By John R. Schirmer
An award named for one of Arkansas’s most prominent preservationists will be presented to one of the state’s most prominent agricultural and political leaders Saturday night in Nashville.
Former Sen. Neely Cassady of Nashville will receive the Parker Westbrook Award during the third annual Parker Westbrook Dinner Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Nashville Elementary School cafeteria. Tickets are $25. The dinner menu will include roast beef and ham.
Cassady was inducted earlier this year into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame. A pioneer in the Southwest Arkansas poultry industry, an 18-year-old Cassady took over his father’s hatchery in the 1930s and expanded it into an integrated poultry enterprise. Cassady built and sold two poultry companies that continue today as part of Pilgrim’s and Tyson Foods.
Cassady was elected to the Arkansas Senate in 1982 and served 14 years. He was an advocate for agriculture issues throughout his tenure in the Senate.
Cassady was president of the Arkansas Poultry Federation and served 27 years on the Tyson Foods board of directors. He received the Poultry Pioneer Award from the University of Arkansas, a lifetime achievement award from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International. Cassady is a member of Immanuel Baptist Church of Nashville and served on the board of trustees at Central Baptist College in Conway.
The award which Cassady will receive is named for the late Parker Westbrook of Nashville, recognized by many as the leading preservationist in Arkansas. Westbrook was instrumental in much of the restoration work done at Historic Washington.
He was also involved in the local and state Democratic Party, and he worked for a time in Washington, D.C.
In addition to his interests in politics and preservation, Westbrook was a strict grammarian and student of the English language. At Westbrook’s urging, the state Legislature made Arkansas’s the official possessive form of Arkansas. Lawmakers approved the change, which is now on all of Arkansas’s official documents.
John Brummett, political columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, will be the speaker for the banquet. Although Brummett is a native and a resident of Little Rock, his parents hailed from northern Howard County and Sevier County.
He has been involved in Arkansas journalism since his high school days when he covered sports for the Arkansas Democrat.
Brummett has been a political columnist since 1986. He wrote for the Arkansas Gazette, Stephens Media and Arkansas Times before joining the Democrat-Gazette.
Brummett is author of High Wire, a book about Bill Clinton’s first year as president, and an inductee in 2014 into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame. His induction speech was given by then-Gov. Mike Beebe, who described Brummett as “85 percent Labrador retriever and 15 percent pit bull.”
Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville will be the master of ceremonies for the evening.
For more information or for tickets, contact LaJeana Jones at 870-584-7811, Connie Castleberry at 870-451-3693, or Tammy Copeland at 870-557-3012.