Listen to Learn:
First Lady Susan Hutchinson brings to the Governor’s Mansion a lifetime of experience advocating for and working with children.
Immediately prior to assuming the role of First Lady, the former schoolteacher spent several years on the board of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County, one of 16 non-profit Children’s Advocacy Centers around the state that work with abused children. Among other initiatives, Mrs. Hutchinson hopes to see the establishment of more Children’s Advocacy Centers throughout Arkansas.
As Arkansas’s first lady, Mrs. Hutchinson also hopes to inspire educators to incorporate music into the daily lives of students. Ideally, she believes every child should have the chance to learn to play a musical instrument — at least for one full school year. The first lady herself plays the piano and all four of her children learned to play instruments.
Mrs. Hutchinson sees the arts as “brain builders” for children and hopes to advocate for more exposure to the arts in general for students in Arkansas.
Among the organizations with which the first lady is committed to working are the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (she’s served as a member of the ASO guild for several years), the Museum of Discovery and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. In the past, Mrs. Hutchinson has served on regional boards of the American Heart Association and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Susan grew up “as blue-collar as you can get” as the second of seven children. She was the valedictorian of Fulton High School with designs on being a doctor once she attended college at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Instead, after graduation she taught biology and algebra in Memphis, where she maintained a relationship with an ambitious Arkansas man she met in college named Asa Hutchinson.
The governor and first lady have now been married for 45 years. They have four children, six grandchildren and a 10-year-old rescue cat named Snowflake.
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[00:00:08] GM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of FlagandBanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider’s view into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people. Connect with Kerry through her candid, often funny and informative weekly blog. There, you’ll read, learn and may comment about her life as a 21st century wife, mother, daughter and entrepreneur. And now it’s time to get all up in your business with Kerry McCoy.
[00:00:43] KM: Thank you, Gray. If right now you’re sitting at your computer, you might want to watch the show on FlagandBanner.com’s Facebook page. I’m waving at everybody there. It’s kind of fun to see what goes on behind the scenes. This show, Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy began as a calling for me. After four decades of running a small business I felt I had something to share. I wanted to create a platform for not just me but other business owners and successful people to pay forward their experiential knowledge in a conversational way.
Originally, my team and I thought it would be this easy, informative, one hour a week interview, and boy were we wrong. As with every new endeavor, it’s harder than first thought. Once again, I find myself at the onset of starting and running yet another new business, this podcast, and doing exactly what this show is all about; creating business, taking risks, working hard, and yes, sharing knowledge.
After interviewing over a hundred successful people, I’ve noticed a common thread among my guests. It’s no secret they work hard, but I’ve also learned they usually harbor a belief and a higher power, have a heart of a teacher and are creative, because business in of itself is creative.
My guest today checks all the information boxes. Arkansas first lady, Ms. Susan Hutchinson, is a schoolteacher by trade, a piano player by hobby, and an advocate for those without a voice; The Children of Arkansas.
Before we start, I want to let you know, if you miss any part of today’s show or want to hear it again or want to share it, there’s a way, and Gray will tell you how.
[00:02:22] GM: Listen to all UIYB past and present interviews by going to FlagandBanner.com and clicking on radio show or subscribe to our podcast wherever you like to listen by searching Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Also, you may simply like FlagandBanner.com’s Facebook page to watch our live steam and receive timely notifications of upcoming guests.
Back to you, Kerry.
[00:02:46] KM: Thank you again, Gray. Arkansas’s first lady, Ms. Susan Hutchinson, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the second of seven children. At a young age, she was smart and ambitious, having graduated valedictorian of her high school and having lofty goals of one day becoming a doctor. After attending college, Bob Jones University in South Carolina, Susan met a man from Arkansas, an ambitious man named Asa Hutchinson. After graduating college and before moving to Arkansas and marrying Asa, she taught science and match at a high school in Memphis, Tennessee. Mrs. Hutchinson has been a lifelong voice and advocate for children. Today, she’s working hard to establish more children’s advocacy centers throughout Arkansas. In addition, the first lady plays piano and sees the arts as brain builders for our children. She believes all students should have at least one year of exposure to the arts. It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome to the table, the talented and passionate first lade of Arkansas, Mrs. Susan Hutchinson.
[00:03:53] SH: Thank you, Kerry. I appreciate that.
[00:03:55] KM: You’re so welcome.
