Cover photo for Elizabeth Jane Hefley's Obituary

Elizabeth Jane Hefley

September 3, 1933 — December 31, 2023

Little Rock

Elizabeth Jane Hefley


            Elizabeth “Jane” Sutherlin Hefley went to her heavenly home on December 31, 2023, in Little Rock, Arkansas, surrounded by the love of her family.  She was 90 years old.  A pillar of strength in both her family and community, her legacy is one of unwavering faith, love, laughter, and commitment to education.

She was born on September 3, 1933, in Searcy, Arkansas, to Leonard Warren Sutherlin and Ruby Irene Byrd Sutherlin.  While she loved growing up in Searcy, some of Jane’s favorite times were those she spent with her extended family at their homestead in Steprock, Arkansas.

            An outstanding student, Jane loved school and graduated as valedictorian from Searcy High School in 1951. In high school she was voted Campus Sweetheart and served as an officer in Student Government and several other organizations. She then attended Harding College (now University) where she majored in English and minored in history.  While at Harding, Jane was class favorite; a member of the Student Association; a member of the scholar organization, Alpha Honor Society; recognized in “Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges”; on homecoming court; voted Queen of a men’s social club; and recipient of many academic, leadership, and social awards, including graduating again at the top of her class.  One of her proudest college achievements was being editor of the Harding yearbook, The Petit Jean, which was the first in school history to win an All-American rating.

            After graduating from Harding College in 1955, Jane moved to Little Rock, where she taught school at the then-new Forest Heights Junior High.  She lived in a boarding house in downtown Little Rock and continued her education with the goal of obtaining a PhD.  However, while attending Sixth and Izard Church of Christ, she met the love of her life, Bill F. Hefley, Sr., in the young singles Bible class.  They were married on June 15, 1956, approximately seven months after their first date.

            During their 67-plus years of marriage, Jane and Bill were a team.  Bill began his medical residency, and Jane continued teaching until the strict school district rules forced her to stop when she began wearing maternity clothes during her first pregnancy.  Reduced to a single income, and that of a resident physician, Jane and Bill moved into the housing project, which Jane turned into a cozy home with the help of her sister-in-law, Rita.  Though money was tight—they shared a car with Bill’s parents which meant they usually walked or caught a bus—they said they couldn’t have been happier. More babies followed, with Jane and Bill having three children in three and a half years.  

            Education was a priority for Jane from her earliest memory.  She loved to read and instilled that love in her children.  Family vacations, always by car, provided Jane with the opportunity to teach her family some history of the areas through which they drove by reading historical excerpts and stopping at historic sites and museums. Jane read both the “Democrat” and the “Gazette” daily and was less than pleased when the two newspapers merged.  (She felt one could obtain a better-rounded picture of current events by reading multiple sources.) Jane stayed very up to date on current events, held strong political views supported by her in-depth knowledge of history and pragmatic commitment to the facts, and always voted, more traits she instilled in her children.  

A born leader, Jane’s community involvement was significant.  She was active in the PTA, often serving as an officer.  She was a leader in Associated Women for Harding, an organization that raised awareness of her alma mater and specifically focused on funding needs-based scholarships.  She was very involved in her children’s educations, even helping their friends with school projects and papers.    Being a great writer and entertaining speaker, it was not unusual for Jane to assist in organizing fund-raising events and emcee them as well.  

            Family was at the center of Jane's world.  She was very quick-witted and loved to tease the people she loved most.  Jane always had a mischievous smile and a twinkle in her blue eyes.  She is fondly remembered for her sense of humor as well as some of her humorous sayings, such as “when I want your opinion, I’ll tell you what it is.”  Jane created a beautiful home and enjoyed hosting gatherings that were filled with delicious food, great conversation, lots of laughs, and most of all love.

            Through their entire marriage, Jane and Bill remained very active in the Sixth and Izard (now Windsong) Church of Christ.  Jane taught children’s classes, co-hosted countless showers, participated in service projects, and maintained extremely close friendships with other church members.  Jane taught the ladies’ Sunday morning Bible class for many years.  Her Bible is well marked and worn, truly studied.  

            Jane was preceded in death by her parents; her sister, Pat McRee and her husband, Col. (Retired) Marshall McRee; her sister-in-law, Rita Paschal and her husband, Vail Paschal; and her niece, Rita Wooley.  She is survived by her husband, Bill F. Hefley, Sr.; her children, Laura Krupka; Bill F. Hefley, Jr., and his wife, Lisa; and Sarah Heffley and her husband, Kyle.  Jane is also survived by her nine grandchildren, whom she adored: Bailey Hefley, Marshall Krupka, Silas Heffley, Hannah Hefley, Claire Heffley, Will Hefley, Harrison Heffley, Michael Krupka (Meredith), and Ren Hefley. Jane leaves three beloved nieces and their families: Ronda Paschal, Tracy Wellington (Jim), and Stephanie Williams (Brandon), as well as many other cherished relatives and friends.    

            The family has entrusted Smith Little Rock Funeral Home with the arrangements.  Visitation is planned for Friday, January 5, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., at Smith Little Rock Funeral Home, 8801 Knoedl Ct., Little Rock, AR.  A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, January 6, at Windsong Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The burial will follow at Oak Grove Cemetery in Searcy, Arkansas.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to either Windsong Church of Christ, 3 Windsong Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72113 or Harding University, Searcy, AR, 915 E. Market, HU 12238, Searcy, AR 72149.

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Past Services


Friday, January 5, 2024

5:30 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Smith Family Funeral Home Little Rock

8801 Knoedl Ct., Little Rock, AR 72205

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Funeral Service

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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