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Doris Witherspoon Barham

Doris Witherspoon Barham, age 101, of Little Rock, Arkansas, died on March 24, 2017.

She was a descendent of two Arkansas pioneer families, the Witherspoons and Woodells.  She was born in Cove, Arkansas, on October 1, 1915 to O. B. Witherspoon and Mattie Woodell Witherspoon. When she was in the 8th grade, the family moved to Eagleton, Arkansas, where her father was one of the founders of the Witherspoon Lumber Company.  The company built houses for many of their employees, as well as a general store and post office for their use. She lived in a house on the company premises and attended high school in the nearby town of Acorn. In 1933, at the age of 16, she graduated from high school and then attended Arkansas College (Lyons) in Batesville. There she was a member of Beta Sigma Omicron sorority.

In the summer of 1934, she moved with her family to Mena, Arkansas. Doris married Edward C. Payne, Jr., in 1936. They had two daughters and divorced. She and her daughters lived with her parents in Mena after that time. In 1942, Doris married Captain J. B. Wallace, Jr., just before he was shipped overseas. He served in an Infantry division that recaptured the Philippines during World War II. Doris and her children continued to live in Mena during the war. Upon her husband’s return, a son was born, and soon after, the couple established the Wallace Drug Store in Mena. In 1956, her husband died of a heart attack. She continued to manage the drug store for several years before selling it. She later kept books for the Dale Rodgers Lumber Company.

In 1980, she retired and married Richard (Dick) Barham, who sold his insurance agency and retired. The couple enjoyed traveling at home and abroad. Dick died in January of 1997 after a lengthy illness. Doris then moved to Little Rock to be closer to her family and grandchildren. After moving to Little Rock, she was one of the first volunteers in the gift shop of Little Rock’s new Main Library of the Central Arkansas Library System.

Throughout the years, Doris was known for her impeccable sense of fashion and her innate graciousness and charm. She was deeply devoted to the First Presbyterian Church in Mena, which she joined as a teenager, and served for many years as a member of Women of the Church. She was elected an Elder and served on the Session for three years. She was also a member of P.E.O., Chapter AO, in Mena where she served in several offices. When she moved to Little Rock, she transferred her membership to Chapter C and a few years later received her 50-year pin. During her years in Mena, she served as a den mother, a member of Rotary Anns, and a Lioness.

Survivors include her children, Dr. Thomas R. Wallace (Anne), Patty Payne Smith (Michael R.), Joan Payne Neikirk (Richard); grandchildren, Dr. Thomas W. Wallace (Anne), Elizabeth Wallace Grotte (Shawn), Michael R. Smith, Jr. (Rachel), Amy Smith, Jeffrey Lewis (Tela), and Kelly Neikirk Killian (Josh); 13 great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; step-children, Becky Barham Crawford (John), Brenda Barham Tate, and Barbara Barham Beaver (Eric); and a host of other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her father and mother, O.B. and Mattie Witherspoon; her husbands, J. B. Wallace, Jr., and Richard Barham; her sister, Dorothy Witherspoon Fulkerson; and her brother, Gene Witherspoon.


A Memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 1, 2017, at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church at 11 a.m.

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, a graveside service will be held in Mena at 2 p.m. at the Pinecrest Memorial Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 400 9th Street, Mena, Arkansas 71953. Arrangements are under the direction of Little Rock Funeral Home and Beasley Wood Funeral Home in Mena.

The family wishes to thank Brookdale Chenal Heights and Kindred Hospice for the compassionate care given Doris during her illness.


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