Honoring the influence and impact of five Ouachita Baptist University alumni, university officials recognized the 2013 Alumni Milestone recipients during halftime of Ouachita’s Homecoming football game Oct. 12.
This year’s honorees are Dr. Larry Taylor (’63), School of Humanities with a major in English; Judge Bobby E. Shepherd (’73), Sutton School of Social Sciences with majors in political science and history; Gene Whisenhunt (’83), Hickingbotham School of Business with a major in accounting; Jay Heflin (’93), Hickingbotham School of Business with a major in business administration; and Dr. Kristen (Rickett) Nelson (’03), Patterson School of Natural Sciences with a major in biology.
Noting that “Ouachita’s commitment to excellence in education and life is proven in the lives of our alumni,” Ouachita President Rex Horne said, “This year’s Alumni Milestone recipients are representative of hundreds of difference makers.”
According to Jon Merryman, director of Ouachita Alumni, “With so many outstanding alumni difference makers, it’s hard to select just one from each decade to honor each year at Homecoming. The individuals selected this year are outstanding and we appreciate their love for and support of Ouachita.
“Sharing their stories also helps to encourage and motivate current Ouachita students to strive for excellence,” Merryman added. “We are proud of the accomplishments of these recipients and look forward to continuing to hear stories of the impact these alumni have on their communities, their career fields and the world.”
This year’s Alumni Milestone honorees’ educational and professional achievements include:
Dr. Larry Taylor (’63): While at Ouachita, Taylor was a member of Student Senate, Sigma Tau Delta, Blue Key, Who’s Who and Beta Beta men’s social club. After graduation, he studied at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, earning a Master of Divinity degree in 1966 and a Doctor of Theology degree in 1971.
Taylor retired in 2006 after a 49-year ministry career in Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana. He retired as pastor emeritus after serving 21 years as pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Alexandria, La. Since retirement, he has served as assistant professor of theology and Biblical studies at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
Taylor and his wife, Dr. Lynda (Strother) Taylor (’63), live in Murfreesboro, Tenn. They are the parents of two adult children, Leslie (’89) and Lynn (’90).
Judge Bobby E. Shepherd (’73) serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
in El Dorado, Ark. While at Ouachita, he was a member of Student Senate, Blue Key, the Carl Goodson Honors Program, Who’s Who and the Ouachita Cadet Corps. He was commissioned as an ROTC officer and was honored as the Distinguished Military Graduate.
After graduation, Judge Shepherd attended the University of Arkansas School of Law. After earning his law degree in 1975, he joined a law firm in El Dorado, practicing there for 14 years.
In 1990, he was elected Circuit-Chancery Judge in the 13th Judicial District and in 1993 was appointed Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. President George W. Bush nominated him as U.S. Circuit Judge on the Eighth Circuit. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and began serving in 2006.
Judge Shepherd and his wife, Bobbi (Beeson) Shepherd (’72), have three children, State Representative Matthew Shepherd (’98), who lives and practices law in El Dorado; Sarah (Shepherd) Rainwater (’03), an RN in Little Rock; and John Thomas Shepherd, who practices law in El Dorado with his brother Matthew. Judge Shepherd and his wife are active members of First Baptist Church and live in El Dorado.
Gene Whisenhunt (’83) is executive vice president and chief financial officer for Hickingbotham Investments, Inc., in Little Rock. As a student at Ouachita, Whisenhunt was a member of Alpha Chi, Baptist Student Union, Blue Key, Who’s Who, Beta Beta men’s social club and was named Outstanding Senior Man.
After graduation, he received a Master of Business Administration degree at Louisiana Tech University, completed the CPA exam and worked in public accounting. After five years, he joined TCBY Enterprises, Inc., eventually serving as executive vice president and chief financial officer. After an investment group purchased TCBY in 2000, Whisenhunt has remained in business with the Hickingbotham family. He currently serves as chairman of the Ouachita Board of Trustees.
He and his wife, Kathy, live in Little Rock, where they are active members of Geyer Springs First Baptist Church and have three children, Haley (’12), Mary (’13) and Jared (’15).
Jay Heflin (’93) is vice president for administration of Legacy Termite & Pest Control, Inc., in Little Rock. At Ouachita, Heflin was a member of the Ouachita Student Foundation, Alpha Chi, Phi Beta Lambda, Blue Key, Student Senate, Beta Beta men’s social club, played on the Ouachita tennis team and was named Outstanding Senior Man. After graduation, he earned his Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Heflin, a former member of the Ouachita Board of Trustees, has worked in various capacities for Heflin family businesses including Terminix and Legacy Termite and Pest. He and his brother Marc (’95) co-founded Bird and Bear Medical, Inc., a medical equipment company that operated across the state until August 2013.
Heflin, his wife, Andrea (Holt) Heflin (’94), and their two children, Ben, age 11, and Anna, age 9, live in Little Rock and are active members of Second Baptist Church.
Dr. Kristen (Rickett) Nelson (’03) is a pediatrician at Millard Henry Clinic and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Russellville, Ark. As a student at Ouachita, she was a member of Concert Choir, Student Senate, College Republicans, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Servant Leadership Program, Who’s Who, American Chemical Society and Tri Chi women’s social club. She also was in the Carl Goodson Honors Program.
After graduation, she married David Nelson (’03) and entered medical school at UAMS in Little Rock. After graduation and residency, she and her husband, a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology, moved to Russellville. They have two sons, Jonathan and Jack, are active members of First Baptist Church of Russellville and provide respite foster care through The CALL of Pope County.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications