Class News

Geneva Scoggin ’55 recently moved to Farmersville, Texas. She is proud of her children and grandchildren and enjoys being active in their lives. After graduating from SSC, she continued her education at the University of Houston, and received an MPA from Angelo State University.

J.W. Evers ’57 was recently selected to serve on the Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) headquartered in Grapevine, Texas. J.W. will also serve on the Administrative Committee.

Verna Dean Johnson Clark ’59 recently retired after serving for 45 years as a Legal Secretary, Paralegal, and Trial Court Administrative Assistant for Attorneys and Circuit Judges in Kansas and Arkansas. Since 2009, Verna has been a member of a group of musicians who entertain at nursing homes, churches, and for various community groups.

John E. Wade ’61 retired longtime District Technician, from Gilmer, Texas, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Upshur- Gregg Soil and Water Conservation District No. 417 at their annual awards banquet.

Wanda Miller ’65 recently published a mem- novel, “Last Trip Home” (She Writes Press, May 2018), about growing up on an Arkansas farm in the 1940s and 1950s. She also got the copyright back for her historical romance, “The French,” published in 1983, and is rewriting it as a series of two or three books. It is a three-generation novel about poor-but-decent French girls, paid by the government to go to New Orleans in the 18th century and marry a French soldier or colonist.

Judge Joe Mullins ’68 was honored with the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award (posthumous) at the 81st Annual Magnolia- Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet in February. The award was proudly accepted by his wife, Linda Mullins and four daughters: Della Wooley, Anita Burleson, Angela Murphy, and Ellie Baker. Judge Mullins made a truly positive impact in our community, and we are #SAUProud to see his legacy celebrated through this award.

Judy (Davis) Butler ’69 is set to retire on June 1 after a 50-year teaching career that began at Southern State College.

John “Laddie” Lawrence ’69 is currently wrapping up his 52nd year of coaching. In 2018. Laddie, a nationally recognized coach, was inducted into the SAU Athletic Hall of Fame. The new Track and Field Facility at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut, has officially been named the Laddie Lawrence Track and Field Facility. Laddie gives much of his credit to his success to Rip Powell, who gave him the opportunity to start coaching while still an undergraduate at SAU, then SSC.

Diane Merritt Renschen ’70 recently retired in the Houston, Texas, area after careers in engineering, auditing and taxes, teaching, and parenting.

Gary Golden ’72 was recently appointed to the SAU Board of Trustees by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Boyd Rosser ’72 nearing 71 years of age, shot a 71 (even par) at Champions Circle Golf Course in Fort Worth, Texas, in March 2020.

Dr. Pamela Howell ’73 recently celebrated seven years as Chair of the Department of English at Midland College in Midland, Texas. She has also received several awards for outstanding teaching at MC and two nominations from MC for a state teaching award. She has published several academic articles and presented an academic paper at Oxford University, Oxford, England. Her daughter, Elizabeth, is finishing Utah State University in May 21 in IT after which Pamela hopes to retire in North Arkansas. She is currently working on three novels in addition to her active educational and community involvement.

Robert “Robby” Byrd ’75 recently retired after 31 years with Miller Transporters in El Dorado, Arkansas.

Mary Fowler ’76, CEO of Peoples Bank, just celebrated her 56th work anniversary.

Jane Berry Scott ’76 recently celebrated five years as the Assistant to the Vice President and Leasing of Kimco Realty, Texas Region in Houston, Texas. Before that, she served as the Assistant to the CFO of Weingarten Realty for 26 years.

Tommy Jackson ’77 recently retired as Pharmacist with Walmart after 38 years of service.

Gary Don Smith ’77 was recently selected as an honoree for the 2020 Hall of Fame for the Arkansas High School Coaches Association as a new member of the AHSCA. Gary was also selected as an honoree for the 2020 Union County Hall of Fame.

Greg Cheshier ’78 was recently appointed by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to the Arkansas Appraisal Licensing and Certification Board. He owns Team AG Real Estate and Appraisals in Lincoln and El Dorado, Arkansas. He formerly worked for Country Pride Foods in 1978, Farm Credit Services in 1981, and First Financial Bank in 1993.

