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Former Arkansas State Senator Roy C. ‘Bill’ Lewellen dies

By Miriam Battles,

2023-03-22
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MARIANNA, Ark. – Former State Senator Roy C. “Bill” Lewellen died Tuesday in Marianna, according to officials with the Democratic Party of Arkansas.

Lewellen served in the Senate for 10 years. He was the second Black person to serve in the Arkansas Senate in the 20th century. He was the sponsor of the law that created the Minority Health Commission in Arkansas.

Before his election in 1990, Lewellen served as a Marianna city councilman. He was one of two Black lawyers in Lee County. DPA officials said that he was a strong advocate for equal representation and treatment in his community.

Grant Tennille, Chair of the DPA, said that Lewellen was a friend and mentor.

“If I was confused over the true motivations behind any piece of legislation, Senator Lewellen was the one who set me straight,” Tennille said. “At the same time, Bill was reliably hilarious, often at my expense, and I will miss his laughter most of all.”

IN 1992, Lewellen served as an attorney for the Lake View School district in their fight for an “equitable and efficient” public school system. After leaving the Senate, Lewellen remained active and an advocate for small rural school districts.

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