Jackson T. Stephens
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Jackson T. Stephens

Jackson Thomas Stephens (August 9, 1923 – July 23, 2005)[1] was an oilman and investment banker. He was the CEO of Little Rock, Arkansas-based Stephens Inc., a privately owned financial services company.


Stephens was born on a farm near Prattsville in Grant County in south Arkansas, the youngest of six children.[2] and grew up during the Depression. Stephens attended the United States Naval Academy, where he met and became friends with a midshipman from Georgia named Jimmy Carter.[3] Upon graduating he joined the Little Rock investment house Stephens Inc., which his brother W. R. "Witt" Stephens had started in 1933. "Forged out of a Bible, belt buckle, and bond business," by 1994 Stephens, Inc., was listed as one of the biggest institutional shareholders in thirty large multinationals including the Arkansas-based Worthen Bank, Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, and Alltel. Stephens is the father of Jackson Stephens, Jr. and Warren Stephens.

Career highlights

  • 1962 – became a member of the Augusta National Golf Club, the host of the annual Masters tournament. Later became the club's chairman from 1991-98.
  • 1968 – the Stephenses launch Systematics, Inc, a data processing company. In 1990, Systematics was sold to Alltel and became Alltel Information Services (which in turn would be sold to Fidelity Information Systems.)
  • 1970 – underwrote the initial public offering for Wal-Mart Stores
  • 1976 – forms Stephens Finance Ltd. in Hong Kong with Mochtar Riady.


Stephens and his wife, Mary Anne, were such outspoken backers of Republican causes, and in particular of President Ronald Reagan, that the early 1980s they were known as "Mr. and Mrs. Republican of Arkansas."[3] In a rare interview in the early 1980s, Jackson declared that Reagan was giving the country "exactly what we need. Some of us call it tough love."[3] Stephens and his company donated $100,000 to the national Republican Party both in 1988 and 1991.[4] Stephens and his wife were key backers of the unsuccessful bid of U.S. Representative Tommy F. Robinson of Arkansas' 2nd congressional district for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1990.[]

Philanthropy and legacy

Awards and Honors


  1. ^ Jackson T. Stephens, 81, Financier, Dies, Associated Press, July 28, 2005
  2. ^ Dennis A. Byrd, Financier, philanthropist Jackson T. Stephens, 81, dies, Greenwood Democrat Tuesday, July 26, 2005
  3. ^ a b c Profile: Jackson T. Stephens (with Mary Anne)
  4. ^ New York Times February 5, 1992 "Wealthy Investment Family a Big Help to Clinton" by Jeff Gerth
  5. ^ http://www.epsicopalcollegiate.org[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Arkansas Aviation Historical Society Collection". Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
  8. ^ "Arkansas Business Hall of Fame Inductee". University of Arkansas. January 1, 1999.

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