of Little Rock, AR
May 7, 1926 - November 7, 2005
Carl Simpson Whillock, aged 79, whose interwoven careers in politics, education and business left an imprint on every part of Arkansas, died Monday at Little Rock.
Born in the poor Van Buren County community of Scotland, Whillock became a lawyer, one of the state's leading educators, an adviser and confidante to governors, senators and the president of the United States, and CEO of a corporation that changed the economic life of much of rural Arkansas.
Whillock grew up embracing the liberal democratic tradition and the Democratic Party. He was elected twice to the state House of Representatives from Van Buren County, first in 1952 at the age of 26, and he later was elected prosecuting attorney of the 14th Judicial District. That was the extent of his personal electioneering, but he exercised a powerful influence on Democratic elections and government policy across the last third of the 20th century.
He was an administrative assistant to U.S. Rep. James W. Trimble of Berryville, a New Deal liberal who represented the Third Congressional District for 11 terms, and he was a pivotal adviser to Dale Bumpers, David Pryor and Bill Clinton early in their political careers. He closed that long chapter of his life as the special assistant to the president for agriculture, trade and food assistance from 1997 to 2001.
Along the way, he was vice president of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, an institution with which he had a lifelong romance, and president of Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. For 16 years, he headed the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corp., which produced electricity for much of the Arkansas countryside and small towns. He built three hydroelectric dams on the Arkansas River, which brought cheaper power to rural dwellers, and he used the cheap electricity to lure the Nucor Steel Corp. to Mississippi County.
Whillock was born May 7, 1926, the son of Joe and Johnnie Whillock, who owned several businesses. During World War II he joined the Navy at the age of 17 and was commissioned an ensign at 19. He attended Arkansas State Teachers College at Conway and Emory University at Atlanta and received a bachelor of science degree in social welfare from the University of Arkansas in 1948, a master of arts in history and political science in 1951 and, while he was working for Congressman Trimble, a law degree from George Washington University in 1960.
Back in Van Buren County, he taught school and was in the livestock feed and wholesale petroleum business with his parents at Clinton and was a part-time pastor at Methodist churches in Farmington and Goshen.
In 1952, he was elected to the state House of Representatives from Van Buren County and he was re-elected in 1954. Before the second term was out, he joined Congressman Trimble's staff as his executive assistant. For eight years, he was the congressman's right-hand man in Washington and his political coordinator back in the district. He never exploited his intimate knowledge of the Ozarks and its people personally, but it would serve his political acolytes well, particularly Clinton, Pryor and Bumpers.
He returned to Clinton in 1963 to practice law and the next year he was elected prosecuting attorney for the 14th Judicial District. He also was on the board of the county hospital, chairman of the Clinton water and sewer commission and president of the Clinton School Board. Near the end of his term as prosecutor., the University of Arkansas hired him as director of university relations. In two stints at the Fayetteville campus, he also would be assistant to the president and vice president for governmental relations and public affairs. In addition to those duties, he occasionally taught political science classes.
When Dale Bumpers, a Charleston lawyer, ran for governor in 1970 he sought out Whillock to help him.
In January 1974, Bill Clinton, a young law professor, came to his house to talk about running for Congress. Whillock dug out his files on the Third District. Soon afterward, they took off through the mountains with Whillock introducing Clinton to political friends in every town. Clinton would credit that effort with his future political success.
"He's most important to me," Clinton told the Arkansas legislature in 2001, "because the first trip I took out of Fayetteville, in the first race I ever made in 1974, was across the hills of North Arkansas with Carl Whillock, when only my mother thought I had any business in that race."
Clinton would lose that race barely.
A few days after the journey with Clinton, David Pryor asked Whillock to manage his campaign for governor. He stayed on with Gov. Pryor as his executive secretary, chief of staff and chief policy adviser. In two years he would return to the University of Arkansas as vice president. He would shortly leave that job in 1978 to be president of Arkansas State University at Jonesboro.
