Rick Joslin was a reporter, an author and a historian. More importantly, he was a family man and a friend.
Joslin, who was a member of The Commercial staff, died unexpectedly Friday morning at his home in White Hall. He was 60.
“This has been a real shock to us at The Pine Bluff Commercial,” publisher Byron Tate said Friday afternoon. “He was a student of history and of life and he brought those talents together in his reporting and writing. We will miss him, certainly on a personal level, but also in our pages. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Joslin was a veteran journalist. Among other roles in a lengthy career he served as editor of the old Pine Bluff News weekly newspaper and The White Hall Journal. He also worked for the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Management and as a civilian employee at the Pine Bluff Arsenal.
Joslin was passionate about local history and in 2007 he authored “Bayou C0untry: An Illustrated History of Jefferson County.” At the time of his death, he was chairman of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum Commission.
“I miss him already,” said Kristi Alexander, the museum’s executive director. “He had so much history inside him. He always wanted to help everyone. … He was clear in his vision of what he wanted for the museum. He was my go-to guy.”
Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth and White Hall Mayor Noel Foster both remembered Joslin as a journalist who worked hard to be fair and accurate.
“I’m just shocked,” said Hollingsworth, who said that she and her husband, Jack, got to know Joslin during her successful 2012 mayoral campaign.
“He would come up the office, even when he wasn’t working on a story, just to talk,” Hollingsworth recalled.
Hollingsworth said Joslin liked to hear Evelyn Horton, the mayor’s top aide, laugh.
“He would say things to get Evelyn to laugh, and then he would get tickled and then we’d all be laughing,” she said. “… He reported with such integrity. He would ask questions until he knew he had the information. He’s going to be severely missed.”
Foster, a former White Hall police chief, said he had known Joslin for several years.
“It’s tragic,” Foster said of Joslin’s death. “He was a good guy. He was a good friend. He was trusted. He knew a lot about the history of the city and was really involved in the museum and the museum committee.”
Foster acknowledged that he and Joslin didn’t always see eye to eye about news coverage, but he said there was a mutual respect.
“You don’t always agree, but you can agree to disagree,” Foster said. “As a journalist and a reporter, he was easy to work with. And you could trust him.”
Former Jefferson County judge Jack Jones worked with Joslin during Joslin’s tenure with the Office of Emergency Management.
“Rick Joslin is going to be missed,” Jones said. “He was a person who could come into the bleakest situations and lift you up with his humor. He would always pick me up when I was down. He saw humor when others didn’t and was tactful in how he used it. The world is going to miss Rick Joslin.”
Joslin’s son, Rocky, described his father’s passion for Pine Bluff and its people.
“Dad made Pine Bluff special for me,” Rocky Joslin said Friday. “He loved that town and I have so many good memories. I just want people to remember that Pine Bluff and the people of Pine Bluff had no bigger champion than Rick Joslin.”
Joslin’s death sent shock waves through The Commercial newsroom on Friday as his colleagues recalled Joslin’s life and career.
Ray King, the newspaper’s police reporter, said he first met Joslin several decades ago.
“I was working for the old KOTN and he was working for the weekly Pine Bluff News newspaper,” King said. “Our paths crossed frequently during those days, and later, when I was working for the Pine Bluff Police Department, I would see him from time to time.
“I’ve told more than one young reporter that if they wanted to know anything about the history of Pine Bluff and Jefferson County, they should ask Rick, because he was the expert,” King said. “He was a friend and he will be missed.”
Michael S. Lee, who covers city government for The Commercial, recalled Joslin’s friendliness and his quick wit.
“Rick Joslin was my colleague and my friend. Rick had this wonderful folksiness that snuck up on you and invariably made you smile,” Lee said. “Originally, Rick covered city news while I handled the education beat. Last fall we switched and I began to cover the goings on at city hall while Rick began going to school board meetings.
“We frequently gave each other advice on who best to call for this story or that. He was a great co-worker and he became a real friend. I am thankful to God for bringing Rick’s life together with mine for these few brief years. It has been a great ride and I will miss him.”
Funeral services for Joslin will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday at Central Baptist Church in Pine Bluff. Visitation will be from 2-5 p.m. Sunday at the church.