'Wise Because He Listened'

Long a leader of fundraising efforts at UAFS, Sam M. Sicard is remembered for his quiet wisdom.

Sam M. SicardIt speaks volumes about the respect and affection Sam M. Sicard enjoyed on the UAFS Foundation board that in the wake of his death in August, other board members spontaneously set up the Samuel M. Sicard Scholarship Endowment in his memory and began giving. As of early November, an incredible 61 gifts totaling almost $40,000 had been made to the fund.


Sicard, who headed First National Bank Corp., had served on the Foundation board for more than 20 years but had been associated with the University for even longer, serving previously as an elected trustee of Westark. In fact, he was co-chair, with Nancy Orr, of the University’s first capital campaign in the late 1980s, which set a goal of $3 million dollars and raised $5 million.


“What he did by spearheading that first campaign,” says Foundation Executive Director Marta Loyd, “was introduce the concept to people that this school was worth investing in. And once he developed that culture in our community, it impacted all organizations.”


That campaign resulted in Westark ranking first in the nation in endowment dollars per student among two-year colleges reporting to the Voluntary Support of Education survey. “It was his influence that got us there,” says Loyd. “Sam was key.” Sicard was also on of the co-chairs of the current Giving Opportunity campaign.


But supporting UAFS with his time, talent, and resources—both Sicard and First National Bank Corp. gave extremely generously over the years—was only a means to the end of supporting his community. “Sam felt strongly about the University,” says Robert Young, chairman of Arkansas Best Corporation and another longtime UAFS Foundation board member, “but he was always interested in anything that had a positive impact on the community.”


Among the other organizations he served were the Central Business Improvement District, the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Marshals Museum, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club, and United Way of Fort Smith. “Anything he felt helped the community, he was strong for it,” says Young, “and he showed with his personal participation, his time, and also with money.”


Ultimately, though, Sicard was known and admired as much for his humility, his grace, and his quiet wisdom as for his generosity. “He was often the last one to speak at meetings,” says Loyd, “but when he did, he was right on. He was wise because he listened—but he didn’t just listen, he heard.”