Sicard: ‘Turn your passion into action’

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 186 views 

Sam T. Sicard said his father’s greatest leadership trait was humility, and members of the 2012 Leadership Fort Smith class were encouraged by Sicard to be humble leaders and “turn your passion into action.”

Sicard, speaking Thursday night (May 10) during the commencement of the 2012 LFS class, accepted the prestigious Jack White Leadership Fort Smith Award on behalf of his father, Sam M. Sicard.

Sam M. Sicard, president of First National Bank of Fort Smith, died Aug. 7, 2011. He was 70.

Sicard was elected president of the large regional bank holding company in 1977 and eventually added the title of bank board chairman.

During his tenure, the bank saw remarkable growth. In 1989, the bank was formed into a holding company — First Bank Corp. — and acquired National Bank of Sallisaw, Citizens Bank & Trust of Van Buren, Bank of Rogers and Brown-Hiller-Clark & Associates.

For many decades, Sam Sicard and the Sicard family were deeply involved in the socio-economic development of the Fort Smith Region. Sicard has been a leader and/or served on numerous boards and fundraiser efforts, including the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Marshals Museum Board of Directors, Central Business Improvement District, Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club, United Way of Fort Smith Area and governing boards associated with Westark College and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Sam M. Sicard was born into a family that began banking in Fort Smith in 1872. Sicard’s father, McCloud Sicard, was bank president between 1942 and 1977. McCloud Sicard suffered a stroke in in 1969, which pushed a 29-year-old Sam M. Sicard into the role of executive vice president.

Sam M. had just graduated a few years earlier (1963) with a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas. Prior to his leadership role, Sicard had worked was the bank’s mail boy, helped open new accounts, accounting and working commercial loans.

Amanda Daniels, awards chairman for the LFS Alumni Association, said she was surprised to learn that Sam M. had not received the Jack White Leadership Award.

The award was renamed “The Jack White Leadership Fort Smith Award” in 1997, after the untimely death of community leader Jack White. Jack White came to Fort Smith in 1987 as the Arkansas Manager for OG&E, and quickly became involved in the region, serving on a number of boards and volunteering with several organizations.

Daniels said she soon learned that Sam M. had not been a past recipient because he refused to accept the award.

Sam T. said his father indeed was reluctant to accept kudos, and that his consistent humility is proof that a “dominant persuasive personality” is not the only path to true leadership. Sicard said the humility of his father “allowed him to be open minded and learn from others.”

Other traits of humility, according to Sicard, include listening more than speaking, understanding it is OK to admit an error, and an unwillingness to boast of achievements.

Sam T. also noted that his father is one of several key Fort Smith area leaders from the previous generation to die within the past 18 months. He said they helped transform the city and region during their years as leaders, but new leaders are always needed.

“Now, more than ever, it is time for you to step up and provide leadership to the community,” Sicard said.

Also during the commencement, Community Leadership Awards were presented in the following categories to:
Bennie Westphal — Business and Industry
Stacey Jones — Education
Dr. Larry Pearce — Healthcare
Rick Foti — Non-profit
Dr. Edward Saucier — Religion

The purpose of Leadership Fort Smith is to provide a program that will build a competent leadership pool for the Greater Fort Smith Region, motivate emerging and existing leaders, and develop the participants for community leadership and decision-making by exposing them to the realities, opportunities, and problems in our metropolitan area.

Members of the Class of 2012 are as follows:
Donna Bragg, Sparks, Health System
Karen Cardwell, First National Bank
Scott Chambers, Fort Smith Housing Authority
Rob Coleman, ERC Properties Inc.
Bob Cooper, R.H. Ghan Commercial Properties
Marcia Davis, Arvest Bank
Susan Devero, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith
Sasha Grist, Western Arkansas Planning and Development District
Rhonda Harper, Fort Smith Police Department
Jim Harris, Bost, Inc.
Kandice Harshaw, USA Truck, Inc.
Cliff James, Littlefield Oil Company
Joel James, St. Edward Mercy Medical Center
Keith Lau, Weichert King Realty Group
Bob Morgan, Custom Computer Source
Kendall Price, Humana Inc.
Kevin Ridgley, Anderson-Martin Machine Company
Jill Rowland, BancorpSouth
Pam Siebenmorgen, Fort Smith Public Schools
Jeff Smith, Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce
Lea Taylor, What If Creative
Kevin Thompson, Community Bible Church
Jeff Turner, Sebastian County Judge’s Office
Micki Voelkel, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith
Whitney Yoder, Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce