Gentry History Book

A team of individuals have come together to create Gentry’s 120-year history book to be published in 2015. The first book, published on Gentry’s centennial in 1994, sold out shortly after it was printed. The 120th edition will include many of the historical pictures and stories that were in the 1994 book plus many more. The new edition is expected to be more than twice as large as the original one.

The project is sponsored by the Gentry Chamber of Commerce and directed by Marla Feemster England. England can be released at 479-525-6093, 479-531-1873 or at terry.england@cox.net; marlaengland@facebook.com,

“There has been so much wonderful and historical pictures and stories that have been posted on Facebook recently, we decided we would use this means to capture these gems,” Bev Saunders, Gentry Chamber of Commerce director, stated.

The early bird price of the book, which is expected to be more than 300 pages, is $55. “To get the book published, we have to make payments as we go. By pre-selling the book, we will be able to make those payments,” Saunders explained. After the pre-sell time, the books will costs $65. “Last time, we had a hard time in the pre-sell because people didn’t know what they would be getting. Then when we got the books in, they sold like hot cakes. We ran out early and lots of folks that wanted one didn’t get one. I hope everyone will pre-buy this time….it will save them money and they will be sure to get a book.”

A brochure will soon be distributed to the community in hopes everyone will submit a story about their family, business, church, community organization or special event in Gentry. “The book is for anyone who has ever called Gentry home,” Saunders added. “It is our hope that every person that lives in our community today or ever has will submit personal information and photos. It’s called a history book but it is also about people in our community today.  We are also seeking any historical photos that anyone might have with accompanying stories.”

Committee members of the Gentry History Book project include Janice Arnold, Janie Parks, Tammie Runyan, Berta Norris, Sherry Ransom, Rick Parker, Kristi Holloway, Darla Threet, Marla England, Bev Saunders and Kevin Johnston. It is expected to take about one year to pre-sell the necessary amount of books to make the project successful, to gather and organize the material, and to get the book published.

Gentry Farmers Market

The 2014 Gentry Farmers Market will be held at the Main Street Pavilion, 500 East Main Street, with Melissa Graef as the director.  Those with produce may set up under the pavilion in the 11 feet by 14 feet space. The Pavilion, which will provide shelter from the rain and sun, is at the corner of Arkansas Highway 59 and Main Street. There will be a small fee for booth space. Those interested may talk to Melissa at the Chicken Coop Flea Market or call for details, 479-871-1052. Information is also available on facebook.com/TheChickenCoop.GentryAR .
Vendors will not be permitted to set up at the Gentry City Park this year.

Video on baseball in Gentry offered

Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the latest historical baseball video which was shown at the annual Gentry Chamber Banquet in February may now purchase one at Pioneer Pizza or from the Chamber office.

The cost is $10 each ($15 if shipped). For more information or to order a copy of the video, call Bev Saunders, executive director of Gentry Chamber of Commerce, at 736-2358. Checks can be sent to P.O. Box 642, Gentry, AR 72734.

The video is a retrospective look back into the days when Gentry’s most popular entertainment was baseball.

In the 1940s and 1950s, whether it was the organized league, the town team, the high school baseball team or just a group of local kids, there was always a game to be found in Gentry on a warm summer day.

Speakers in the video include Burl Lyons, Ralph Sullivan, Jim Twiggs, Sr., Allen Heald, Glenn Smith, Danny Feemster, Roy Jech, Bill Mitchell and Rick Parker.

The video was filmed and edited by Shane McNair and produced by Flying Lens Visuals.

Gentry’s Spring Fling

Gentry Arkansas’ Spring Fling

(Formerly Springtime Pickin’ Time)

May 1-3, 2014

•    Antiques, collectibles, garage sale items, it’s time to Fling it!
•    Booth spaces are available to vendors…call 479-736-2358.
•    No city garage sale permits required during this event.
•    Local residents are encouraged to host garage sales – be sure to put up readable signage to your event.

 

Gentry’s annual Spring Fling will be held Thursday through Saturday, May 1 to 3. Anyone planning to have a spring garage sale, antique or collectibles sale, is urged to participate in the citywide event. Anyone who would like to set up a booth along Arkansas Highway 59 may call Bev Saunders to reserve a space, 736-2358.

