Former Osceola, Arkansas mayor dies after struggle with COVID-19

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OSCEOLA, Ark. – – An Arkansas community is grieving after losing one of its most prominent members. Former Osceola Mayor Dickie Kennemore died over the weekend after a weeks-long struggle with COVID-19.

Friends and family paid their respects at his visitation Wednesday night.

“He’s going to be missed,” family friend Jerry Rapert said, “Community lost a great man when we lost him.”

Kennemore’s son Ken says his 78-year-old father contracted the virus roughly a month ago and was admitted to the hospital days later.

“They call it COVID pneumonia,” Ken Kennemore said, “We really thought he was going to beat it but his lungs couldn’t work strong enough I guess.”

Dickie Kennemore was born and raised in Osceola. He made his career in real estate, construction and insurance before running for mayor in 1991. He won that race and held the position for 28 years. 

Ken Kennemore says his father’s proudest achievement as mayor was bringing a company called Big River Steel to Osceola. It opened in 2016 and today, it employs roughly 600 workers.

Kennemore was eventually unseated after losing a contentious race to current mayor Sally Wilson.

“Politics is a thankless job,” Ken Kennemore said, “Nobody tells you what you do right, they always tell you what you do wrong… I can assure you dad did everything he could to make this city better.”

He leaves behind a wife, three children and 11 grandchildren. All of them have been impacted by the example he set.

“If you see something that’s not right or if you see something you want then you step up and you do it,” Ken Kennemore said, “You don’t wait for somebody else to do it. You grab the bull by the horns so to speak and you do it.”

Mayor Wilson says the city is working on renaming a community center after Dickie Kennemore.

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