WASHINGTON -- Retired Arvest banker Dick Trammel witnessed the political equivalent of a double-header Tuesday: two speeches in the historic chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives.
President Donald Trump delivered the prime-time message, an 82-minute-long State of the Union address that was viewed by tens of millions of Americans.
It followed an afternoon speech by U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., that highlighted Trammel's lifetime of service to the Natural State, particularly in Rogers and the communities surrounding it.
"No one I know of has loved, served and promoted Northwest Arkansas more than Dick Trammel," said Womack.
Since moving there in 1975, "he's been the area's most avid cheerleader," the congressman added.
"Nothing of importance in our area has happened in the last 40-plus years that doesn't have Dick Trammel's fingerprints on it," Womack said, calling him "a pillar of my community, an exemplary businessman, dedicated public servant, dear friend and all-around great American."
The man Womack calls "Mr. Northwest Arkansas" wasn't told ahead of time about the tribute; he watched it unfold while sitting in the House gallery.
"I was thinking he was going to do congressional business, so it was a total surprise," Trammel said Friday.
After the speech, Womack portrayed the Rogers banker as a "living, walking, breathing chamber of commerce" and a prodigious fundraiser for charitable causes.
"There may be people that imitate Dick Trammel, but they don't duplicate Dick Trammel," Womack said. "He's one of a kind."
Interviewed on Capitol Hill the day of the speeches, Trammel said he was enjoying spending time with Womack, Rogers' former mayor.
"Steve has been my friend forever. ... He and his dad. I was their banker when they came to Rogers, and they both have done really well," he said.
Receiving an invitation to the State of the Union was exciting, he said.
"In 81 years, I've never been to anything like this," he said.
Originally from Randolph County, Trammel moved into Walmart's backyard at the urging of its founder. For decades, he served as an executive at First National Bank & Trust Co., which later became Arvest Bank.
He would remain there for 43 years, finally retiring Dec. 31.
The change of location -- he was 38 at the time -- is one he doesn't regret.
"For a country boy from Pocahontas, Ark., I am so thankful," he said. "I give thanks that Mr. Sam Walton hired me himself and said, 'Come to Northwest and help me make it a good place.' I've been blessed."
Trammel's public service predates his move to Benton County.
As a Pocahontas banker, he had served on the state Livestock and Poultry Commission. He was also president of the town's Chamber of Commerce.
The experience came in handy. He would go on to lead the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, as well.
Active in a long list of civic, educational and philanthropic causes, he is former chairman of the state's Higher Education Coordinating Board, as well as the Arkansas Arts Council.
He also served on the Arkansas Highway Commission for a decade, leaving it last month.
Some of the infrastructure he helped build will now bear his name: The commission has voted to name part of Arkansas 265 in honor of its departed chairman. The 30-mile stretch between Fayetteville and Rogers will be known as the Dick Trammel Highway.
Last week, Trammel expressed pride in the state's Department of Transportation employees.
He also praised the voters of Rogers for approving school levies and the people of Arkansas for approving a half-percent sales-tax increase to improve the state's roadways.
But he expressed concerns about the division he sees on Capitol Hill.
"I'm just awed at how [political] parties can't come together," he said.
"When I think about government, I do hope that there can be more compromise," he said. "I think there's a lot of room for improvement for the good of the people."
He would later give Trump's speech high marks.
"I thought he did a tremendous job trying to bring America together," Trammel said. "The president did say we need to compromise and come together for the good of the people."
Despite the partisan divisions, the state of the economy is encouraging, he said.
"I've never seen it perfect in 81 years. There's always room for improvement, but it can always go the other way," he said. "I think right now, most people are happy. We did get a farm bill passed. The passage of a farm bill was very, very important to Arkansas. So I'd say the economy is good."
It remains a privilege to dwell in the United States, he said.
"God blesses all of us, and we live in the best country in the world. I don't have any doubt about that," he said.
NW News on 02/11/2019
Print Headline: Arkansas congressman praises Trammel in D.C. speech