Easter Egg Hunt Scheduled

The annual Gentry Chamber of Commerce Easter Egg Hunt will be held at 2 p.m., April 19, at Gentry City Park.

Grand prizes of bikes and trikes will be given in each of the four age groups — up to 3-year-olds; 4 to 6; 7 to 8; and 9 to 10. The bikes are sponsored by Tucker Chiropractic, AEP/SWEPCO/AECC, Turning Point Fellowship Church and Arvest Bank.

There will be hundreds of other prizes as well, and this year the children will be able to keep the eggs they find.

Chamber gives out awards at 2014 banquet

GENTRY — Members of the Gentry community gathered at the Wooden Spoon Restaurant on Thursday for the annual Gentry Chamber of Commerce awards banquet. Following a meal, prepared and served by the Wooden Spoon, the chamber presented its annual awards.

Photos of the event can be seen here: Chamber Banquet Photos

The narrative of the awards portion of the ceremony follows:

Civic Organization

Tailwaggers

This group originated in Siloam Springs, but Kristie (Beeman) Milsap and her sister in-law, Holly Beeman, helped expand Tailwaggers to Gentry. They are a group of volunteers who have helped the Gentry Animal Services find new homes for many dogs. They were also responsible for raising funding to provide heat lamps for the kennels and perimeter fencing and run pens so that impounded dogs could get some exercise.

 

Rookie of the Year

Luke Klassen

Luke was chosen for his role in getting “disc golf” established in the Gentry City Park. His work goes beyond building the goals and placing them. He and friends traveled to other courses to see what they could do to lay a course out in Gentry’s Community Park, adding a feature for youth to be active. He is also a member of the “Mennonite Carolers,” who for years now have visited many people to share their talent and holiday spirit. Luke has become a fine young man and, if we are lucky, he will grow old as a lifelong member of our community.

 

Volunteer of the Year

Denver Whitehead

Denver volunteers one day a week to drive the van for Home Delivered Meals for the Gentry Senior Citizen Center and fills in other days when the regular driver needs off. He’s always ready to help out. He volunteered for custodial duties and any other maintenance and repair that was needed on the Senior Building. He has cooked for several fundraisers and events. He cooked hamburgers, hot dogs and bologna for cruise night, grilled chicken for our chicken dinner and cooked all the meat for our volunteer appreciation dinner. He loves to come on Mondays when we have our gospel sing and add his beautiful bass voice. Nonprofit organizations such as the senior center could not survive without our dedicated volunteers.

 

Citizen of the Year

Terry Stanfill

Terry has worked tirelessly for the community of Gentry in many ways, including helping to establish and maintain Eagle Watch, which has become a big tourist attraction. Terry has helped host University of Arkansas groups visiting Gentry and conducted many tours. He is an incredible outdoor photographer and posts beautiful Gentry outdoor photography almost every day on Facebook, promoting both Gentry and the wildlife and nature in the area. He has worked to help obtain funds to preserve area landmarks and historical sites. He worked with my daughter Jodye to help establish an Arkansas Department of Education curriculum at the new nature center. He’s a great asset to our town.

 

Business Person

Rick Parker

Without his 20-plus years of research, Gentry would not have been able to have had western Benton County and, more importantly, our town included in the “Heritage Trails Plan.” Rick has hosted many University of Arkansas groups in his business/shop. In his business, he has traveled the United States and foreign countries, and sometimes those visitors come back to Gentry to visit him. He has done conservation/restoration work for several presidential libraries and the Smithsonian. He has done extensive history research on the Trail of Tears in this area. He has served on the Gentry City Council, the Gentry Chamber of Commerce, the Gentry United Way and Gentry Main Street. He is a graduate of Gentry High School. He has lived in Gentry all his life with his wife and daughter. His parents were lifetime Gentry natives. Mom, Ruby Faye, worked at Gentry city offices and she was responsible for writing the history of Gentry’s government in the 1994 Centennial History book. His father Henry worked on the railroad at the old train depot and was also remembered as being quite a baseball player. Rick is always ready and willing to help me with visitors and professional presentations, and I appreciate him very much.

