Cover photo for Bruce Netherton's Obituary
Bruce Netherton Profile Photo

Bruce Netherton

January 3, 1938 — April 22, 2024

Little Rock

Bruce Netherton

Bruce Netherton, the beloved patriarch of his family, loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend passed away at home with his family on April 22, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.


He was born to Clive and Lydia Netherton in Maysville, AR on January 3, 1938. Bruce grew up in a hard-working farm family.  He didn’t venture out of a 15-mile radius of his community until the age of 13.  He saw a poster at Gravette Jr. High asking for students to sign up for band.  He signed up because the poster said there would be a trip to the exotic city of Fort Smith.  


Bruce was a good student and baseball player and the first of his family to attend college.  In 1960 he earned a degree in Engineering at the University of Arkansas while playing baseball for the Razorbacks.  In their senior year of college he married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Ballard.  


His first engineering position was with International Paper in Pine Bluff.  In 1964, he accepted a job with Green Bay Packaging – Arkansas Kraft Division to be the first family to move to Morrilton to build the new paper mill.  He advanced within the company eventually serving as paper mill manager, then Corporate Vice President Engineering & Expansion.  


With Barbara, daughter Nicki and son, Kirk, they raised their family in Morrilton where Bruce was a very active leader in the community and church.  In 1972, Bruce was named one of the ten Outstanding Young Men of Arkansas and was the first citizen to be awarded the Morrilton Citizen of the Year in 1973.  Bruce and Barbara were avid golfers, enjoying playing in tournaments across the state and around the country.  They especially enjoyed the friendships that golf brought into their lives. Bruce helped lead the First Tee program for youth in Morrilton and became a PGA Rules Official.


After the passing of Barbara in 2005, Bruce moved to Little Rock where he was a member of Pleasant Valley Country Club and St. James United Methodist Church. At St. James, he was a volunteer with the Under the Bridge ministry for the homeless, serving to clean up all the cooking pots and pans. He had a tremendous blessing with his dear friend, Linda Thompson. They were good companions sharing meals, travels, fellowship, and the love of the Razorbacks.


Bruce Netherton was the true north star for his family.  He loved his family and demonstrated his love in countless ways with his actions, presence, and generosity. He is preceded in death by his parents, wife Barbara, sisters, Billie Wilbur & Margaret Hobson.  His legacy includes children Nicki (& Joe) Hilliard and Kirk (& Laurie) Netherton, grandchildren, Steven (& Sarah) Frye, Amy (& Kes) White, Holly Hilliard, Tim (& Megan) Netherton, and Chase (& Erin) Netherton, and six Great-Grandchildren, Henry & Hudson Frye, Quinn & Annie White, Beau Bruce Netherton and George Stokes Netherton.  


A special thank you to his compassionate care givers Wilma Brooks, Alma Dennis, Tori Hill and Paula Lee.


More than anything, Bruce was known as one of the nicest people you will ever meet.  He was kind, thoughtful and generous with time, talents, and resources. Many people have received handwritten notes of congratulations, sympathy, and friendship. The Bruce Netherton Memorial Award for Kindness and Community Service has been established.  Memorials can be made to this fund C/O Arkansas Community Foundation, PO Box 51110, Little Rock, AR 72202 (www.arcf.org/give-online) or the First United Methodist Church of Morrilton, St. James United Methodist Church Under the Bridge Ministry or First Tee of Arkansas.


A visitation will be held at Smith Little Rock Funeral Home on Knoedl Ct. on Thursday, April 25 from 5:00-7:00pm and funeral services at 10:00am on Friday, April 26 at St. James Methodist Church.  A graveside service and burial will be held at Elmwood Cemetery in Morrilton at 3:00 pm.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Bruce Netherton, please visit our flower store.
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