[00:03:56] SH: You say it so well.
[00:03:57] KM: Oh, thank you. Thank you so much for coming on. You and I met this year, earlier this year, and I said you’ve got to come on the radio with me. You’re just charismatic, and I love being around you. You’ve got a great high energy, but you like to say, and I quote, I read this, you said this, “I am about as blue collar as it gets.”
[00:04:18] SH: Yes.
[00:04:19] KM: What does that mean?
[00:04:20] SH: I didn’t tell my parents that I was involved in politics for quite a few years.
[00:04:26] KM: Why does that make you blue collar?
[00:04:30] SH: My experience with blue collar, whole family, both sides, blue collar, was an immediate assumption that politicians are uppity, think they’re smarter, better than they are because they’re not in politics or not out campaigning for somebody they never have, have never met a politician. I had never met a politician till we moved to Northwest Arkansas and John Paul Hammer Schmidt was in town and they said, “Susan, you drive him to the airport strip,” and wow! I met him.
But hardworking six days a week, working, and dad sold tires real off the back of the truck, and the more tires he sold, the more he made. They were by consignment. So long hours, he’d leave before we did for school and come home after –
[00:05:34] KM: And tires are heavy. That’s hard work.
[00:05:35] SH: Tires are heavy and they’re dusty and it all gets into your skin. It gets into your scalp. It’s under your fingernails.
[00:05:41] KM: I bet he had great arms though from lifting tires all day.
[00:05:44] SH: Yeah, he was strong, and he used that Lava soap, steam shower, on and on and on. It’s just hard work.
[00:05:53] KM: So, your family had a little bit of a distrust towards politicians, because they didn’t know one.
[00:05:58] SH: Well, they didn’t know them, and what they knew about them was what they read about. Newspapers and you only had the three TV stations. That was it.
[00:06:06] KM: And your father sold tires for living. What did your mother do?
[00:06:09] SH: Mom was a fulltime homemaker, but she started work when she was 14. So, she’s hardworking. She was hardworking.
[00:06:20] KM: So, this great ethics.
[00:06:21] SH: Great ethics, hardworking. She had to do that to help support her widowed mother. Her two older brothers had quit school when their father was rundown by a drunk driver, and she was only nine. She was the youngest of the four at home. So, the brothers immediately quit school and they sold newspapers.
[00:06:47] KM: That job is about to be gone.
[00:06:47] SH: They were news boys and whatever other little odds and things they could do to get a little money.
[00:06:55] KM: So, they probably didn’t get a high school degree.
[00:06:56] SH: It was the early 30s. They did not. My mom didn’t get past 8th grade. She went to work. Her older sister had already been starting work at 14. You’re talking $20 a week tops.
[00:07:09] KM: So, your mother had seven children. Are they all as ambitious as you?
[00:07:14] SH: In different ways. There’s a little bit of a business gene I would say that’s in the family. So, they pretty much work for themselves or work with dad. He started a little company. He moved to south of Atlanta the summer I graduated from high school and finished raising my younger brothers and sisters out there. It’s halfway between Atlanta and Athens.
[00:07:42] KM: I don’t know how. If you were living in the country with your parents, you decided, “I’m going to grow up one day and be a doctor,” because I read where you had ambitions to be a doctor. You graduated valedictorian of your class.
[00:07:53] SH: Yeah. Well, I made straight A’s. So, if people said, “Well, what’s your best subject like?” Well, I don’t really have a hard subject, but I just enjoyed everything. I enjoyed learning and I memorized a lot and I was playing piano. Mom insisted on lessons when I was in third grade, 8-years-old, sacrificed to do that. We didn’t go out to eat. If we did happen to go out to eat, it would be like a drive in with carhops, the varsity in downtown Atlanta. But that stopped after the third kid. I mean, we didn’t do that anymore.
[00:08:36] KM: So, your mother must have really believed in music, because you’re describing a family that doesn’t have a lot of money and yet they put money up for piano lessons for you.
[00:08:44] SH: Yeah, mom insisted on that.
[00:08:47] KM: Why is that?
[00:08:49] SH: I asked her that, because it was a sacrifice and I knew it and buying an old piano. That was hard. The first one, the pedals didn’t work and some of the keys stuck. It was hard to learn to play on it, but we did.
[00:09:07] KM: Did all your sisters play?
