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Dr. Calvin R. Ledbetter, Jr.

Dr. Calvin R. Ledbetter, Jr.

Calvin R. Ledbetter, Jr. (Cal Ledbetter), revered professor, author, politician and philanthropist died in Little Rock on August 10, 2013 at the age of 84. He was the son of Calvin R. Ledbetter and Virginia Campbell Ledbetter and is survived by his son Grainger Ledbetter (Sherry Curry), his daughter Snow Ledbetter Moen (Chris) and five grandchildren—Campbell, Mary and Jeff Curry-Ledbetter, and Lily and Gwyneth Moen. He is preceded in death by his son, Jeffery Calvin Ledbetter and his wife of 55 years, Brownie Williams Ledbetter.

Born in Little Rock at Saint Vincent’s Infirmary on April 29, 1929, he attended public school in Little Rock and went to Princeton University, graduating from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He received a J.D. from the University of Arkansas Law School and served in the Student Senate. After briefly practicing law in Little Rock, he joined the army as a member of the Judge Advocate General Corps and served in Germany for three years. After completing his military service he obtained a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University where he taught as a graduate student.

In 1960 he joined the faculty at the University of Little Rock. From 1961-1978 he was chair of the Political Science Department which was soon expanded to include Criminal Justice. He was particularly proud that during his chairmanship the faculty grew from two to thirteen and an Associate Degree in Law Enforcement was created. Bachelor of Art Degrees in Political Science and Criminal Justice and Master of Arts in Criminal Justice and Public Administration were also added to the curriculum. In 1978, after a national search, he was selected as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UALR. During his ten year tenure as Dean, Master of Arts degrees in Public History, Applied Psychology, and Technical and Expository Writing were established and the Center for Arkansas Studies and the Humanists as Mediators program (a program that employed Liberal Arts faculty members as mediators in minor legal disputes) was created. He also served as chair/president of the National Conference of Academic Deans, the Arkansas Political Science Association, the Arkansas History Commission, and the Arkansas Humanities Council. Upon his retirement from UALR he was made Professor Emeritus for Political Science.

A passionate student of Arkansas history, he wrote extensively about the state and its political past. His best known book, Carpenter from Conway, is a biography of the state’s 22nd governor, George W. Donaghey . He also co-authored three books, Politics in Arkansas: the Constitutional Experience, The Arkansas Plan: A Case Study in Public Policy, and Arkansas Becomes a State. In addition he authored over thirty articles for various journals including the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, the National Civic Review, the University of Arkansas Law Review and State Government.

His academic career was complimented by a successful career in politics. From 1967-1976 he served in the Arkansas Legislature and sponsored several significant initiatives including property tax relief for residents over 65, extended voting hours and a landmark study that led to major improvements in the operations of the Arkansas legislature. He served as a member of the executive committee of the National Council of State Legislatures and chaired the NCSL Criminal Justice Task Force. He was a delegate to Democratic conventions in 1968 and 1984, and served as an election night analyst for ABC from 1964-1984. A strong believer in the need for a new state constitution for Arkansas, he served as vice-president of the Arkansas Constitutional Convention of 1978-1979.
Always active in the community, he served on the Board of Trustees of Philander Smith College and the Boards of St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center and the Community Council of Central Arkansas. He was chair of the College and Universities Section of United Way and president of the West Little Rock Rotary Club. An ardent advocate for education, he endowed non-traditional scholarships and a monograph press at UALR and was a major supporter of Arkansas’s two public radio stations, KLRE/KUAR. A life-long Presbyterian, he served as deacon, elder, and session clerk for several Presbyterian churches in Little Rock.

He received the Arkansas Bar Association Writing Excellence Award and was recognized for outstanding contributions to the humanities by the Little Rock Arts and Humanities Commission. In 1994 UALR awarded him the Faculty Excellence Award for Public Service and he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas History Association in 2004. He is also listed in Who’s Who in America.

The family wishes to thank Cal’s dedicated and loving caregivers, Dorothy Jackson, Gail Johnson, Nancy Babbs and Dee, Violet and Robert of Compassionate Home Health.

A memorial is planned for Friday, August 16 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. in the Calvin R. Ledbetter Assembly Hall at the Donaghey Center on the UALR Campus. Visitation will be held from 5:00-700 p.m. on Wednesday, August 14 at the Ruebel Funeral Home and graveside services for family members will be conducted at Roselawn Cemetary on August 15.

The family asks that memorials be made in the form of donations to UALR.

