White Hall Progress logo

American Legion honors Edwards for contributions

Leslie R. Edwards, 89, was honored by members of Socia-Maxwell American Legion Post 232 Saturday for his help in chartering the White Hall post in 1946.

The Warren native and World War II Navy veteran signed the charter petition 66 years earlier when area veterans were holding meetings at the Pine Bluff Arsenal and wanted a post hut in White Hall.

It didn’t happen overnight, recalled Anna Kirk Smith, longtime post Auxiliary member with numerous family ties to the post.

“It died, then was re-established and they started the building (at 1101 Nancy St.) in 1964 after obtaining the property,” she said. “They didn’t want a debt, so they purchased building materials when they had the money and members used their various building skills.”

Members utilized raffles, bingo games and various sales to raise money for the project.

Post members observed the national organization’s 94th anniversary Saturday, taking time to honor Edwards and other veteran members for their leadership and service to the area’s veterans.

Glen Minor, post commander, said members of the organization have reason to be proud of their contributions. They celebrated with a cake and barbecue dinner, marking one chair with a POW flag.

Edwards was awarded the Commander’s Achievement citation and a clock as a charter member.

He retired in 1974 as supervisor of the arsenal’s white phosphorus munitions plant.

Family members said Edwards had three careers at the arsenal, the Boys Industrial Training School and the White Hall School District, often working at two jobs full time, adding that he relieved the stress of work by gardening.

Raymond Jones, post chaplain, said members of the post have volunteered to drive veterans to medical services at Department of Veterans Affairs at Little Rock and North Little Rock and assist veterans at the White Hall Nursing and Rehab Center.

Smith’s father, H.L. Kirk, was post commander for 36 years. Her husband, Everett Smith, served as post commander for 15 years.

The latter was presented the Commander’s Achievement citation and a clock from the post Saturday.

The ties to the legion continued on the distaff side of the family, with Anna Kirk Smith, her mother Eva Smith and daughter Theresa Long serving as state Auxiliary Department presidents.

“Our family has been faithful members of the Auxiliary,” she noted with pride.