Dale Briggs

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mr. Dale Shaffer Briggs, 91, a businessman and community leader who came to Blytheville in 1945, died at home on May 25, 2011, from complications of pneumonia.

He worked daily until a hospitalization two and one-half weeks ago. Mr. Briggs, with his son, Dale Vincent, owned City Electric Company, an electrical contracting business. He also had farming and commercial real estate business interests in Blytheville, Little Rock, Conway and Springdale.

He was instrumental in the founding of what now is Arkansas Northeastern College and endowed the Briggs-Sebaugh Community Wellness Center there. He also established a scholarship in honor of his late wife, Jeannetta Sebaugh Briggs, whom he married Sept. 1, 1944. She died in 1992.

"Whatever the question, education is the answer," he once said.

In 2007, he was awarded the Blytheville Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Community Achievement Award.

He was one of the founders of Blytheville Unlimited, a business group formed to stimulate economic development.

Mr. Briggs was a past president of the Blytheville Rotary Club, the Blytheville Chamber of Commerce, the Blytheville Country Club, a director of the Blytheville School Board, and an elder of the First Christian Church.

He also was a member of the Farmers Bank board of directors for 32 years.

He was born on his family's ranch Sept. 9, 1919, outside Sapulpa, Okla., to Robert Lee Briggs Jr., and Ella Carlisle Briggs. His father was a cattle rancher and oil company executive.

Mr. Briggs has had family in the Delta for 199 years.

His grandfather and great-grandfather were among the earliest settlers in Holly Springs, Miss., in 1812. After the Civil War, the family moved to Memphis. Dale's grandfather, Theopolis Briggs, owned a full-service livery business near the Peabody Hotel, renting carriages and selling horses and mules up and down the Mississippi River. Dale's father left Memphis because of a yellow fever epidemic and homesteaded in the Oklahoma Territory.

Mr. Briggs first came to Arkansas when he was awarded a football scholarship with the Arkansas Razorbacks. After being injured, he attended Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State University.

In the second semester of his senior year, he volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He finished first in his class in Officers' Candidate School and left with the rank of captain. He met his future wife, married her and then came back to Arkansas with her after World War II. He joined his father-in-law, Clifford V. Sebaugh, in City Electric in 1949.

His immediate survivors are his son, Dale Vincent Briggs; a daughter, Cheree Briggs Cleghorn of Washington, D.C.; and a sister, Betty Briggs Cosenza of Los Angeles, California.

Private graveside services will be Saturday, May 28, 2011, at Elmwood Cemetery.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Briggs-Sebaugh Community Wellness Center at Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville with Dr. Tommy Carney officiating.

The family requests any remembrances be sent to Arkansas Northeastern College or First Christian Church.

Cobb Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be e-mailed to cobbfuneralhome@sbcglobal.net