[00:09:10] SH: The four of us took piano lessons. But when we moved outside of Atlanta, mom had a hard time finding somebody else. I don’t know that the younger ones actually played an instrument.
[00:09:19] KM: I would have felt like that was a lot of responsibility for my parents to make those kinds of sacrifices so that I could play, take lessons, and then I would be like I would feel so obligated to practice and try to do good.
[00:09:30] SH: Right. Then you get the music sheets, sheet music and the books and all that. So, we handed them down as much as possible and that, but I did. After I was getting married, I asked her, “How come?” and she said that growing up, she had this dream that one day she would be able to play a piano and that she would be sitting in a huge black grand piano and playing like Liberace with candelabras and everything. It’s just her private little dream. So, she wanted to us to have a possibility of learning the piano. So, through the years I played at church and helped out in different little –
[00:10:22] KM: Do you still play?
[00:10:23] SH: I still play, but I’m not well-practiced.
[00:10:26] KM: You’ve got to practice the piano.
[00:10:27] SH: You have to practice and keep it all nimble and moving along.
[00:10:30] KM: You sure do.
[00:10:31] SH: But now I play for myself, but we were in small churches pretty much all through the early years of the marriage, and I was the volunteer pianist and I have great memories. Asa would work with the youth and he was doing that even his first year of law school. Going back and working with the youth. All the way from Fayetteville to Gravette, which is a solid hour’s drive in that day. So, he was rather excited. I knew how to play the piano. So, I would play the piano while he led in little courses. He plays trumpet and cornet.
[00:11:10] KM: He does?
[00:11:10] SH: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
[00:11:12] KM: So y’all are a little band. Do your children play?
[00:11:14] SH: Well, I had all of them learn. Three of them learn piano and the boys all learned a horn. Two of them learned trombone and the one learned trumpet.
[00:11:28] KM: So, do you all get together. Do you all play music?
[00:11:30] SH: That would take something for them to get together. I’m not sure they all kept the trombone. But it was important, and I’ve learned since then that learning music early on or at any point in your life is something about – Well, there’s the listening to music, to good music, that does great things for your brain, and actually increases your intelligence and actually stimulates your neurons to grow and connect left brain, right rain. Like 66% of your surgeons are musicians.
[00:12:09] KM: What?
[00:12:10] SH: Yeah, they’re musicians, because especially for men, they’re thinking mono. They compartmentalize and they do that naturally, because the left brain and the right brain is not as well connected as it is in the female brain. It’s totally connected. So that’s the reason we can multitask. So, we listen in stereo. So that’s how you can be holding a crying baby and frying the potatoes, talking on the phone and telling the kids don’t small the door. Yeah, we can do all that. Guys, it’s like just, “Don’t bother me. I’m trying to do this.” How many times have we heard that? So, it’s all natural.
So, it does stimulate the brain. If you’re participating in the music and making the music or clapping with a music or walking with a music or banging on something with the music, that your part of it, it does even more, and it helps people with dementia.
[00:13:07] KM: Really? Even still at my age, if I listen to music, which I do all the time.
[00:13:11] SH: Oh, they perform much. You perform much better. Whatever level you are with the digression of the disease, it helps you to do better than you have been doing.
[00:13:21] KM: Yeah. Okay.
[00:13:23] SH: And there’re other simple little things you can do too, but the music is just – Besides being therapeutic and making you feel better or helping you to express yourself, melancholies, please, you all need to learn an instrument to express yourself and your different moods more melancholy than not.
[00:13:42] KM: You don’t seem like it.
[00:13:45] SH: Thank you.
[00:13:45] KM: You’re welcome.
[00:13:46] SH: You really have to express yourself and you don’t always want to put it in words. So, I would just play different kinds of music to express my romantic side or just energy side or upsetiness or crying side.
[00:13:59] KM: Are your parents still alive?
[00:14:01] SH: Sadly, no.
[00:14:03] KM: I think this is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with Arkansas’s first lady, Susan Hutchinson. We’ll talk about her passion, continue talking about her passions. Helping children, another passion.
[00:14:16] SH: Yes.
[00:14:16] KM: Helping children and the challenges facing her in doing so, and the life and role of a first lady. We’ll talk more about the arts and education in youth. We’ll be back after the break.
