From the Archives: Former Maumelle Mayor Ken Lamastus dead at 73

This week, seven years ago, the Maumelle Monitor published the obituary of former Maumelle Mayor Ken Lamastus. It was written, in part, by his close friend, the late Bill Lawson, who was editor of the Monitor then.

Ken Lamastus

Kenneth (Ken) Larry Lamastus, 73, of Maumelle died on Tuesday, December 9 at his Maumelle home after a lengthy battle with cancer. He leaves his wife, Quy Nguyen Lamastus and two sons.

He served as mayor of Maumelle from 1997 to 1998 and served on the city Board of Directors from 1995 through 2001 and was instrumental in changing the form of government to a mayor/city council form.

Born in Harrisburg, Ken was raised on a cotton and soybean farm just outside of Harrisburg where he attended high school. As a youngster he worked in the family’s country general store and even drove a school bus while he was still in high school. In high school the late Dr. Joe Verser who operated a hospital there, took an interest in Ken and encouraged him to attend medical school to become a physician. Ken did begin a career in medicine but not as a physician. He and Dr. Joe as Ken and most of Arkansas called him worked together for the next 40 years as Dr. Verser was secretary of the Arkansas State Medical Board during that time and the two Harrisburg men often worked together on legislative and regulatory issues.

Ken was so proud of his small hometown of Harrisburg and often returned for reunions or to visit family and friends. His family still publishes the weekly “Modern News” newspaper there the family began nearly a century ago.

The LaMastus family farm was east of Crowley’s Ridge and often suffered through local flooding, not to mention the gigantic flood of 1927 and 1937. He not only kept in touch with those relatives and friends but worked on his family tree and discovered family around the country. He also embraced Quy’s Vietnamese roots and family and loved visiting relatives in China, North Vietnam, Japan and France. As the spouse of the oldest child, Ken accepted the traditional Vietnamese role of “Honorable Oldest Son” and as such other members sought out his approval and support for life decisions such as marriage.

After high school, Ken worked as a lab technician at Lee County Memorial Hospital in Marianna.

Ken attended Hawkins Medical Laboratory School where he earned a medical technician’s certification and he returned to the Lee County hospital where he worked as a technician.

Ken decided to go back to college and attended ASU receiving Bachelors in Business Administration in 1969 while working at St. Bernard’s Hospital as a medical technician. The next year he received a Masters in Business Administration from Central Missouri State University where he worked as a graduate assistant.

In 1970 he began teaching economics and finance at the Tennessee Technological University.

After two years of teaching Ken returned to Lee County Memorial Hospital as the hospital’s administrator until 1976.

That year he joined the Arkansas Medical Society as assistant executive vice-president and stayed there until he retired in 2005.

In 1986 Ken became executive vice-president of the Arkansas Medical Society, a position he held for 20 years.

He was the medical community’s chief spokesman and lobbyist in that role testifying both before the Arkansas General Assembly and Congress on medical issues.

In addition to serving on the Maumelle Board of Directors he also served on the city’s Civil Service Commission including a term as chairman.

Ken was a member of the Arkansas Society of Association Executives and served as president and was recognized as the winner of the Ken Graves Award.

He was also past president of the Lee County Jaycees and received the organization’s Key Man Award.

Ken was also chairman of the Northeast Arkansas Hospital Council, vice-president of the East Arkansas Regional Mental Health Center, vice-chair of the East Arkansas Health Advisory Council and vice-chair of the Arkansas Emergency Medical Services System.

He also served as secretary treasurer of Delta Hills Health System Agency, secretary treasurer of Lee County Human Services Corporation, a board member of the East Central Arkansas Economic Opportunity Corporation and a board member of Marianna Lee County Chamber of Commerce.

As one of Maumelle’s earliest settlers, Ken enjoyed participating in local politics, visiting with friends here and when he and Quy built their new Oriental Style home on the Arkansas River, Ken loved showing it off, cooking for guests and taking them for excursions in the Arkansas River’s Rector Brake. He was an avid fisherman, gardener and loved landscaping his new yard, especially the sloping side down to the river and his boat slip. An avid history buff, Ken loved reading and spending time with his beloved dog Masako.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests that memorials may be made to the Arkansas chapter of the American Cancer Society or to the American Heart Association’s Arkansas Chapter.

Ken is survived by his wife Qui and two sons, Shawn LaMastus and his family, of Fort Smith and Austin McClure, of Overland Park, Kansas.

Visitation and the Rosary is scheduled for Monday, December 15 from 1 to 2 p.m, at Christ the King Catholic Church, 4000 North Rodney Parham Drive in Little Rock to be followed by a Special Funeral Mass at 2 p.m. Rev. Bac-Hai Viet Tran, pastor of St. Agnes Church in Jefferson, Louisiana will officiate in all services and he reminded that non Catholics are welcome to participate and encouraged to pay their respects to this fine man and his family by attending all services.

Internment will follow in Riverwood Memorial Gardens in Maumelle under the direction of Roller Chenal Funeral Services.

Honorary Pall Bearers:

Ferrel Gresham

Roger Frangieh