Bob Cohee

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Robert Leroy "Bob" Cohee​

Chairman of the
Arkansas Republican Party
In office
March 1982​ – December 1982​
Preceded by Harlan "Bo" Holleman
Succeeded by Morris S. "Buzz" Arnold​

Born August 17, 1938​
Brawley, Imperial County,
California, USA​
Died February 13, 2013 (aged 74)​
Cotter, Baxter County,


Resting place Not given in obituary​
Spouse(s) Patricia Ann Miller Cohee (married 1956-2013, his death)​
Children Dan, David, and Don Cohee​

Seven grandchildren​
Russell and Pearl Taylor Cohee​

Residence Cotter, Arkansas​
Occupation Real estate businessman

United States Navy service​

Not to be confused with the Wyoming former state representative Roy Cohee

Robert Leroy Cohee, known as Bob Cohee (August 17, 1938 – February 14, 2013), was an American businessman and politician from Baxter County in northern Arkansas.​



A native of Brawley in Imperial County in far southern California, Cohee was one of three sons of Russell Cohee and the former Pearl Taylor. He served in the United States Navy.[1]

Cohee was the owner and former operator of Cohee Realty Company in Midway in Baxter County. He served as county judge for Baxter County and was a former director of the Arkansas Racing Commission. He was president of the interest group, Citizens for Clean Water.[1]

State party chairmanship

In March 1982, Cohee became the state chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party upon the death of Harlan "Bo" Holleman of Wynne in Cross County in eastern Arkansas. During his brief tenure as chairman, the GOP Governor Frank D. White was defeated for a second term by Bill Clinton, the Democrat who later became the 42nd U.S. President whom White had unseated in 1980.[2]

Cohee had resigned a $27,000 per year position as deputy director of the Arkansas Housing Development Agency in the capital cty of Little Rock to serve as the full-time unpaid chairman during the election campaign. After the election, Governor White and U.S. Representatives Edwin R. Bethune, then of Arkansas's 2nd congressional district and John Paul Hammerschmidt of the 3rd congressional district announced that they preferred Morris S. "Buzz" Arnold, then a law professor at the University of Arkansas campus in Little Rock, as the new state chairman, rather than the more conservative Cohee. The exact vote of the 119 delegates to the state convention held in Little Rock was not released. Cohee later said that he would not have sought a full term as chairman had he known in advance of the opposition from White, Bethune, and Hammerschmidt, the party's then "Big Three".

The nomination of Arnold was made by state Representative Carolyn Pollan of Fort Smith, a backer of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, who called Arnold "a bringer-together, a unifier" who would offer "stroan eadership." In accepting the chairmanship, Arnold said he would "call Bill Clinton out if he fails to keep his promises." A native of Texarkana, Texas. Arnold said that he would keep his law professorship at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and serve as a part-time chairman. He vowed to seek African-American support but said the task would be difficult because of Clinton's black voter base.[3] Arnold resigned as chairman after only a year in the position. He was subsequently appointed by President George Herbert Walker Bush as a judge of the United States Court of Appeal for the Eighth Circuit.[4]

As Cohee left the chairmanship, the party named William Thomas "Tom" Kelly, Jr. (1942-2011) of Little Rock as its treasurer. Kelly had been an unsuccessful Moderate Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1978 against the Democrat David Hampton Pryor. In that race, Kelly had lost all seventy-five counties.[5] His father, William "Bill" Kelly, Sr., would later become another in a string of short-term Arkansas state party chairmen during a time when the GOP continued to lose most elections. He stepped down in favor of another party regular, Len Blaylock, the 1972 gubernatorial nominee from Perry County, who had been badly defeated by Dale Bumpers.​


Cohee and his wife, the former Patricia "Pat" Ann Miller, (born March 3, 1937), married on May 25, 1956, in Bard in Imperial County, California. At the time of his death at the age of seventy-four, they resided in rural Cotter in Baxter County. There are three Cohee sons, Dan Cohee of Gassville in Baxter County, David Cohee of Cotter, and Don Cohee of Springdale, Arkansas.[1]

Richard Homan of Mountain Home in Baxter County described his friend Cohee as "like a bulldog. He didn't let go until a problem was resolved."[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Robert "Bob" L. Cohee. Retrieved on May 26, 2014.
  2. Arkansas Gazette, November 3, 1982, p. 1.
  3. Arkansas Gazette, November 14, 1982, December 5, 1982; Arkansas Democrat, December 5, 1982.
  4. Morris Sheppard "Buzz" Arnold. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved on May 26, 2014.
  5. Arkansas Secretary of State, Election results, November 7, 1978.
  6. "GOP leader Bob Cohee, 74, dead: Remembered as political 'lightning rod," The Baxter Bulletin,|accessed May 26, 2014