| Arlie Metheny|
(United States Army captain and public information officer at Fort, Chaffee, Arkansas)
|Born|| January 5. 1918 |
Silverdale, Dunklin County
|Died|| September 15, 2008 (aged 90) |
Conway, Faulkner County
|Spouse|| Willie Lorene Stroble Metheny (died 1986)|
Arlie Metheny (January 5, 1918 – September 15, 2008) was a United States Army officer during World War II and the Cold War, who served as public information spokesman at Fort Chaffee near Fort Smith, Arkansas, at the time Elvis Presley was inducted into the military in 1958.
Metheny was the eldest of seven children born to a cotton farmer in Silverdale in Dunklin County in the southeastern Bootheel of Missouri. In 1938, Metheny hopped a freight train and picked apples, strawberries, and cotton in Michigan, Texas, Illinois, and Arkansas. Thereafter, he began a 20-year military career. He was a personnel sergeant-major of the 27th Infantry Regiment. First, Metheny joined the United States Marine Corps and fought in the 1942 battle of Guadalcanal, where he was severely injured. In 1947, he transferred to the Army and was commissioned a first lieutenant. After World War II, he served two tours of duty in the occupation of Japan under General Douglas MacArthur. His stateside service brought him to Fort Chaffee, where during the conclusion of his military years was a public information officer. Metheny was the Army liaison officer during the 1957 desegregation of Central High School in the capital city of Little Rock.
In 1958, Metheny was a coordinator, along with John Mawn, of the entry of Elvis Presley's induction into the Army. Photographers bombarded Presley during his three days at Fort Chaffee. Metheny recalled one free-lance photographer who snapped shots of Presley in his underwear and during meals whenever the entertainer opened his mouth. "After a few minutes I suggested they let him eat, and everyone but the freelancer backed off. I had the escort him out of the mess hall.". Gary Metheny of Conway, one of his seven sons, recalled that Metheny nearly passed out when he came home from such an exhausting day at the time Presley left the camp. At home, his work continued, as Metheny fielded three hours of telephone calls from the national media. Metheny suffered severe exhaustion, was hospitalized, and given five days of leave for recuperation. Metheny thereafter retired in 1959 at the rank of captain and resided in Fort Smith until after his wife died of cancer in 1986.
Having earned his high school diploma and bachelor’s degree while in the military, Metheny earned his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and focused a second career in education as superintendent of schools in three Arkansas communities: Mulberry in Crawford County and Conway and Mayflower, both in Faulkner County. He acquired the reputation of a staunch "disciplinarian" in the field of education.
Metheny was residing in Conway, Arkansas, where he died at the age of ninety of complications from a stroke. In addition to son Gary, he was survived by three other sons, Bill Metheny of Bridger, Montana, Jim Metheny of Conway, and Robert Arlie "Bob" Metheny (1955-2010), a banker in Sanford, Florida, and the youngest of the couple's seven sons, born in Japan.. Metheny had two brothers, Chester and Alfred Metheny eight grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, the former Willie Lorene Stroble (1920-1986), a California native, and three other sons, Kenny Metheny, the oldest son who was killed in 1958 at the age of twelve when he was struck by a car while delivering newspapers, and twins Ronald and Donald Metheny, three sisters, and a brother. Services were held at the Roller-McNutt Funeral Home in Conway. Interment was at Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith.
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