In 1980, the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. hired him as president and CEO, managing the company and its power distribution system. He took over at a time of skyrocketing power costs. Over the years he would stabilize the system, build three hydroelectric dams on the Arkansas River and collaborate with old business foe Arkansas Power and Light Co. on coal-fired generation. One of the hydro plants, at Morrilton, is named for him.
He retired in 1996 but not for long. President Clinton asked him to come to Washington in his troubled second term to be a special assistant for agriculture policy and liaison with the Agriculture Department and farm interests. His wife, Margaret, accompanied him and was deputy director of the White House Visitors Office.
Carl and Margaret both served numerous appointments to public, private and charitable boards and commissions, national, statewide and locally. He was on the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas when he went to Washington in 1996. Clinton appointed him in 1987 to chair a state commission on tax reform. The commission recommended numerous changes in state tax laws to make the tax code more progressive and fairer to working people, but only a few were adopted by the legislature.
He was a member of the Board of Directors of Georgia Systems Operations Corp.; a director of the Electric Power Research Institute, the University of Arkansas Foundation, the Arkansas Museum of Science and History, the St. Vincent Infirmary Foundation, the University of Arkansas Industrial Advisory Council for the College of Engineering and the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. He was chairman of the Arkansas Advisory Council of the Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development. He was a member of the Commission on Arkansas's Future in 1988
Whillock and Margaret Moore of Fayetteville, a former schoolteacher, met and married in 1972. Both had children by previous marriages, he two sons and two daughters, she three sons and three daughters. He reared 10 children.
Survivors are his wife, Margaret of Little Rock; a sister, Mary Tumlinson of Clinton; four children, Tim Whillock and his wife Rickey of Clinton, Tom Whillock and his wife Gay of Clinton, Sally Conduff and her husband Wayne of Fayetteville, and Susan Lipe and her husband Kenny of Tulsa; six stepchildren, Sallie Overbey and her husband Tom of Fayetteville; Jenny Dakil and husband Edward of Norman, Okla., Melissa McKenney and husband Keith of Jasper AB, Canada, Larry Carter and his wife Sidney of Little Rock, Brennan Carter of Fayetteville and Benjamin Carter and his wife Jana of Fayetteville; 21 grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; a brother-in-law, Rudy Moore and his wife Rhonda of Fayetteville; and an uncle, Jack Whillock and his wife Ruth of Clinton.
Funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the First United Methodist Church at Eighth and Center Streets with Roller-Chenal Funeral Home (501-224-8300) assisting.
A reception will follow at the Great Hall at the Clinton Center at 1200 President Clinton Avenue. Memorials may be made to the Carl S. Whillock Endowment in the School of Social Work, Fulbright College, at the University of Arkansas. Gifts may be made payable to the University of Arkansas Foundation, care of University Development, University of Arkansas, 300 University House., Fayetteville, AR 72701.
Dearest Margaret and Family,
We have just returned from nearly 3 months out of the country and are devastated to learn of Carl. When Jay talked to him before we left we had no idea he was ill. We have tried calling you but reach another party. We will keep trying.
Our deepest sympathies to you, Benjamin and the family.
Love and sympathy,
Jay and Marla
Margaret, Greer and I were sorry about your loss.
Carl meant so much to me and help me through
some difficult times at the bank. The service
was special as was appropriate.
With deepest sympathy in the passing of a fine person, whose many contributions to Arkansas, the nation, and society in general will not be forgotten.
Mrs. Whillock-Our condolences to you and your family in this difficult time. We remember all that Mr. Whillock did for ASU in the time he served ASU. Also, I remember the support you both gave to the Arkansas Symphony. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Richard Jorgensen/Professor of Trumpet/ASU
1st Trumpet/Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
Margaret, we were so sad to hear of Carl's passing. I was so thankful that I got to visit with him at your Fayetteville home a few weeks ago. He was truly one of my very favorite people. I had so much respect for him and what he stood for. May God bless you and your family in this difficult time.
