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Fayetteville

Andrew Ross Adams, 25, of Fayetteville died Nov. 7, 2009, in Fayetteville.

He was born Aug. 28, 1984, in Springdale to James Adams and Susan Taggart F. Adams. He was employed by the University of Arkansas as a computer programmer.

Survivors include his father, James Adams and wife, Ellen Bruce, of Combs; mother, Susan F. Adams of Gentry; and a stepbrother, Juba Bruce of Fayetteville.

A gathering of family and friends will be 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Beards Chapel.

The family requests that memorials take the form of donations to the Heifer International, P.O. Box 6021 Albert Lea, MN 56007-6621.

Beards Funeral Chapel and Crematory handled the cremation arrangements.

Online condolences may be made to the family at www.beardsfuneralchapel.com.

— Paid

Acclaimed novelist, celebrated professor, and beloved father and husband Donald Harington died on Nov. 7, 2009, in hospice care at the Circle of Life in Springdale. He was 73.

A native Arkansawyer, Harington carved out a permanent place for his home state in the annals of American literature, setting thirteen of his fifteen novels in the fictional Ozarks town of Stay More. The town’s name comes from the polite invitation that Stay More residents offer to departing guests, but still more deeply, the name embodies the abiding lyrical impulse — the desire to stretch time to its fullest and feast upon the transitory but overwhelming joys of bodily existence — that inspires and animates all of Harington’s books.

Harington managed to honor and preserve a wealth of American folk traditions with a set of self-conscious narrative techniques that could easily have seemed incompatible with the provincial characters and remote setting of the tiny mountain town he created. The heir of a playful formalist tradition that runs through Cervantes, Sterne, Flaubert, Joyce, and Nabokov, Harington proved as inventive with the storytelling methods of his novels as he was firmly grounded in the faces, voices, and ways of the authentic Ozarker. Other writers who influenced him included William Faulkner, James Agee, the folklorist Vance Randolph, and his close friend and mentor William Styron, but Harington himself emerged as a strikingly innovative and original voice, rather improbably constructing in the isolated Stay More a remarkably apt and versatile stage for celebrating the emblems, artifacts, and eloquent customs of rural America, all within an overarching comedic vision of the human experience. As he put it in an interview, “I've written about a mythical place, Stay More, that exists only in the mind of the reader. That place may seem to be populated by hillbillies, but those hillbillies are actually the parts of oneself that one recognizes in the process of encountering them and laughs at them, learns from them, and has through them some kind of interaction with one’s own self.”

Harington’s depiction of life in Stay More drew heavily on his personal experience growing up in Arkansas. Born Dec. 22, 1935 the son of Conrad F. Harington and Jimmie Walker Harington in Little Rock, the young Harington developed his love of the Ozarks while spending summers in the small mountain town of Drakes Creek, absorbing the local accents and idiom from the residents who nicknamed him Dawny and who shared tall tales and humorous yarns with each other from their porches in the evenings. But at the age of twelve, Harington lost his hearing to meningococcal meningitis incurred after eating a piece of unwashed fruit. During the summer after his hearing loss, Harington holed up in Drakes Creek reading his way through novels by Dostoyevsky, Cervantes, and others, the devastating loss of his hearing leading directly thereby to the development of a passion for the written word that would sustain him throughout his life and eventually win over generations of readers to his own literary creations.

The pattern of life depriving Harington on the one hand but richly rewarding him on the other would continue through the decades. After earning a bachelors in art and a master of fine arts degree in printmaking from the University of Arkansas, Harington enrolled in Harvard’s doctoral program in art history — only to be exiled when one of his professors informed him that his papers read more like novels than traditional scholarship. But the rejection turned out to be prophetic; Harington published his first novel, “The Cherry Pit,” in 1970, and proceeded to publish three more novels of impressive formal inventiveness and historical sweep over the next five years, culminating in “The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks” in 1975, which embeds a charmingly idiosyncratic but nevertheless illuminating history of the United States from the 1830s to the 1970s within a tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s immortal novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” all held together by a playful portrait of the evolution of vernacular Ozarks architecture.

But “Architecture” would prove to be Harington’s last published book for more than a decade. About the time of its appearance, Harington endured a series of personal and professional trials, including the loss of his father and the bankruptcy of Windham College, where he had been teaching since 1964; his publisher also turned down the book manuscripts he submitted during this time. By his own description, Harington’s personal and professional life plunged into in a limbo that he seemed powerless to escape.

