Letter to the Editor

Wayne Wagner: We Lost a Good Friend

Friday, August 5, 2022

To The Editor:

As long as Southworth has been in Manila, Ark., some 45 years, we have enjoyed tremendous community support. This support comes in many forms, from the state level, county level, surrounding towns, and even among local businesses. And we certainly cannot stress enough that one of the keys to our continued success in Arkansas is certainly our employees, and their dedicated service.

But today, like many days in the last few weeks, I am thinking of Mayor Wayne Wagner. Throughout our history in Manila, the local mayors have been great partners with Southworth, spending time, effort, and expense to find ways to be good partners with our business. For sure this is a two-way partnership, as we strive to support the community as well.

But Mayor Wayne Wagner was an advocate for Southworth like no other. When I met him at various places around the area he would say: “Let’s get together and dream”. And he certainly had far-reaching vision. He was always thinking far down the road of possibilities that would make this a better place to live and work. And most importantly, I think Mayor Wagner understood the relationship between business and community. The contributions to the community from local businesses come in many forms, not the least of which is payroll, but Mayor Wagner had many other ideas of ways to gain support from local businesses like ours.

One of several examples I could cite is the time he had an off-the-wall request for us to make an arch for the city park. Now, we are not really in the arch business, but we got it done, donating time and material. And he got it installed….probably also for free if I know Wayne Wagner. But that is the very point: his ability to get things done. And that was certainly a two-way street as well, he certainly got more done FOR us than we did for him.

He could bring resources to our door like no other. No matter what we needed, Mayor Wagner had far-reaching standing in the community and state. Commanded the respect of many, and could get representatives from the state, county, or any other organization to our door in a day or two if needed. He was a conduit to about any resource we needed. And more importantly, was actively engaged and excited to help us out.

When we started exploring providing on-site daycare for our employees, and mentioned it to the Mayor – within a week we had people (whom we didn’t know existed) in our office. These were people who shared our vision and could offer knowledge and resources to help make it happen.

Southworth will miss Mayor Wagner. On a more personal level, I will too. In Mayor Wagner, Manila, Mississippi County and Arkansas lost a strong advocate and one who made the future better for all of us.

Any way you define it, Southworth lost a good friend when we lost Wayne Wagner……..all-to-soon.

Kerry Pugh,

Sr. Director of Manufacturing

Southworth Products