I regretted to hear of the passing of Carl. While I only knew him a short time while he was at USDA, I appreciated his work and contributions to rural America and to USDA.
You are in our hearts and prayers.
Dear Margaret, What a blessing it was to me to have known Carl. He was just the best kind of man. A true gentleman, as we don't see much any more. His remarkable family and life will continue to demonstrate that to everyone., long into the future. I am so sorry for your loss, and am praying for you and your family.
Our thoughts are with you at this time.
Our thoughts are with you.
Worth had great respect for Carl and his statue in our state and beyond. Our prayers are with you all.
Having been a friend and colleague for some fifty years, I can say with knowledge and assurance that Carl was a great Arkansan, a great American, and a selfless servant to his fellow man. His kind is rare, and I shall always treasure having been a friend, and a small part of his life. I learned much about the purpose of life from him. For that I feel truly privileged. May God Bless him, Margaret, and his family.
Margaret, Carl was a friend for life. I treasure so much of him and his wit, knowledge and personality. I feel as if I have lost a brother and want you to know my deepest sympathy is with you. He was a wonderful friend and mentor.
Carl Whillock epitomized what ought to be the ideal for human being. He was a quiet man who habitually hid his enormous light under a bushel. He had a huge heart and a generous soul, and he was the most gentle person, sharing his profound intellect and talents with everyone, from Presidents to passers by. We loved him dearly and will miss him day in and day out.
Dear Margaret and Family,
We will always love you and Carl. I admired him in all his dimensions, and was immeasurably enriched by his mentoring. He made a difference in this world, and I'll bet he has received a "Well Done!" from the Almighty.
Chris &Rita Hauck
We were saddened to learn of Carl's death. It has been a pleasure knowing the both of you since meeting you many years ago. While serving with him on the UA Board, I found him to be a gentleman and genuinely a good person. Our thoughts and sympathies are with you and your family.
Remembering Carl with the deepest admiration and affection. His memory will remain vivid through his wonderful family and the many, many friends he and Margaret gathered over the years.
Margaret and Rudy,
Marcia and I were sorryto hear about Carl. You both are in our thoughts and prayers.
Margaret - I was deeply saddened by the loss of Mr. Whillock. I will always remember fondly our political discussions about Arkansas political history, which he played a big part in making. He was a man of great integrity who believed that service to community and country was of the highest importance - these remarkable virtues were obvious to all who knew him. May God be with you and the wonderful family you have together.
You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
With sincere sympathy,
Jan & Richard Weiss
So saddened to hear of Carl's untimely death. He was a saint of a man and we feel priviledged to have known him.
Jean and Stanley McNulty
With Deepest Sympathy
I am so sorry to hear of Mr. Whillock's passing. He was always a pleasure to work with. If I can be of any help to you regarding your insurance needs, don't hesitate to contact me. First Arkansas Insurance: 1-800-467-0415. Prayerfully yours, Emily
Margaret and Family: My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. Carl was a wonderful man and we enjoyed all his many visits to the White House. Carl was a remarkable man. Sincerely, Tracy
All of us have such wonderful memories of having you two as neighbors. We thought Carl was an outstanding gentleman and citizen.
We are here for you Margaret-- anytime you need us.
Our prayers and love to you, Margaret, and all your family.
Cal, Debbie, Cecille, Clarice, and Perrin Partee
Jonathan and Colleen Partee Shively
Margaret: Our prayers and thoughts are with you at this time. BJ has a melanoma in his right eye. We are in the process of going back and forth from MD Anderson. He has had radiation treatment so hopefully he will be fine. This is the same thing Lu Hardin has. Please know that we are thinking about you in the days ahead. Rita
To Sidney and Larry, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I know your stepfather will be truly missed in your lives.
