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Former Prescott & Hope doctor passes

By Dale Gathright, Jr., 04/2/24 11:46 AM

LITTLE ROCK – Richard Palmer Portis M.D., of Little Rock, died March 31, 2024, at age 79. A 1974 graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Medicine, he had practiced family medicine at Prescott, Hope and Texarkana and later had a full-time emergency medicine practice.

Portis was medical director at Southwest Regional Medical Center in Little Rock until it closed in 2008 and had been a member of the Southern Medical Association and the Arkansas Medical Society. He retired in 2013 after sustaining a series of strokes.

In the 1980s Portis was appointed by Gov. Bill Clinton to the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Endowment for the Humanities and to the Governor’s Advisory Council for Gifted and Talented Education.

Before entering medical school, he had been an editor and reporter at the Crossett News Observer, the Pine Bluff Commercial and the Arkansas Gazette and had served as an information officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. He was a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas and Hamburg High School, where he was valedictorian. In high school he was named to the Arkansas All State Band for four consecutive years and was first-chair All State Band trombonist in his junior and senior years.

Portis was born July 13, 1944, at Camden. He and his family lived at Mount Holly until moving to Hamburg in 1948. He was preceded in death by his parents, Samuel Palmer Portis and Alice Waddell Portis, his sister, Aliece Portis Sawyer, and a brother, Charles Portis.

He is survived by his wife, Leah Portis, daughters Dr. Susan Portis Ferguson and Jane Portis, son Charles J. Portis, two stepsons, Cameron (Samantha) Aviles and Palmer Aviles, grandchildren Laura Davis, Walter Ferguson, Cora Ferguson and Beckett Samuel Aviles, and a brother, Jonathan W. Portis.

He was a lifelong Presbyterian and a member of the Second Presbyterian Church of Little Rock.