Dr. Clopton, Renowned Physician and RHS grad, Dead at 81
Northeast Arkansas was saddened by the loss of a true pioneer in healthcare, a well-respected civic leader and a genuinely caring, compassionate man with the death of Dr. Owen H. Clopton, Jr., Tuesday, June 24, at the age of 81 following a brief illness.
Dr. Clopton was born in Marmaduke and grew up in the Rector area, graduating from RHS before continuing his education at Murray State University and the University of Arkansas Medical School.
Clopton, the son of long-time rural physician O.H. Clopton Sr., who practiced in Lafe, Marmaduke and Rector starting around 1913, often joined his father on house calls. His mental aptitude focused on the science behind the care delivered, while his kind, outgoing nature saw his devotion to patients develop early, as well. Clopton followed his father into the medical field, opening a solo practice in Jonesboro in 1965.
"Dr. Clopton was passionate about healthcare and always, always put his patients first," said Chris Barber, president and CEO of St. Bernards Healthcare, who worked alongside Dr. Clopton for over 22 years.
Clopton's first practice, started when the population of Jonesboro was only around 22,000, grew into Internal Medicine Associates through the years, as others joined him in the clinic. In 2002, Internal Medicine Associates was renamed The Clopton Clinic in honor of its founder and much-respected physician. By this time, Jonesboro had grown considerably, as had the options for receiving healthcare, but Clopton and his associates remained among the top care providers in the region, thanks in no small part to the talented physician's efforts to remain on the forefront of medical technology.
"He was instrumental in advancing medical care in Northeast Arkansas," Barber said. "He stayed up-to-date with the developing technology and was instrumental in bringing that technology to Northeast Arkansas."
Clopton would serve as chief of staff at St. Bernards Medical Center, and later was on the hospital's Governing Board. He also served on the Arkansas State Medical Board and was the medical director of SHARP, an organization for physicians.
"He was an outstanding physician, but he also was able to make people feel at ease around him," Barber noted. "If he was in a room, you were just naturally drawn to him because of his personality and his character."
Barber added Dr. Clopton's efforts and his nature will have a lasting impact, as "those who have associated with him are better off for having those experiences."
Dr. Clopton remained mindful of his roots, returning to Rector frequently to aid the community, despite a hectic schedule. His financial support and experience have benefitted numerous activities and organizations such as the RHS Helping Hands Foundation, RHS Sports Hall of Fame and countless youth-based events and programs.
"He was a wonderful supporter of the Hall of Fame, and truly wanted to support the athletes of our past and the young men and women in Rector today," Lavaughn Robertson, one of the founders of the RHS Sports Hall of Fame, said. "His support was essential to the Hall of Fame becoming what it is today."
Dr. Clopton is survived by his wife of 60 years, Laura Jean Shemwell Clopton; two daughters, Dr. Claudia L. Clopton of Denver and Dr. Laura D. Bischof (John) of St. Paul, Minn.; three grandchildren, Aiden Carley-Clopton, Inge Bischof and Thea Bischof; a niece, Dr. Susan Wooten, and nephews David Landis and Jim Settlemoir, as well as a multitude of friends and colleagues.
Funeral services were held Saturday, June 28, at Southwest Church of Christ in Jonesboro with Dr. Jimmy Adcox and Richard Akins officiating. A private burial with Emerson Funeral Home in charge of arrangements followed the service.
The complete obituary may be found in that section of this website.