[00:14:29] GM: You’re listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of FlagandBanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry founded Arkansas Flag & Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed starting with door-to-door sales, then telemarketing, to mail order and catalogue sales. Now, a third of their sales come through the internet. This past year, Flag & Banner added another internet feature; live chatting.
Over time, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge has grown. As early as 2004, she began sharing her knowledge in her weekly blog. In 2009, she founded the nonprofit; Friends of Dreamland Ballroom. In 2014, Brave Magazine, a biannual publication. Today, she has branched out into podcasts, Facebook Live Stream and YouTube videos of this radio show.
Each week on this show you’ll hear candid conversations between her and her guests about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you’ll find interesting and inspiring. Stay up-to-date by joining FlagandBanner.com/s mailing list. Receive our water cooler weekly e-blast that notifies you of our upcoming guests, happenings at Dreamland Ballroom, sales at FlagandBanner.com, access to Brave Magazine articles and Kerry’s current blog post. All that in one weekly email, or you may simply like FlagandBanner.com’s Facebook page for timely notifications. Telling American-made stories, selling American-made flags, the FlagandBanner.com.
Back to you, Kerry.
[00:16:01] KM: Thank you. You’re listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and I’m speaking today with Arkansas’s first lady, Mrs. Susan Hutchinson, wife, of course, to Governor Asa Hutchinson. Before the break we talked about Susan growing up, blue collar worker. As blue collar she says as it gets. About her family struggles. About how her mother believed in piano lessons and show she wanted to have her dream played out and her children, and so she provided all these opportunities for Susan, which is really sweet.
[00:16:31] SH: I did get close to that dream for her.
[00:16:32] KM: You did? What did you do?
[00:16:35] SH: I got to the mansion and I was approached to collaborate with Maestro Philip Mann to do a little concert on the grounds with the symphony and for me to play the piano with them.
[00:16:51] KM: How scary was that?
[00:16:52] SH: That was scary. It was scary. “No, it’s more of a hobby. I’m not a Tatiana.”
[00:17:00] KM: Did you do it or no?
[00:17:01] SH: I did.
[00:17:02] KM: You did?
[00:17:02] SH: I did it, and I did it for mom.
[00:17:06] KM: Oh! Love that.
[00:17:06] SH: That’s the only reason I did it, I did it for mom.
[00:17:09] KM: San a little prayer to her and give a little point up to her.
[00:17:11] SH: Yeah.
[00:17:12] KM: It’s sweet.
[00:17:13] SH: Exactly.
[00:17:14] KM: Philip Mann is from the Arkansas Symphony.
[00:17:17] SH: Right. He’s no longer there, and we’ve lost him to Texas.
[00:17:24] KM: Hate that.
[00:17:25] SH: I do too. Texarkana. It was just amazing, because we got back to Little Rock about a year or so – David
[inaudible 00:17:36] was still here. I heard that music, and then they went into the search and then Philip came. So, we were there before Philip Mann, and it was just everything you would dream of, the expansion.
[00:17:53] KM: Philip was awesome.
[00:17:54] SH: The Robinson Center, the
[inaudible 00:17:57], and we got all that.
[00:17:59] KM: And Little John.
[00:18:01] SH: The performing arts are even better than ever. They’re not just a symphony. It sounds great. Scening is great. The venue is great. So many more things can happen there now and much more easily. It’s just fantastic. The youth orchestra, expanding elsewhere in the state. All the little river rhapsodies and the little smaller groupings across the city trying to get live music. There’s nothing like that live music and that you just feel it and you’re with it.
Of course, being blue collar, they had a program though and they public schools that they would buzz into downtown Atlanta where the circus performed and have the orchestra there for us. I just fell in love with it, the symphony, and Peter and the Wolf and all these different little pieces they had.
[00:18:56] KM: We had Christina Littlejohn about six months ago, and she could not say enough great things about Maestro Mann.
[00:19:03] SH: I don’t know how we’ll ever get somebody like him.
[00:19:07] KM: Those two were a powerful team.
[00:19:08] SH: Yeah, it was powerful. It was very powerful team.
[00:19:12] KM: So, met you met Asa in college.
[00:19:14] SH: Yes.
[00:19:14] KM: And love at first sight?
[00:19:17] SH: I was taking with him. Great smile, and he was not deterred with the usual romantic busting answers.
[00:19:29] KM: What do you mean by that?