Condolence Book

"Snow and Grainger,

I have so many great memories of times at your house. Your parents always made me feel welcome. I remember campaigning for your dad down in Hillcrest. Our families were so closely connected that I feel as sense of loss again with Cal's death. "

Malcolm Campbell | Davidson, NC |

"Cal took several of my classes in Middle East history, and he stopped by my office every week to chat about local and national politics. He was a wonderful student and I will miss his enthusiasm. He was very knowledgeable and such an asset to everyone who knew him."
Clea Hupp | Little Rock, AR |

"Members of Little Rock Central High's Class of 1980 send our warmest condolences to Snow and family upon the passing of Dr. Ledbetter. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers during this sad occasion. "
Little Rock Central High School Class of 1980 | Little Rock, AR |

"Cal enjoyed sweets more than anyone I know. In recent years, he would stop by my office for a butter rum or coffee flavored candy and we would spend time talking about Arkansas history, politics, and opinions. I already miss our afternoon talks. Peace be with you."
Linda Stipsky | Little Rock, AR |

"I took several of Dr. Ledbetter's classes at UALR and enjoyed them very much. He helped me so much as a student. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. Peace to his loving family."
Janice Hatridge Black | Little Rock, AR |

"As I read the obituary, I am reminded of so many things that Cal accomplished that I know you are proud of. I share in that, because I feel like I lived through every line of the story, at least up through the mid-70s when we left for college. As Sherry and I have discussed, Cal was a great man and a good man, not always found in the same person. Brownie and Cal each had their separate endearments for me and both would take umberage if I mixed them up, so I take pains to use Cal's in this posting. Thinking of you in this time of loss and of celebration of a life well lived."
"Gray Animal" | Washington, DC |

"I was sorry to hear of Cal's passing. He was always pleasant whenever I saw him many places on campus. At the time I worked for the Dean in COS. The last time I saw him was an encounter at Jimmy's Serious Sandwiches some time ago, and pleasant as usual, and remembered who I was. I'm sure he will be missed by all the people that had any contact with him."
Georgie Henry | Little Rock |

"Cal was an individual like no other. He was constantly interested in his academic pursuits and the well being of his fellow man. When I first moved to LR Cal gladly gave a helping hand. And he sought no recognition for his many good works. His writing was interesting and his interest in others was for many years complemented by Brownie. They were a great pair.
Wish I could attend the memorial.


Wooten Epes | Little Rock, AR |

"Sherry, Grainger, Snow & kids:
I know your hearts must be broken, but what a legacy Cal, Brownie (and Jeff) have left you. You are so blessed. Best wishes, Julie dePreux

julie depreux | Little Rock, AR |


What a pair of parents! Thinking of you both after hearing of the passing of great man who struggles no longer. Heaven will never be the same. 'Uncle'

Jim Rule | Little Rock, AR |

"I was so sadden by the news of Dr. Ledbetter's passing. I was on the work-study program at Little Rock University and was his "secretary" during my junior and senior years, 1967-1969, preparing tests, grading papers, and other clerical tasks. I also assisted him when he was in the Legislature - he replied to each constituent's letter which I typed up for him. Dr. Ledbetter set an example of an outstanding teacher and person. I feel my success in my career was due to the example he set. My thoughts are with the family. "
Phyllis Richter Harvey | Santa Fe, NM |

"Your parents were amazing citizens. They made a lasting impression on my childhood. I am so sorry for your loss."
Kellis Tippit | West Long Branch , NJ |

"My condolences to Dr. Ledbetter's family. I attended LRU in the 1960's. While I did not attend one of Dr. Ledbetter's classes, his presence on campus was so positive. He always greeted everyone in such a kind way, and seemed genuinely interested in the student body as a whole. He, along with Richard Dixon, are examples of dedicated educators. I know he will be greatly missed but fondly remembered by all who knew him."
annette williams | Little Rock, AR |

"How do I begin to talk about a man who changed my life? Dr. Ledbetter was my professor 3 times at UALR. More than that, he was a trusted advisor and a truly kind soul. His knowledge of history, his fairness regarding politics, and his passion about good government will stay with me all of my days! He and Brownie seemed to not only represent what was best about Arkansas, but what was good and true and right about people of Faith. Lastly, when I attended his father's funeral, Cal said "He had a good and full life." Those same words are also so very true about Dr. Ledbetter! "
Mike Collins | Bryant, AR |

"I never understood why Uncle Cal called them Halloweenies... until I had a few of my own!

I never understood why he liked Fresca.

