The Bess Jenkins Club met Nov. 8 at Pine Bluff Country Club. The meeting was called to order by President Lela R. Murray.
Two guests were introduced, Frances Moore of Hot Springs and Jeff Watson of Little Rock. Connie Kitchens, treasurer, gave the treasurer’s report. Murray thanked the hostesses: Susan Westfall, Pam Ratliff, JoAnn Clemmons and Betty Jean Hutt.
Norma Caldwell, program chairwoman, introduced the guest speaker, Willie Allen, a former United Press International photographer who began his career working for the Arkansas Gazette during the Central High School integration crisis.
He also covered the 1960 Democratic Convention for the Gazette. Later, he was hired by the UPI and sent to Austin, Texas, where he covered Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. His coverage also included all major sports and news stories at the University of Texas, as well as, all major news stories from Austin to Houston, according to a news release.
Allen was later assigned to the Dallas Times Herald newspaper where he covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. In 1967, he moved to Little Rock where he started his own business, the Dunhan/Allen Photography, where he did film, video, and advertising photography.
Allen’s program on the Kennedy Assassination was a part of the club’s theme for the year, “Historical Events Which Influenced and Changed America.”
“Allen said the assassination changed the way security was handled for the President of the United States. He said the event shocked the nation and its citizens,” according to the release.
“Allen told many interesting stories of his coverage of Vice President Johnson and the assassination of Kennedy. He had many original and unusual photographs that he had taken during his time in Dallas, and told how many of his photographs appeared on the front pages of newspaper from all over the country. As a UPI photographer, he had passes to many behind-the-scenes areas, including back stage at the Democratic Convention in 1960, where President Kennedy was nominated. When he went back stage, he ran into ‘the Rat Pack,’ which included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Dean Martin, who were all friends of Kennedy,” according to the release.