[00:19:30] SH: Guys don’t like to date smart girls.
[00:19:33] KM: Oh, that’s true.
[00:19:35] SH: They’re very intimidating, and I was like, “Man up! Come on!” I mean, sooner or later you’re going to find out. So, I got tired. Nobody in high school asked me out. A couple of guys at church
[00:19:51] KM: Did you know he was going to be a politician. Was he already talking about that?
[00:19:53] SH: Oh, no.
[00:19:54] KM: What did he want to be? What was he thinking I’m going to grow up to be?
[00:20:00] SH: Well, on our second date he told me he had decided that – Well, he hadn’t quite decided. He knew he wasn’t going to be an accountant. He’d done well with his accounting degree, his grades and everything. But he had decided he wasn’t going to do that. But through debate, he had to do research. We were both in debate. That’s significant. There’s reason. I mentioned that. But he had decided not the accounting. So, he told me on that second date he didn’t know if God wanted him to be a lawyer or a preacher, and I’m saying, “Are we talking about the same God?” Because you go back to that blue-collar thing.
Mom told me – Of course, I was nearly born in the church, four, five, six-year-old. I don’t remember ever not be in church, three days a week. She said, “There’re two things Christians don’t do. Two. Besides all the stuff that you read in the bible the preacher talks about and those are you don’t become an attorney and you don’t get into politics, because you’ll come out dirty.”
[00:21:17] KM: Oh my gosh!
[00:21:18] SH: Mm-hmm.
[00:21:19] KM: Did you or Asa’s rebellion?
[00:21:22] SH: No. Not at all. So, he’s telling me this and I’m thinking, “Are we talking about the same god?” Because, again, I hadn’t met any politicians. It’s just what you’d read about and – Oh, Reagan hadn’t come along yet. So, I asked him, “So, what do you do if you’re representing somebody that’s guilty?”
[00:21:45] KM: Yeah, what do you do. I was
[00:21:45] SH: What are you going to do with that? Yeah, I do. He said, “Well, guilty or not, it would be my opinion. But in order for the system to work, in order for there to be justice, you have to have representation on both sides. Otherwise, the justice can’t be served, and you can’t prove somebody guilty. You can’t prove somebody innocent. You have to work the system. So, they would need representation” He would be sure and follow the law and the learn the law. It reminded too and I said, “It’s a God thing.”
He reminded me that God is very serious about justice and that he has enthroned in the Halls of Justice when you read about God and his seating in the heaven, that it’s injustice. It is in the –
[00:22:41] KM: So that’s what you tell to your mother?
[00:22:43] SH: I didn’t tell mom that. I didn’t tell mom that at all.
[00:22:46] KM: You said that y’all being on the debate team was important. Why was that important?
[00:22:50] SH: Well, our paths did not cross – I’ve never seen him before until he sat across the evening dinner table from me six weeks from graduation, our last semester, our last year, and I’ve never seen him before. I’d heard his name. I knew he was in debate because I happen to be the secretary of the intramural debate association on campus. We didn’t debate other college students. We debated amongst ourselves, and each one in the men’s groups, each one in the girl’s groups, had to fill the team for at least three debates. I was the secretary. So, I knew the names on paper, and I knew when all the debates would happen and everything. So, we weren’t having classes anymore together. We wouldn’t have any kind of common classes. All of his would be on one side on the campus with the business, and mine was all in this other building that was all about the sciences, very little crossover on campus.
[00:24:01] KM: So y’all just ended up sitting with each other at dinner?
[00:24:05] SH: No. That’s not allowed. At campus, you had assigned seats, but there was an open seat at my table, and he had to take it because they had shut down his table where his assignment was. So out of 3,000 students, he happened to sat across the table from me.
[00:24:21] KM: And you’re six weeks away from graduating.
[00:24:22] SH: 12 weeks away from graduation and –
[00:24:24] KM: You’re thinking, “Darn!”
[00:24:26] SH: He’s peppering me with all these questions, like, “What’s your goal this semester? Your last semester?” “Straight A’s.” “Oh! What are you majoring in?” “Biology, minor in chemistry.” But he just kept smiling and asking me more questions.
[00:24:44] KM: He wouldn’t put off of by it.
[00:24:45] SH: He wouldn’t put off by it at all and I was really taken with that. I didn’t smile too big though. Then I was just done with trying to find Mr. Perfect. It just wasn’t happening even in a fine institution as that. So, he didn’t follow up with, “Let me walk you back to the dorm,” or anything. I think it’s just crazy.
