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Andrew G. Ponder

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Andrew G. Ponder, 87, of Cherokee Village, former circuit judge of the 3rd Judicial District composed of Lawrence, Jackson, Sharp and Randolph counties, died April 15, 2004, in Jonesboro.

Ponder was born in Walnut Ridge Oct. 1, 1916. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry L. Ponder Sr. He, like his two brothers, Harry Jr. and Lester Ponder, attended law school and became an attorney.

Andy Ponder attended the University of Arkansas where he received an AB degree. He graduated from law school in 1940 and became a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation where he worked for 10 years. He practiced law until he was appointed chancery judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit, which he served until 1952, when he was elected circuit judge, a position he held until 1987.

After graduation from law school he married Maurel Pickens Ponder with whom he had three children: the oldest, Drew, a daughter, Clyde, and the youngest, Gibb. Ponder was an active member of the Methodist Church in Newport for many years, where he served as chairman of the Board of Stewards and taught a young people's Sunday school class. He was one of he principal sponsors of the American Legion Little League Baseball program.

After the death of his first wife, Judge Ponder married Cris Bryant.

While serving as president of the Judicial Council composed of all the judges in Arkansas, he was appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to head a special committee to revise the Arkansas rules of civil procedure. The committee work for over two years studying and drafting before submitting a new code of procedure, which was adopted to completely revise civil procedure in Arkansas. He later served as chairman of the Arkansas Penitentiary Study Commission, which wrote the statute creating the new department of correction and served as a springboard for penal reform in Arkansas.

On retiring from the bench, he and his wife, Cris Bryant Ponder, moved to Cherokee Village where he resumed the practice of law with Kevin King. He was a member of the Cherokee Village United Methodist Church.

He is survived by his wife, Cris Bryant Ponder of the home; two sons -- Drew Ponder of Batesville, and Gibb Ponder of Fayetteville; a daughter, Belle Ponder of Santa Fe, N.M.; a stepson, Anthony Taylor of Jackson, Miss.; a stepdaughter, Cynthia Taylor of Dallas, Texas; two brothers -- Harry Ponder of Walnut Ridge and Lester Ponder of Indianapolis; and six grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents -- Harry and Clyde Gant Ponder; his first wife, Maurel Pickens Ponder; and a sister, Nancy Blake Moore.

A memorial service was held April 17 at Cherokee Village United Methodist Church. The Rev. Ron Durham and the Rev. Jim West assisted with the service. Speakers for the service were Paul Waits, Joe James, Wayne Boyce, Kevin King and Larry Kissee. Arrangements were under the direction of Tri-County's Cherokee Chapel of Highland.

Honorary pallbearers were Wayne Watkins, Larry Kissee, Greg Prenger, Jimmy Jones, Kevin King, Ron Rhodes and Brad Fortuna.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Mission of Hope, 3968 Highway 62/412, Hardy, AR 72542; or to Cherokee Village United Methodist Church.