did the name for the sisterhood come from? One of the things we all had in common, other than cameras and tripods, were snake boots. Thus, we started referring to ourselves as The Sisters of the Traveling Snake Boots. We are so blessed that we all have become friends. Not only do we travel together, encourage each other’s photography skills, share photography tips and locations, but we have been there for each other during, weddings, illness and during times of great loss. Very few days pass that there are not phone calls or texts between the sisters. We came together because of our love for photography, a love for the outdoors, a belief in God and a love for discovering what is down the road less taken.


Doing the Right Thing for Our Communities


The Shelter Insurance® Foundation is offering me a chance to support a local charity providing COVID-19 relief here at home. Every Shelter agent in 15 states is being given this opportunity, and I have chosen to direct this $1,000 donation to Woodland Heights Baptist Church for their breakfast drive. They are helping people here in Conway by providing breakfast boxes for families who have lost their jobs during this crisis, containing milk, eggs, bacon, cereal, etc. My agency will add $500 to this donation and I encourage anyone who can to help our community through this charity. Learn more here: ShelterInsurance.com/CrisisRelief

Roe Henderson

1416 Prince St. Conway, AR 72043 501-327-3888


We’re your Shield. We’re your Shelter. ShelterInsurance.com

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 61

Rusher continued from Page 35

Gregory added, “I considered this like taking care of a family member. It meant a lot to me to be able to take care of them, but he was not healed through some power of mine. His recovery can be attributed to providence and God. I’m really glad Brad is doing so well.” The Rushers agree. “We truly believe that God gave Dr. Gregory and Dr. Schluterman the experience and wisdom to know what to do in a ‘not so typical’ situation,” said Jennifer. The Rushers also came away from the near-death experience with a renewed appreciation for their community. “We had 60 people show up and move our entire house in four hours because we were in the hospital and had a deadline to meet,” Jennifer said. “They were amazing; people from our home school cooperative and church. I have a photo of our amazing community standing in the Penske truck.” Brad added, “It’s definitely changed the way I look at life. It was almost like a dream. I’m very grateful to be alive. It helped me realize that life is very fragile and we should appreciate what we have.”

“HSV1 does not usually cause meningitis (an infection of the membranous lining of the brain); it more typically causes only encephalitis (infection of the brain). Brad had both. When I looked at his symptoms and tried to put it all together, he demonstrated symptoms of meningitis including headaches. The encephalitis caused the confusion, difficulties remembering and finding the right words in speech, and seizures.”

Lucky Schluterman added, “Brad was probably lucky that he had his seizure in the ER. The fact that he had confusion and a seizure in the ER led us to do additional tests.” “As Dr. Schluterman explained it, the virus basically goes into your brain and destroys brain tissue and the longer there is a delay in treatment the more brain damage you will have,” said Jennifer. “The fact that the doctors felt like Brad needed to be treated for meningoencephalitis days before the actual results came in saved his life.” Eight months later, Brad has some short-term memory loss and will take seizure medicine indefinitely. It could have been much worse. “HSV1 has as much as a 70 percent mortality rate in healthy people without treatment and some of the survivors have significant brain damage,” said Jennifer. Brad has been able to return to work at Edafio Technology Partners and resume life with Jennifer and their three children: Abbie, 16, Braden, 14, and Emma, 10. There are some restrictions. Under Arkansas state law, a person can’t drive until one year after a seizure. Jennifer quipped, “We call it Driving Brad Rusher” in reference to the Oscar-winning movie “Driving Miss Daisy.” “I have an overwhelming sense of thankfulness

for the doctors who took care of him,” said Jennifer. “I have worked for Conway Regional for 18 years, and I have seen many lives saved, but what they do when someone you love is lying there, it is different. Dr. Gregory and Dr. Schluterman will always have a special place in my heart. “I feel like if we had gone to a larger hospital that day this could have been overlooked,” she added. “All of his blood work was normal; but they just knew something was not right. They listened to me. I feel like it is our responsibility to tell our story.”

