Carolyn Pollan

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Carolyn Joan Clark Pollan

Representative Pollan early in her state House career

Arkansas State Representative
for Sebastian County
In office
Preceded by Three at-large members
Succeeded by Jo Carson

Born July 12, 1937
Houston, Texas
Died October 23, 2021 (aged 84)
Resting place Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) George Angelo Pollan
(married 1965-2017, his death)
Children Cee Cee Hollimon

Robert E. "Rob" Pollan
Ray and Faith Basye Clark

Residence Fort Smith

Sebastian County, Arkansas

Alma mater Springdale (Arkansas) High School

John Brown University Walden University

Occupation Educator; Businesswoman
Religion Southern Baptist

Carolyn Joan Clark Pollan (July 12, 1937 – October 23, 2021)[1] was an American politician who served as the Republican state representative for a portion of Sebastian County, (which includes the state's second largest city of Fort Smith) for twelve consecutive two-year terms from 1975 to 1999. Pollan is the longest serving (1) Republican and (2) woman member of the Arkansas legislature in history and (3) the first woman Arkansas legislator to have been named House Associate Speaker Pro Tempore.[2]



Pollan was born in Houston, Texas, to Rex Clark (1912–1980) and the former Faith Basye (1911–2002). Her father worked in the oil fields about Houston and later Refugio (pronounced RE FURY OH) in south Texas. The family moved to Springdale in Washington and Benton counties in northwestern Arkansas, where her father made his living in the poultry business.[3]

Pollan graduated from Springdale High School in 1955. She then procured her bachelor's degree from the private Christian John Brown University in Siloam Springs (pronounced CY LUM) in Benton County, Arkansas. She graduated from JBU in 1959 and was a member of the university trustees for more than twenty-five, having previously served as vice chairman. In 1993, Pollan was awarded her Ph.D. in education from the accredited on-line Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[2]


Pollan's political involvement began as a volunteer in the gubernatorial campaigns of Moderate Republican Winthrop Rockefeller. In 1970, she ran Rockefeller's unsuccessful reelection campaign in Fort Smith against the Democrat Dale Bumpers.[2] In 1972, she supported the unsuccessful challenge to Bumpers waged by Rockefeller's preferred candidate, Len Blaylock, whom she described as "a prince of a man."[3]

Pollan was elected in 1974 from a multi-seat legislative district that encompassed Sebastian County. The district was eventually divided into single-member seats. She is particularly remembered, through her chairmanship of the House Children and Youth Committee, as the author of the law which empowers the Arkansas state police to investigate allegations of child abuse. During her time in the Arkansas House of Representatives, she sponsored or co-sponsored more than 250 pieces of legislation that became law.

In 1979, she fought in vain to resurrect the Equal Rights Amendment in the Arkansas House, but the legislature declined to take up the issue. The ERA fell three states short of ratification when it expired in 1979.[2] Pollan worked with victims of domestic abuse and established the first domestic abuse hotline and the first Arkansas commission on child abuse, rape, and domestic abuse.[1]

From 1980 to 1983, Pollan was legislative counsel and an informal advisor to Republican Governor Frank D. White. After White's election, Pollan and incoming gubernatorial chief of staff Preston Bynum of Siloam Springs, a former Arkansas House minority leader, prepared the 1981 budget—keeping the 1980 level of spending minus 5 percent. Pollan recalls a "stunned silence" over the state capital in Little Rock when White upset Governor Bill Clinton in 1980, a sense of disbelief among state employees and elected officials. Clinton, however, returned to victory in 1982.[2]

After White's defeat in 1982, Pollan nominated Morris S. Arnold, her fellow Moderate Republican and a University of Arkansas at Little Rock law professor, to become the new Republican Party state chairman to replace Bob Cohee of Baxter County. Pollan said that she hoped Arnold could bridge the gap in the Arkansas party between the former Rockefeller partisans, such as herself, and the burgeoning backers of Ronald Reagan.[2] Arnold, however, did not complete his term as a part-time chairman and was replaced by the first vice-chairman, Robert "Bob" Leslie, a former candidate for Arkansas's 1st congressional district seat.

In her early legislative years, Pollan was frequently one of only a half dozen Republicans among the one hundred House members. Her early GOP colleagues, all originally from the northwestern part of the state, included Bynum, Jim Lee Smithson of Marshall in Searcy County, C. W. Melson (1929–1981) of Ozone, Jerry D. King of Greenwood in Sebastian County, and Richard Barclay of Rogers in Benton County. In the early 1980s, she was a colleague of Republican Judy Petty Wolf from a Little Rock-based district. Petty waged two publicized congressional campaigns in 1974 and 1984 against Wilbur Daigh Mills (1909–1992) and Tommy F. Robinson, respectively. Pollan won her last election in 1996 without Democratic opposition.

Pollan left the House because of term limits. She was then on the senior staff of Republican Governor Mike Huckabee as legislative liaison. In 2003, Huckabee appointed her to the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission.[2]

Civic affairs

Pollan was a former chairman of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement. She formerly owned the Carolyn Pollan Patent Model Museum in Fort Smith, an exhibit of Patent Models from the early years of the founding of America. After its first year of operation, the museum was free to the public. She later sold her collection to a museum in New York.[2]

A descendant of Union veteran in the American Civil War, Pollan authored related articles for The Fort Smith Historical Society Journal. She was involved in literacy education in Fort Smith and worked to develop procedures to encourage recipients of public welfare to obtain employment and move away from dependency on government.[3]

Mrs. Pollan in her later years

Personal life

Pollan married George Angelo Pollan (1938-2017), a Fort Smith native. They have two married children, Cee Cee Hollimon (born 1962) and Robert E. "Rob" Pollan (born 1968), both of Fort Smith, and four grandchildren. She was a member of the Grand Avenue Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Fort Smith[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Carolyn Joam (Clark) Pollan obituary. Retrieved on January 23, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Pollan, Carolyn - Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Billy Hathorn, Interview with Carolyn Pollan, May 16, 2007.
  4. Carolyn Pollan (J), 83 - Fort Smith, AR Background Report at