 

Chamber Member of the Year

Michelle Finnell

She’s so quiet most of the time that folks don’t even know she’s around. But I don’t know what the Chamber of Commerce would do without members like Michelle Finnell. She is so giving of herself, her assets and her time. At Christmas, Michelle bought chocolate Santa Clauses to put in each of the treat bags. She has participated in Trick or Treat on Main Street for the last several years. She volunteers at Gentry Public Schools on school projects and she and her husband Jason have volunteered as coaches for Gentry Youth Organization. She was chairman of the Little Miss and Mister Gentry in the past. For the last several years, Michelle has worked the Chamber Freedom Fest booth in the park – all day long. This year, we didn’t have help to work throughout the day, so Michelle worked the Chamber booth all by herself throughout the day, then helped man the booth with other volunteers throughout the evening. She worked the Chamber booth at the Fall Festival the last several years. She and Jason have helped take down the Chamber tents and booths after the events and have hauled tables and chairs back and forth. She is always there to help – very dependable – and she is always smiling. And a big thanks to Jason also, who this past July 4th stayed at home with a one-year-old and several 7- and 8-year-old girls so Michelle could help me.

 

Lifetime Achievement  Award Winners

Bob and Wanda Meyer

Wanda Shankles Meyer was born and reared in Gentry. For many years she has served on all types of committees and boards — the Chamber of Commerce, the Gentry Planning Commission, the Gentry Fine Arts Society, the Gentry Alumni Association, the Gentry United Way and church. She was crowned Miss Gentry 1968 and has served our community since that time.

Many tell of Wanda taking care of others by providing food and service to those less fortunate. Without mentioning names, I heard a few years back of a situation where Wanda and Bob helped a lady who just needed a hand up in getting a car so she could go to work. When this person told me of the situation and the Meyers’ help, she said, “I was at the end of my rope in what to do. Wanda is an angel.”

Two business persons told me about working late one night and Wanda bringing them dinner just because she knew they were tired and Wanda didn’t want them to have to go home and fix dinner.

Bob Meyer moved here from California where he was involved in serving the community in many ways, including being a firefighter. He has been a member of the Gentry Lions Club for 28 years, serving as the sight chairman, vice president and president. He has been a trustee of the Gentry Christian Church for several years and is now the benevolent representative. A few years back, I overheard two men talking about Bob at the post office. One said, “Bob Meyer is the most Christ-like person I’ve ever known.” That says it all…

 

Daniel William Feemster

Daniel William Feemster was born in 1853 and died in 1917 at the age of 64. Daniel and his wife Barbara had seven children — Margaret, Obe, Cecil, Cora, Dougal, Roy and Mable. Daniel and Barbara initially established the little town of Noble, Mo. It is not even on most maps today. In Noble, Daniel and Barbara established a church and built a large building used for the school. Drury College of Springfield, Mo., furnished two teachers for the Noble school each year and, most often, the teachers lived with the Feemsters during the school term. They also built and operated a general country store and post office in Noble. Daniel was what we call today the “postal inspector” for part of Ozark County, Mo.

In 1894, the Noble schoolhouse burned to the ground and, after an investigation, it was determined it was arson. In those days most families in that area wanted their boys to remain on the farm instead of going to school. Only four days after the school burned, Daniel Feemster and his family departed Noble in a carriage pulled by a team of horses and a week later they arrived in Siloam Springs. They stayed in a rooming house on Twin Springs Street.

Soon thereafter, Daniel drove his buggy north to Gentry. Together, Daniel and Barbara decided Gentry was the place they wanted to move their family, to establish a residence and open Gentry’s first lumberyard. They built their new home. They also built a lumber yard, a stock pen, a carpenter’s shed and wagon scales that were located along the railroad tracks on the east side of town and across the street from the Elberta Hotel.

Daniel sold a lot of native lumber from the Flint Creek Mill. He also shipped in many loads of lumber on the Kansas City Southern Railroad from the Longbell Lumber Company in Kansas City, Mo. Daniel was a very generous man and he provided lumber, at his cost, to local churches for their building projects. Churches were built in Gentry, Highfill, Springtown, Bloomfield and Cherokee City, all using lumber purchased from Feemster’s Lumberyard.

On May 5, 1899, Dougal Feemster, son of Daniel and Barbara Feemster, became sick with a high fever and pain in his stomach. They sent for a doctor from St. Louis, Mo., to come to Gentry by train. When he arrived and examined the boy, it was determined that Dougal had appendicitis. They prepared a room in their home with white sheets on the walls and ceilings and then the doctor operated on Dougal. Ten days later the boy died and was buried just south of Gentry on five acres that his father Daniel purchased and donated to the city of Gentry for a cemetery. Dougal Feemster, 15, was the first person to be buried in the Gentry Cemetery.