Virus continued from Page 32

Vivian continued from Page 14

hospital who are batting COVID-19 or another illness, and to pray for the good health of doctors and nurses. “We can’t say enough good about the doctors and nurses who take their lives in their hands every day when they go in to work to take care of us. There’s a special place in heaven for these folks. Thanks Dr. (Greg) Kendrick for your care and patience. I just wish we could do something else to thank them. We love you all.” Linda said upon leaving the hospital, she was struck by how green the grass was. “It was good to have the hospital to go to but it was sure good to be home. It’s amazing the different colors of green in the trees and grass, and how vivid the flowers are. Just the things that we all take for granted are so appreciated! “You know I think that sometimes God has a way of helping us to remember to slow down and enjoy the time we have here.” Linda said there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the virus. Some people who have the virus may be concerned that they will be ostracized. “We do need to be careful but not afraid of people who’ve had it,” she said. “People are scared of the virus and rightly so. What they need to be fearful of are other people who aren’t being careful and just touching things that we take for granted. If you saw the precautions that the medical personnel had to take, I would never have dreamed.”

Baptist College) and the State Normal School (now University of Central Arkansas) also helped in mask production. There are many observations being made about treatments for the current virus. Some people will drive while using cellphones, yet think it is dangerous to try using Hydroxychloroquine, a long-established drug, to treat the novel coronavirus cases. I was unfamiliar with it until I noticed the “quin” at the end. It seemed related to “quinine” to me, and sure enough it is one of the ingredients, used primitively since the 1600s and developed for malaria treatments in 1944. It was also

62 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Take away

Brad and Jennifer Rusher. (Mike Kemp photo)

Conway continued from Page 15 championship run as an assistant coach under James Bates. Longing took over as head coach in 2017. “There has been some serious reflection about this over the last three weeks,” Longing said. “There are far better coaches than myself who have coached for decades and never had the fortune to win a state title. We walked into a program three years ago that had been left in great shape by James Bates and Will Johnson. We inherited skilled, athletic players at the high school level with outstanding coaches at our middle schools and junior high. It was not a rebuild, but a continue to build. We could not have taken over at a better time. “For me personally, it’s just getting to be a very

Jennifer encourages anyone who is experiencing unusual health symptoms to trust their intuition and see a physician. “Brad was so stubborn and wouldn’t go to the ER initially. He was working with a bad headache on Saturday and things progressed so quickly that by Monday he was asking to go to the ER. I tell my patients all the time it is better to err on the side of caution. It’s better to be safe than sorry because it can literally be the difference between life and death,” said Jennifer. She added, “You don’t have to go to Little Rock to get top-notch care. Conway Regional is home to some of the best physicians in the country. It was these doctors who diagnosed, treated and ultimately saved Brad’s life.” one of the drugs used in an earlier form to treat the 1918 flu patients. Some weeks back, it occurred to me that perhaps the regular flu shots might have beneficial effects that have helped many by-pass the COVID-19. Time, research and science will tell. I believe there are many good things that will come out of our present misery. Maybe now we can see how being sanitary, working together, planning ahead and caring about other people can unite us. So . . . wash your hands! Pray for America! Hold friends and family close in your heart. Appreciate all of our “lifesavers!” And STOP the divisiveness that hinders recovery! We have an exceptional Republic to take care of. . . now, and when this plague is over. small part of something really special. This program for me is all I’ve ever known, and it’s all I’ve ever cared to know. The greatest satisfaction was watching our players during that run in the state tournament accomplish what no one thought was possible. Watching them fight adversity, watching them come together, and watching them celebrate. It feels great being part of our program’s fifth state championship.” “I’m so happy for Salty,” Matthews said. “No one loves Conway High basketball more than him, and he has dedicated so much of his life to seeing it succeed. He joins a small fraternity of Conway coaches that have led teams to state championships, and he will always be remembered for how he goes about his job — with focus, dedication and humility.”

