My heart breaks. Wendell Griffen, pastor and judge, brings the awful news that Rashod Ollison, an Arkansas native writer, died today of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was 41.

A memorial service is scheduled Oct. 27 in Little Rock.

Rashod was born in Hot Springs, a graduate of Sylvan Hills High School and one of the first Arkansas Times Academic All-Stars before his career as a newspaper writer and book author.

We published an excerpt from his memoir, “Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues, & Coming of Age Through Vinyl,” and visited with him when he came home for an appearance during the Arkansas Literary Festival. He wrote movingly of finding comfort in music as he grew up gay in a sometimes volatile family.

He wrote about music and pop culture, most recently for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk. He’d also written for major dailies in Dallas, Baltimore and Philadelphia. He served a stint as artist-in-residence at UCA last spring.

In addition to being gifted, he was a sweet and soulful man. He wrote kindly in his book about enduring Jimmy Buffett on the car CD player during a ride home with me from Board Camp, Ark. many years ago.

The last piece I’d read by him was his tribute to Aretha Franklin after her death in August. He wrote of her:

At its best, Franklin’s music was as redemptive as a baptism. It saved lives, mine included, many times.

I wish the doctors could have saved Rashod.

UPDATE from Judge Griffen:

Rashod’s memorial service will occur Saturday, October 27, at 1 p.m. at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 3323 W. 12th Street, in Little Rock. Pastor AL B. Morgan will officiate the service. I will deliver the eulogy.

Arrangements are being handled by Brown Christian Funeral Services of Little Rock.

The family will establish a foundation in Roshad’s memory. Details will be announced after they have been finalized.