Frank Lynn Whitbeck


Obituary Notice

Frank Lynn Whitbeck, Life Insurance Executive, Civic Leader and Educator, died in Little Rock Friday, May 31, 2002. Whitbeck was founder of American Foundation Life Insurance Company and its predecessor Pioneer Western Life Insurance Company of Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1955. His accomplishments in business, professional, civic and public life were numerous. He inspired many prominent Arkansans to achieve their best in business, professional and political life. Whitbeck's success as a life insurance executive was contagious. He attracted local insurance professionals to join him in building a publicly owned life insurance company based in Little Rock. By the time of his retirement in 1979 American Foundation Life was doing business in 18 States and West Germany with over 5000 shareholders. He was also a founder of First American National Bank in North Little Rock. Whitbeck's civic contributions were also very important to the growth of Arkansas. In 1963 he was spokesman for the Arkansas Economic Expansion Study Commission, which defined the political agenda for Arkansas State Government for the modern era. Issues such as school district consolidation and incentives to attract new industry to Arkansas are still headline items 40 years later. Whitbeck ran for governor of Arkansas in 1968 but in his words, " I was told by the electorate to stay in business." Nevertheless he helped define and modernize Arkansas politics for years to come. He later became a chairman of the Arkansas Public Building Authority in 1973, Little Rock Water Commissioner from 1972-1980, and chaired numerous charitable causes including the United Way of Pulaski County, YMCA of Greater Little Rock, the Boy Scouts of America and many others. Whitbeck served in World War II becoming a "90 day wonder" going from an Army Private to a Second Lieutenant within 90 days of enlisting at Camp Robinson. He was assigned to transport troops to the front in Europe and the Pacific. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean over 30 times in wartime. When his ship would arrive in New York City or San Francisco his wife Beverly would meet him to welcome him home. Following his insurance and civic careers Whitbeck became an Executive in Residence at the University of Arkansas. He established the Whitbeck Beyer Chair of Financial Services, the first endowed chair of the school. He also established the Edward L. Whitbeck Award to the top graduating senior at UALR to honor his son who died in 1965. The 37th Edward L. Whitbeck Award winner this year was Georgia Miller of Little Rock. In 2001 Whitbeck received the Distinguished Alumni Award from UALR. Whitbeck's education included the graduation from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., Oklahoma University at Norman, Honorary J.D., Class of 1943 from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law, Builders Award 1986, and Honorary Doctor of Business Administration, 1983 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His civic activities also included First Chairman of the Arkansas State Council on Economic Education, Past President of Rotary Club 99, 1991-92, member of the Arkansas Bar Association and Foundation, Alpha Kappa Psi, Beta Gamma Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, 33 degree Scottish Rites Mason, Scimitar Shrine, Honorary Lifetime Fellow of the Harry S. Truman Library, board of directors of American Council of Life Insurance, Washington, D.C., Life Insurance Management and Research Association, Hartford, Connecticut.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Beverly Robinson Butterfield Whitbeck of Little Rock. They were married on December 26, 1938 at St. Paul's Cathedral in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The church was heavily damaged by the Murray Federal Building bombing and Frank and Beverly helped lead a campaign to restore the Cathedral to its original grace. An exemplary Episcopalian, Whitbeck served as Senior Warden of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral at the time the Cathedral School of Little Rock was started.

Whitbeck is also survived by his son Frank B. Whitbeck and wife Lisa of Little Rock, one sister Helen Rose Prendergast of Atlanta, Georgia, and 4 grandchildren; Richard Wallace Whitbeck, Jackson Forbes Whitbeck, Elisabeth Butterfield Whitbeck and Selby Roland Whitbeck.
There will be a funeral service Monday at 11 A.M. at Christ Episcopal Chruch officiated by The Reverend Ewing Jackson. Burial will follow at Roselawn Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Ruebel Funeral Home.

Memorials in lieu of flowers should be made to the Whitbeck Beyer Chair of Financial Services at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.