- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2006

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Roland “Rollie” Remmel, whose handcrafted “Rollie Sticks” are treasured keepsakes for many friends of Ducks Unlimited Inc., as well as others prominent in public life, died July 2 at his home after a long battle with cancer. He was 88.

Mr. Remmel was known as “Papa Duck” for his decades of work with Ducks Unlimited to keep waterfowl populations healthy.

Steve Frisk, a former regional director of Ducks Unlimited who worked with Mr. Remmel for more than 20 years, said no one will be able to replace Mr. Remmel.

“He has literally raised millions of dollars,” Mr. Frisk said. “At his 80th birthday party, we raised $400,000 in three hours alone.”

Mr. Remmel became widely known for his “Rollie Sticks,” walking sticks that he made in his home shop.

He donated many of them for auctions to raise money for charitable causes, usually Ducks Unlimited.

The sticks were often topped with carved wooden duck heads, though one he made for Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt has a Razorback for a grip.

After his graduation from the University of Arkansas with a business degree in 1940, Mr. Remmel maintained his enthusiasm for Razorback sports.

Mr. Frisk said the Rollie Sticks were the most popular items at Ducks Unlimited auctions.

“I saw one sell for $8,000 at an auction one year,” Mr. Frisk said. “I bet he’s raised a half a million with his Rollie Sticks alone.”

Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service who formerly headed the foundation that built the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum, said a Rollie Stick that Mr. Remmel gave Bill Clinton when he was president is part of the Oval Office exhibit at the library.

His efforts on behalf of waterfowl earn placement of his name on two marshes — one in Arkansas supervised by the state Game and Fish Commission and the other in Alberta, Canada.

Gov. Mike Huckabee said in a statement released by his office: “When God made Rollie, he broke the mold because he doubted that he could improve on such a unique masterpiece of a man.

“He is the embodiment of Ducks Unlimited for most people. And the Rollie sticks he gave are treasures I will cherish, as well as the thrill of duck hunting with this legend of the sport,” the governor said. “We mourn his loss, but know he is somewhere in the marshes of heaven teaching the angels to blow a duck call.”

Born in Little Rock on Sept. 26, 1917, Mr. Remmel grew up with five brothers and sisters.

After graduating from Little Rock High School, Mr. Remmel attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., and Virginia Military Institute on an adjacent campus before returning to the university in his home state.

During World War II, Mr. Remmel served in Trinidad, where he was responsible for refueling military aircraft.

He became a contractor for the Air Force and owned and operated Southland Building Products, later opening Fixed Assets Leasing Co., and then the Compass Trading Co.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, the former Ruth Rebsamen — a member of the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame along with her husband; and four children.

Johnny Jenkins, 67,rock guitarist

MACON, Ga. (AP) — Johnny Jenkins, a left-handed guitarist who played with Otis Redding and influenced guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, died June 26 at a hospital in Macon. He was 67.

In the late 1950s and early ‘60s, Mr. Jenkins toured across the South, playing fraternity parties and various venues with his band, the Pinetoppers.

“He was legendary playing at college fraternities at the University of Alabama,” said Paul Hornsby, a musician and producer who worked with Mr. Jenkins. “I always heard about the left-handed guitar player who was doing all these acrobatics.”

One night at the Douglass Theatre, Macon’s premier showcase for black performers, Mr. Jenkins was in the crowd when Mr. Redding sang. In Peter Guralnick’s book, “Sweet Soul Music,” Mr. Jenkins recalled inviting Mr. Redding to join the Pinetoppers.

“I heard Otis at the Douglass, and the group behind him just wasn’t making it,” Mr. Jenkins recalled. “So I went up to him, and I said, ‘Do you mind if I play behind you?’ And he looked at me like, ‘Who are you?’ ‘Cause he didn’t know me. And I say, ‘I can make you sound good.’ … Well, he sounded great with me playing behind him — and he knowed it.”

Record producer Phil Walden signed Mr. Jenkins, and he became part of the fledgling Capricorn Records label co-founded by Mr. Walden and partner Frank Fenter.

“I have a great deal of sentiment attached to Johnny Jenkins,” Mr. Walden, who died in April, said in a 1996 interview with the Telegraph in Macon. “He was my first client, and it was through him that I met Otis Redding. … I was still a teenager when I met him, and I thought my entire world rotated around Johnny Jenkins’ guitar. I was convinced he could have been the greatest thing in rock ‘n’ roll.”

Mr. Walden arranged for Mr. Jenkins to perform for Atlantic Records executives after his hit, “Love Twist,” came out, but the executives went with Mr. Redding instead.

Mr. Jenkins never made it out of the Southeast, while Mr. Redding became an international superstar. One reason: Mr. Jenkins didn’t want to fly, limiting the number of gigs he could get.

Mr. Jenkins may not have made it around the world, but his style did.

Mr. Hendrix, whose aunt lived in Macon, saw Mr. Jenkins perform and fell in love with the latter’s signature acrobatic left-handed guitar style.

Vocalist Arthur Ponder, who sang with Mr. Jenkins, recalled Mr. Hendrix as a “little guy who would follow us around a lot. Next thing we know, he’s Jimi Hendrix.”

After Capricorn went out of business in the late 1970s, Mr. Jenkins faded from the music scene.

He performed at the now-defunct Music City Grill in 1996, the same year Mr. Walden produced Mr. Jenkins’ comeback album, “Blessed Blues.”

He also performed with Randall Bramblett at the first concert at the Douglass after it was renovated in 1997.

Mr. Jenkins continued to perform sporadically, including a 2000 show at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. His last two albums, “Handle with Care” (2001) and “All in Good Time” (2003), were produced by Mean Old World Records

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