The key figure in his re-emergence proved to be Kim Gunn McClish, a former schoolteacher who wrote him a fan letter about one of his early novels, “Some Other Place. The Right Place,” and who maintained a correspondence with him over the years that ended in their marriage. Harington’s next published book, “Let Us Build Us a City,” a “nonfiction novel,” uses the stories of eleven lost “cities” in Arkansas as the framework for telling the love story of Don and Kim, culminating in their meeting and restoration of each other — their mutual return from the “lost places in the heart” that Harington memorialized in “Some Other Place” — in the final chapters of “Let Us Build.”

Harington’s real life marriage with Kim occurred in 1983, in an old-fashioned Ozark mountaineer ceremony just a few years before he accepted a position to teach art history at his alma mater. He and Kim settled in Fayetteville less than a mile from the University of Arkansas campus, and over the next two-and-a-half decades of their life together, Harington published ten more novels, scholarly books on the art of George Dombek and Carroll Cloar, and numerous shorter pieces, especially reviews for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Awards and honors also poured in during this period: the Robert Penn Warren Award, the Porter Prize, a teaching award from the University of Arkansas, membership in the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame, and the first ever Lifetime Achievement in Literature award bestowed by the Oxford American (among others).

But life certainly wasn’t done testing Harington either. In the early 1990s, Harington contracted a form of throat cancer that ravaged his vocal chords and which required a radical surgical procedure that would, according to his doctors, almost certainly rob the deaf but popular professor of the ability to speak. The illness and convalescence involved long stays in the hospital and an indoctrination in the medical arts that eventually worked their way into Harington’s 1996 novel “Butterfly Weed,” which tells the life story of Colvin Swain, Stay More’s remarkable “dream cure” physician during the first half of the 20th century.

But “Butterfly Weed” proved Harington’s final novel for his longtime publisher, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. His next two books, “When Angels Rest” and “Thirteen Albatrosses, or Falling Off the Mountain” received the usual critical praise but did not sell well enough to convince their publishers to continue to support the Stay More saga.

The timing of this unplanned free agency proved particularly crucial, because Harington’s next novel was perhaps his riskiest ever: “With,” the story of seven-year-old Robin Kerr’s abduction by retired police officer and determined pedophile Sog Alan, who takes her to the remote heights above Stay More to remain his ‘truelove’ forever. Robin manages to emerge independent and remarkably whole from her time with Sog, but the story line itself left Harington in a position similar to that of one of his mentors, Nabokov, half-a-century before when the Russian-American author tried to convince publishers that the admittedly lurid elements of his “Lolita” should not obscure the overarching artistic merits of the book. For his part, Harington submitted “With” to almost forty publishers, earning nothing but a litany of rejections. He was on the point of finally acceding to one editor’s unpromising suggestion that he effectively gut the book to get it a second reading when he finally received a receptive response from Toby Press, a publisher of whose existence he had not even been aware prior to the desperate search for a press that would midwife “With.” “With” went on to become Harington’s best-selling novel ever, requiring a second edition; it has since been optioned by Esperanza Pictures for a feature film version that is currently in pre-production.

Harington’s ongoing connection with Toby Press would come to match, in a professional way, the abiding joy of his marriage with Kim. Toby not only published his subsequent novels, but also brought out paperback editions of all of his earlier novels, so that the entire Harington corpus is now in print simultaneously. Harington dedicated his 2006 novel “The Pitcher Shower” to Matthew Miller, the head of Toby Press and a close friend.

But even as his novels found the perfect publishing haven, Harington endured still more devastating life trials. Shortly before the appearance of “The Pitcher Shower,” Harington marked the passing of his best friend, Larry Vonalt, to whom he had dedicated “Butterfly Weed.” Later that year, he suffered a violent car accident that broke his ankle and left him in the hospital for months, coping with complications from pneumonia and the discovery that food was infiltrating his lungs through gaps in his esophagus. Harington eventually had to give up eating altogether, sustaining himself with a liquid diet piped directly into his stomach.