[00:25:14] KM: How did you get together?
[00:25:15] SH: Well, one of the other people that had to sit at my table knew him. So, I asked him, “What’s with him? He didn’t ask me to – What’s going on?” He said, “Well, he’s actually dating somebody else.” “Okay. Well, what she like?” “Well –” And it just went on from there.
So, every night I was asking him more and more, about Asa, and his background and all. He said, “Well, everybody likes him. He’s been elected twice as president to his men’s group. He works hard. He has a job on campus. It’s a work loan scholarship they would call it.” “Well, what does he do?” “Well, he’s in charge of the cleanup crew. They work late hours and they’re cleaning up the buildings, restrooms, the floors, classrooms.” “Okay. Well, he’s a hard worker.”
[00:26:02] KM: Very.
[00:26:03] SH: And that kind of work is not too –
[00:26:10] KM: It’s not too egotistical.
[00:26:11] SH: No. He’s not. He’s humble. He’s not egotistical at all. Oh! He plays soccer. He’s athletic, and he had lots on that –
[00:26:19] KM: So how does he finally called you? He finally broke up with his girlfriend and called you, I guess?
[00:26:22] SH: No. That didn’t happen either.
[00:26:24] KM: This is the longest story I’ve ever been in.
[00:26:27] SH: We can make a movie out of this character. So, anyway, no contact or anything and it was very restricted on the campus at the time how you could contact with each other. Remember, this is before cellphones, much less, car phones. There weren’t phones in our rooms. It was just public phones and they wouldn’t cross campus. Boys, girls wouldn’t do that.
So, I said, “This is crazy,” and I researched that other girl. She’s not for him. Not for him. She’s not interested in the same things. I’m finding out that he’s interested in, that I’m also interested in.
[00:27:02] KM: She was doing the research. We didn’t even have the internet back then.
[00:27:06] SH: No. I just ask any and everybody. I looked at the schedule of the debates.
[00:27:15] KM: Oh! You showed up for the debates.
[00:27:15] SH: And when they were. So, I showed up for his debates.
[00:27:19] KM: That’s why debates are important.
[00:27:21] SH: That’s why debates are important.
[00:27:23] KM: That took us a longtime to get there, and I love that story.
[00:27:29] SH: But he actually wrote me a goodbye letter that summer.
[00:27:32] KM: Oh, he did? Then you went to Memphis.
[00:27:34] SH: That’s the reason I went to Memphis.
[00:27:36] KM: Why?
[00:27:36] SH: To cutoff the distance between Atlanta and Fayetteville.
[00:27:41] KM: Oh! So y’all had a long-distance relationship.
[00:27:43] SH: So, then I wrote him a letter that, “The Lord’s been working in my life, and I’m Memphis now and I’m teaching this Christian school and you’re welcome to see me.”
[00:27:54] KM: And he did and y’all started along this relationship.
[00:27:55] SH: He said he would, but a month, six weeks later, he still hadn’t done it. This is another long story. Somebody intervened and called him up and put me on the phone and I’m shaking in my boots that I’m going to scare him off. He said, “No. I’ll be there next weekend.”
[00:28:13] KM: Golly! Talk about segmented brains. Asa, you just have to hit him over the head. I’m interested.
[00:28:21] SH: Well, he lit up like a Christmas tree that first appearance I made at the debate, because they were only six people that needed to be there, the four debaters, the timekeeper and the faculty judge. Nobody else has to be there, so nobody else was there. It was not a spectator sport. A debate usually isn’t.
[00:28:45] KM: Well, it was for you.
[00:28:46] SH: It was for me, and I highly recommend it for everybody to learn how to debate and participate in a few little classroom debates.
[00:28:54] KM: Yeah, it’s good for you.
[00:28:56] SH: It really helps you to see both sides of an issue and make your both case, very, very analytical. The researching and the debate for Asa, that’s the reason he was looking at being a lawyer, was through debate. He had researched and had seen the laws and so forth and, “This is really good.” That’s the reason he was torn between the two.
[00:29:19] KM: So, you moved to Arkansas after you got married? When you got married?
