We are heartbroken to share that our longtime leader Allen Weatherly passed away, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, at the age of 64.
Allen came to AETN in 1993 as deputy director of the network, and became executive director in 2001. He leaves behind a loving family, a dedicated staff and a legacy of more than 36 years in public media.
Allen is survived by his wife Peggy, who he married in 1977; his daughter Lauren and son-in-law Trey and their three children, Logan, Jack and Norah; and his son David. He was also an active member of the First United Methodist Church in Conway.
Of his nearly four decades of work in public media, Allen spent 23 years serving at AETN. He joined our network in 1993 and spent more than seven years as deputy executive director and chief operating officer before beginning his position as executive director in 2001. Allen also served as executive director and board member of the AETN Foundation and, by virtue of his position, was a member of the Arkansas Governor's Cabinet.
"Allen was so much more than just our leader," AETN Deputy Executive Director Tony Brooks said. "He was our friend and a good and decent man.I worked beside this man for 16 years as his deputy director and friend. I know he would want and expect each of us, while we mourn his passing, to continue on with this important mission to which he dedicated his life."
With a special interest in the importance of history, culture and heritage, Allen worked to provide more useful services to the people of Arkansas throughout his career. During his tenure, AETN increased education services to the state - including online professional development for educators, helped produce programming and training for our Ready To Learn service and archived testimonies from Arkansas World War II veterans in the innovative outreach project "In Their Words." The station also won multiple awards for local production, was honored by the American Psychological Association as one of the five best places to work in the United States, and received the Arkansas Governor's Work-Life Balance Award for three consecutive years under his leadership.
Allen was also dedicated to impacting learning and student achievement in Arkansas, both through trusted PBS programs and educational outreach. He often referenced his hero, Mister Fred Rogers, who said, "Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me." The statement is truly a testament to Allen Weatherly's character and heart.
In addition to his service at AETN, Allen was selected as Arkansas Citizen of the Year by Scottish Rite in Little Rock in 2008 and, in 2010, he was elected in a nationwide vote to a second three-year term as member of the board of directors for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). He was a member of the PBS BoardExecutive Committee and chairman of the PBS station Services Committee, as well as a member at large. Allen also served as professional vice-chair of the PBS Board.
Allen served on two Community Service Grant review panels for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and also held leadership positions with the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) and the Organization of State Broadcast Executives (OSBE).
Before joining AETN, Allen worked with Ozarks Public Television in Springfield, Missouri, for 13 years from 1980 to 1993, working his way up from development associate to writer, producer, program host, promotions and communications director, programming director to, finally, senior vice president and director of broadcasting.
Allen graduated from Missouri State University (Springfield) with a degree in history and education. In 1991, he co-authored a memorial history of the Battle of Wilson's Creek and the Civil War in the Ozarks, which has since been cited as a resource for several Civil War histories. He was a newspaper columnist in Missouri and in Arkansas. Allen also served as an adjunct communications instructor at the University of Central Arkansas (Conway) and Drury University (Springfield), where he taught courses on broadcast management and media history.
We at AETN celebrate Allen Weatherly’s life and mourn his passing. His visitation will be held Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, from 5-7 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, Conway. A celebration of Allen’s life will be Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, Conway. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to either First United Methodist Church of Conway or to the AETN Foundation. We invite you to share your memories and condolences for his family in the comment section below.
A Special Tribute to Allen Weatherly From Producer Ken Burns
Allen was a great fan of all Ken Burns' documentaries -- particularly "Baseball" and "The Civil War" -- and always looked forward to working with him at national meetings and special events.
Upon hearing of Allen's passing, Ken wrote the following tribute:
"We are all deeply saddened and stunned by the news of the death of our beloved friend and colleague, Allen Weatherly.
Allen made us in fact what we had always hoped to be: a family. He was able somehow to unite the joyous mission of public media at both its intimate level--in his extraordinary work for the great state of Arkansas and the enduring legacy of service AETN provided to its citizens--and at a broad national level, where Allen reminded us constantly who we were actually serving and to adjust our sights to the highest of professional goals. He made us all better at what we did and sponsored ideas in us that will live on and on.
Allen understood the unique promise of PBS--where we'd been, where we are and where we should be going. But even more than that, he understood the effort required to unite all the disparate elements into a whole that delivered on that promise. We delighted in his enthusiasm, his willingness to help and think outside the narrow local/national, large station/small station tensions that often operate as a drag on our efficiency. He did it with a smile and an aw shucks "country" wink that always masked the fact that he was nearly always the smartest and most prepared person in the room.
We loved and will sorely miss the way he nurtured us, producer and executive and staff alike; the way he gave freely of his experience and expertise; and the way he always shared credit and glory. As bereft as we are, as much as our hearts go out to his grieving family, we are certain that his example will live on--in big ways and small--helping us to negotiate the difficult moments and inevitable triumphs that lie ahead… in Little Rock, in Washington, D.C., indeed, every where his life made a difference in our diverse wide open network.
But because he leaves such a copious vacuum, as a human being and a friend, we find it hard to contemplate our world without him. That vacuum, our loss, can be filled by our recommitment, within ourselves individually and with each other, to the goals he so generously pursued. In that way, he lives with us still, and our hearts are, eventually, healed.
Allen, we miss you so terribly. We vow to endeavor to live up to your model, both professional and human. Thank you, dear friend."