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Keith D. Essex

September 21, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Keith D. Essex - Submitted photo

Keith Donald Essex was born to Cora G. (Baker) and Don W. Essex on March 31, 1933, in DeWitt, Ark., the third son and fourth child of this couple. He spent his first 15 years there with a year (1941-1942 in Stuttgart) then moving to Stuttgart, Ark. in 1948. When he moved from DeWitt, Ark. the neighborhood gang said "Our king is moving away," as he was the one to propose projects, games and things for the bunch to do.

While attending Stuttgart High School, he was in the band, playing the bass drum, belonged to the "Delts" and formed friendships that lasted a lifetime. He graduated from high school in 1951 and enrolled at ASTC in Conway, Ark. He was in his second year when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. He had basic training at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, then was deployed to Germany for a year, spending his 21st year overseas.

Upon returning from his military service, he enrolled at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., where he graduated with a BA in Art, following this he attended the Art Institute of Chicago for two years and got his master's degree in Art while working as a security guard for Burns Detective Agency at night. Keith returned to Stuttgart, Ark. and began working for the city engineer as a draftsman

In 1961, he met and married Dr. Nancy Clary of Stuttgart, Ark. They moved to New York City, N.Y., where he worked as an artist and draftsman, while she was a medical resident at New York Presbyterian Hospital of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

In 1963, Kent Daniel Essex, the first of the four sons, was born. In 1965, Keith and his young family moved back to Arkansas where Bret Alan Essex was born that September. In 1966, Jason Clary Essex was welcomed into the family. Then in 1968, Adam Clark Essex was born in September of that year. He had a 30-plus year career working as a commercial artist, where he purchased the Fisher-Essex commercial art service from George Fisher, a political cartoonist in Little Rock.

Keith and Nancy lived in North Little Rock for 56 years. Then in 2022, they moved to Hot Springs, Ark. to Garrett Woods Retirement center where Nancy still lives.

Keith peacefully passed Sept. 16, 2022. He was preceded in death by his parents, Don and Cora Essex; sister, Jean Ann Farley; and brothers, Frank and Jack Essex. He leaves behind his wife of 61 years; sons; son-in-law, Dr. John Mark Pabona; his sisters, Emily/Gordon Denton of Enid, Okla., and Sara Pedigo of Oklahoma City, Okla.; his cousin, Corita Essex /David Richard Boyd of Almira, Ark.; and a host of nieces and nephews, also, his 89-year lifetime best friend, Max Whittman/Phillis of Hot Springs, Ark.

Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 at Caruth-Hale Funeral Home.

A celebration of Keith's life will be 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 at Caruth-Hale Funeral Home chapel with Rev. Michael Courtney officiating.

Burial will follow at Oakland Cemetery in Fordyce, Ark.

Online condolences at

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