LITTLE ROCK — Jay Dickey, a Republican from Pine Bluff who served in Congress from 1993 to 2001, has died at the age of 77.
Born in Pine Bluff in 1939, Dickey graduated from Pine Bluff High School in 1957. He graduated from Hendrix College and obtained bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Arkansas.
In addition to working in private practice, Dickey served as Pine Bluff city attorney from 1968-70.
Dickey was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, becoming the first Republican elected to represent Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District. He was re-elected three times before being defeated by Democrat Mike Ross in a close election in 2000.
Dickey unsuccessfully challenged Ross for the seat in 2002.
Two provisions in federal law are named for Dickey: The Dickey Amendment, which prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from funding research on gun injuries, and the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from funding research that involves the destruction of a human embryo or the creation of a human embryo for research purposes.
In recent years, Dickey said he regretted sponsoring the provision banning research on gun injuries.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement Friday, “Jay was one of those unique people who loved life and everyone around him. I had the privilege of serving with Jay in Congress, and I have never seen anyone who was so determined to fight for the people in his district.”
The governor said Dickey “made friends easily, and he stuck by them.”
“I played basketball with Jay in the House gym, where, like everywhere else in his life, he was a competitor. He will be missed,” Hutchinson said.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., called Dickey “a devoted public servant who dedicated himself to the people of Arkansas.”
“He loved his state and was an unapologetic statesman who worked for its betterment. Jay was very helpful and kind to me in many ways when I became a congressman. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. Jay left a legacy of faith and example that they can be proud of,” Boozman said.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., also a former 4th District congressman, said, “Jay became a good friend and a trusted source of counsel during my first campaign for his old congressional district. He was a good man and a man of deep faith. Jay was one of a kind and we’re richer as individuals and as a state for having had him in our lives.”
Ross said he first met Dickey 25 years ago, little knowing then that they would later be opponents in two elections.
“Following those elections, we became fast friends and remained so until his passing,” Ross said. “I’ll always remember Jay for his steadfast commitment to the people of Arkansas and this country. We often talked about the issues of the day, but we also talked about our faith. He was a born-again Christian and was very public about it. He was a good man who served our state and nation faithfully. He will be missed.”
U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, said it was “a sad day for our state.”
“Congressman Dickey was a great public servant who made many contributions to Arkansas and our Nation as a whole. I always loved his irrepressible enthusiasm for lower Arkansas, and no one worked harder for his constituents than Jay,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said, “I was extremely saddened to hear about the loss of my good friend, former Arkansas Congressman Jay Dickey. Jay was an Arkansas original who loved the Lord. He was Arkansas through and through, a public servant with a kind and gentle manner. He will be deeply missed by many throughout our nation and state, especially me.”
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Dickey enjoyed nothing more than traveling the 4th District, telling stories and visiting with constituents.
“During his time in Congress, he worked tirelessly to help the 4th Congressional District grow and prosper and to help solve any challenge facing his constituents,” she said. “Jay was a man of deep faith, and I know he met his Lord and Savior when he left us on this earth. May God bring comfort and peace to Jay’s family and friends and all those across Arkansas who loved and knew him.”
Rose Mimms, executive director of Arkansas Right to Life, said Dickey “devoted himself to advancing laws that protect unborn children and their mothers, the medically dependent and disabled, and the elderly. Pro-life Arkansans were proud to call Jay Dickey a dear friend. We will miss his sharp wit, warm smile, and outstanding leadership on behalf of the right-to-life cause.”