Obituary – Rev. John O. Alston

Obituary – Rev. John O. Alston

Rev. John O. Alston

John Overton Alston, a United Methodist minister, died peacefully Friday, August 27, 2021, with family at his side. He was born February 23, 1931, in Mena, Arkansas, to the late Overton Bettis Alston and Alice Pearl Williams Alston. He was preceded in death by his brother Maurice Edward Alston of Shreveport, Louisiana, and his sister Helen Marie Wallace of Lebanon, New Hampshire.

John grew up appreciating what little he had. Food came from the family’s meager farm. A horse was extravagant transportation, but it sure beat walking in his one pair of shoes. The television wasn’t in the living room – it was in the window of the local general goods store; the house lacked electricity, and the closest radio was far down the dirt road. After his father became an amputee, John, being the youngest, was the only one left at home to help his mother around the farm once his brother joined the Air Force and his sister married. His humble beginnings and commitment to a Christ-centered life meant he never yearned for material things. He appreciated people more than things, he was always willing to help those in need, and he had a special place in his heart for those who lived life to the fullest with little in the way of worldly possessions.

John graduated from Acorn High School (Mena), Hendrix College (Conway), and Perkins School of Theology, SMU (Dallas, Texas). Following high school, he enlisted in the Army Reserve National Guard, drove a Coca-Cola delivery route, and worked in a newspaper office in Mena. His Polk County Guard unit was activated for duty in Korea during 1950-51. (After cruises to and from Korea courtesy of Uncle Sam, John never developed a love of the sea nor the desire to experience another cruise.) Upon return, he was the first veteran of the Korean Conflict to enroll as a student at Hendrix. As students entered the college cafeteria, John was known for being able to address each one by name. His budding call to ministry was nurtured through the “pre-the” (pre-theology) community on campus and “caravan” outreach trips off campus. He met the love of his life, Mildred Chapman from Louisiana, while they were both students at Perkins School of Theology; their first date was to an SMU basketball game, and they married in Cox Chapel at Highland Park Methodist Church in 1959. 

Together John and Milli lived and loved as he served pastoral appointments in Arkadelphia (Wesley Foundation); Malvern (Keith Memorial); Benton (Parkview Methodist); Lonoke; Smackover; DeQueen; DeWitt; Dumas; Pine Bluff (Wesley); Hamburg; Little Rock (Pulaski Heights, Associate Pastor); North Little Rock (Gardner Memorial); Hampstead and Upperco, Maryland (Shiloh and Mt. Zion); Lanham, Maryland; Shreveport, Louisiana (St. Luke’s, Interim Pastor); and North Little Rock (Gardner Memorial, Pastor Emeritus).

John was frugal with everything but his generosity, time, and love. From clipping coupons to cleaning the cake batter bowl, nothing went to waste. Socks with holes were still socks; hand-me-downs (or hand-me-ups) were favorites; the old whatever, as long as it worked, was new enough. When you had a conversation with him, you always knew you had his full attention. He related well to all ages through his care and compassion, quick wit, silly humor, ping-pong prowess, and occasional pranks. Friend to all, John always had a dad joke ready for the occasion. 

John drove countless miles over the years to support his children through piano, dance, scouting, and sports. He loved them dearly and everything they have become – committed Christians with strong family bonds. Ellen, Gayle and John all followed in his footsteps to Hendrix, and his daughters have both been called to church leadership and ministry. He beamed with pride when speaking of his son and his commitment to public service as a police officer and detective. John adored his grandchildren, was eager to share in their games, concerts, or other activities, and was glad when they visited to share time, stories, a meal, or premium chocolate bought at a discount after the most recent holiday.

John loved working crossword puzzles – in pen, never pencil. Anyone visiting the house would find the latest unfinished puzzle resting on a nearby end table with a ballpoint pen on top. Never one to boast of his mastery, he ensured completed puzzles quickly disappeared. When handwriting became more difficult, John switched to Mahjong on the iPad with the same tenacity and precision. 

