To hear Fred Storm tell the story, he was just an average man who worked hard, married well twice and kept his nose out of trouble.
That’s the no nonsense man Storm was but what he accomplished in his lifetime was monumental and consumed scores of stories from the North Little Rock Times’ historical files at the NLR History Commission.
Next to the late Mayor Casey Layman, Storm has the second largest clip files outlining the details about his role in the city’s history.
Cary Bradburn, a former Gazette and Times reporter and now historian with the North Little Rock History Commission called Storm one of the last heroes from what has been called the greatest generation — the one who went off to fight World War II as teens but came home strong battle-scared men determined to make the world a better place for the next generation.
The man who died Monday, Sept. 17 at his Lakewood home met that challenge over and over working well past his fellow World War II veterans.
His accomplishments are legendary. After North Little Rock High School’s attempt to voluntary integrate its schools in the last 1950s following Little Rock’s Central High crisis, the school known as Old Main did enroll a handful of African American students in 1958 but those who were in the class with them said the group left on their own after the successful experiment and the school didn’t have another black student until 1965.
With the NLR School Board suffering from the torn emotions of the time, it couldn’t reach a majority and the pressure got so bad the board president resigned.
Storm entered the race and as a freshman was elected board president. He developed what became known as the Storm Plan according to Times stories from that period. He built a new junior high school in east North Little Rock and integrated all the other schools at the same time.
Having commanded the Arkansas National Guard’s 212th Signal Battalion during the troubling times when riots were common, Storm had the experience and could talk to people in practical terms they understood.
As an Army Captain, Storm had helped liberate the Philippines so he understood what freedom was all about.
Storm lettered in football, basketball, track and golf in college but it was golf that became his game for more than half a century.
Steve Goss, Storm’s stepson whom he raised from the age of eight, said Fred loved to play golf, pull practical jokes and politics — in that order.
Ben Combs, an old friend and Fred’s former boss in his role of president of the Better Business Bureau of Arkansas, said, "As a former President of both the AdFed [Arkansas Advertising Federation] and the BBB, I can attest to his character, leadership and vision. But he always led in quiet ways, and always with his famous dry humor. He made a difference in every organization he both led and served. He was a shining example of ‘the Greatest Generation.’"
Bob Denman, a former KARK-TV president and general manager and now a UALR executive said," I also served on the BBB Board with Fred [in addition to the Arkansas Advertising Federation] and he ran that organization through some tough times too."
The BBB was an outgrowth of the Arkansas Advertising Federation and the man who recruited him to that role was former UALR advertising professor and the founder of Ad Craft of Arkansas, the late Gene McCoy, who said in a story at the time that Storm was "the perfect honest man for the job."
Funeral services for Storm will be held at First United Methodist Church in North Little Rock on John F. Kennedy Drive at 2 p.m. He will be buried with full military Honors at Alexander’s Pinecrest Memorial Park.
Fred is preceded in death by his parents, Guy and Nettie (Edwards), his son Charles Stephen Storm, and the mother of his son, Geraldine (Baird) storm. He is survived by his wife of almost 54 years, Daphna Lewis Storm, his daughters, Cecily Storm of Galveston, TX and Martha Garrison (Dale) of Franklin, TN, Linda Storm, daughter-in-law (Stephen Storm) and stepsons, David Goss, and Steve Goss (Janice) of Hot Springs, AR; 13 grandchildren: Beth Anne Storm Rule, Susan Storm Lynch, Guy Storm, Alison Delk, Austen Delk, Eric Caldwell, Kim Goss, Brad Goss, Leslie Janssen, Justin Garrison, Rob Goss, Fontaine Goss and Jamie Goss; and 13 great-grandchildren.
Born in Little Rock, he graduated from Little Rock Junior College [now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock] in 1937 and then attended the Missouri School of Mines [now Missouri University of Science and Technology, formerly the University of Missouri Rolla] majoring in chemical engineering, minoring in business and lettering in football, basketball, golf and in rifle and serving as sports editor of his college yearbook.
Storm, as an Arkansas Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel was a staff officer and later commander of the 212th Signal Battalion headquartered in North Little Rock witnessed the 1957 Little Rock Central integration crisis and didn’t want to see that repeated on the north side.
Storm was president of the Little Rock Optimist Club, Arkansas Advertising Federation board, the Arkansas National Guard Association, president of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council, president of the Arkansas School Board Association.
He served as a longtime member for the North Little Rock First United Methodist Church and as chairman of the church’s board of trustees.