by Max Brantley
The final note today is a sad one:
My friend, colleague and mentor Robert S. McCord, 84, died this morning after a long period of declining health.
Bob's career in journalism was long and distinguished. It included ownership of The Times of North Little Rock and a stint as editor of the Arkansas Democrat. He originated the op-ed page at the Arkansas Gazette, where he was senior editor when the newspaper closed in 1991.
To my everlasting gratitude and benefit, Bob wrote a weekly column for the Arkansas Times from its inception as a weekly newspaper in May 1992 until May 2006. A University of Arkansas graduate, he was president of the national Society of Professional Journalists in 1975-76.
He earned a place in Arkansas history with his advocacy for the state's Freedom of Information Act, still a powerful tool for the public, a history he describes in an article here. As editor and publisher of the North Little Rock newspaper, he was the named plaintiff in the first successful test of the law, Laman v. McCord, over failure of the North Little Rock City Council to meet in public.
His final column for the Times was typical of a gentle and self-effacing man. He closed with a number of ideas for ways that the city and state he loved could be improved, getting around to his retirement only in the final paragraph.
I’ve seen a lot in Pulaski County. Because most men were away at World War II, I got hired to take pictures and write police stories for newspapers when I was 15 years old. I used to own the North Little Rock Times, I worked long years at the Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette and have been with the Arkansas Times since it started. Because most 77-year-old men do more reading than writing, I thought it was time for me to quit. However, the editor said I should write an occasional piece, and I might.
You can get a lot more flavor of Bob at an interview he did for the Arkansas Gazette oral history project. He'd long been a mentor and supporter of another son of North Little Rock, Alan Leveritt, who became publisher of the Arkansas Times and relied often on Bob for counsel and advice.
Griffin Leggett Rest Hills will be handling funeral arrangements.