By far, John’s favorite activity was keeping up with family and friends. Sunday afternoons and unfilled evenings were spent maintaining those connections until he became unable to do so. He talked on the phone as much as a teenager. He cherished gatherings like the Alston Family Reunion on Rich Mountain. He appreciated the outdoors, especially state and national parks, and he loved sharing the places he loved with people he loved. He had worked one summer as a student minister at Glacier National Park, and forty years later took a trip with extended family to revisit breathtaking landscapes, as well as the site of his once getting “stuck” overnight across the Canadian border. 

Now having crossed the boundary from earth to the great beyond, John’s gentle spirit will live on in all whose lives he touched. The words that keep coming up as loved ones speak of him are “kind,” “full of peace,” “funny,” and “one of a kind.” Mere words cannot fully describe the gift of his life, and the impact of his living and loving will continue to transcend his earthly frame and the years it has been such a privilege to share with him. 

John is survived by his wife of 62½ years Mildred “Milli” Alston; children Ellen Alston, Gayle (and son-in-law Tad) Bohannon, and John M. Alston; grandchildren Nathaniel Dauphin, Spencer Bohannon, Caleb Alston, Carson Alston, Claire Alston, and Corbin Alston; in-laws, and a host of nieces and nephews. 

The family would like to extend deepest gratitude to the committed and capable staffs of UAMS Hospital, St. Vincent Rehab Hospital, Lakewood Health and Rehab, and Hospice Home Care for the attentive care and genuine concern shown to John and his family throughout these last few weeks. 

A service celebrating his life will be held at 11:00am, Friday, September 3, 2021, at Gardner Memorial United Methodist Church in North Little Rock. The family will receive guests beginning at 10:00am.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts be directed to Gardner Memorial United Methodist Church (1723 Schaer St., North Little Rock, AR. 72114,  501-374-9520 or Hendrix College (1600 Washington Ave, Conway, AR 72032, 501-450-1223

Obituary – Rev. Dr. James R. Bell

Rev. James R. Bell, 1930 – 2021

Dr. James R. Bell of White Hall, Ark., passed away in his home on Saturday, August 21, 2021, at the age of 91. He was surrounded by his youngest daughter, Kandice, middle daughter, Kimbra, oldest child, Bruce, and his devoted wife of 60 years, Josephine. Dr. Bell made a peaceful transition to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ where he will join in Heaven his mother, Cassie, and his father, Fred.

Dr. Bell was born and raised in Helena, Phillips County, Ark. Dr. Bell was a professor emeritus and director of the Learning Resources Center, now relocated and renamed the Dr. James R. Bell Learning Resources Center on the second floor of the Watson Memorial Library at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Dr. Bell enjoyed fishing, photography, technology, UAPB football and basketball, and especially the Arkansas Razorback basketball team under the head coach Nolan Richardson. He loved Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. where he was a lifetime member and served in various capacities in the Pine Bluff Alumni Chapter. Dr. Bell was a dedicated church member at St. Luke United Methodist. He served as a trustee and leader in many roles at his home church and other churches over which he led as pastor in Little Rock, Hensley, and Pine Bluff. Dr. Bell is survived by his wife and three children, as well his grandchildren, Kristin and Kamryn (Bruce) and Sam, Jr. and Alexandria (Kimbra).

Dr. James R. Bell had a humble spirit and way about himself, a heart full of generosity, and was a giant of a resource to his family, friends, and community. The Memorial service of Dr. James Robert Bell is this Saturday, August 28, 2021, at 11 a.m. at St. Luke United Methodist Church, 32 School Street, Pine Bluff, Ark., 71602.

Masks are required upon entry into the church and must be worn properly throughout the entire service, and there will be no exceptions.

The services may also be viewed at the following link:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 828 8242 2870
Passcode: 123

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider contributing to Dr. Bell and his wife’s scholarship fund, entitled the Dr. James R. and Dr. Josephine C. Bell Scholarship Fund. You can make an online gift:; place mouse on “Giving Tab” at top of screen; click “Make a Gift;” and complete form. All major credit cards are accepted.

