Charlotte Schexnayder, who co-owned the Dumas Clarion with her husband for four decades and was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for 14 years, died Friday, two weeks before her 97th birthday.


Her death happened to come days before the convening of the Electoral College. She cast one of Arkansas’s six electoral votes in 1992 for Bill Clinton.

There’s a good account of her full life at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History.


Her Arkansas journalism career began in McGehee in 1948. She and her husband Melvin Schexnayder bought the Dumas newspaper in 1954. They sold it in 1998. She was a leader of local and national journalism organizations and served on the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, an appointee of Gov. David Pryor.

She was a warm, gracious person and also forthright.  The Encyclopedia article recounts:


Schexnayder entered state politics in 1984, running unopposed for the state House of Representatives. During her first week in the House in 1985, a fellow legislator advised her that she would be fine if she just sat and listened. She replied, “You obviously don’t know me very well. I’m not a side-line sitter, and I always have plans.”

Local news was naturally the main focus of the Dumas paper (she chaired the committee that began Dumas Ding Dong Days), but she was not unmindful of larger issues. In 1957, she editorialized in favor of the desegregation of Central High School, not an easy position for an Arkansas newspaper to take.