William Henry Enfield, 89, of Bentonville, Ark., died Monday, Aug. 23, 2010, at Mercy Medical Center in Rogers, Ark.
He was born Jan. 24, 1921, in Iola, Kan., to Alfred Ray Enfield and Marie Vancil Enfield.
Judge Enfield was reared in Iola but was introduced to Arkansas decades ago when his family built a cabin in Bella Vista. After his father died, his mother decided to move to Arkansas. He transferred from Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Ark.
He completed the first year of law school there before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps reserve officers training, and at 21, he was the youngest person to graduate from the program.
Serving in the South Pacific Theater in 1942, he participated in the Battle of Midway, a month-long raid beyond Japanese lines on the island of Guadalcanal, and in the Battle of Bougainville. While home on leave in 1943, he returned to Fayetteville and asked his first love, Miriam Rosen, the 23-year-old daughter of University of Arkansas professor Harry Rosen, to marry him. The couple had met at a Bella Vista dance a few years earlier.
When he finished his South Pacific assignment, they married in 1944.
After a brief stint in Washington, D.C., where he worked at the office of the Secretary of the Navy, the Enfields returned to Fayetteville. He received his juris doctorate in February 1948 from the University of Arkansas. Following graduation, he established a law practice in Bentonville. He also taught part time at the University of Arkansas for several years.
Arkansas Gov. Sid McMath appointed Enfield to finish an unfulfilled term as Benton County judge. The 13-month appointment made Enfield the youngest county judge ever to serve in Arkansas. When the term was completed, he partnered with Clayton Little to form the Law Firm of Little and Enfield. In his 20-year private practice, Enfield represented a variety of clients, including Peterson Industries, Cooper Communities Inc. during the development of Bella Vista Village, several local telephone companies and Sam Walton during the expansion of his Ben Franklin Stores and the development of the early Walmart stores.
In 1968, Enfield was elected circuit judge and initially held court in Benton, Madison and Carroll counties. He was never opposed for re-election during the 20 years he served.
Judge Enfield was an active member of the Bentonville Chamber of Commerce, assisting in developing the Bentonville Industrial Commission, President of the Bentonville School Board and the Bentonville/Bella Vista Rotary Club. As a lay minister for the Presbyterian Church he provided services to rural Arkansas communities, as well as many other community service organizations.
In 2006, he was named Arkansas Citizen of the Year by the Arkansas Scottish Rite organization.
Judge Enfield was instrumental in the establishment of the Miriam Enfield Community Center for Mental Health in Bentonville, the Rosen Center for development of alternative Pest Control, the Enfield and Little Professorships and the Law School classroom building at the University of Arkansas. Along with Dr. Neil Compton and others in the community, he and Miriam were very involved in establishing the Buffalo as a national river.
He was preceded in death by his wife Miriam Enfield in 1997, his parents, and one brother, Alfred Ray Enfield.
Judge Enfield is survived by one son, Bill Enfield and his wife, Charlotte, of Bentonville, Ark.; one daughter, Letitia Letson and her husband, Richard, of Miami, Okla.; one grandson, M. Scott Bradley of Bella Vista, Ark.; two great-granddaughters, Katrina E. Bradley and Samantha J. Bradley of Bella Vista, Ark.; a niece, Cheryl Moore and her husband, Carl, of Kerrville, Texas; and many other nieces and nephews.
He will also be remembered by mentors, colleagues and a host of dear friends all across the country.
A celebration of Judge Enfield”s life will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010, at the First Presbyterian Church of Bentonville, 901 N.E. “J” Street, Bentonville, Ark., with the Rev. Arthur F. Fogartie officiating.
Memorials may be made in honor of Judge Enfield to the Ozark Guidance Foundation, P.O. Box 6430, Springdale, AR 72766 or to the University Of Arkansas School Of Law, 163 Waterman Hall, Leflar Law Center, Fayetteville, AR 72701.
Arrangements are by Stockdale Funeral Services of Rogers.