Terry Rice of Waldron: Small town honesty and hard work

When I think of the attributes that matter the most to Arkansans, it is probably honesty and hard work. I am hoping that Terry Rice of Waldron will be the next speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives. We will find out on Friday if he is elected in the first vote. However, the real vote will come in January of 2013. 

First here is something that Jason Tolbert wrote the other day followed by a flyer about Terry from 3 years ago and then followed with an article about a mentor of Terry’s from Waldron.

From Tolbert Report:

If you walk into a meeting at the Arkansas House of Representative, Rep. Terry Rice (R-Waldron) would not be the first member to grab your attention.

Observers could see him quietly taking in the happenings of committee meetings and talking to colleagues in the back of the room.  But this soft-spoken servant leadership style might be the key to his becoming the first Republican Speaker of the House.

Rice currently represents rural House District 62, just southeast of the Fort Smith area. He will return next year for his third and final term –  before term limits apply — representing the newly drawn House District 21, which makes up roughly the same area. Rice is unopposed in both his primary and general election.

Rice has lived the Waldron his whole life raising two kids with his wife of almost 40 years.  He tells me that now has four grandkids.  He is the owner of Rice Furniture and Appliance stores and is past president of the Arkansas Home Furnishing Association.

But politics is in Rice’s blood with both his father, W.R. (Bud) Rice, and grandfather, W.S. Rice serving in the state legislature. Terry Rice is a Republican, but his father and grandfather served as Democrats.

Perhaps this heritage may help Rice in his next challenge of being elected Speaker. The election takes place next Friday (March 9) as the House meets to caucus after concluding its work for the fiscal session. Outgoing House members elect a Speaker-designate for the next year.


Today I am profiling St lawmaker Terry Rice of Waldron who I deeply respect.

Terry has known the Sawyer family since his youth and grew up in the

First Baptist Church were the Sawyers got to know him.

Meet Terry Rice

I am passionate in my belief that we cannot continue the status quo.  We cannot tax and spend our way to prosperity.  Government must become more efficient just as successful businesses have.  With over 35 years business experience I am president and co-owner of three Rice Furniture & Appliance stores.  I believe our state needs to foster the right environment to attract business while at the same time practicing tax conservation for the future.  I currently serve on the southeast region board of Associated Volume Buyers/ Brand Source national dealer group and am past president of the Arkansas Home Furnishings Association, serving on the board for over ten years.  Serving people’s needs and solving problems are everyday goals for me in our family’s 58 year third generation business.  I have been recognized as state and region “Dealer of the Year” from our various industry associates.

I believe our faith, life and family values are the foundation of this great country and must stand before political correctness.  Lifelong residents of Scott County, my wife, JoAnn, and I have been married 35 years, have 2 sons, Jeremy and wife, Kim, and Paul and wife, Sarah, who have blessed us with four grandchildren. We are active members of the Bates Baptist Church. I have raised cattle and have been a long time supporter of FFA and 4-H Youth livestock programs.  I understand the importance agriculture plays in District 62 and the state.  I helped establish and served as past president of the State Line Volunteer Fire Department and will support our community fire departments.

I have long been interested in our legislative process and feel now is the time to make a difference by voicing my conservative values for our future.  Hard work and a common sense approach are needed to serve District 62.  I do not seek personal gain or recognition from the office and only seek to work for the good of all people.  I stand for principles and integrity.  I follow the tradition of proven leaders.  My dad, W.R. Bud Rice, served South Sebastian and Scott counties as state representative for 18 years from 1977-1995.  My granddad, Worth Rice, served in the House from 1935-1939.

I know the education and training of Arkansans is vital for our state to compete and I will work to further improve those goals.  I look forward to meeting and listening to your concerns during this campaign.  I believe when Arkansans passed term limits for serving in political office their intent was to be represented by ideas and fresh view points that come from the people and not a single view point passed back and forth from spouses swapping political offices.  This is about the people having a choice to have their voices heard.

I am dedicated to spending the time and resources needed to serve District 62 in the Arkansas House of Representatives, and I will be the one who handles constituent concerns myself as your elected official.  Please feel free to contact me about the issues that are important to you.  I humbly ask for your vote and support in the November 4th General Election

