Fort Smith Prosecuting Attorney John Settle died Saturday morning (Oct. 26) after suffering a heart attack at a gym. Settle, an attorney in Fort Smith for more than 40 years, served as the city’s prosecutor since September 2008.
Settle, 67, also served as Sebastian County district court judge between 1987 to 1990. He was at the Mercy Fitness Center when he collapsed. He was rushed to Mercy hospital but did not survive.
Following is a statement from Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken.
“We are shocked and saddened at the news that our friend and colleague John Settle has passed away suddenly and unexpectedly today. John has been our City Prosecuting Attorney for the past eleven years, and has represented our City well and honorably. He was a trusted and valued advisor to me and to many of our City managers and leaders, always patiently explaining the law and legal matters, always careful when advising about possible remedies or courses of action.
“John was a prosecutor who believed the forceful application of law was a last resort—that it was always better to work with people, to give them a chance to comply, to help them understand the reason of laws that govern and protect the common good. But when he had to press in court, there was no more forceful or honorable defender of the people than John Settle.
“We, his City brothers and sisters, are mourning today. I can’t imagine the next staff meeting without John sitting in his spot at the end of the table, sharing stories, weaving threads about the complexities and conflicts of laws, laughing, joking, and teasing about his archaic cell phone that was so old its latest update might have been in the ‘90s.
“John Settle was a solid man that we leaned on, and it’s hard to believe we won’t have him anymore. Our hearts go out to his wife, Crystal, and his daughter, Grace Ann. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We have been fortunate to have John Settle as a person in our lives, a colleague, a friend, and he will be very much missed.”