I was very sorry not to be able to get to Little Rock for the service. Carl was a friend of many years and someone for whom I had great admiration and respect. He made extraordinary contributions in a number of areas and was a great citizen of Arkansas and the nation. My deepest condolences to Margaret and the family.
Margaret and family, My deepest sympathy as you struggle with the loss of Carl. What a lucky man he was to have shared his life with you and surrounded by such loving family and friends. You are in my prayers.
Margaret and Rudy - We were both saddened to learn of Carl's passing. What a wonderful man...we shall miss him greatly. We very much regret not being able to attend the funeral as we are out of town. You and your family are in our prayers.
Carl was a great friend . I will surely miss him. Mamgaret our thoughts are with you ann your family in your loss. Haskle
Dear Margaret and all children - I am so very, very sorry about Carl. I will always remember his kindness and sincere interest in the welfare of others, helping to improve our state for its people, and his being a real democrat . His wonderful smile will be ever-lasting.
My heart and thoughts are with you. Warmly, Jane Gray-Todd
Dear Margaret, May I extend my sympathy and let you know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. With kind regards, Marjorie (Buckley) Hucke
our state has lost a great leader who served us in so many ways. Bookie & I will miss seeing him at church with you; Margaret. May God's grace comfort and sustain you in the difficult days ahead. Sincerely, Bill Gulley
I met Carl in the late 1960's through Max Milam who was then Director of the current Department of Finance and Administration. In addition to all of his many accomplishments in so many areas, Carl was one of the nicest people I've ever met -- truly one of the good guys. While I am saddened by his passing, I believe it is a wonderful way to go -- living life to the fullest up to the very end. He will live on in the hearts of his family and friends. Thinking of you at this time of tremendous loss. Sincerely,
Deeppest sympathy to you and the family. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
We have lost a great friend and a great person.
This State has suffered a great loss. Not only was he a family man who loved his family and everyone who knew him knew that, he also loved this State and was an humble servant. His legacy will forever live on in the lives he has touched and the great work he left behind. Reggie
I am so sorry to learn of Carl's passing. The world has lost a great man. He was such a wonderful gentleman who shared his expertise and wisdom with numerous people across our state and the nation. He will be sorely missed. Margaret, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
Margaret and family,
We were saddened at learning of Carl's death. He added so much to our lives, to our state, and nation. He was a wonderful friend and an honorable man. Our sympathies and love go out to you and the family.
Margaret and family,
I am so sorry for you loss. Carl was a great person and will be missed by all who knew him. Thank you for all the opportunities you provided me at the WHVO I will never forget it. God bless.
We cannot believe this! We are in shock - which must be nothing compared to what you and family are experiencing. What a loss this is for everyone that knew and loved Carl and if one KNEW Carl, they LOVED him. He affected people that way. I am also that we did not get to come to the "mountain" last Saturday after the ballgame. We were waiting for an emergency last minute call from our son, Scott, in Texas for us to come help him move into a new home (right in the middle - or the end of football season). We were afraid to commit to anything else. I hope you will call when you are in Fay. and let us come over to visit with you. We can't figure out which Wed. the funeral is (this Wed. or next).
Our very deepest sympathy to you in the loss of a very dear husband to you and a treasured friend to us.
Love to you.
Eldon and Nel
Margaret: My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Cathy
With deepest sympathy to Carl's family and with the highest of respect for the example and encouragement he set and gave to me.
Sam & I were so sorry to learn of Carl's death. When
we read the notice in yesterday's paper, Sam spent the
rest of the morning reminiscing of their days in
Washington and recaping all the things he had done.
He truly had full and rewarding life.
Janice and I will deeply miss Carl and his easy style of communication and life. Carl was my tutor and my first office mate at the University of Arkansas in August 1967. We have shared many fond memories which I will cherish forever. fred taylor
Thanks, Carl, you have been a tremendous influence in our lives. You were always a great friend and a trusted mentor. You will be greatly missed, but you will live on through our wonderful memories.
Your family will be in our thoughts and prayers as we celebrate your life today.