Alumni Profile: Steve Eddington, Class of 1984

Steve Eddington (‘84) is a Reddie who has stayed connected to our alma mater ever since he stepped on campus as a freshman. Steve was an active member of Sigma Tau Gamma. He later served on staff as the Sports Information Officer, and he remains very active as an alumnus as a member of the HSU Alumni Board of Directors, a life member of the H Club, and is involved in the Greater Hot Springs Alumni Chapter.

Steve was recently elected to serve as president of the HSU Alumni Association. “I am humbled and honored to have been selected by my fellow board members to serve as president of the revamped HSU Alumni Association. I look forward to working to help increase the profile and activity of the Alumni Association and connecting with others who share my passion and commitment for Henderson.” We are delighted to introduce Steve as your HSU Alumni Association President.

When did you graduate, and what was your major?
I graduated in 1984, and I majored in journalism.

Why did you choose Henderson?
Several reasons, really. We had a family friend, Joyce Whitley, who was a recruiter at Henderson, and she made me aware of scholarship opportunities, which got my attention. In fact, Mrs. Whitley is still a friend today. Also, Dr. Mickey O’Quinn had been the football coach in my hometown of Warren as a young man, and his reputation as an academic department head at Henderson carried a lot of weight in Warren.

Who were your favorite professors?
Well, faculty and staff, I would say Dr. Joe T. Clark, who was the Academic Dean when I was a student and advisor for my fraternity, was one of my absolute favorites. He was a scholar and gentleman and a great model to emulate. Paul Hankins, who was Associate Dean of Students, was always a great counselor and has a great love for Henderson. Dr. Ed Ryland, who was in charge of the student radio station, KSWH, was a great teacher, as was Dr. Jimmy Jones in the HPER department.

What is your current occupation?

I lead the public relations function at the Arkansas Farm Bureau, where I work to promote awareness of our state’s largest industry, agriculture.

How did Henderson prepare you for your career?

I had plenty of opportunities for experiential learning when I was a student. I was a student assistant in the sports information office under Mike Dugan; I worked on the Oracle staff, was a part of the KSWH staff, and I was able to serve as sports editor of the Arkadelphia Daily Siftings Herald during my senior year. I learned a lot by doing, which was one of the great benefits of going to Henderson.

What is your favorite memory of Henderson?

Oh my, how much space do we have for this? Can I just start a list?

  1. Beating SAU in football my sophomore year, which made the Reddies 7-0 and No. 1 in the NAIA
  2. Having DeGray Lake and Hot Springs/Oaklawn as our playground
  3. I remember the first time I saw Vanna McCauley (my wife of 36 years!). She was crossing the street between the Caddo Cafeteria and Mooney Hall. She was (and is) beautiful
  4. Our basketball team went to Kansas City for the NAIA Tournament my sophomore year and I was able to go to the second-round game in Kemper Arena
  5. The hypnotist during Orientation Week brought my friend Gayla Niccum onstage and had her believing she was the Road Runner. Oh my gosh, I still laugh out loud when I think of Gayla running around the Arkansas Hall auditorium saying “beep, beep,” while trying to hide from Wile E. Coyote.
  6. Rubber raft races sponsored by ROTC on the Caddo River during Spring Fling
  7. Fraternity walk-outs
  8. Orientation Week street dance
  9. Homecoming bonfires
  10. Oh, and studying. Lots of studying (wink)

When was the last time you were on Henderson’s campus?
I am fortunate that my in-laws live in Okolona, and I am through Arkadelphia on a fairly regular basis, so I drive through campus often.

What other job do you think you’d be really good at?
I always wanted to be the PR director for an NFL team, but you asked about something I’d be “really good at.” I haven’t found that yet!!

How do you relax after a hard day?

I am a hobby beekeeper, with about 20 hives. I enjoy working my bees.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?

Travel internationally. It makes you realize that while topography and climate and economics may be vastly different in other places, there is amazing commonality among all peoples. When you see how big the world is, you actually understand how small it can be.

What’s the hardest lesson you learned?
I guess I learned it first from the Rolling Stones; “You can’t always get what you want.”

Losing my youngest brother to cancer in 2007 was the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. I am still processing the lessons I learned through that, but I learned a lot about faith, science, love, disappointment and empathy during that time.

What are three interesting facts about you?

1) I was one of five boys (my poor mother!).

2) I have been to 42 states and 11 countries.

3) I covered the Masters golf tournament twice when I was a sportswriter.

If your life was a book, what would its title be?
A Whirlwind Came Along …

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be?

The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

How did the Coronavirus outbreak change the way your daily or professional life?

Like almost every business, we closed our headquarters for a couple of months in March and April 2020. That forced us to find ways to connect with our farmers other than face to face meetings, which has been a foundational part of how the Farm Bureau has communicated with its members since we started in 1935. The pandemic forced us to get more comfortable with conference calls and Zoom and FaceTime connections, and we figured out we could conduct a lot of our work in a virtual environment. It brought an increased need for effective storytelling, which brought additional focus and importance to my work. And while we have continued the business of agricultural advocacy, I will say that I can’t wait until we get face to face with our members again.