Searcy Loses a Generous Philanthropist
Virginia Letain (Crismon) DeVore was born on February 10th, 1940, and died August 19, 2023. She was the fourth of nine children born to Fred & Geannendle (Rose) Crismon. They lived in a one-bedroom house back in the woods of Attica, Arkansas. When she was five they moved by wagon to a two-bedroom house on a main road. By then there were five children, and the ones who were old enough walked behind the wagon carrying a chicken or a box or leading a cow. At the age of six she started school and walked a mile to the Attica one-room schoolhouse which included grades 1-6. From sixth through twelfth grade she rode the bus to the Maynard School where she enjoyed playing basketball and graduated valedictorian of the Class of ’57.
She received a scholarship to Capital City Business College in Little Rock and started there after graduation. She stayed with a family in the Heights, watching after their children in exchange for her room and board. She could hardly believe her good fortune. At home she had no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing. Her room there had satin curtains and bedspread, central heat and air, and a fireplace. And she didn’t have to share her room with three sisters.
Her first job after business school was a secretarial position at Brandon Wholesale Company, where she later became a bookkeeper. She walked to work and was paid $36/week. She paid $6/week for a room in a boarding house. In 1960 she married Van DeVore and continued to work for Brandon’s until she became pregnant with their first child.
The first house they bought was a new three-bedroom, 1½-bath house which backed up to the Arkansas River and cost $13,500. She worked as a bookkeeper for Little Rock Blueprint Company, Jacuzzi and A. O. Smith. When their daughter was born she quit work except for selling Avon. Of course, she became a top Avon salesperson.
In 1974 her husband transferred with Southwestern Bell to Searcy. She decided to get her real estate license and started selling in 1975. Every year since 1975 she has been a Million Dollar Producer, sometimes five to eight million. She was “Realtor of the Year” in 2001 and received the Arkansas Realtor Leadership Award.
Letain was a member of Searcy First Baptist Church where she taught Sunday School for over twenty years (teens and then preschoolers) and served on three building committees, finance team, trustees and other committees. In appreciation of her contribution to and support of the FBC students, the third floor is named the DeVore Youth Floor.
Not only was she busy raising a family, selling real estate and working in her church, she was also making a difference in her community. She served two three-year terms on the Searcy Parks & Recreation Committee and was instrumental in moving Pioneer Village from the fairgrounds to Higginson Street along with donating an iron fence around the village. She donated the money to purchase thirty acres for what is now the Letain DeVore Soccer Complex. She also donated two lots for the Sunshine School building and another lot for a playground. She purchased some needed equipment for the Searcy Police Department, and a plaque designating her as an Honorary Commander hangs in their building. Letain made significant contributions to the Center on the Square where two of her grandsons participated in the performing arts. A special annuity was given to the Special Olympics. Her generosity will bless others for years to come.
She was a member of the Chamber of Commerce for many years and served on the board four years including one year as president. In the lobby of the Chamber of Commerce Building there is a plaque acknowledging her generous donation which enabled them to complete their building. She was also a part of “225 for the Future.” She has received many awards including a Key to the City, Arkansas Good Neighbor Award, Arkansas Humanitarian Award and Searcy Pillar of the Community.
Letain was the first female invited to join the Searcy Lions Club. That was in 1992, and she was a member for over thirty years. She held every Lions Club office more than once, was a Melvin Jones Fellow and received the “Lion of the Year” award.
In addition, Letain served on the ASU Beebe Development Council, Harding University Development Council, Red Cross Board and United Way Board. She helped develop the Belle Meade Community and built six houses there. She bought and developed South Main Commercial Park and helped build and was part owner of Searcy Funeral Home (until later sold).
In her lifetime, Letain listed and/or sold over 100 million dollars in real estate. If you allowed her to list or sell a house, you had a part in all that she accomplished. She came from humble beginnings, developed an excellent work ethic and was greatly blessed by the Lord. Her legacy lives on.
In addition to her parents, Letain was preceded in death by her husband, Van DeVore, two brothers, Lonnie Crismon and Eddie Crismon, a sister, Edna Phillips and a brother-in-law, Sherwin Wallis. She leaves behind a son, Roger (Kathy) DeVore of Hot Springs, a daughter, Janet (Zach) Devore-Benight, three grandchildren: Dustin DeVore, Jackson Benight and Jordan Benight, two step-granddaughters: Ashley (Jonathan) Hodges and Allison Quattlebaum, one great-grandson, Braxton DeVore, and eight step-great-grandchildren: Caleb, John, Riley, Gabe, Logan, Peyton, Kinsie, Camden and Navie. In addition, she leaves a brother, Bill Crismon, four sisters: Mary Crismon, Alene (Clifford) Gaus, Linda (J.D.) Stake and Betty Wallis and a brother-in-law, Carl Phillips and sister-in-law, Cuca Crismon. She also leaves many extended family members and friends.
If you knew Letain well, you know that she enjoyed sparkly clothing, so grab your bling and join us for a celebration of a life well-lived at Searcy First Baptist Church on Saturday, August 26th at 10:30 a.m. Visitation with the family will be in the Family Ministry Center following the service.
In lieu of flowers, we suggest a donation to the Sunshine School (a K-12 private school for individuals with disabilities, PO BOX 831, Searcy, AR 72145).
Arrangements are being handled by Searcy McEuen Funeral Home.