Karlene Coleman Hooker ’78 is excited to announce that her daughter, Deedra Hooker, has enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at SAU. This makes this branch of the Hooker family four for four on attending SSC/SAU. Karlene (Korny) and Wayne Hooker (FS 80) met on campus. Brent (FS 08) attended SAU, and now Deedra completes the set.

Janet Wood ’78 ’79 was recently selected as an honoree for the 2020 Hall of Fame for the Arkansas High School Coaches Association as a new member of the AHSAAA.

State Sen. Bruce Maloch ’80 recently received an Arkansas State Chamber/ Associated Industries of Arkansas 2019 Business Matters Leadership Award at a State Chamber/AIA Door-To-Door meeting in Texarkana. Maloch was recognized with the award for supporting positive business initiatives during the 92nd General Assembly.

Joni Neinast Lee ’81 ’88 recently retired from teaching after 38 years in public education. She plans on traveling, yard work, and spending time with family.

Chris Nadaskay ’81 is currently completing his 27th year as University Professor of Art at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Chris has taught on the college level for 36 years. Chris and his wife, Suzanne (Cross) Nadaskay ’80, have been married for the last 38 years.

Deedra Stofer ’81 was recently nominated for the Teacher Impact Award by the Arkansas School of Mathematics and Sciences.

Dr. David W. Bush ’83 was appointed in 2018 as the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church of El Dorado. He was elected to serve on the National Confessing Movement Board on January 1, 2020. He is an active member of the National Association of United Methodist Evangelists and President of Swamp Angel Ministries. His congregations have received the Church of the Year Award of the Arkansas Annual Conference 10 times.

Allen Blackwell ’84 recently accepted a new position as Superintendent at Rose Bud School District.

Beth Galway ’84 is currently serving on the launch team for #OneWomanCan- ChangetheWorld by Ronne Rock. It releases June 16. To learn more, visit

Rickey Jasper ’84 recently released a new book “Walking in the Gray.” It will soon be available to purchase on the iUniverse online bookstore.

Michele Hamilton Rhodes ’84 was recently named the Executive Director of Hamilton Haven in Prescott, a non-profit organization serving as a temporary home for displaced families and individuals which opened in April. She led 45 volunteers in the two-year complete renovation of a house, support of the board of directors, fundraising, program development and public relations. Professionally, Michele is a Nurse Practitioner for the Arkansas Department of Health.

Roger ’85 and Darla Dunlap ’84 recently celebrated 20 years in ministry with First Baptist Church in Magnolia.

Robert Gunnels ’86 recently accepted the pastorate position at Trinity Baptist Church in Magnolia. He also is an Instructor of History for SAU Tech in Camden where he has been for 24 years.

Dr. Rita Hamilton ’86 was recently named Chief Medical Officer of Baylor Scott and White Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas, Texas.

Alice Nesbitt Horton ’85 retired as the Coordinator of Early Childhood Special Education services with the Arkansas River Education Service Cooperative in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. She has published two children’s books, “The Real Meaning of Christmas” and “Grandma Got Stuck in the Bathtub”. Alice is married to James Horton ’96, a retired educator, and she is the mother of two young adults, Damon Horton and Dana Horton-Jones who are also educators.

Griffin Park ’86, AGFC Supervisor, has helped manage Millwood Lake to attract more waterfowl to the southwest Arkansas waterbody.

Doug McCrary ’87was presented with the 2020 Business Leader of the Year Award at the 81st Annual Magnolia- Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.

Kristi C. (Heaton) Barger ’89 recently achieved the designation of Certified Wealth Strategist, administered by Cannon Financial Institute. This prestigious designation is awarded to those individuals completing a comprehensive program of study surrounding key wealth management issues facing clients today. Kristi also holds the designations of Certified Trust and Financial Advisor and Accredited Fiduciary Investment Manager and has 33 years of experience in fiduciary services, trust administration and investment management. She serves as Vice President and Senior Trust Officer for Relyance Bank in Hot Springs. She was voted Hot Springs Village Voice Peoples Choice Financial Advisor of the Year in 2019 and a finalist for the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year. Mrs. Barger was recently elected to the SAU Foundation Board of Governors and serves on the Investment Committee. She and her husband Gary live in Hot Springs, have one daughter and two grandchildren.