[00:29:22] SH: Yeah. After we got married, the honeymoon was driving in a non-air-conditioned car, standard, which I didn’t know how to drive. All the way from Atlanta, all the way up to Fayetteville. That was the honeymoon, in August.
[00:29:37] KM: If you can’t drive a standard, you’re not really blue collar, I have to tell you.
[00:29:40] SH: Well, I learned to drive the standard on the hills of Fayetteville.
[00:29:43] KM: There you go. Did you like living in Fayetteville?
[00:29:46] SH: It was fun, but I had to pray a lot.
[00:29:48] KM: Why?
[00:29:51] SH: A lot of red lights are at the top of a hill.
[00:29:54] KM: Oh, and you’re in a standard.
[00:29:55] SH: And I’m in a standard. If you roll backwards an inch, I thought it was at least a foot and I was going to rear end somebody from the front.
[00:30:07] KM: Somebody need to teach you how to use the emergency brakes and rev the gas and pull the emergency brake.
[00:30:12] SH: Well, I learned how to do that, solve thing with the gas and the clutch and everything. I only burned out one clutch that first year.
[00:30:19] KM: So, when did he decide? Was it in Fayetteville that you decided he’s going to run for office and be a politician?
[00:30:26] SH: No. We had already moved so Bentonville by then. He graduated in two and a half years from law school. So, we moved to Bentonville early and he was apprenticing with Judge Jim Hendren, whose brother had married Asa’s sister. They weren’t quite relatives. Bought a simple little house and had a baby within months of his graduation without insurance within a few months of his graduation from law school, and the baby wasn’t even a year old and the first one and he’s saying, “I’ll join the republican party.” Then they changed the constitution on how our Quorum Courts were set up and how many justices of peace you had, because before – I mean, you could have a hundred plus justices of the peace and that was supposed to be your governing body and all that stuff. So, he said he’s going to run. I said, “Why will you do that?” He said, “Well, it’s new, and they need people to run. It’s a new system.” Okay. So, he ran, and then it was not successful. Then two years later he ran for persecuting attorney. It was an open seat.
[00:31:49] KM: What do you think about him running for office? Were you upset with him?
[00:31:53] SH: No. He was always doing it for the right reason.
[00:31:59] KM: You weren’t like, “Honey! Honey! No. No. We’ve got babies.”
[00:32:02] SH: No.
[00:32:03] KM: My mother said no politicians.
[00:32:04] SH: No. We just about paid out that baby.
[00:32:08] KM: Paid off.
[00:32:10] SH: Yeah. It’s like $30 a month, paying the bill without insurance.
[00:32:13] KM: So, you were okay with that. Then when he decides to run for governor and he’s like, “We’re going to move.”
[00:32:18] SH: Oh, there’s a whole bunch of other runs before that. Remember Mike Ross? He was all constantly reminding me that we had run every decade. Yeah. I was like, “I didn’t need reminding. I’m sorry, Mike. It’s okay.”
[00:32:30] KM: I don’t remember
[00:32:32] SH: Oh, he brought that up that we had run every decade. So that’s the reason you don’t want to vote for him for governor in 2014. We’d run every decade. So, we didn’t.
[00:32:43] KM: For the governor’s race?
[00:32:44] SH: No. For different things.
[00:32:46] KM: For different things.
[00:32:47] SH: So, in the 70s it was Quorum Court and persecuting attorney locally. Then ‘86 was U.S. senate, and Dale Bumpers’ seat. Then ‘90 was attorney general. It was an open seat. The he led the state party for five years, and Huckabee was selected during that time. The big change up. Then in ‘96 he ran for congress and won that and won reelection three times. Then Bush asked him in the middle of the third term of part way through the third term to leave that seat, resign that seat and move over and head up DEA. Then he was on that job for a month when 9/11 happened.
[00:33:42] KM: Oh! I forgot about that.
[00:33:43] SH: Then a year and a half later, they had decided and had passed legislation to start Homeland Security. So, President George W. asked Asa to pass the baton on the DEA administrator and move over to Homeland Security and be third in line to lead it. That’s the reason they call him the first undersecretary. So, you had the secretary, you had the deputy, and then you had Asa. Was third in charge. So, putting that all together, and he absorbed 22 agencies in
[00:34:19] KM: Did you ever see him?
[00:34:20] SH: It was difficult.
[00:34:22] KM: How were the kids?
