Leon Shipman

Leon Interview



Doretha Shipman Main Page

Arvil Leon Shipman was born on May 21, 1921 in St. Joe, Arkansas and at about the age of one, he and his family moved to Freck, Arkansas. He was the second born of 10 children, two of which were girls. His parents are Loy Shipman and Nora Davis who farmed mostly peanuts all their lives. At 78 years old, Leon has 7 children, 20 grand-children, and 10 great-grandchildren. He grew up going to school with Doretha Dillard and later married her in December of 1943. They were married in Flippin, Arkansas by Rev. G.B. Keeter. Now a self-taught dairy farmer, Leon has many priceless stories and memories.

Leon could tell you about his hitch-hiking days with his cousin or his plane crash in a Brazilian peanut field. He could keep you grinning as he talks about him and his oldest brother, Verl, putting a bullet in a piece of wood and blowing out the back of the stove in the one room school house in Freck. Nonetheless, Leon Shipman has story after story to tell that he just enjoys telling. Basically, Leon is a very versatile man.

Although, he isn't a big hunter and fisherman, he loves to read books and buy collectibles. Treva Stoops, his daughter, told me that Leon used to go to auction after auction always getting something old and adding it to his junk pile. On top of all that, Leon is a member of the Farm Bureau and attends the Church of Christ. Most importantly, throughout his life he always took great care of his family and helped so many other people in the process. It's not every day that someone can meet such a man.

One such instance that was told to me was about a Brazilian boy about the age of 14. The boy was in the program, "Youth For Understanding." Well, the story goes, the boy was pretty much on his way to America and they needed someone to house him for six months. Being the kind man Leon is, he jumped to the opportunity to help someone in need. When the boy showed up in Little Rock about two weeks later, Leon drove down and picked him up. Treva said, "When Dad brought him home, he knew only two words -- tree and toilet." Continuing the story, the boy apparently had a wonderful time and went home after six months wearing a cowboy hat.

He later went on to become a doctor and has come back to visit Leon and still stays in touch. Leon continued helping foreign students by housing four other "Youth For Understanding" students. Still, the list of nice things that Leon has done for others goes on and on. Treva said, "The most outstanding quality about Leon is the ability to encourage us kids and take people in to our house." One time he took in a run-a-way girl for the police for about four months. "He was always bringing people home to work on the farm," Treva said. Treva also went on to tell me, "He could never turn down anybody." He let some hippies work for food, and encouraged one young man who had been staying on for a while to go to college. Well, the young man took Leon's advice and went on to become a school teacher in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Even while helping so many others, Leon always had time for his family. Leon always made sure that the girls knew they were just as important as the boys. They always sat down for breakfast as a family and could ask any question they wanted. The kids also went on wonderful vacations. Treva told me about one vacation where they hiked back into some woods for three days. Leon and Doretha did neat little things to make it a whole lot of fun. Treva said, "It was a whole lot more fun than going to Disney Land." That's because, there were no crowds and it was just the family spending time together wandering through the woods. The stories could go on and on, but the best thing to do would be to go and listen to Leon tell them yourself.

Researched and Written by Bradley Williams on March 26, 1999.