Celebrating the life of Leon Millsap
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Leon Millsap, 85, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, went to be with the Lord April 18, 2017. He was born March 18, 1932, in Lost Corner, Arkansas, to Oscar and Edna (Brown) Millsap.
In 1948, Leon graduated Danville High School at the age of 16 and started keeping books for the school. He overcame hardship as a young boy to become the remarkable man he was...a kind, generous and well-respected man. In 1959 he completed studies at the University of Georgia’s Center for Continued Education.
As a pioneer in the poultry industry he revolutionized the industry through his dedication and leadership. He became successful through self-education, hard work, and determination. In 1951 Leon began directing all operations for Joe Ray Farms in Danville, Arkansas and continued in that management position until 1969 when he became the youngest person ever to assume the position of Complex Manager of Continental Grain Company, which was a fully integrated poultry operation. In 1981 he opened Petit Jean Poultry assuming duties as President and Chief Operating Officer with one further processing plant in Danville. Leon was successful in the acquisition of poultry plants in Arkadelphia and Rogers, Arkansas as well as plants in Buffalo and Wheaton, Missouri. He also built a further processing plant in Stillwell, Oklahoma that was later sold to Tyson Foods. Leon processed poultry in all plants for Tyson Foods employing some 2,500 employees with a payroll of $30,000,000 annually. Once a course was set in procedure at Petit Jean Poultry, Leon had an innate ability to delegate authority responsibly. He welcomed new challenges and persevered to emerge victorious. This dedication to excellence was an underlying theme in all aspects of his life. Many times he was asked about his successful business career and he would state “Timing is everything. Success can’t be accomplished without cooperation and support. Also, being in the right place at the right time is of the utmost importance.”
Leon served two terms as president of the Arkansas Poultry Federation of the State of Arkansas. In 1995 Leon was inducted into the Poultry Science Hall of Fame at the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in recognition of his contribution and leadership in the poultry industry.
Leon was a philanthropist who has provided generous support to vast civic and charitable organizations. He was inducted into the University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Society and Towers of Old Main in recognition of his support of the University of Arkansas through Garvan Woodland Gardens.
He was a member of First Baptist Church of Hot Springs and founded a scholarship fund for graduating seniors and has served as Chairman of the Finance Committee. He was a remarkable man whose gifts and talents were many. His kindness and generosity to those who knew him and many who did not know him were abundant.
He was involved in the thoroughbred horse business for many years and owned Millsap Stables. Leon owned a stallion, Storm and a Half, who took the State of Arkansas by “STORM”. The major factor in Storm and a Half’s favor was that he was by sire of all sires, Storm Cat. Leon was one of three executive board members of the Racetrack Chaplaincy Organization who were instrumental in building a Chapel on the backside of Oaklawn Park.
Leon was a loving husband, devoted father, caring grandfather and faithful friend. To all of us he is a role model of integrity and honor. He was loved dearly and will be deeply missed.
Survivors include wife, Betty Millsap; sons, Rick Millsap (Sandra), Steve Millsap, Mark Millsap; grandchildren, Matthew Millsap, Sarah Creamer, Zachary Millsap, Adrianna Millsap, Asa Millsap; and four great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday at Caruth-Hale Funeral Home.
A celebration of Leon’s life will be 10:00 a.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church with Pastor John McCallum officiating.
Pallbearers include Doug Ervin, Billy Ward, Matthew Millsap, Les Warren, Johnny Chambers, and Stuart Creamer.
Honorary Pallbearers are Beans and David Whited, Sharon Carr, Ervin Adult Sunday School Class, Pete Davenport, and Wick Stapleton.
There are so many people to thank: The Ervin Adult Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church, the many caregivers at Dierksen Hospice, and so many faithful and caring friends. We could not have made it through these last years of Leon’s life without their prayers and wonderful support and love.
Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, Garvan Woodland Gardens, or a charity of your choice.
To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Leon Millsap, please visit our Tribute Store.
155 Section Line Road
Hot Springs, AR 71913
2350 Central Avenue
Hot Springs, AR 71901