SHELBY AND TEXARKANA ARKANSAS MAYOR ALLEN BROWN DEVOTE TIME, TALENT, AND RESOURCES FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE COMMUNITY
by JENNIFER JORDAN
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” In the small world of Texarkana, there are countless citizens who have contributed their time and effort to community endeavors. Some people, however, exemplify the above quote. They have truly committed themselves to our community. Shelby and Allen Brown are two such people. Their impact on Texarkana is extensive and meaningful.
Throughout their 34 years in Texarkana, Shelby and Allen have devoted time, talent, and resources to growing our community. They have served individually and together on numerous local boards, from the Chamber of Commerce to the Texarkana Razorback Athletic Foundation, of which they are founding members. Allen is the current mayor of Texarkana, Arkansas. They have chaired the United Way campaign, among other local events, and have both been awarded for their work in the community. Allen is a founder of the Live United Bowl held at Razorback Stadium. Shelby is a founding board member of the Ark-La-Tex 100 Club. Amidst their volunteer work, the couple has thriving careers—Shelby is the Director of Marketing and Planning at Wadley Regional Medical Center, and Allen is President and CEO of Mil-Way Federal Credit Union. Together, they keep a finger on the pulse of Texarkana.
Arkansas natives, the Browns moved to Texarkana in 1985 after graduating from Southern Arkansas University. They planted roots here, raising a family of three sons who are no strangers to hard work. Matt, 28, owns Southern Edge Barber Shop, and is married to Megan. They are parents to 3-year-old Sutton and 6-month-old Manning. Jared, 24, and Peyton, 22, raise cattle and horses on the Double B Ranch that Jared owns. Both Shelby and Allen have served as role models to their sons through commitment to their own careers. “Working at Wadley for 30 years now,
I have represented the hospital in the community for most all of these years. I love helping patients and family members navigate the healthcare system. It can be complicated, but I take my position seriously and hope that I am able to help folks when called upon,” Shelby explains. Allen avers, “I have seen the credit union grow tremendously but what I like most is being able to help our members when they are in financial need. Credit unions are owned by the members, and it is like a family caring for each other. I am very proud of our great service to our membership.”
The Browns’ nature is to care for others, a value that they developed in their children. They consider family their greatest reward. Allen recalls that his grandfather, Lile Easterling, taught him to raise his family in the church. “He taught me that your word was your bond and that honesty and simply doing what was right would define you as a person.” Shelby and Allen have weathered some challenges, like everyone. For Allen, it was watching his wife recover from breast cancer through two surgeries and chemotherapy. For Shelby, it has been losing family members at young ages: her 43-year-old mother when she was only 21, her 48-year-old brother, her 48-year-old sister-in-law, and her 42-year-old cousin. These losses strengthened reliance on family. “With my mom dying at such an early age, my sister has been a great influence on me as well as my entire family. One of my aunts always told us that family came first and that they would always be there for you, no matter what.
Of course, as I matured in my faith, I know that God is first and family is second, but my family is my rock. I hope that I have instilled that in my boys. You must make an effort to stay close because life can get fast and crazy if you let it.” Shelby and Allen have enjoyed watching their sons grow up into compassionate and loving young men. They also relish time spent with their grandchildren.
Aside from their careers and their family, Shelby and Allen have served as role models for community involvement.
They are dedicated members of First
United Methodist Church on the
Arkansas side and enjoy being active in church ministry. Shelby comments, “Allen is currently Chairman of the Administrative Board and chaired the Building Committee when the church burned in 2000. I teach in the children’s area and recently wrote and directed an Easter play. I also currently serve on the Finance Committee and lead a Women’s Bible Study Group (called the Flock).” Education is also important to the Browns. Shelby served in leadership positions on the TASD School Board for 12 years. She is a current and founding member of Arkansas Women for Education, and served on the organizing committee for the Texarkana Arkansas Education Foundation. She currently serves as a member of the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana Foundation Board. Shelby was also named TASD Volunteer of the Year in 2015. The Browns are excited about the new middle school planned for TASD. Their children graduated from the district and their daughter-in-law, Megan, teaches at Trice Elementary and serves as Varsity Cheer Coach. “We are completely supportive of the district and hope that families on the Arkansas side of town realize what a great district we have. Our grandchildren will attend TASD and will be successful in life just as our boys have done.”
One of Shelby and Allen’s most entertaining volunteer efforts is helping to bring the Live United Bowl game to Texarkana in 2013. The Live United Bowl is hosted each December at Razorback Stadium, and is only one of 4 NCAA Division II sanctioned bowl games. As Shelby recalls, “Allen with his dear friend, Jeff Roberson, began the Live United Bowl. Jeff had a dream and came to Allen, and Allen brought the dream to life. Of course, I was excited to help Allen in this endeavor. Putting on a NCAA event is no small task. There are many details to tend to and requirements to be met.” Shelby lauds the Arkansas Advertising and Promotion Commission and TASD for their strategic support, as well as the city of Texarkana, Texas, which joined in helping the endeavor to succeed. All proceeds benefit the United Way of Greater Texarkana. The 2019 game is already scheduled for December 7, with Dean and LaCrecia Barry as title sponsors.
The Browns are wonderful leaders of Texarkana, and they show no signs of slowing down. They eagerly anticipate the future development of Texarkana, especially with the creation of the Regional Economic Development Incorporated (REDI), which supports economic endeavors on both sides of the state line. With their family and their faith, the Browns look forward to seeing how Texarkana grows. No doubt, both Shelby and Allen will not only serve as cheerleaders for our community’s future; they will be team players.