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Don E. Trimble

Lawyer, Writer and Photographer Writes his own Obituary: Don E. Trimble, age 71, a lawyer, writer and photographer, passed away on May 3, 2024. He was predeceased by his parents, Henry Warren Trimble and Ruth Trimble Patterson, and three brothers, Johnny Lee Trimble, Henry Trimble and Wilbon Trimble, Senior. He is survived by his son Timothy Martin Paul Trimble (Gabrielle), granddaughter Emory Ann Trimble, and two sisters, Minnie Frazier (Ulysses) and Norma Watson, along with other relatives and friends. Trimble was born at home, in the Hollingsworth Housing Projects, on September 24, 2024, and was attended at birth, by his paternal grandmother, Minnie Trimble, a midwife. He dropped out of high school in the 11th grade, to work, then rose to the position of grill master at the Embers Restaurant in Little Rock. He soon quit and entered the U.S. Army where he was trained as a map-maker, photolithographer, and printer. After training, he was sent to the Panama Canal Zone, in 1972. It’s also where he earned his GED. He later earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of New York. After the U.S. Army he worked at various printing companies around Little Rock and he worked at the Arkansas Democrat as a photolithographer before deciding to re-enter the U.S. Army in 1978, first working as a reporter for the Fort Hood Sentinel Newspaper. He was also a self-taught photographer. After Ft. Hood in 1979, he traveled all over Germany and several countries in Europe, until 1982, as a photographer and public affairs coordinator. If he was taking 50 off-duty soldiers to Frankfurt to see recording artists like Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly, the week before, he had to follow through the entire route from beginning to end, before the date of the actual event. Trimble worked at The Times of NLR, as sports editor and later managed the Arkansas State Press for Mrs. Daisy Bates. In 1987 while employed at the Arkansas State Press as Managing editor, he interviewed for a staff writer position for Max Brantley at the Arkansas Gazette. He was hired on the spot and was sent downstairs to get his ID badge. He then went to the post office and found a letter stating his acceptance into the University of Arkansas School of Law. He turned around and went back to the Arkansas Gazette, showed them the letter and quit. He was employed at the Arkansas Gazette for less than an hour. After Law School, he opened a law office in Little Rock, then he was hired by Prosecutor Olly Neal as a deputy prosecutor and stayed in that position for 12 years. The first big civil case Trimble worked on started out as a way to associate with East Arkansas lawyers, but became one of the biggest class actions the state of Arkansas has ever seen. It was a school funding lawsuit that lasted 10 years, the Lake View School District No. 25 v. Bill Clinton, with four other lawyers. Trimble tried to avoid the attention a case involving the entire state brought with it, but he and the other lawyers were on television, quoted on radio or in the newspaper almost daily, especially during active litigation in the case. Lakeview School District, the plaintiffs, prevailed, resulting in billions of dollars to be shared by every Arkansas School District, the amount still evolving to this day and for years into the future, to establish and/or increase funding levels, and/or improve adequacy and equity of education resources for every student in the state. Litigation, grounded in the original case, usually seeking more money or demanding equity, turns up and hits the news every few years. He said he just smiles. But even in winning, Lakeview lost, because the school district was forced to close and consolidate. Also, Trimble had to sue the lawyers he had been working with for 12 years, because the other three (3) lawyers would not agree that Trimble should receive an equal share of the over three million dollars in attorney fees. So, at the same time the lawyers were joined, arguing about the substantive issues in the underlying Lakeview case, before the Ark. Supreme Court, the lawyers would also be litigating, as opponents, concerning attorney fees, in state court, then back as comrades, and forth, representing every school district in the state,312 school districts, in a class action, against the state, all the way from 13th Division Judge Collins Kilgore, all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Constant litigation for a while, sometimes the lawyers attended both courts on the same day. Circuit in the morning and the Arkansas Supreme Court that afternoon. As comrades in one court. Opponents in another. Trimble’s attorney fees case prevailed and Judge Colin Kilgore ruled that equal shares was the law of the case and that that was the only way the attorney fees awarded could be distributed. Trimble never associated with any of those Lakeview lawyers again. In 2011 Trimble took on the day to day management of the infamous DeAunta Farrow Toy Gun case from West Memphis, representing Daunta’s father in the case, even though there were six other lawyers already on the case, including one, Javier Bailey, who was representing the mother, Deborah Farrow. Initially and for months afterward, until the infamy of the case waned, Bailey held a downtown Memphis press conference almost daily, at least weekly, ad-libing about the case, often times wrongly, thereby aggravating the defendant, regularly being quoted calling the former West Memphis police officer a “baby killer”, aggravating the entire West Memphis police force and all the public officials in the city., even though every word of that, was more true than not. After prevailing in writing, at the U.S. District against West Memphis, Trimble then went to the 8th Circuit at St. Louis as the only lawyer for the Plaintiffs and prevailed, only to have the West Memphis defendants appeal that decision to the U. S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Trimble, Bailey, who represented the mother, Deborah Farrow, was in the process of being disbarred for screwing up about 15 separate cases, each one with multiple infractions, and then soon afterwards was disbarred, as the US Supreme Court ruled on the Farrow case, by not accepting the case for review. Trimble, who tapped so much of his legal, emotional and financial resources getting the Farrow case to trial, that he reevaluated whether he should continue to practice law soon after the case was lost. After the army he was Usually hired as a reporter, but, as a photographer he often surprised his editors. He would file his stories, then go into the darkroom, develop and print his accompanying photos, but only if he had not already developed and printed the images at home, and dropped the best ones on the managing editor’s desk on the way out the door. He’d come to work the next day and his photos would invariably be printed on the front page of the Times of North Little Rock, the Ft. Hood Sentinel and others, instead of with his sports story on the sports page. He also sold several freelance articles and photographs to the Alternative Little Rock Magazine, Spectrum. At Fort Hood in 1979 PFC Trimble was given carte blanche, by the staff sergeant asking him, on his first day there. “What story do you want to write?” Trimble replied, “Rufus Thomas is in Concert tomorrow night at the Post Auditorium. I want to write about that concert.” His editor, a 6’4” white, balding, gay, staff sergeant, looked up at Trimble, standing there beside his desk. The staff sergeant was clearly puzzled. “Who is Rufus Thomas?” So that and sports became his beat as well as his own extra-curricular activity, photographing and/or writing about sports personalities and such. He went on to make photographs and sell fine art prints on the website and others, including images of everyday folks as well as celebrities like James Brown. He called his photograph of Mrs. Daisy Bates, publisher of the Arkansas state press and JL Hawkins, a longtime activist and politician, his masterpiece photograph. He continued to make fine art prints, write, and publish short stories on Amazon and other sites right up until his demise. -Don E. Trimble Walk Thru Visitation: Wednesday, 3:00-6:00pm at Robinson Mortuary, LR. Life Celebration: Thursday, 10:00am at Arkansas State Veteran Cemetery, NLR, AR. Services entrusted to Robinson Mortuary, 1201 Dr. MLK Jr. Drive, LR, AR. 501-371-0111. “A Service You Can Trust”