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Leading, Loving and Laughing

Leading, Loving and Laughing

W.R. "Bud" and Joan "Jo" Harper have been among the most high-profile, "retired" couples in Arkansas. In conjunction with their passion for service and education, they have shared a lifetime of loving Tech, family, friendships, their church and laughter.

The couple's relationship blossomed during summer school their sophomore year; and they were married surrounded by friends and family in Bryan Hall at Tech on May 25th of their junior year.

Bud came to Tech from Fort Smith High School in part because of the music department and "Chief" Gene Witherspoon. His experiences at Tech and in managing businesses led him to a celebrated service career. In his tenure as Sebastian County Judge, he served as President of the Arkansas County Judge's Association and President of National Association of Elected County Executives. He became a regional, state, national and international leader in emergency management and met with President Bush after 9/11.

Jo, the valedictorian of her Fourche Valley High class, began her distinguished career after graduating from Tech and teaching business education at Van Buren High School. She became the first female high school principal in Sebastian County and developed many successful, new programs. Jo also earned a master of education and a doctorate in education. She has been recognized as a leader in Arkansas for decades and has served on three state education boards.

At Arkansas Tech, Bud was inducted into the Hall of Distinction in 1999 and appointed to the Board of Trustees from 2004-2008. Jo served on the Women's Leadership Council and is currently serving on the Arkansas Tech Foundation Board and the Steering Committee for the Arkansas Tech University - Ozark Campus Capital Fund Campaign.

Bud passed away at home in Fort Smith on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. Jo Harper lives in Fort Smith and continues to do work with St. Luke's Lutheran Church Council. She continues to serve there and with numerous local and regional community organizations. She has two children, Dr. Mitchell Harper and Kimberly White, and 8 grandchildren.


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