Lifelong Pine Bluff resident dedicated to her hometown

Avis George Hood loved her hometown of Pine Bluff, where she built a career and raised a family by the side of her husband James “Jim” Hood.

Hood, 83, died Thursday and is survived by her son James Michael Hood of Pine Bluff; her daughters Bonnie Jean Hood of St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands, Ruthie Carey of Hot Springs and Susan Adell “Susie” Kates of Hot Springs; her sister Isla Jean Scallion of Pine Bluff; five grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband.

Michael Hood looks back on his parent’s business partnership with admiration.

“Mom and dad started Jim Hood and Company in 1956 at the [southwest] corner of Main Street and Barraque Street,” Hood said of the iconic red brick building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “It’s hard to believe, but they worked together for many years. Mom did the bookkeeping and dad was involved in the project planning and construction. It is unusual for a couple to work and live together successfully, but they did.”

Hood said that his childhood friendships were largely dictated by his parents’ social circle.

“Mom and dad bowled in a bowling league together on Fridays and during the off-season they played poker with their circle of friends,” Hood said. “I was a little kid and mom and dad took me and my sisters with them because all the other couples brought their kids along as well. Our friends were our parents’ friend’s kids.”

Hood said that upon graduation from the University of Arkansas he began working for his parents.

“I worked with dad from 1978 until 1985 and I told him that we needed to get computerized,” Hood said. “We acquired an IBM Systems 32 and I made a bookkeeping program from scratch based on the way mom did her bookkeeping. I was into computer programming at the time.”

Susie Kates remembered her mother’s dedication to civic projects.

“She was absolutely an angel on earth,” Kates said. “She was so philanthropic and so dedicated to Pine Bluff. She was saddened by Pine Bluff’s decline and was involved in several historic preservation efforts including Save the Pines and Save Our Saenger.”

Scallion is three years and one day younger than her sister.

“She was born April 30, 1931,” Scallion said. “If I had been born one day earlier we would share the same birthday. Mine is May 1, 1934. She is three years older but was four grades ahead of me in school. Back when she was 5 years old, her older stepsister took her to register for school at mother’s request. When they asked how old my sister was she didn’t know so they went ahead and registered her even though it was a year early.”

Scallion said that she had asked her sister to be her matron of honor for her wedding to her husband Gene Scallion.

“She was coming all the way from Oklahoma and didn’t get there until only 15 minutes before the start of the wedding,” Scallion said. “Because she didn’t get there in time for the rehearsal, I had to hold onto my bouquet when it was time to exchange rings. I ended up dropping my ring and we couldn’t find it anywhere. After the ceremony it turned up in the cuff of the minister’s pants.”

Scallion said that her father died from cancer when she was 13.

“After school Avis went to my mother’s grocery store to help her and I went home to be with my father,” Scallion said. “He wanted me right there next to him.”