His name is the first that comes to many minds when talking about sports journalism in Arkansas.
“If you kept up with local sports over the last 40 years, David was the guy,” Conway Alderman Andy Hawkins said. “He wasn’t too interested in big picture or Razorback stuff. He was a local guy interested in local people. That’s what set him apart.”
McCollum, whose name has been synonymous with Faulkner County sports for nearly 36 years, died Monday at age 68 after a heart surgery in North Little Rock.
McCollum continued to write for Log Cabin until his death Monday.
During that time, he has interviewed personalities, such as former UCA Bear and six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen, former Wampus Cats, Razorbacks and NFL players Peyton Hillis and Greg Lasker and a host of great Conway golfers who impacted the national stage including Mike Smith, Bryce Molder, Mary Michael Maggio, Summar Roachell and Casey Ott.
He has covered a number of different events outside Faulkner County from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s campaign and inauguration, the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match in 1973 between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King.
“Although readers might think of David as only a sports guy, he was much more than that — not only in his interests, but in his abilities, too,” former Log Cabin Editor and current UCA Journalism Lecturer David Keith said. “I often say, if you are a real reporter, you can cover anything. Not only did David have that ability, but he was willing. I’m sure that if I had needed him to cover some local government board he would have ambled out and done it.
“But his passion was sports, and, as a sports writer, he was unparalleled. He was a true storyteller in his writing. David was a good guy who loved his family and loved his work and was in a perpetual good mood. I couldn’t imagine him doing anything else, and I’m sure he couldn’t either. I’m glad he got to go out this way — doing what he loved right to the end.”
McCollum is survived by his wife Beverly and son Gavin.
Beverly met David on a blind date through friends in 1978, and the pair was married two years later.
Beverly said she loved many stories David wrote, including a story about former Razorbacks basketball coach Eddie Sutton accepting a job at the University of Kentucky.
“I was mad about it, so I said [Sutton] would have done anything to crawl to Kentucky,” she said. “David ended up quoting me in his story. He really has enjoyed covering UCA events and watching Hendrix football come back.”
Beverly said she accompanied David on some trips to cover events.
“I didn’t go to everything with him, but I did go to Bill Clinton’s inauguration with him in 1992,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience. I would go to a few big games, like the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl or the NCAA Regionals in New Orleans. He never wanted to ask about the perks for me. When I would go with him, we would pay for me to go, so if I got in the Cotton Bowl, I would be in the last row.”
Beverly also said David was a man of his word and had a strong work ethic.
“Anytime he wasn’t able to do his work, he felt like he was letting people down,” she said. “He felt like once a commitment was made, he needed to be there. He never missed a day of school from elementary through high school. He was on our human resources committee at church. We had a meeting at church Sunday, and on Friday, after he had been in the hospital all week, he said he thought he could go to that. He just thought if you had a commitment, you should honor it.”
In 2017, David was awarded the “Golden 50 Award” by the Arkansas Press Association for 50 years in the business, covering time as a intern at the Memphis Press-Scimitar, writing about sports at Baylor University, reporting at The Orange Leader in Orange, Texas, working as sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat and finishing a prestigious career as sports editor/columnist at the Log Cabin Democrat.
He accumulated a myriad of awards during his career, which were apparent by his desk at the Log Cabin.
In 2012, he was inducted into the Arkansas Sportscasters & Sportswriters Hall of Fame, and was named 2008’s Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year by the National Association of Sportscasters & Sportswriters.
David’s former colleague and local attorney Beau Wilcox spoke of David as a mentor.
“In over a decade of off-and-on work for the Log Cabin, in a business where cynicism was often as high as morale was low, I was always wowed by David's ability to float above the morass as if it had no effect on him,” he said. “He worked at his craft quietly and eloquently, had a subtle wit and considerable empathy, and was the embodiment of professionalism.”
David will be missed by many, not only for his work, but for who he was as a person.