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William Cecil “Bill” Bridgforth, 82, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, passed away peacefully at his home on May 11, 2023. Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Otto Rollwage Bridgforth and Blanche Jones Bridgforth, his stepmother, L... Read More
William Cecil “Bill” Bridgforth, 82, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, passed away peacefully at his home on May 11, 2023. Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Otto Rollwage Bridgforth and Blanche Jones Bridgforth, his stepmother, Lucile Bridgforth, and his brother, Otto Bridgforth. He was survived by the love of his life, Julie, three sons, Shane (Cherie), David (Kim), and Patrick (Lauren), eight wonderful grandchildren, J.D. Bridgforth, M.D. (Morgan), Elizabeth Hartz (Whitt), Benjamin Bridgforth, Ethan Bridgforth, Kathleen Bridgforth, Audrey Bridgforth, Cooper Mayhall, and Ella Mayhall, and two special great-grandchildren, Oliver Philip Bridgforth and Macy Jane Bridgforth.
Bill was born on July 6, 1940, in Forrest City, Arkansas. Bill attended Washington and Lee University, where he ran track, and graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1964. While at the University, he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon where he made countless lifelong friends. Following graduation, Bill moved to Pine Bluff where he joined the law firm of Coleman, Gantt, Ramsay & Cox. Bill practiced law with the law firm for fifty-nine years, the last thirty of which were with Shane and David.
Throughout his fifty-nine years of practicing law, Bill was a dedicated advocate of farmers throughout Arkansas and across the United States. He represented farmers and farming entities before many courts and state and national administrative bodies during his career. He frequently spoke on agricultural and regulatory matters relating to agricultural law across the country and worked with Senators and Representatives from numerous states as well as agricultural committees of the United States Senate and House of Representatives to ensure the country’s farm programs were beneficial to agricultural producers. Bill served as President of the American Agricultural Law Association in 2004 and was awarded the Harvey W. McGeorge Award by the Rotary Clubs of Pine Bluff for his distinguished service to agriculture. In 2017, Bill was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame. Bill was also very involved with the State Bar of Arkansas. He served as a member and chairman of the State Board of Law Examiners and also served on the Federal Practice Committee of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. In 2005, he was awarded the C.E. Ransick Award by the Arkansas Bar Association for his dedicated service to the practice of law.
In addition to his dedicated service to the agricultural industry, Bill was dedicated to conservation efforts throughout the State of Arkansas. In 1995 he was appointed to the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission and served as chairman of the Commission in 2001. He was co-chairman of the state committee for the adoption of the 3/8 cents sales tax that has supported our State parks and the invaluable work of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission ensuring that future generations will be able to enjoy Arkansas’ parks and natural beauty. Following his service on the Commission, he was honored to have the Long Pond Access to the world famous Wabbaseka Scatters named after him. As a result of his dedication to conservation and service to the State of Arkansas, Bill was inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame in 2012 along with his treasured friends Witt Stephens and Rick Evans.
Bill was a dedicated servant to his community. He was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. He was very active in the church, having served on the Vestry, as Senior Warden, and as a delegate to the General Assembly of the Episcopal Church. He loved Pine Bluff and worked tirelessly for the betterment of his chosen home. He was a member of Fifty for the Future and served as President of the organization. He served as campaign chair and past-president of the Board of Directors of the United Way of Southeast Arkansas and on the Board of the Pine Bluff Area Community Foundation. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and served as president of the Jefferson County Industrial Foundation.
Bill has loved the last thirty years with the Running Club gathering most mornings with a wonderful group of friends to run or walk. He completed several marathons but what he really loved was the birthday tradition of gathering with family and friends on his birthday to walk his age, having walked eight and two-tenths miles last July. He was honored to be a volunteer at the inaugural Race for the Cure and continued to be extremely involved though out the years of the race for which he and Julie were awarded the Hickingbotham Award by the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Bill’s was a life well lived filled with laughter and love of family and friends. Bill was the most positive person in the room. His last meal was always “the best meal I ever had” or his last trip was “the most wonderful trip ever.” Bill’s cup was never half-full, it was always over-flowing. He loved to travel, especially beach trips with his family. He particularly loved spending those days with his cherished grandchildren who he dearly loved. His pets were adored family members and were with him to the very end.
Bill loved spending time hunting and fishing with his sons, grandsons and close friends. He was a member of Mozart Hunting Club for almost 50 years and was instrumental in guiding Mozart in the acquisition of over 9,000 acres of the finest hunting property in his beloved State of Arkansas. The outdoors was his special place and, as one of his close friends noted, he can now hunt ducks and turkey every day. His family will miss him dearly and when you enjoy a Jack “with a splash,” please toast to our beloved Bill.
Visitation will be Sunday, May 14, 2023 from 3-5 p.m. at Ralph Robinson and Son Funeral Directors. A memorial service will be 2:00 p.m., Monday, May 15, 2023 at Trinity Episcopal Church with The Reverend Jesse Reeves officiating by Ralph Robinson and Son Funeral Directors. A reception will follow the service Monday at Pine Bluff Country Club.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Jefferson Regional Foundation, 1600 West 40th Avenue, Pine Bluff, AR 71603.
Online register: www.RalphRobinsonandSon.com
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