Jackson T. Stephens
Stephens was born on a farm near Pratsville in Grant County in south Arkansas, the youngest of six children. and grew up during the Depression. Stephens attended the United States Naval Academy, where he met and became friends with a midshipman from Georgia named Jimmy Carter. Upon graduating he joined the Little Rock investment house Stephens Inc., which his brother W. R. "Witt" Stephens had started in 1933. "Forged out of a Bible, belt buckle, and bond business," by 1994 Stephens, Inc., was listed as one of the biggest institutional shareholders in thirty large multinationals including the Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, and Alltel. Stephens is the father of Jackson Stephens, Jr. and Warren Stephens.
- 1962 – became a member of the Augusta National Golf Club, the host of the annual Masters tournament. Later became the club's chairman from 1991-98.
- 1968 – the Stephenses launch Systematics, Inc, a data processing company. In 1990, Systematics was sold to Alltel and became Alltel Information Services (which in turn would be sold to Fidelity Information Systems.)
- 1970 – underwrote the initial public offering for Wal-Mart Stores
- 1976 – forms Stephens Finance Ltd. in Hong Kong with Mochtar Riady.
Stephens and his wife Mary Anne were such outspoken backers of Republican causes, and in particular of President Ronald Reagan that the early 1980s they were known as "Mr. and Mrs. Republican of Arkansas." In a rare interview in the early 1980s, Jackson declared that Reagan was giving the country "exactly what we need. Some of us call it tough love." Stephens and his company donated $100,000 to the national Republican Party both in 1988 and 1991. Stephens and his wife were key backers of the unsuccessful bid of U.S. Representative Tommy F. Robinson of Arkansas' 2nd congressional district for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1990.
Philanthropy and legacy
- Stephens gave $48 million to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to establish the Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute.
- Stephens gave more than $30 million toward to Little Rock's Episcopal Collegiate School endowment in 2004.
- Stephens gave $20.4 million to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for a special-events center and a basketball arena that would later be named Jack Stephens Center.
- The football field at the United States Naval Academy is named Jack Stephens Field to honor Stephens and his gift of funds for its renovation.
- Dickey-Stephens Park (home to AA Arkansas Travelers) in North Little Rock, Arkansas is named for Stephens and his brother "Witt" along with the Dickey brothers - Bill and "Skeets" both former major leaguers.
- Stephens gave some $3 million to construct the Prattsville Community Center in his hometown of Prattsville, Arkansas.
- Arkansas Aviation Historical Society inducted Stephens into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 1994.
- Jackson T. Stephens, 81, Financier, Dies, Associated Press, July 28, 2005
- Dennis A. Byrd, Financier, philanthropist Jackson T. Stephens, 81, dies, Greenwood Democrat Tuesday, July 26, 2005
- Profile: Jackson T. Stephens (with Mary Anne)
- New York Times February 5, 1992 "Wealthy Investment Family a Big Help to Clinton" by Jeff Gerth
- "Arkansas Aviation Historical Society Collection". Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.