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Buddy Villines, who retired in 2014, was a longtime public official in central Arkansas. Following service on the Little Rock Board of Directors, he became the city’s mayor before serving for over two decades as Pulaski County judge. Over that time, he oversaw a significant transformation of Arkansas’s capital city.
Floyd G. “Buddy” Villines III was born on June 23, 1947, in Roxboro, North Carolina. Nicknamed Buddy at an early age due to his pleasant demeanor, he was one of three children born to Floyd Villines and Hazel Villines. As his father was a Methodist minister who served numerous counties all over the state, the family led a nomadic existence, moving frequently during Villines’s youth.
In 1969, he graduated from Hendrix College, having majored in history and political science. Following his graduation, Villines went into the U.S. Army. Seeing action in Vietnam in 1970 and 1971, he earned a Bronze Star for his military efforts. He returned to Little Rock (Pulaski County) following his discharge from the army and began law school at night at what is now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law while also working for the city as its first zoning enforcement officer. While in law school, Villines also served as administrative assistant to the city manager.
Upon completing his legal studies, he became legal and legislative head of the newly created state Department of Local Services, supervising the local government grant program administered by the department. In the administration of Governor David Pryor, he headed the state’s job creation and job training program. Returning to local government, Villines served as deputy city manager and, for a short time, acting city manager.
He soon entered the electoral arena, first winning election to the Little Rock Board in 1984. Subsequently reelected, Villines, whose campaign slogan throughout his career was “Together we can make a difference,” served as vice mayor in 1987 and 1988 and mayor from 1989 to 1990 (during which time the mayor was appointed by the board rather than elected). That same year, he was elected as the county judge for Pulaski County. Consequently, with two years remaining in his term, he resigned in December 1990 from the Little Rock Board.
Villines began serving as county judge in 1991. He ultimately served for twenty-four years, with his career ending only when he chose not to seek reelection in 2014. Over the course of his tenure, “Buddy the Builder,” as one writer called him, compiled an impressive list of accomplishments, including overseeing a major expansion of the area’s bike trails and the development of over $150 million in construction projects. One of his first jobs involved overseeing the demolition of a bridge that had been washed out, but he paid particular attention to the construction of bridges, seeing them as a way to connect communities. Indeed, some of his most momentous projects included the Big Dam Bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as the Junction Bridge renovation and the Two Rivers Park Bridge construction. In addition, the Villines years saw the expansion of the Statehouse Convention Center and the construction of what is now Verizon Arena, as well as the necessary expansions of jails and county offices.
Villines was always aware of the impact his projects had on the environment and also looked beyond Little Rock and Arkansas, participating in national discussions about the direction of the nation’s urban areas. During his years as county judge, Villines served as president of the County Executives of America, the National Association of Regional Councils, and the National Association of Municipal Planning Organizations.
Villines and his wife, Beverley Villines, married in the late 1970s after meeting at a church function. The couple has two daughters.
For additional information:Bennett, Heather. “Judge Buddy Villines’ Work Turns Ideas into Reality.” Little Rock Family, April 1, 2015. Online at http://www.littlerockfamily.com/post/104097/judge-buddy-villines-work-turns-ideas-into-reality (accessed May 26, 2016).
O’Connor, Rob. “Buddy the Builder.” Hendrix (Fall 2011): 28–29. Online at https://issuu.com/hendrixcollege/docs/hendrixmagazine_2011fall (accessed May 26, 2016).
“Odyssey Medal: F. G. ‘Buddy’ Villines.” Hendrix College. https://www.hendrix.edu/odysseymedal/default.aspx?id=72068 (accessed May 26, 2016).
Rengers, Carrie. “Floyd Galloway Villines III.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 8, 1997, pp. 1D, 5D.
William H. Pruden III Ravenscroft School
Last Updated 6/6/2016
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