Chief of the Arkansas News Bureau:
Bob was a good friend, a great journalist, and more than a champion of the FOI Act in Arkansas; he was the father of it, Byrd said. Bob did most of the research and the work of putting together a law that was a model for the nation and one that, for the most part, has withstood the test of time.
Bob never took the credit he deserved for his contributions to FOIA. He graciously participated in the only statewide FOI audit in the late ’90s and, after some prodding, wrote a story about the history of the act for the publication that followed the audit.
FOIA was an important part of Bob’s life, but a tiny fraction of the makeup of the man. He was humble, kind, truthful, dependable, knowledgeable, likable, even lovable.
Journalism in Arkansas has lost one of its very best. We will miss him, that’s for sure.
Senior Editor, Arkansas Times.
He viewed his profession as a calling and a public service. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. He had time for anyone, particularly someone working in newspapers. But it might amuse some to know that, in addition to his good name, the fledgling weekly Arkansas Times wanted a conservative voice to speak from its editorial pages with the rest of us left-wingers. Well, Bob was a conservative businessman. But he had an open mind and a progressive heart, not in the euphemistic sense by which some have co-opted the word progressive, but in the sense of bettering the human condition. Still, it sounded kind of liberal, i guess you could say. It seemed to me that this instinct in Bob only increased as the years passed, for 14 years of column writing for the Arkansas Times. What a great guy.
Executive director, Arkansas Press Association
When I first met Bob McCord he was publisher of the North Little Rock Times where his thought-provoking editorials earned him a lot of acclaim and the newspaper a spot among the best in Arkansas. I didn’t get a chance to work closely with Bob until he was retired but still active on the FOI Coalition where he continued to be a tremendous asset and inspiration until he was no longer able to serve. He was ‘Mr. FOI’ in Arkansas and his legacy will be enhanced by his positive works on preserving transparency at all levels of Arkansas government.
Former North Little Rock Mayor
“Arkansans and the journalism community have lost a beloved and respected man. Not only was Bob the ultimate journalist, but he was a true gentleman who, while he may have been soft spoken, had one of the sharpest and most probing minds that I have ever known. I always found Bob to be humorous, provocative in his questions but willing to listen to both sides of an issue before making up his mind on what he thought was correct. Thanks to the leadership of Bob McCord, Arkansas now has one of the most comprehensive FOI laws in the nation. I feel that the truth was always the most motivating factor in his career and those of us who have ever served in public office hope that this legacy will live forever.
Bob’s editorials were always concise, to the point and mind provoking. One never had to guess where he stood on the important issues of the day. His advice and counsel was often sought by people from all walks of life and he always graciously gave it and he hoped that both parties had learned something from their conversation. I always felt comfortable in his presence, whether we were talking about religion, business, politics or “just around the neighborhood stuff”. He always made time for other people and this is one the many reasons he was and is so loved.
I know that the last few years have been difficult for him and his family, but the members of our church who knew him talked about him often and the family was always in our thoughts and prayers. It is very difficult to give up such a great man as Bob, but I know his faith gave him and his family much comfort through some trying times. His wife, Moo, and his children can be forever proud to have had Bob McCord as a husband and father and all of his descendants will have so many wonderful memories that he has left us. I, too, will be forever proud that Bob McCord was my friend.”
Retired longtime executive director of the Arkansas Press Association
Over the 25 years I was with the Arkansas Press Association, Bob McCord was always someone I could count on, from testifying at a legislative committee meeting to making a speech or being on a panel. He was always thoroughly prepared and spoke with authority. People paid attention when Bob spoke. He did his research and would bring out points no one else even thought of.
Bob McCord was the “Father of the FOI Act.” He helped write it, shepherd it through the legislature, get sponsors in both houses, and badgered every governor since it became law, to agree to veto any bill which would weaken it. He filed the first court case to defend it, and won. The state of Arkansas will forever be in his debt for having the best FOI Act in the country.
Bob McCord was the consummate newsman. He loved news and newspapers. He worked for and made major contributions to all four major Central Arkansas newspapers — the Arkansas Democrat, the Arkansas Gazette, The Times of North Little Rock, and the Arkansas Times. How can you top that?
Former Times Publisher, owner and editor
“Bob was a serious guy and he talked seriously. Some even considered him a little vain. As national president of Sigma Delta Chi Bob and I were in Las Vegas where he was speaking to the group introducing a speaker going into great detail of all his accomplishments and education.
Then out of the blue his Arkansas upbringing slipped out when he said, “I might add he rides motorcycles which he pronounced motor sickles.
That Arkansan just slipped out.
When I obtained a drawing of Bob that George Fisher had created, I took it to Bob and asked him to autograph it.
Bob wrote, “To the second best editor of the North Little Rock Times.”
Obviously he was suggesting that I was second best to Bob and in my book, that was a great tribute.”
North Little Rock Times reporter
I first met Bob in 1972 when I was assisting Betty and Dale Bumpers on their “Every Child By ‘74” immunization campaign and Bob came out to the Governor’s Mansion with a delegation of PRSA officers and professionals. He was always the soft spoken consummate professional but his actions in getting a Freedom of Information Act passed speaks volumes. And that was an area he was more demonstrative and passionate about. When I interviewed him in 2007 about the late Casey Laman’s argument that he(Laman) didn’t keep a Times reporter out of an after hours City Council meeting but rather his city attorney, Reed Thompson did it, Bob was outspoken and even fiery claiming that Laman was simply attempting to rewrite history.
As he worked on his memoirs, Bob spent quite a bit of time researching in the Times morgue he helped establish and I took advantage to spend more time with the Arkansas legend. Bob not only set an example for future journalists but he created an effective tool for them with the FOIA.