151st AAA Battalion, Albert Pike Memorial Temple, Amaranth, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas State Police, Bendemeer Grotto, Big Rock Masonic Lodge, Crossett Jaycees, David Leroy Sitton, Eastern Star, Golden Goblins, Harrison High School, Heber Springs Optimist Club, Little Rock Nine, North Hills Baptist Church, North Hills Lions Club, Odd Fellows, Rebekahs., Russellville Jaycees, Scimitar Shrine, U.S. Marshal's Service, White Shrine of Jerusalem
Born July 1, 1938 to Haskell and Mattie Sitton in Harrison, he attended school in the Harrison school district, graduating from Harrison High School in 1957 following an All-District and honorable mention All-State career as a halfback for the Golden Goblins. Later that fall, he helped usher the Little Rock Nine into Little Rock Central High School as a member of the Arkansas National Guard, 151st AAA Battalion.
“I felt a little scared because I had just graduated from high school and already I had such a big responsibility. Many people were screaming and yelling at the nine kids,” Sitton said during an interview with his grandson for the LRCH Memory Project. “It felt very strange trying to keep the Little Rock Nine from entering Central one minute, then trying to get them in another minute.”
Sitton married Rebecca Lynn Macy on July 7, 1977 at 7:07 a.m. “I always felt like seven was my lucky number, and Becky didn’t want me to forget our anniversary,” he said. While living in North Little Rock, they raised two sons from his previous marriage to Janet Hardgrave, and a son and daughter from her previous marriage; Sitton adopted them in 1989. They joined Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in 1986, but moved nine years later to a new church home at North Hills Baptist Church, where Sitton served as an usher.
A 32nd degree Mason, Sitton joined Big Rock Masonic Lodge No. 633 and the Albert Pike Memorial Temple. After making KCCH with the Scottish Rite, he served as captain of the Bedouin Unit of the Scimitar Shrine Temple from 1984-86, President of the Southwest Grotto Association, Potentate of the Scimitar Shrine in 1997 and Monarch of the Bendemeer Grotto in 1998. Other Masonic organizations he joined included Eastern Star, Amaranth, White Shrine of Jerusalem, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs.
A member of the Arkansas State Police Association, Sitton also belonged to the Russellville Jaycees (1962-63), the Heber Springs Optimist Club (1966) and the Crossett Jaycees (1967-68). A charter member of the North Hills Lions Club, he served as president (1974-75); president of the Lakewood Jr. High Booster Club (1979-80) and president of the Northeast High School Booster Club (1982-83). Sitton coached the West Arkansas Telephone Co. Pony League baseball team (1961) and the Heber Springs Little League Cardinals co-champion baseball team (1964), and served at Sylvan Hills Optimist Club as assistant coach for the North Little Rock Aviation Babe Ruth baseball team (1980) and ET’s girl’s softball team (1985). He also contributed annually to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the booster clubs of both the Arkansas Razorbacks and Arkansas State Indians (Red Wolves), beginning in 1960.
In addition to his time in Battery D of the 151st AAA Battalion in Harrison, Sitton also served in 39th Infantry, Company B, 217th Engineer Battalion in Russellville during his eight years in the Arkansas National Guard (1956-64). He worked at Crow-Burlingame (1957-1969), the Arkansas State Police (1969-2001) and the U.S. Marshal’s Service (2001-2010). Sitton became an ASP field-training officer in 1992, and was named the first Sr. Corporal in ASP history in 2001. He received an official commendation from Gov. Mike Huckabee in March 1997 and from the Fraternal Order of Eagles in April 1997.
When starting with the state police, he gave driver’s tests in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville, Sherwood, England, Lonoke, Des Arc, Hazen, Perryville, Cabot and Conway from 1970-1984. Sitton once gave a test to a widow needing a license to drive. Having passed the written examination, her road test proceeded without problems until she tried parallel parking in the Conway Police Department’s lot. Instead of braking, the driver hit the gas and slammed into the car in front of her, causing a three-car pileup. The car doors jammed, causing Sitton to crawl out the passenger window and proceed to help the driver out. After the driver exited, she turned to Sitton and asked, “Does this mean I fail?”
Sitton started working the interstate system in 1985. Five minutes before the end of one of his midnight shifts, Sitton began a high-speed pursuit through the I-40/U.S. 67-167 interchange. At speeds sometimes exceeding 100 mph through a construction zone and North Little Rock’s McCain Mall parking lot, he chased the vehicle, finally stopping its progress by crashing into its side. It turned out the driver and passenger were escaped felons from Virginia.
Preceded in death by daughter, Lisa Dawn Sitton and son, Donald Allen Sitton, his survivors include wife, Becky Sitton of North Little Rock; son, Chuck Sitton and wife, Lynell of El Dorado; son, David Sitton Jr. of Sherwood; son, Ronald Sitton and wife, Tanya of North Little Rock; daughter, Aronna Sorvillo and husband, Chris of Maumelle; sister, Mittie Youngblood and husband, Charles of Harrison; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
An Arkansas State Police Honor Guard acted as pall bearers. Honorary pallbearers included Past Potentates of the Scimitar Shrine Temple, the Arkansas State Police, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Bro. George Smith, Bro. Michael Gray, L.D. Umholtz, Curtis Umholtz, Christopher Umholtz, North Little Rock Police Dept. Officer Craig Umholtz and the Waffle House crew. Memorials may be made to North Hills Baptist Church, the Shriner’s Hospital for Children or the Grotto Humanitarian Fund.
Arrangements by Sherwood Funeral Home, 7515 Warden Rd., Sherwood, (501)835-9200. The online guestbook may be signed atwww.sherwoodfuneralhome.com.
A facebook tribute page can be found at “Celebrating Leroy Sitton.”
This feature obituary appeared in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Jan. 2) (ADG 010211a, ADG 010211b), North Little Rock Times (Jan. 6), Sherwood Voice (Jan. 6) and Harrison Daily Times (Jan. 8-9 – HDT 010911).