Cover photo for Gayle Barnhill Sipes's Obituary

Gayle Barnhill Sipes

September 26, 1944 — April 17, 2024

Little Rock

Gayle Barnhill Sipes

Gayle Barnhill Sipes, age 79, of Little Rock, Arkansas, passed away unexpectedly on April 17, 2024. 

Gayle was born September 26, 1944, to Jesse Ervin Barnhill Sr. and Mattie Barnhill in Jacksonville, FL. After graduating Landon High School in 1962, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University in 1965.  Gayle also received a Master’s Degree in Education from UNC Greensboro.   Prior to receiving her Juris Doctor from the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas Little Rock, in 1987, she was an 8th grade American History and English teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Birmingham, Alabama, from 1966 to 1972.  She also taught conversational English with the United States Information Service, in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1974. Gayle served as a Law Clerk for both the Pulaski County Circuit Court, First Division, and the United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern and Western District, Arkansas, and as a Staff Attorney, Pulaski County Child Support Enforcement, from 1988 to 1993. Gayle then served as a formidable and accomplished attorney with the Office of General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs for more than twenty-five (25) years from 1993 to 2018.

 Gayle is survived by her son Dana Leonard, his wife Shelley, and their children Gage Leonard and Jesse Leonard of Atlantic Beach, FL; daughter Dr. Laura Adams, her husband Tyson (Ty), and their children Mackenzie Adams, Harrison Adams and Everson Adams of Fort Smith, Arkansas; daughter Sara Leonard and her children Mattie Berryman and Thatcher Berryman of Little Rock; and husband Steve Sipes, of Little Rock. She is also survived by her sisters MaryLee Drummond (Richard) of Carrolton, GA, and MarthAnn Hardy (Larry) of Villa Rica, GA, along with a host of relatives and friends. She was predeceased by her parents and her brother Jesse Ervin Barnhill, Jr., of St. Augustine, FL, 

 Gayle was a firecracker and fiercely loyal to friends and family. Her happiest moments were spent surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was strong willed but had a boundless heart and a sharp sense of humor.  Gayle was extremely intelligent, detail oriented, and had a remarkable memory. Her passion for life was evident through her colorful language, which was indoctrinated into both her children and grandchildren. She was an amazing gourmet cook and loved to share food and stories with family around the dinner table. 

 In her retirement, Gayle was the sitting president of the Evergreen Garden Club, a ferocious reader and member of the Ladies of the Club book group, and an avid bridge player playing in a number of bridge groups and working towards increasing her master bridge points. Lovingly known as “GG” by her grandchildren, she will be missed dearly by her family and friends.

 A visitation service is planned for Monday April 29th from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, at the Smith Little Rock Funeral Home, 8801 Knoedl Court in Little Rock. A Celebration of Life will be held Tuesday, April 30, at 1:00 pm, at Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, 2200 Kavanaugh Boulevard in Little Rock. The gravesite ceremony will be private.  Memorials may be made to Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, 1400 W. Markham St., Suite 306, Little Rock, AR, 72201, and The Centers, 1521 Merrill Drive D220, Little Rock, AR, 72204.


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Past Services


Monday, April 29, 2024

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

Smith Family Funeral Home Little Rock

8801 Knoedl Ct., Little Rock, AR 72205

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Pulaski Heights Baptist Church

2200 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, AR 72205

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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