Don McDonald ’89was recently named to the 2019 Financial Times “401 Top Retirement Advisers” list. Don has been a part of Merrill’s Fort Smith, AR office for 30 years.

Sharon Gathright ’90 was recently named the new Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Peoples Bank in Magnolia, Arkansas.

Lisa Toms ’90 was recently named as the new Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Services at the University of Central Missouri.

David Buchanan ’91 has taken a position in Supply Chain and Quality at the Albemarle Magnolia plant. The past two and a half years he has been on assignment for Albemarle on a special project that has taken him to their plants in numerous states in the U.S. and to Chile, China, Germany and The Netherlands.

Boomer Brown ’92recently returned to his position as an Assistant Football and Softball Coach for the Nashville School District. Boomer was a part of four state championships and a 65-game winning streak in junior high football during his previous tenure.

Darrell Howell ’93 recently received the NAACP Making a Difference Award.

Erica Jackson Woods ’93 was recently appointed to the SAU Board of Trustees. Erica recently co-authored a published book with 17 others on an anthology project, “The Success Recipe: Dream, Believe, Work, Achieve, Repeat.”

Cecily Riley-Butler ’94 is finishing up year 26 in Education. After coaching 3 sports for 24 years, Cecily is now teaching K-4 P.E. at Genoa Central.

Maridelle Dickerson ’94 recently retired after serving for nearly 16 years as the Librarian at the Dorothy J. Lowe Library in Nettleton, Mississippi.

Bobby Mullins ’94 ’15 Boys Basketball Coach for the Nevada School District led the Bluejays’ Senior High Boys Basketball Team to become the 2020 Class 1A State Champions. Bobby was also named the ArBCA (Arkansas Basketball Coaches Association) Class 1A Boys Coach of the Year.

Ulysses Brewer ’95 was recently appointed by the city of Texarkana Board of Directors to fill the vacated Ward 4 seat.

Johnny Gibbs ’95was recently named the new President of Diamond Bank in Murfreesboro, Arkansas.

Chris Pennington ’95 recently celebrated his 500th career basketball win. Chris has been coaching for 24 years as a head coach in both Arkansas and Texas. Currently, Chris is the Head Boys Basketball Coach at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas.

Brannon ’98 and Erin Broom Collier ’99 recently opened The Tiger Den in Taylor, Arkansas.

Cathey McAllister Griffin ’98 will serve as the Ambassador to Congressman Westerman for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Sarah Huddleston ’98 ’18 was recently selected to receive the Elizabeth Buck/Lois W. Thomas Arkansas State Organization Scholarship. Sarah is currently a seventh grade literacy teacher in El Dorado, Arkansas.

Amy Ingram ’98 recently accepted a new job as the Head Girls Basketball Coach at Kaufman High School in Kaufman, Texas. Amy has been in teaching and coaching for 21 years. Next year will be 10 years as a head coach. Amy was voted Coach of the Year in 2019 in district 7-5A. Career record 177-111, 8 Playoff Appearances, 5 Bi-District Championships, 2 Area Championships, 2 Regional Quarterfinalists, 1 District Championship.

Keith Martin ’98 was recently named the new Superintendent for the Pea Ridge School District.

Chris Beavert ’99 ’18 recently became the President of the Arkansas Track Coaches Association. Chris has been working in the Arkansas public education system for 20 years and is currently employed by Cabot Schools where he has been for eight years. In 2018, Chris became the boys and girls Head XC/Track & Field Coach. He teaches geography. His wife Haley is a two-time graduate school graduate of SAU (‘07) and is the Cabot Northside Elementary Principal. He has two daughters, Cortlyn (15) and Mary Keaton (13).

William Hogg ’99, North Little Rock, has been appointed to the Advisory Council of the Arkansas Arts Council. Appointment expires June 30, 2023.

Jeff Overton ’99 recently started a new position as Strategic Services Director with Cromwell Architects Engineers Firm in Little Rock.

Jay Click ’00 recently earned his Professional Community and Economic Developer (PCED) certification, a national designation, from the Community Development Council (CDC).

Traci Hughes ’00 recently started a new position as Human Resources Manager at COMPACT Family Services in Hot Springs.

