Poinsett County's first female public official passes away

Poinsett County's first female public official passes away
Source: Gregg-Langford Bookout Funeral Home

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) - Poinsett County lost a piece of political history last week.

Tommye Sullivan Givens died Thursday, July 16, at the age of 93 at her home in Weiner, but it wasn't without leaving a lasting legacy with a life full of accomplishments.

In 1967 Givens was the first woman elected to public office in Poinsett County.

She took office January 1, 1968.

Current Poinsett County Assessor Johnny Rye, Jr. said her being a woman had nothing to do with it.

"She was so qualified to do her work," Rye said. "I don't think it mattered one way or another if she was a man or a woman, but they elected the first lady back in 1968."

She had a knack for the political life. Her father was the Poinsett County judge, treasurer, and sheriff.

Givens served as county assessor for 12 years and retired in 1980.

She stayed busy though.

In 1983, then-Governor Bill Clinton appointed Givens as the secretary of the State Democratic Party.

Rye said he crafted his career after hers.

"Everyone that was involved in state politics at that time knew who Tommye Givens was," Rye said. "She brought a lot to the table. She was very knowledgeable about this field, but she was also very knowledgeable about county and state government."

Rye took office after Givens and said Givens is known for being just an outstanding, classy and fair lady.

"She treated people with a lot of respect, and I think that is why she stayed as long as she did," Rye said.

Givens also served as the president of the Arkansas Assessors Association for some time.

Rye said his relationship with Givens is one he will never forget and hopes Poinsett County doesn't either.

"She gave Poinsett County a great name statewide and worldwide, as far as that goes."

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