Friday, July 06, 2012

TOP STORY >> Ex-general, community titan passes at age of 82

Family, friends and colleagues are mourning the passing of retired Brig. Gen. Oliver William “Dub” Myers, former commander of the 39th Infantry Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard.

He died on Thursday at the age of 82 at his home in Jacksonville. His wife of nearly 60 years, Billie Ann, was by his side. He was the father of Olivia Myers Farrell, chief executive officer of Arkansas Business Publishing Group.

Myers was a popular figure around the state and was involved in many civic organizations.

“He was an unbelievable man,” Brad West, a friend and co-worker at Harold Gwatney Chevrolet, said Friday.

“He enriched the lives of millions of people,” West said. “It was a good feeling knowing him.”

“He used to say God and family came first and then everything else after that,” West said.

“He said you can do more with friends than you could with money,” West recalled.

Three Jacksonville mayors Myers worked with called him a great man.

“It’s a sad, sad loss for everyone in the community,” said Mayor Gary Fletcher. “You don’t have a Dub Myers come into your life but once in a lifetime. He will leave a big void, and you just can’t go out and fill it.”

Fletcher continued, “He was a strong leader, a strong individual and was quick to give his opinion. And I learned real early to listen.”

Former mayor Tommy Swaim agreed. “The community lost a great supporter, and I lost a dear friend.”

Swaim recalled how he often went to Dub to discuss military issues. “He had the background and the expertise. He was a great sounding board and one that could always come up with ideas,” Swaim said.

Jim Reid, who was the city’s mayor in the 1970s and 1980s, concurred.

“He was a true friend of mine and a true friend to Jacksonville. I could always count on him to help with city projects and even in the business world. I thought a lot of him. When I was in office, I was very comfortable in knowing I could count on him for any help we needed. That was a big plus,” Reid said.

Bill Page, Myers’ nephew, said, “He had a big, bold personality. He loved his children and his family. He was an avid outdoorsman. He introduced me to duck hunting.”

“He had a knack for making friends,” Page added. “He was a happy go-lucky fella. He was passionate. He was kind of a jokester.”

Page’s father, retired Maj. Gen. William C. Page, is the brother of Myers’ widow, Billie Ann. Both Myers and Page had long distinguished military careers.

“He was always ready to serve,” Bill Page said of his uncle. “He leaves quite a legacy.”

Alton Johnson, another longtime friend and fellow Mason, attended church with Myers and their wives at First Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville.

“He was a dandy,” Johnson said. “He was a cutup, but he had a serious side. He tried to help humanity. He was a good community man. He helped a lot of people.”

They were members of the Scottish Rite Temple in Little Rock, where Myers was a 32nd-degree Mason.

“He was,” Johnson said, “a community servant.”

More tributes continued to pour in from around Arkansas.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of Dub Myers’ passing,” Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) said in a statement. “He devoted his life to leading and helping Arkansas’ service members and their families.

“His legacy as commander of the 39th Brigade — the Arkansas Brigade — and support for Little Rock Air Force Base will not be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Billie Ann, and his entire family,” Griffin added.

Myers was born June 15, 1930, in Forrest City to Oliver C. and Gertie Riggs Myers.

Myers was much-decorated officer and a Korean War veteran. He was later posted in Paragould and at Camp Robinson.

He moved to Jacksonville when he retired from the National Guard in 1987 and went to work for Harold Gwatney Chevrolet in Jacksonville.

Myers was active in the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club, Jacksonville Rotary Club, the Little Rock Air Force Community Council and many other organizations.

He headed several of those organizations.