Daniel wanted to start a Congregational Church in Gentry. Daniel said he would donate all materials for the church building and he was soon working with a group of Gentry residents. Labor was free and, six months later, Gentry had a new Congregational Church building, free and clear of debt.

Daniel William Feemster had the responsibilities of a mayor while preparing the documents and filing the proper paperwork to become incorporated; and in 1898 he was officially elected the first mayor of Gentry. Other officials were J.E. Perkins and aldermen J.F. Mitchell, T.A. Cunningham, R.T. Hastings, J.C. Hendrix and J.B. Algire. The first resolution passed was for a “tax of five mills on the dollar levied on the taxable property of Gentry — as shown by the last assessment on file in the clerk’s office in Bentonville as equalized — to be used for general city purposes.”

Ordinances passed included those that allowed for the office of Town Marshal, the City Treasurer, Business Licenses, an ordinance prohibiting persons from carrying concealed weapons and improvement of streets, alleys, sidewalks, and public grounds. One ordinance stated that “whoever shall cut the mane or tail of a horse, or wound disfigure, or otherwise injure any horse, cow, mule, jack or jenny, or hog with a malicious wanton (cruel) or mischievous intent shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be fined, not to exceed one hundred dollars.”

Daniel continued being a successful businessman and leader in the community until he retired.

Finally, this is an excerpt from Daniel William Feemster’s obituary, printed in the Gentry newspaper in January 1917:

“Personally we feel the loss of a friend, one whom no tribute from our band could fittingly represent. The throng who met and wept at the last rites conducted in the church is a tribute to whose splendor surpasses anything we can say. While our brother had been afflicted for a long time, the end to him was marked by a peace surpassing all human understanding; but it sent a pain through the community. An early settler, a retired businessman, a kind husband and tenderhearted father, left us when he went.  A most beautiful collection of facts gathered by one of his daughters was handed in just before the service and revealed the fact that our brother and friend sought to ease the family grief and call to Christian work his unsaved friends. In other words, his thought, his care, his service on to life’s close was a commendable concern for others which caused him to forget his own suffering in the greater joy of Christian employment.  No one familiar with Christ’s teachings will doubt that the end was peace. Seldom has a community been blessed with a more triumphant departure. It seemed more like translation than death; therefore we mourn not his victory, but our loss.”

 

Daniel ‘Danny’ J. Feemster

Born in Gentry on Nov. 22, 1935, Daniel “Danny” Joseph Feemster was given the traditional Feemster family name that originated in 1853 with his great-grand father, Daniel William, and his father, Daniel “Wayne.”

During his teenage years, Danny and several of his uncles, cousins and close friends were avid baseball players and they represented Gentry on extremely competitive and often championship baseball teams.

In 1954, one Sunday morning following the Methodist Church service, Glenn Steepro told his family there is a young man here who I want to introduce to you. Danny Feemster, age 18 at the time, was working for the Benton County Telephone Company. Since the Steepro family were new residents of Gentry, Glenn wanted his family to meet Danny.

According to Esther Steepro, “Danny came home with us for lunch that day and he never left!” A short time later and apparent “love at first sight,” Danny and Wava were married. On Oct. 14, of this year, they will celebrate their 60th anniversary.

Danny and Wava have 3 daughters, Marla England, Marsha Scherer and Robin Barker, all of Gentry. They have six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Family is extremely important to Danny and he is very special to his family too, as you can see by their attendance tonight.

Like his parents before him, Danny is a life-long, active member and leader of the Gentry United Methodist Church. He has been a member of the Administrative Council and the church trustee for more than 40 years.

Danny spent his entire 37-year career working for the local telephone company. Starting at age 18 and retiring at age 55, he had several offers for promotions within the company, but advancement called for relocation to another town. Danny has a deep connection and love for the area and he did not want to leave Gentry. From his current residence, he can actually see the home place where he was born, the area where he was raised as a child and the properties where he and Wava raised their family.

