Corporate Magnate Who Chartered Arkansas Best FCU Dies

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FORT SMITH, Ark. – Hugh Lawson Hembree III, who worked his way up to chief executive of trucking conglomerate Arkansas Best Corp., while founding what is now a $100 million credit union, Arkansas Best FCU, died Friday at 79.

Hembree, known as H.L., went to work at the trucking company as claims manager in 1958 and worked his way up the corporate ladder until he reached the top as chairman and CEO in 1973, where he served till his retirement in 1988. In 1960 he helped found the credit union to provide benefits to the various companies’ employees and their families. He also was an owner and director of Merchants Bank.

While he was CEO, Arkansas Best Corp. grew and diversified, including Riverside Furniture, Data-Tronics Corporation and USA Truck among its subsidiaries.


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