I didn’t understand why he and Dad exchanged the various, wonderful and sometimes really, really weird gifts at Christmas. Along with Aunt Brownie’s soup, and a few good dart-gun fights, they were always a highlight!

I tried to understand why my Mom would wear napkins on her head when she played bridge with him and Aunt Brownie. Sometimes it worked but most of the time Uncle Cal won anyway.

I did eventually understand why it was important to campaign for him when he ran for the legislature and to learn from him when I paged for him at the State Capitol.

I certainly understand the importance of standing up for what you believe in, sometimes fighting for it, and always working to make the world a better place. Both Uncle Cal and Aunt Brownie did that. I am so proud to have known them and watch them contribute so many wonderful things to our family.

I hope you understand that we truly love them and you.

Helon, Bill and the boys | Maumelle, AR |

"Snow and Grainger:

My condolences to you and your families on the passing of your father. As his neighbor in #10 we enjoyed visiting many times, and I would cheer him on as he would take his afternoon/evening walks up the driveway, we would joke about the fact that if Brownie were here she would be poking him from behind telling him to get his "you-know-what" up that hill! :) He was a great man! He will be missed! My prayers are with you.

Gregg Frizzell"

Gregg Frizzell | Little Rock, AR |

"Cal was my friend and colleague. He gave me a chance to teach at UALR. He encouraged me, read my writings, and shared politics and stories for 38 years. He was a given in the department looking for cookies while looking askance at those who did not live up to the ideals of public service that he embodied. He was a role model as an educator and public servant an understatement in his case. Words fail. He was a fine and good man who contributed so much during his life that his legacy will always be woven into those he taught and knew and certainly always in Arkansas."
art english | Little Rock, AR |

"Cal actually made a difference in the history of our beloved Arkansas by mentoring folks like me and many others. I will be forever grateful. "
Charlie Cole Chaffin | Benton, AR |

"Although Victor had come across the name and most distinguished reputation of Calvin Ledbetter while he was an adjunct professor at UALR, it was mostly through our mutual friendship with Sherry and Grainger that we came to really know who he was. He meant the world to them and to so many in Arkansas and beyond, and will surely be missed by those whose lives he touched. Cal clearly embodies the very concept of "a life well and purposefully lived"."
Victor and Justine Valla | Salisbury, CT |

" Dr. Ledbetter will be greatly missed. Especially the Godiva Chocolates and the stories of the Greek gods. "
Mildred Lewis - Bank of America (West Markham) | Little Rock, AR |

"It was said about Forbes, " While aiive, he lived." That's Cal. Wonderful parents and family. Early part of life: have a photo of him, others and me in kindergarten at LRHS. PIE. We rode together on my ServiCycle to LRHS till we changed to cars. Cal drove a Chevy
with a cranky shift. Cal, Ellery Gay, Walton Litz and I roomed to-
gether 1st year in college. He was a faithful student and played some friendly basketball. Fine looking all his life.

Grady Miller | Little Rock, AR |

"During my years of working in the UALR Athletic Dept., I had the opportunity to get to know Dr. Ledbetter. He was such a special individual and I always looked forward to him coming to place tennis with Dr. Chastain. He was such a kind man! UALR has lost a great leader!!!!
Becky Runnels

Becky Runnels | Bryant, AR |

"We spoke of 'the team' of Cal & his dear late-wife, Brownie on several occasions; They not only revered the history of our state - the twosome helped to shape the government and well-being of fellow citizens - the history of their era too. They were wise, honorable and thousands upon thousands will all read about the Ledbetters long into the future. We were lucky to have called him 'friend.' Cal Ledbetter was 'A GOOD MAN.'"
Jim Stanley & Audrey Burtrum-Stanley | , AR |

"I have many special memories of Cal and Brownie. With Deepest Sympathy."
Wilbur Robinson | Austin, , TX |

"I knew Cal mainly through the Arkansas Political Science Association, which we both served. He was a truly gracious, talented, and kind person -- and had the very good sense to marry Brownie, or at least managed somehow to get her to marry him. My condolences to the family."
Charles Hartwig | JONESBORO, AR |

"Dr. Ledbetter was my professor at the University of Arkansas from 1970 to 1972. I knew Dr. Ledbetter through Graham R. Hall and Louise Hall, Joan Campbell and George Campbell. Dr. Ledbetter was a role model and he encouraged me to become a scholar. i will alway remember Dr. Ledbetter as a role model, friend and as an outstanding professor."
Dr. Deshay D. ford, PH.D. | Oxnard ,, CA |

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