Danny is known to be a hard worker. For several years during his vacation time and the weekends, he would start a building project. He has built nine houses and renovated several others in Gentry. He would work on the building projects early each morning before he went to work at the telephone company. He also worked during his lunch hour and after hours until it was too dark to see what he was working on.

Danny has always taken an active role in the Gentry community, serving 18 years on the Gentry City Council and on the Gentry Planning Commission since 2004. Danny, along with the hard work of several other volunteers, was instrumental in building the Gentry City Park in the mid 1970s. They removed and trimmed several trees, installed lighting for the ball fields and built the concrete picnic tables still used in the park today. He currently serves on the local bank board of Arvest — Gentry Branch and has been with them for over 20 years. Danny also was a member of the Gentry Library Board, where he was a member from 1997 and retired in 2013.

Danny recently retired from the Gentry Lion’s Club, where he was a charter member, being active for more than 50 years in the local chapter. Several of those years he was secretary and treasurer of the club. As a Lions Club member, for all legal holidays, he and his close friend Roy Jech put up U.S. Flags on Main Street Gentry, and they also served several thousand pancakes during those years.

Danny, just like his father Wayne, has been a passionate fan of the Gentry Pioneers, Arkansas Razorbacks and St. Louis Cardinals his entire life. After his years as a ballplayer himself, he has attended almost every Gentry Pioneer football, basketball and baseball game for the past 60 years! He initially started watching his brother Eddie in the late 1950s and then followed his daughters and grandchildren, each one playing with the same competitive spirit and enthusiasm that Danny had during his years as a Pioneer.

Nominations needed for Chamber awards

Gentry’s Annual Awards Night will be Thursday, Feb. 27, at the Wooden Spoon Restaurant in Gentry. Dinner will begin at 6 p.m., and the program will begin at 7:15 p.m.

The chamber is currently taking nominations for 2013 Outstanding Volunteer, 2013 Outstanding Businessperson, 2013 Outstanding Civic Organization, 2013 Rookie of the Year and 2013 Outstanding Citizen. The Chamber of Commerce board of directors will vote on the nominations. Deadline for nominations is Jan. 30.

The chamber is also taking nominations for the Lifetime Achievement Awards. The purpose of this award is to honor those who have made a positive impact on Gentry and to make sure they are not forgotten in the town’s history. It is suggested that the honorees lived and/or worked and/or volunteered in the community for a minimum of 25 years. Nominations can be living or deceased individuals.

Previous Lifetime Award Winners and the years they were inducted are: J.R. Bever, Sr., 1988; Rai Steele, 1988; FG Twiggs, 1988; Kathryn Elsner, 1988; Bob Curran, 1988; Bob Carl, 1989; Maurice Lamberson, 1989; Dr. A.L. Peacock, 1989; John Parks, 1990; Marvin Phillips, 1990; Roy Backer, 1992; Tom Burns, 1992; Clyde Glass, 1992; Pat Parks, 1992; John Schaffer, 1993; Paul Sugg, 1993; Joe Carl, 2005; Clegg Ratcliff, 2007; John Binns, 2007; Dale Carpenter, 2007; Art Steele, 2007; J.D. Smith, 2007; J.R. “Bob” Bever, 2008; Lyle Glass, 2008; Railey Steele, 2008; Oral Sullivan, 2008; Roy Bolin, 2008; Doris Carter, 2009; Mildred Backer, 2009; Dr. Bob Weaver, 2010; Ross Wilmoth, 2010; Fred Adams, 2011; Tuffy Heald, 2011; and B.C. Wiles, 2011; Lemuel Cripps, 2013; David and Loretta Millsap, 2012; Donnie Shook, 2013; Grace Glass, 2013; Roy Jech, 2013; and Nina Steele, 2013.

Tickets will be available at the Chamber office.

Santa Visit, Parade Set for Dec. 14

Santa is coming to town

Gentry’s annual Christmas parade will be Saturday, Dec. 14, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Lineup for the parade will be at 5:30 p.m. at Nelson Feed (formerly Curran Feed).

The theme for this year’s event is Christmas in Arkansas. There is no pre-registration or entry fee to participate.

Prizes of $100 in Gentry bucks will be given for the Best Music, Best Lighting and Best Theme. A $200 in Gentry Bucks Award for best overall will be awarded.

Gentry bucks can be used at most Gentry Chamber of Commerce member businesses.