Howard "Bear" Chandler was born to Dan and Bessie Chandler on June 7, 1924, in the community of Scuffletown, N.C., just outside of Walnut, Madison County, N.C. He passed away Saturday, May 3, 2014.
He is survived by the love of his life for 72 years, Cecilia Bailey Chandler; his son and daughter-in-law, Dan and Kathy Chandler of Hot Springs Village, Ark.; grandson, Dan Chandler Jr. of Hot Springs Village, Ark.; and sister, Betty Biggs of Lumberton, N.C.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Sonja Lynn Chandler; and grandson, Robert "Robbie" Chandler.
"Bear," as he preferred to be called, was born in the Great Smoky Mountains, but left them at the age of 12 and, as he called it, "hoboed" out to California and was returning east when he enlisted in the Army at Fort Sill, Okla., by claiming to be older than he was. While on maneuvers outside of Conway he met Cecilia and they married. After his service in the Army was over, World War II soon started and he joined the Marines and his detachment was assigned to the USS Arkansas. On the USS Arkansas he saw action in both theaters from Normandy to Iwo Jima. He also assisted in the repatriation of U.S. prisoners of war from camps in Japan and China.
After discharge from the Marine Corps, "Bear" returned to Conway and soon began his service to the citizens of the State of Arkansas by joining the Conway Police Department, and while serving there attended the Arkansas Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas.) In 1949, he joined the Arkansas State Police and served in several Troops around the State. He soon was promoted to the Rank of Sergeant and was assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division in Little Rock. During his career with the Arkansas State Police he reached the rank of Lieutenant and was involved in historic national and state events such as the Central High Crisis and the shutting down of gambling in Hot Springs, Ark. Due to his honesty and work ethic he was called upon by Gov. Orville Faubus and Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller to conduct many sensitive investigations and to create such sections within the State Police as the first Narcotics Investigations Unit.
"Bear" pursued an interest that he developed while attending Arkansas Teachers College, handwriting and questioned document examination. And became a nationally recognized Questioned Document Examiner. Upon retiring from the Arkansas State Police, he took the position of Chief Document Examiner with the newly formed Arkansas State Crime Laboratory. While in this position he was twice appointed Interim Director of the Crime Laboratory by the then Gov. Bill Clinton. "Bear" was glad to serve the short tenures as interim Director, but wanted to remain in his position as Chief Document Examiner, because he loved working with all the State and Federal agents that came to him for assistance.
After leaving the Arkansas Crime Laboratory, "Bear" entered private practice and then retired to spend time with his family and friends.
"Bear" loved his church (Pickles Gap Baptist Church), his family and friends, the outdoors, and history. He was a muzzleloader and loved to attend black powder matches and hunting with his flintlock rifles. Whenever you visited "Bear" and Cil you might find yourself throwing a tomahawk, grinding some corn, cooking in a Dutch oven or using one of his antique tools or forge. He loved to show young people how to use historical tools and items so that they too could feel the joy of doing things the way they were done in a simpler time.
"Bear" was known by many names, Howard to his family in North Carolina, "Slim" or "Hoss" to his shipmates, "Sandy" to his nieces and nephews in Arkansas, and of course "Bear" to Law Enforcement in the State and to all his friends. But he was most proud of being called a Christian Brother and shared his belief and love to all he met. Most will remember that the last thing he would say to you when you were leaving was "I Love You," no matter if you were family, friend or he had just met you. He loved everyone he met.
A funeral service will be held in his honor at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, at Roller-McNutt Funeral Home in Conway, with burial to follow at Oak Grove Cemetery.
Visitation will be held 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday evening at the funeral home.
Online guest book: www.rollerfuneralhomes.com
Published in The Log Cabin Democrat from May 5 to May 12, 2014
Roller-Chenal Funeral Home
13801 Chenal Parkway Little Rock, AR 72211