In Memoriam: Carolyn Gray LeMaster

lemasterCarolyn Gray LeMaster, a native of Little Rock, died November 18, 2013. Born December 17, 1927, she was the daughter of Elisha Columbus Gray and Erma White Gray. She was married for 65 years to the late Robert LeMaster. They had four children: Rebecca, Robin (deceased), Gray and Glen. After raising her children, she enrolled at UALR in 1975 and graduated magna cum laude with a with a double major in 1977 as the Edward L Whitbeck Outstanding Senior. She received an M.A. from UALR in 1981.

She worked in the UALR News Bureau as a writer and editor for four years before receiving a grant from the Arkansas Endowment for the Humanities to research and write a history of the Jewish experience in Arkansas. She visited 127 towns in Arkansas and 12 other states, interviewing hundreds of individuals; she subsequently wrote more than a thousand letters tracking down individuals and soliciting their histories. With family help, she did a census of all Jewish cemeteries in Arkansas, then looked up more than a thousand obituaries on microfilm.

Her subsequent book, A Corner of the Tapestry: A History of the Jewish Experience in Arkansas, 1820’s-1990’s, was published in 1994 by the University of Arkansas Press. She also is the author of The Ottenheimers of Arkansas, published in 1996, and contributed articles to several other books, including The Voices: Southern Rabbis and Black Civil Rights. In 2005 she was named the Butler Center Fellow for the Arkansas Jewish History Collection and subsequently processed the prodigious amount of data she had collected and donated to the Arkansas Studies Institute.

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