Cover photo for Vernon L. Eagan's Obituary
Vernon L. Eagan Profile Photo

Vernon L. Eagan

May 21, 1935 — June 16, 2024

Vernon L. Eagan

Vernon L. Eagan, LTC USAR Ret., of North Little Rock, a devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, loyal friend and advocate for the higher education of Arkansas’s rural students, passed away on June 16, 2024, at the age of 89.

 Vernon was born in Strawberry, Arkansas, on May 21, 1935, to Estes Eagan and Nona (Godwin) Eagan, sharecroppers in Lawrence County. Vernon spent much of his early years assisting his dad on the farm, learning the value of hard work. Upon graduation from high school his parents instilled in him the need for obtaining a higher education. Vernon received a BS in Agriculture from ASU in 1957. Later, while receiving his MS Degree in Education, ASU Dean of Students Robert Moore commented to Vernon that he still had a vivid picture of Vernon’s father dressed in his overalls and white shirt bringing him to ASU to enroll as a freshman. Vernon never forgot his rural roots and dedicated his life’s vocation to helping over 16,000 rural students in Arkansas obtain a higher education, thus improving their quality of life.

 While in college, Vernon enlisted in the AR National Guard achieving E4 rank and by way of ROTC at ASU was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant. He was ranked the number one student in his basic officer training class of 125 at Fort Knox, KY. After basic training he spent the next 27 years in the US Army Reserves serving in various capacities—81st Artillery Unit, 431st Civil Affairs Company, 122nd USAR Command Headquarters serving as Deputy Chief of Staff and retiring as Lieutenant Colonel. 

Vernon’s early civilian career was devoted to teaching vocational agriculture and leadership skills thru FFA at Springhill High School in Hempstead County and Shawnee High School in Joiner. In 1965, while serving as Shawnee High School principal, he was recruited by Mr. E. B. Whitaker, General Manager of Arkansas Rural Endowment Fund (AREF), to become an assistant manager in training. Mr. J. C. Portis, AREF Board Member, of nearby Lepanto had recommended Vernon for this position based on his extensive rural connections, advanced education, strong character and standing within the community, job performance and US Army leadership skills. 

Vernon was named General Manager of AREF in 1975. In the ensuing years, he traveled the state of Arkansas each spring, visiting rural students on high school career days to educate them on the financial options available to them in pursuing a higher education. Helping students maximize their resources was, by far, the most satisfying aspect of his job. Upon retirement in 2001, he was named Consultant, and in 2013 Consultant Emeritus. During his tenure at AREF, he was appointed Secretary Treasurer of the National Association of Rural Rehabilitation Corporations (NARRC) whose mission is to improve the quality of life for America’s rural constituents. He and his wife, Jeannie, served in this capacity for 13 years. 


Vernon was a spiritual leader throughout his life, not only to his family but also in serving as a teacher, youth leader, Boy Scout troop commander, deacon, choir member, and Gideon International member. In addition, he was a regular visitor to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, sharing his musical gifts with the residents.

In his spare time, he enjoyed deer and turkey hunting with his many hunting buddies. They loved camping out and sharing foods brought from home. Four people could devour a pie in one sitting. He cherished taking his grandsons on these adventures. As he got older, he spent more time with his grandchildren—building a treehouse, creating a zip line backyard adventure, reading stories and playing make believe with them. He also loved to travel with Jeannie and family. They visited all states in the US at least once with the exception of Oregon—somehow that state escaped them. They made numerous trips abroad to England, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Greece, Switzerland, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. 

Vernon is preceded in death by his daughter Paula Eagan, parents Estes and Nona Eagan and brother Jack Eagan.

Vernon is survived by his wife of 68 years, Joyce Jean “Jeannie” Eagan; daughter Pam Wessel (husband Kenny and son Casey); daughter Kaye Serbousek (husband Karl, sons Christian (Annie) Grimes, Zach (Camille) Grimes and Hunter Serbousek and granddaughter Malaysha Boyd; son Bo Eagan (wife Marilyn and daughters Zoe Gardner (Reed), Sydney and Lily; brother Buford (Barbara) Eagan and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

The family would like to thank the doctors, nurses, CNAs and staff of Arkansas Hospice of Conway and CHI St. Vincent, Baptist Hospice and Willow Grove Maumelle Memory Care who took such wonderful care of Vernon in his last days. We also want to say a special thank you to Doctors Thomas Conley, Jeffery Neuhauser, Brad Jenkins, Hal Hedges, David Bevans, Gary Allen and Richard Henry for the excellent care they provided for many years. 

Memorials may be made to the following: Park Hill Baptist Church, 201 East C Ave, North Little Rock, AR 72116; The Gideons International, www.gideons.org; Arkansas Hospice Foundation, 14 Parkstone Circle, North Little Rock, AR 72116; Alzheimer’s Arkansas, 201 Markham Center Drive, Little Rock, AR 72205; and The American Heart Association, www.heart.org.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Vernon L. Eagan, please visit our flower store.
In light of increasing scams, all guestbook entries will now be approved by us. At Smith Family Funeral Homes, safeguarding the privacy and personal memories of your loved ones for family and friends is our top priority. We appreciate your understanding and patience.

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, June 20, 2024

10:30 - 11:30 am (Central time)

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

Funeral Service

Thursday, June 20, 2024

11:30am - 12:30 pm (Central time)

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

Burial

Thursday, June 20, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

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

Guestbook

Photo Gallery

Visits: 653

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree