Billy Sunday Clark
Billy Sunday Clark, age 82 years, of Little Rock, who had a long and distinguished career as a principal in one of Arkansas' most prestigious law firms, Friday, Eldridge and Clark, died Wednesday, March 3, 2004, at his home. Born in Guntersville, Alabama. He grew up in Dallas, Texas and graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1943, where he was valedictorian of his class. He was named to the Associated Press All American Football Team in 1943. Upon graduating from VMI he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in Field Artillery of the United States Army, serving in World War II in India and Japan. After the war he entered the University of Arkansas Law School and graduated in 1950. He opened a law office in Searcy and during his first year of practice he was called back into the military service in the Korean War. At the conclusion of the war in 1953 he joined the Little Rock law firm of Mehaffey, Smith and Williams, which evolved into Friday, Eldridge, and Clark. He started his practice as a defense trial lawyer representing numerous companies in Arkansas and around the country. He later specialized in labor law and established a national reputation as an expert in that field. He was a member of the Arkansas and American Bar associations. He played a major role in the development of the textbook Developing Labor Law, presently in its third edition and still considered an essential reference for labor laws today. In 1985 the University of Arkansas School of Law named him an "Outstanding Alumnus".
Active in numerous civic affairs, he was a past president of the Downtown Kiwanis Club and served on the Board of Directors of the State Chamber of Commerce. He was President of Pleasant Valley Country Club, member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity, served as Chairman of the Pathfinder Parent Advisory Board, and a member of the Foundation. He was also a Pillar of St. Paul United Methodist Church. He was named for an evangelist of the early 1900s who was famous for a thunderous delivery from the pulpit. Billy Sunday Clark was by contrast a more subtle speaker except when on stage, where he was "on". Known for his precise portrayal of Governor Orval E. Faubus in the Pulaski County Bar Association's Gridiron Show, he used the role to let loose his acting, singing and oratorical talent. It became his trademark role and even Faubus himself called Clark, "Governor". "He was a real ham. He could have been an actor," Gridiron pianist Betty Fowler said. Another of Clark's passions was quail hunting with his best friend and partner, the late Hershel Friday. He was a devout reader of English poetry and a fan of the work of Rudyard Kipling. He was always ready with a joke or story.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Nita Williams Clark of Little Rock, one son Andrew Clark and wife Mindy of Little Rock, daughters, Pamela Banks of Fayetteville and Beth Bowie and husband Mike of Roland, one sister Kathleen Whiteman of Little Rock, six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
There will be a visitation Friday from 5 to 7pm at the Ruebel Funeral Home. A private graveside ceremony will follow the next day officiated by Reverend John Fleming. Arrangements are under the direction of Ruebel Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be made to St. Paul's United Methodist Church of Little Rock, The Hope Lodge of Little Rock, St. Jude's Children's Hospital of Memphis, Tennessee, or Arkansas Hospice.