William Carl Garner died July 6, 2014
William Carl Garner, age 99, of Tumbling Shoals, Arkansas, went to be with the Lord Sunday, July 6, 2014 at White County Medical Center. He was born on June 1, 1915 in Sulphur Rock, Arkansas to the late B.J. and Minnie Pearl Morgan Garner.
Survived by his loving wife, Jean; son Carl Wade (Carole) Garner of Little Rock, Arkansas; two granddaughters, Kirsten Garner (Charles) Brown of Little Rock; Lauren (Fidel) Davila of Fort Worth, Texas; one great-grandson, Henry Garner Davila; Jean's daughters, Jeri (Doug) Vangilder of Russellville, Arkansas, Donna (David) Redding of Tumbling Shoals; grandchildren Bethany Vangilder, Dana Redding, Tyler Vangilder and Devin Redding; a great-granddaughter Pyper Bay Vangilder; a sister Lucille Stephens of Batesville, Arkansas .
Carl graduated Valedictorian from Sulpher Rock High School in 1934. He attended Lyon College (formerly Arkansas College) on an athletic scholarship playing basketball, baseball and football. Before graduating in 1938, he made All-state in basketball and as the team's center led them to win the state championship. His alma mater honored him in 1986 inducting him into their Athletic Hall of Fame; in 1989 naming him a Distinguished Alumni and in 1994 was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
After graduating from Lyon College, Carl began a 58 year long career with the US Corps of Engineers that included surveying, mapping, dam construction at Bull Shoals Dam in Mountain Home and Table Rock Dam in Branson, Missouri. Later he became chief of the Engineering Division for the Greers Ferry Project in Heber Springs where he also served as the Resident Engineer. When applying to be the first Resident Engineer at Greers Ferry, he said he would make it the best project in the nation. And he did as evidenced by his many awards and honors including the Award of Excellence as the No. 1 Resident Engineer out of 440 US Army Corps of Engineers lakes in 1979 and the Keep America Beautiful Iron Eyes Cody Award in 1988. In 1993, the lake's visitor center was renamed by Congress the "William Carl Garner Visitor Center" .
Throughout his illustrious career, he strived to conserve and preserve God's beautiful creation. One of his greatest achievements was the Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River Cleanup using community volunteers. With over 30 state and national awards, his efforts led the way for the Great Arkansas Cleanup and the Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Day.
Another highlight of his career was planning and organizing the Greers Ferry Dam dedication by President John F. Kennedy on October 3, 1963. He loved to reminisce about riding in the car with the president and their conversation. His career afforded him opportunities to make friends with presidents, actors, country music singers and people of all walks of life.
Carl was an avid fisherman, photographer, conservationist, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle and friend. His achievements were many, but could never compare with his love for life, people and the causes he was passionate about.
A celebration of the life of William Carl Garner was held at Tuesday, July 8, at First United Methodist Church in Heber Springs with Pastor Tommy Toombs officiating. Pallbearers were Charles Brown, Fidel Davila, Doug Vangilder, Tyler Vangilder, David Redding and Devin Redding. Private burial followed at Cleburne County Memorial Gardens. Friends visited with the family Tuesday at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the First United Methodist Church, Lyon College, Keep Arkansas Beautiful or Quapaw Area Council of Boy Scouts of America. Arrangements by Olmstead Funeral Home. www.olmstead.cc