Mail check/money order to: University of Ark., at Pine Bluff Office of Development, Mail Slot 4981, Pine Bluff, Ark., 71601. Be sure to include the name of his scholarship fund on the memo line of your check or with your online donation. You may also call the Development Office directly: (870) 575-8701.

Obituary – Rev. Charles Olson Walthall

Rev. Charles Olson Walthall

Rev. Charles Olson Walthall age 96, of Stamps, AR. passed away May 20, 2021, one day shy of his 97th birthday. He was born May 21, 1924 in Minden, LA to Benjamin Edward and Elizabeth Walthall. He was a member of the United States Army Air Corps. He served in WWII as navigator on a B-17 and flew 34 missions over Germany which earned him a spot in “Lucky Bastards” Club. He also served as minister for the United Methodist Church for many years and earned the title of Pastor Emeritus. Rev. Walthall was a member of the American Legion and enjoyed hunting, fishing, hunting arrowheads and especially enjoyed singing. He was the leader of the Nursing Home Singers, but his greatest passion was spreading the love of God.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 75 years, Lurline Walthall, two brothers, Bernice Walthall and Kenneth Walthall, one sister Betty Jo Stevens and two grandchildren Richard Lee Harris II and Lucretia Harris.

He is survived by one son, Steve Walthall and wife Stephanie of Austin, TX. One daughter, Charlotte Harris and husband Richard of Lewisville, AR. One grandson, Robby Harris and wife Nicki of Lewisville, AR. Five great-grandchildren, Brittany, Colby, Molly, Gavin and Braxton and 5 great-great-grandchildren.

The family is very grateful for the staff at Dudneywood and Encompass health for their help, love, care and friendship also a special thanks to caregiver and special friend Sheila Beasley.

Funeral services will be held 2 P.M. Monday, May 24, 2021 at the First United Methodist Church in Stamps, AR. and interment following at Oak Grove Cemetery in Stamps, AR. with Rev. Phil Worley officiating and Steve Walthall and Gary Rivers speaking under the direction of A.O. Smith Funeral Home.

Visitation will be held from 12 P.M. until 1:30 P.M. Monday, May 24, 2021 at the United Methodist Church in Stamps, AR.

Obituary – Rev. Wayne Allen Bell

wayne allen bell

Wayne Allen Bell, 82, of Blevins, AR passed away Wednesday, April 28, 2021 in Hope.

Wayne was born August 3, 1938 in Blevins, AR to Elmer and Lorene Honea Bell.  He was a retired licensed and ordained minister with the Methodist and Nazarene Churches.  During his ministry he pastored Bell’s Chapel in Blevins, churches in Prescott, Spring Hill, Waldo, Cove and Chidester, and many others across the United States. Wayne loved hunting, fishing, and singing with Gospel Quartets.

He was preceded in death by his parents.  Survivors include two sons, Steve Bell (Angela) and Ron Bell (Kristine); a daughter, Denea Bell; a sister, Shirley Munnerlyn; grandchildren, Kaelyn, Riley, Raegan, John Ryder.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 11:00am in Marlbrook Baptist Church Blevins, AR.

Obituary – Mary Agnes Powell

mary agnes powell

Mary Agnes Powell, 90, of Cabot, passed away Tuesday, December 15, 2020. She was born May 13, 1930 in Lonoke County to the late Dock and Prude Davis Elmore. Mary was a member of Oakland United Methodist Church in Holland, Arkansas, where she was the music director for many years. She was also a member of Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church, which was her husband’s home church. He was born and raised in that church and loved it so much.  In addition to her parents, Mary was preceded in death by her loving husband, William Bert Powell and a brother, Kenneth Elmore.

Mary is survived by her daughter, Dianna Hill and husband, Raymond of Forrest City, Arkansas; two grandsons, Duke Hill and his wife, DaShaune and Mike Hill; two great-grandchildren, Claire Williams and her husband, Cody and Hunter Hill; one great great-grandchild, Kamryn Hill and a very special friend, Vickie Hicks.

Graveside services will be 10:00 a.m., Friday, December 18, 2020 at Mount Carmel Cemetery with Raymond Hill officiating.  Arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service, 501-941-7888.