Steven Ogden ’00 was recently named to the 2019 SAU Hall of Fame for Track and Field.

Whitney Peterson ’00 has accepted a position as an Investment Advisor with Mustard Seed Wealth Management.

Stephen Zorsch ’00 was recently recognized for being the number one producer of Blue Cross/ Blue Shield for Farm Bureau Insurance in the Southwest District for 2019.

Melanie Yarberry Davis ’01 CPA was recently named the new Managing Director of KPMG’s Shreveport office. Melanie has been with KPMG for 17 years and has worked in audit and tax. KPMG is one of the world’s leading professional services firms, providing innovative business solutions and audit, tax, and advisory services to many of the world’s largest and most prestigious organizations.

Thad Mason ’01 was named 2019 Norphlet Citizen of the Year.

Kevin Bingham ’02 was recently announced as the new Hot Springs Regional President of Malvern National Bank.

LaTonya Hall ’02 was recently promoted to Assistant Principal at Hastings Elementary with the Duncanville Independent School District in Texas. LaTonya has been an educator since 2007 in Texas.

Cindy Lewis ’03 is celebrating 11 years with Area Agency on Aging of Southwest Arkansas where she currently serves as the CFO.

Angela Rich ’03 was recently appointed to the State Board of Examiners of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors.

Tim Thornton ’03 recently started a new position as Chief of Police at Village of Hatch Police Department in New Mexico.

Jamie Waller ’03 was recently named the Quicken Loans Top Mortgage Loan Officer in Arkansas. Jamie is currently President/CLO of Peoples Bank in Magnolia.

David Downs ’04 ’12 was recently voted as the 1A Region 8 Athletic Director of the Year.

Staci Miller ’04 was recently named Creative Services Director at the Arkansas Democrat- Gazette in Little Rock. Miller has been with the Arkansas Democrat- Gazette since 2005 and recently served as the company’s Niche Publications Director.

Anthony Socia ’04, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach and Assistant Football Coach at Fordyce School District led his weight lifting team to win the 2019 State Title for 2A with 5,010 lbs. lifted and ranking 2nd in the state for overall weight lifted. He also went on to coach the Redbugs in winning the 2A Football State Championship game against Junction City this past December

Jessica Yarbrough ’04, Public Defender for Columbia County, was recently the keynote speaker at the Columbia County NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet.

Victor Duke ’05 ’08 recently started a new position as Director of International Student Services at Southern Arkansas University.

Derek Helms ’05 was recently appointed to the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.

Tina Hofstetter Moore ’05 was recently awarded Teacher of the Year at College Hill Middle School in Texarkana. Tina currently teaches sixth grade math.

Tony Falconio ’07 was recently named the Director of the Madison County, Illinois, Emergency Management Agency. Tony is the manager of the county emergency operations center and manages the COVID-19 response in Madison County.

Doug “Bo” Smith ’07 ’19 was recently announced the new Parkers Chapel High School Principal for the 2020-2021 school year.

Jennifer Sharp ’07, an Intensive Care Unit Nurse at the Medical Center of South Arkansas, received the DAISY award. The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s national program to recognize the extraordinary efforts nurses perform every day.

Alan Garrett ’08 was recently promoted to Loan Operations Officer at Peoples Bank in Magnolia.

Greg Harrison ’08 ’10 recently started his own business, Harrison Financial, a franchise of Ameriprise Financial. Greg also purchased a building on the square in downtown El Dorado where he co-owns another business with his wife (Kelli ’10), The Olde Towne Store. Since receiving his master’s degree at SAU, Greg was named Financial Advisor of the Year for the past four years and served as the Past Chair of the United Way of Union County. He is a current Quorum Court member, current El Dorado Boys & Girls Club member, and serves on the Union County Complex Board.

Nicolas Williams ’07 ’08 ’11 was recently recognized as an Amazing Educator for 2020 by Little Rock Family Magazine.

Jamie Collier ‘08 ‘13 recently accepted a new position as a Columbia County Extension Agent with the U of A Division of Agriculture.

Krista Hamlin ’09 recently accepted a position at The Call as County Coordinator for Columbia and Lafayette counties.

Cedric Thornton ’09 was recently named to the’s 2010 All-Decade Team.

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