Originally published in Saline Courier on January 8, 2011


My wife’s grandfather was Lecil Richard “Tom” Sawyer and he lived from September 30, 1906 to September 5, 2004. He was one of the most outstanding men I have ever known. In Waldron, he was a legendary football coach that won 87% of games during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, and they would later name the football field after him.
Coach Sawyer was married for over 60 years to Vera Mae Martin Sawyer, and their children are Tom Franklin Sawyer of Houston, Texas (who is my father-in-law) and State Senator Mary Anne Salmon of North Little Rock (who is my wife’s aunt).
Most of the details for this article come from an interview I had on Dec. 22nd with Edward “Odell” Fryar who was a running back on the Waldron Bulldog team. Odell and his wife Peggy live in Little Rock, and I got to know them in 1983 when I was a member of Little Rock’s First Baptist Church.
“Coach Sawyer was probably the best high school football coach in Arkansas,” Fryar said. “He was a task master on the practice field and made sure every player played hard every play. Moreover, he was an even better person off the field.”
Tom Franklin Sawyer noted, “My father cared about his players, but he got the most out of them. I remember that if a running back fumbled the ball in a game, then that player would carry a football with him to all his school classes the next week.”
“My father was a great motivator and encourager and those two qualities brought out the best in his players,” daughter Mary Anne Salmon said.
Fryar was a junior on the  district winning 1948 team, and actually Waldron won the district all three years that Fryar was on the team (1947-49). Waldron was a small town of only 1,292 people in 1948 and Benton had over 6,000 people. Fryar said it was not unusual for Waldron to have 30 players dressed out and to be facing teams that had many more players and also the opposing players would be much larger than they were.
The day after Thanksgiving in 1948, Waldron had traveled to Bentonville and beat the undefeated Tigers. Fryar said that the Tigers should have won the game, but  two trick plays resulted in big plays for Waldron.
The first was on a kick off when Herman Jones faked a hand off to Buddy Rogers while returning a kickoff, and all the team blocked for Rogers. The result was that the whole Bentonville team tried to pursue Rogers while Jones hid the ball on his hip and ran slowly all the way to the 10 -yard line.
The second trick play involved Fryar getting a pitch from the quarterback, Leon Bobbitt, and running hard to the left. When the defense  rushed him,  he threw a long 45 -yard lofty pass to Bush McGaugh who was wide open, and McGaugh ran under it and took it for a long touchdown play. That resulted in a  20-19 victory over a very good Bentonville team. Now, Waldron would advance to play the Benton Panthers in the state playoffs.
The victory over Bentonville was a costly one for the Waldron Bulldogs. Johnny Evans, the star running back,was banged up and Fryar had to replace him most of the time for the Benton game.
Fryar said there was  a big crowd on hand and a thick fog settling over the field. The Panthers had more players suited out than Waldron, and they looked much bigger than the Bulldogs did too. However, Waldron had the tallest player on the field with tight end Don Sevier who was 6-8, and later Sevier earned All Conference honors for Arkansas Tech in basketball as their center, and eventually served as the Athletic Director for Arkansas Tech.
Benton Panther standout players included Bill Level, a 225 lb tackle, who was a four year letterman, and “Shoat” Shoppach, 165 lb left halfback.
According to the December 9, 1948 issue of The Benton Courier, the Benton Panthers defeated Waldron 13-6 at C.W. Lewis Stadium. Here is what the article reported:
The Benton Panthers were pushed to defeat the unbeaten and untied Waldron Bulldogs 13-6 at Lewis Stadium Friday night.
The Panthers scored late in the second quarter on a pass from Erwin to Jennings, who was standing in the end zone. Lovell’s try for the extra point was good. The Panthers led 7-0 at the half.
Benton kicked off to start the last half. One play after the kick off Buddy Rogers got on a 75 yard run, and was brought down on the 5 yard line. Two plays later Herman Jones try for the extra point was blocked. Benton led 7-6.
Benton scored in the last quarter on a pass from Erwin to Smith that was good for 35 yards and Smith ran 20 more to score. Lovell’s kick for the extra point was blocked.
Waldron was hampered by injuries, and many of the players had to be taken from the field. There was a fog all the last half which made seeing the ball difficult for the players, as well as the fans.
The final score was Benton 13, Waldron 6.
Probably the greatest legacy that Sawyer had was the family and friends that he influenced. Not only did Sawyer serve as football coach but he was the Waldron School Superintendent from 1934 to 1975 and Mayor of Waldron from 1975 to 1983. He also taught a men’s Sunday School Class at the Waldron First Baptist Church for many years.
“There are few people in my life that have received the level of respect I hold for L.R. “Tom” Sawyer,” state representative Terry Rice of Waldron said. “I guess the saying, ‘You give respect, you get respect’ fits well here. Whether it was a small child who needed reassuring, a student who had acted up, or an adult from any walk of life, I witnessed someone who could be as kind, as tough, or as knowledgeable as possible while always listening”
Rice said that even though Sawyer could have moved on to have “achieve lofty heights and big pay,” he chose to stay and touch the lives of thousands of people in Scott County.
William Roy Wilson, Jr., an United States Senior District Judge, recalls a story from his senior year at Waldron High School involving Sawyer and some chewing gum.
“I was in the library chewing gum, and Mr. Sawyer called me outside and told me, ‘Billy Roy, you are kind of a leader and I need for you do me a favor,” Wilson recalls. “’If you see anyone chewing gum, tell them it is against the rules and I am sure they will listen to you.’ I swallowed that gum on the spot.”
About a year ago, my wife Jill and I talked about the legacy of her grandfather  who we called, “PapPaw.” I told her that I decided to have my grandkids call me PapPaw out of honor of the memory of her grandfather. The complicating factor was that my 3 yr old grandson, Luke Hatcher, had already been calling me “Granddaddy.” However, he did well in the transition, and he told my son , “Granddaddy wants me to call him PapPaw!!!”
I hope that one day Luke will ask me why I chose the name “PapPaw, and I will be glad to tell him.
• • •
Everette Hatcher is a regular contributor to The Saline Courier. He is the fourth generation in his family to work in the broom manufacturing business. Everette and his wife Jill have four children and live in Alexander.

LR “Tom” Sawyer shown at his desk at Waldron School District around 1940.

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