Rather remarkably, Harington continued to write and teach in his still more debilitated condition, continuing to teach at the University of Arkansas until his retirement in December 2008 and bringing out two more novels, “Farther Along” and “Enduring,” during the last two years of his life. In the spring of 2009, he suffered a fall in the driveway of the home that he and Kim had built together in the mid-1990s, breaking his hip and incurring further complications of pneumonia that would require constant medical care for the remainder of his life. Shortly after committing himself to hospice, Harington characteristically used the ordeal as an occasion for humor, writing to Miller at Toby that the editions of “Enduring” and a paperback “With,” which appeared just two months before his death, were “both to die for.”

Harington is preceded in death by his brother Conrad and is survived by his wife, Kim, his sister, Sue Kavanaugh; daughters Jennifer Brizzi, Calico Harington, and Katy Harington; stepson, Mickel McClish; and his children’s families, including four grandchildren: Sofia, Marco, Miles, and Ella.

Both a resourceful comedian of devastating loss and a gifted elegist of surrendered but indelible beauty, Harington professed to hate endings – the sadness of a story’s death – and switched the final chapter of his novels into the future tense to keep his loving contract with the reader open and alive beyond the last page, surpassing the final period, the story lingering staying more perpetually even after the cover has finally been closed.

The final chapter of Harington’s final completed book, Enduring, offers a haunting and beautiful anticipation of the author’s own end. A passage that he wrote especially for his beloved wife, Kim, bids farewell also to his beloved readers.

“In time, as the funeral hymn ‘Farther Along’ sung at all these funerals will have promised, Latha will come to realize that only the survivor will understand the depth of the loss, while only the lost will understand that they are not lost at all, but found. And she will remember what she herself had realized years before, that the secret of enduring is not to harden oneself against loss but to soften oneself into acceptance.”

Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Moore’s Chapel. Following a private burial, a public memorial service will be held at the University of Arkansas (date and time to be announced).

Brian Walter is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Convocations at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. He is currently working on a documentary about Harington’s life and work; for more information, please visit http://www.littlegreen.us.

To sign the online guest book, visit www.mooresfuneralchapel.com.

—Paid

Richard Milsap, 93, formerly of Farmington, died Nov. 6, 2009, in Grove, Okla.

He was born Sept. 30, 1916, in Greenland to Barry and Ollie Paschal Milsap.

He retired from the oil industry and was a member of First Christian Church and Masonic Lodge 192.

Survivors include three sons, Gary Milsap and wife Sharon of Grove, Okla., Barry Milsap and wife Linda of Wichita, Kan., and Ronald Milsap and wife Jackie of Denver, Okla.; 17 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren; a great-great-grandchild.

Visitation will be 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Birzer Funeral Home in Sterling, Kan.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Raymond Hilltop Cemetery in Raymond, Kan.

Burial will be in Raymond Hilltop Cemetery.

PRAIRIE GROVEL

Betty Jo Reed, 87, died Nov. 8, 2009, at Prairie Grove Health & Rehabilitation. She was born Oct. 24, 1922, in Oklahoma City to Sally Mae Reed.

She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Springdale.

Visitation will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Moore’s Chapel. Services will be at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Rose Hill Cemetery in Ardmore, Okla.

SPRINGDALE

Dean Allison, 86, died Nov. 8, 2009, at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. He was born June 13, 1923, in Durham to James Walter and Ethel C. Robbins Allison.

He served in the Army during World War II.

Survivors include a son, Charles Allison and wife Janice of Springdale; a brother, Bill Allison of Siloam Springs; two sisters, including Ruby Potter of Siloam Springs.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Luginbuel Chapel in Prairie Grove. Burial will be in the Prairie Grove Cemetery.

Aileene High, 79, of Springdale went to be with the Lord on Nov. 8, 2009, at Circle of Life Hospice in Springdale.

She was born Aug. 22, 1930, in Purdy to William and Bonnie Spradling LeBow. She was a homemaker and member of First Baptist Church where she sang in the choir for many years. She also worked as a secretary for Jones Truck Line, Jones Elementary and Lee Elementary.

She was preceded in death by her parents; one brother, Richard LeBow; and one great-grandson, Peyton Thomas.