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 63

501 in pics

‘Parade for Pat’ Mike Kemp photos

The 501 has shared its creativity in showing love and support for one another during the pandemic. Friends of Pat Murphy held a “We love you, Pat Murphy” parade in West Conway, complete with an escort provided by the Conway Police Department. Participants also made financial donations to help the family. Pat was a longtime Conway banker before joining Conway Wealth Management. He was diagnosed with cancer in January. He and his wife, Teri, have two children, Luke and Lauren. “When we first heard about the parade earlier that day, we were just expecting a few friends and family members to drive by,” said Teri. “It was so much more than we expected! The outpouring of love was so powerful and emotional. Our family wants to thank each and every person from the bottom of our heart for showing their support to our family during this time.” An account to accept donations on behalf of the family has been set up at First Community Bank, 1089 Front St. in Conway. (Pat Murphy passed away April 16. 501 LIFE extends its condolences to his family and friends.)

64 | 501 LIFE May 2020

May 2020 501lifemag.com | 65

George Friedrich

CITY: Outside Searcy, in the country WORK: Owner of Double Springs Grass Farms, Just Nuts for You, Super Sweet Strawberries, Blueberry Fields Forever, George Friedrich Farming and Hemtastic CBD Oil.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GO INTO YOUR FIELD: Fifty years ago, I was cutting some

Bermuda sod for erosion control on my farm in Pulaski County. When people saw the pallets of sod on our truck, they wanted some, so I started growing sod commercially.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR WORK: Keeping everyone moving in the direction that I have in my five-year plan. Over the years, I have developed great relationships with my customers, employees, bankers, advertisers, etc.

CHURCH ACTIVITIES: I belong to New Life

Church in Searcy.

FAMILY: Two daughters, Gretchen (46) and Christian (40), and my two rottweilers. MOST CHERISHED POSSESSION: My health, family, employees and my dogs. When we were working on golf courses pre-2008, I loved flying all over the South checking on them, so I guess airplanes. I own a King Air that I fly. MOST ENJOYED WEEKEND ACTIVITY: When

my grandkids were younger, I had a boat at Heber Springs. They have moved to Tuscaloosa, so I sold the boat. When I have time, I fly down to my home in Apalachicola, Fla.


Springs at the lake.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT LIVING IN THE 501: The 501 seems to be the focal point of

George Friedrich is a fifth generation farmer but he didn’t immediately go into farming. “When I got out of school, my first job was working for Colgate-Palmolive in New York City on Park Avenue. Because I could speak Spanish, they put me in the international marketing department. I was the new products liaison for Mexico and Central America,” he said. “In 1970, I left C-P and I went to work for Mattel Toys in California as a marketing director. In 1971, I made a talking cheerleader doll for Faulkner and Associates in Little Rock. I moved to Little Rock in January 1972 and later that year I opened Discount Records and spun off on my own to grow sod in White County while Jack Garner managed the record business. I ultimately sold the record business to Jack and the rest is now history. I love what I do and plan to never retire.” (Megan Stroud photo)

66 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Arkansas… the capital, UAMS, UALR, the river area, good restaurants, good golf courses, good people.

A Growing Health System for a Growing Community

New Medical Offices

Expanded Access

More Specialists

Keith Schluterman, M.D. Practicing at our Conway Regional Neuroscience Center, Dr. Keith Schluterman is board certified in general neurology and sleep medicine. Neurologists provide comprehensive services to diagnose and treat illnesses of the neurological system, including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. Our Neuroscience Center is the only of its kind in Faulkner County and has a proven record of excellence. Visit conwayregional.org for more information.

We’re not just growing—we’re growing together.


Innovative Services


No community wants to face hard times. But when they come, Arkansans really shine. Health care workers and first responders face it head on. Teachers and parents find new ways to keep education going. Businesses and employees adjust and adapt. First Security is here for you through it all. When this challenging time is behind us – and those better days are coming – we’ll all be stronger than ever.

Proud to be your community bank. Call or click today! Member FDIC 68 | 501 LIFE May 2020

Profile for 501 LIFE

May 2020  

This month, 501 LIFE takes a look at the COVID-19 pandemic (Pages 25-33), how it has impacted Central Arkansas and how the 501 has responded...

May 2020  

This month, 501 LIFE takes a look at the COVID-19 pandemic (Pages 25-33), how it has impacted Central Arkansas and how the 501 has responded...