Wallace P. McGeorge, Jr. loved the inland waterways and in particular the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System which he worked to make both a reality and a success. Speaking with friends, Wallace McGeorge often referred to himself as a "river rat." A lifetime resident of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, he died at the age of 82 on April 27, 1998.
As a long time supporter and director of the Arkansas Basin Association, McGeorge contributed to the development of the McClellan-Kerr. He was a founding and long time director for the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County (Arkansas) Port Authority. He twice served as Chairman and levee commissioner. Nationally, he served as President of the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Branch of the Associated General Contractors at Memphis.
In addition to his successful efforts to promote navigation and flood control, McGeorge's vision, leadership and efforts contributed to the attraction of water transport oriented business and industry to the Pine Bluff Metropolitan Area and the continuing development and growth of Pine Bluff's 372 acre Harbor Industrial District.
As President and Chairman for the Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Company, Wallace McGeorge was intimately familiar with navigable rivers. The firm provides dredging, construction aggregates, and waterway construction on the inland waterways. His company was instrumental in the construction of needed revetments and dikes along the McClellan-Kerr.
McGeorge was also a director for Pine Bluff Warehouse Company that was instrumental in development of innovative multi-modal transportation and material handling services at both Pine Bluff and Fort Smith on the Arkansas River Navigation System.
As his former pastor said in a eulogy, "Wallace McGeorge was a 'behind the scenes' individual, a faithful, loyal, and solid person." A man of honor and integrity, he was never too busy to work for the good of the community.
John M. Bell is a long time Wichita cultural and civic leader. He has succeeded in proving the worth of the Arkansas River to the community, and has led efforts to showcase the river as a centerpiece of cultural life. To this end, he served as chairman of Wichita's first River Festival and 100th birthday party for which he received a special service award.
John Bell was born in Wichita, Kansas, on December 1, 1930. He attended Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri. Mr. Bell received a BS in Business Administration from the University of Missouri, and served in the United States Air Force where he achieved the rank of 1st Lieutenant. He is currently Executive Vice-President, Security Abstract & Title, Co., Inc.
Mr. Bell's history of involvement in civic life has included presidency of the Wichita Executive Association, Kansas Land Title Association, Wichita Downtown Kiwanis Club, South Central Chamber of Commerce, Historic Wichita/Old Cowtown Museum, Wichita Crime Commission, Kansas Foodbank Warehouse, The Wichita Club, and Wichita Area Builders Association. He served two terms as president of the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce, four terms as president of the Wichita Symphony, and seven terms as president of the Wesley Retirement/Larksfield Place.
Mr. Bell has served on the board of directors of Goodwill Industries, Epilepsy Kansas, Botanica-The Wichita Gardens, Music Theatre of Wichita, Junior Achievement of Wichita, and Wichita NCCJ. He has served as a trustee for Sister Cities, Leadership 2000 (Wichita), and the Kansas Council of Economic Education.
Currently he continues his civic activities as member of the Executive Committee of the Wichita Symphony, Executive Board Member of the Orpheum Performing Arts Centre Ltd., Literary Resources Board Member, and member of the Public Relations Committee-American Land Title Association.
Dr. Lloyd D. Church was born August 28, 1896, at Carmen, Cherokee Strip, Oklahoma Territory. He lived on a farm until he was grown. In 1919 he left the farm and went to Kansas City to study dentistry. On December 26, 1920, he married Christine Bush, at his home in Seiling, Oklahoma. Ultimately known as "Mr. Water," Dr. Church was to practice dentistry for 60 years.
After completing dental school he returned to Seiling, and noticed a great change in attitude regarding agriculture among his brothers and sisters. Dr. Church talked to their County Agent and Vocational Agricultural teacher and "I made up my mind to devote my life to the Natural Resources of Oklahoma for as long as I lived."
In doing so, he worked with the Department of Agriculture to improve farm conditions all his life. He lobbied the Oklahoma State Legislature to create Conservation Districts, and was Conservation District Director for 46 years. Of conservation he said: "I feel somewhat guilty because Soil Conservation Districts have the responsibility of conservation measures on the land and not nearly enough is being done to insure conservation of natural resources."
Dr. Church was chairman of the first upstream control project in the United States, and also chaired three committees that created the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. He was a member of that board for 22 years. Dr. Church was also a member of the Arkansas Basin Development Association, Arkansas/Oklahoma Arkansas River Compact Commissions, and was chairman of the Eastern Oklahoma Port Authority.
Dr. Church was an internationalist. He did not see conservation in terms of only local impact. He believed that "We cannot play the game anymore of working in our own territories. We have to think about the whole wide world."
This elder statesman of conservation in Oklahoma and local civic leader died on December 27, 1995, at the age of 99. In Wilburton, where the 185-acre lake that supplies drinking water for the town and surrounding area is named for Dr. Church, a resident commented that every time he takes a drink of water he thanks Dr. Church.
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