She is survived by her husband, Harold High, whom she married Aug. 7, 1948; two sons, Rick High and wife, Pam, and Wray High and wife, Kathy, all of Springdale; one daughter, Linda Warner and husband, John, of Springdale; eight grandchildren, Kerry High and wife, Genia, Jeremy High, Kristy High, Laurie High, Candice West and husband, Jason, Aaron High and wife, Kari, Holly Thomas and husband, Jason, and Whitney High; six great-grandchildren, Chase, Ethan and Asher High, Regan and Riley West and Parker Thomas; two brothers, Robert and Bill LeBow; and two sisters, Nellie Wilson and Lucille Taldo.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Sisco Funeral Chapel in Springdale with the Revs. Cliff Palmer and Charlie Foster officiating. Burial will be in Friendship Cemetery.

Pallbearers are Kerry High, Jeremy High, Aaron High, Jason West, Jason Thomas and Brandon Knight.

In lieu of flowers, the family request memorial contributions be made to The Missions Ministry of First Baptist Church, 206 Johnson, Springdale, AR 72762.

No visitation is planned.

Online condolences may be made to www.siscofuneral.com.

— Paid

Alyce Frances Phillips, 92, died Nov. 8, 2009, in Fayetteville.

She was born March 12, 1917, in Memphis, Tenn., to Charles E. and Pearl Turner Phillips. She taught Adult Ladies Sunday school class until she was 90 years old. She retired after 40 years of service with AT&T, formerly Southern Bell. She enjoyed traveling. She loved to sew and crochet.

She was preceded in death by her parents; three brothers, Paul Phillips, Raymond Phillips and Eugene (Buster) Phillips; and one sister, Thelma Heskett.

Survivors include one brother, Charles Phillips of Jackson, Miss.; one sister, Hazel James of Springdale; one nephew, John Wayne James of Fayetteville; and two nieces, Nancy Howard and Jerri James, both of Fayetteville.

Graveside services will be Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Bluff Cemetery with the Rev. Tom Shaw officiating.

Visitation will be today from 3 to 5 p.m. at Sisco Funeral Chapel of Springdale.

Memorials may be made to Elmdale Baptist Church, 1700 W. Huntsville Ave., Springdale, AR 72762.

To sign the guest book online, please visit www.siscofuneral.com.

— Paid

HUNTSVILLE

Judy Gayle Spencer, 47, went to be with her Mom and Dad on Nov. 7, 2009, at her home.

She was born Jan. 16, 1963, in Springdale to James “Cajun” and Joy Wilder Lawrence. She has a great amount of extended family. She loved her family. She enjoyed writing poetry. She loved her dogs Sassy Jean and Patches. She loved NASCAR. She was a bird collector. She enjoyed dancing in her younger years.

She was preceded in death by her longtime friend, Jerry Phillips.

Survivors include one son, Michael William Lee Spencer and wife, Elizabeth, of Forum; one daughter, Joy Spencer of Huntsville; one step-daughter, Jenny Marler; one brother, William Lawrence of Greenland; one sister, Teresa Satterfield of DeQueen; and seven grandchildren.

Memorial services will be Thursday at 2:00p.m. at Sisco Funeral Chapel of Springdale.

To sign the guest book online, please visit www.siscofuneralchapel.com.

— Paid

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa

Larry James Gage, 67, passed away Nov. 5, 2009.

Graveside services were at 1 p.m. Monday at Graceland Cemetery in Webster City, Iowa.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at vogelfuneralhomes.com. Arrangements have been entrusted to Pursel Davis Funeral Home.

Larry was born on Sept. 4, 1942, the son of Clifford D. and Ruth J. Branch Gage in Webster City, Iowa. Larry graduated from Marshalltown High School in 1960. Larry graduated from Southeast Missouri State College in Cape Girardeau, Mo., in 1964.

Larry served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968. He worked for Osco Drug in several locations for over 10 years. Larry then joined General Growth Properties as a manager for the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville for 10 years. He moved back to Marshalltown in 1984, where he worked for the Iowa Veterans Home, from which he retired.

Larry attended Hope United Methodist Church in Marshalltown. He enjoyed spending time with his daughters and granddaughter, Maggie. His favorite pastimes were fishing, reading and woodcarving.

Larry will be missed by his two daughters, Susan Gage of Springdale and Molly (Jeff) Cook of Rogers; a granddaughter, Maggie Cook; one brother, Vern Gage from Brooklyn, Iowa; two aunts, Pauline Nelson of Riverdale, Ill., and Lillian Gage of Webster City, Iowa; one uncle, Bill (Donna) Branch of Bettendorf, Iowa; and one niece, one nephew and several cousins.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Richard.

— Paid

Print Headline: OBITUARIES

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