[00:34:23] SH: The kids were all grown. Two are married. One was out on the zone, just graduated from college. The youngest one had just graduated from high school up at Georgetown.
[00:34:36] KM: Were you living in Washington, D.C.?
[00:34:38] SH: I never lived in Washington, D.C. I’d go up there and visit him. My daughter followed him up and lived with him when he got elected to congress. Just a few months later she finished up her paralegal degree at West Ark, now UFAS. So, she went out there to work, and she lived with him. So, she socialized with him and made sure he got out and everything. Then I would come up –
[00:35:06] KM: Made sure he got out, “Dad, you got to get out and do something.”
[00:35:09] SH: Well, she wanted to go to these things, and he wasn’t going to them. So, she would look and see these invitations. So, she would say, “I’m going. We’re going, dad.”
[00:35:16] KM: Let me tell everybody that you’re listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and I’m speaking today with Arkansas’s first lady, Mrs. Susan Hutchinson. Wife, of course, of Governor Asa Hutchinson. So, I’m not going to go to a break, because we don’t have that many minutes left. Did you miss not teaching school?
[00:35:36] SH: I did.
[00:35:37] KM: Any why did you not become a doctor? What happened? You just decided it was too hard, too many school, too much?
[00:35:45] SH: No. When I met Asa, I had already been accepted at Clemson University for a microbiology master’s degree, at Clemson. I kept pushing on that door and trying to get the funding and trying to get lodging and trying to get communication going and I was calling him and all these. I said, “We’ll just work that all out when you get here,” and all these stuff.
In the meantime, Asa wrote me that second later that summer saying he’s not coming back to South Carolina for his law degree, because we said, “Well, we’ll keep dating.” Because he hadn’t told me he liked me.
[00:36:26] KM: Well, you’d only known each other 12 weeks, or not even –
[00:36:28] SH: Well, six. We only dated for six weeks.
[00:36:31] KM: Yeah. So, it’s still early on.
[00:36:32] SH: I mean, he asked me on April 11th and we’re graduating in May. I mean, there was no time.
[00:36:39] KM: So, you’re probably praying about it and just got this –
[00:36:40] SH: Yeah. Oh, I knew I was in love with him and that I couldn’t tell him that I even liked him, because he’s got to say it first.
[00:36:50] KM: It’s the rule.
[00:36:51] SH: He’d already been burned by one Georgia girl.
[00:36:55] KM: Those are the rules for our generation. You don’t call him, and you don’t say it fist.
[00:36:59] SH: Well, if that’s the way the guys are operating, that’s the way the girls got to operate. So, you kind of have to fine tune that. So, it wasn’t working out, and then he’s –
[00:37:13] KM: It was meant to be.
[00:37:14] SH: Right, it was. Then he wrote me the letter, he’s not coming back. I said, “Oh no!” Because I’m telling myself that I’m marrying you and I’m making a family with you. So, I prayed about it and God reminded me that I’d been offered that teaching job in Memphis and somehow, I’d kept the contact information and I called him, and they still wanted me and so I went.
[00:37:33] KM: So, let’s talk about your advocacy your children, because when I saw you the last time a couple of weeks ago at the First Lady’s Tea and said, “You got to come on the radio with me.” You said, “Oh, please! I want to talk about advocacy for children.”
[00:37:46] SH: Yes.
[00:37:48] KM: There are 16 nonprofit children’s advocacy.
[00:37:51] SH: 17.
[00:37:52] KM: Oh! You’ve founded another.
[00:37:53] SH: We’ve got another base full. The latest, we’ve added Russell Bill and El Dorado.
[00:38:01] KM: What are the biggest challenges?
[00:38:03] SH: Money and corporation with the –
[00:38:08] KM: From who? From the parents?
[00:38:10] SH: No. Well, we mostly get corporation with the parents to bring the children back for counseling. The money, the funding and then cooperation with everybody else, and everybody else on the multidisciplinary team is from the government. The agencies, the investigators, the prosecutors, big. I need their cooperation.
[00:38:39] KM: Do you not have it? She smiles. She’s smiling and she’s not going to say.
[00:38:41] SH: Not 100%. Not 100%.
[00:38:45] KM: So, is it DHS that you work with?
[00:38:49] SH: Yeah. They’re on the team. DHS has their crimes against children. Well, the crimes against children division at state police. They investigate. Then within DHS, you have a division that also investigates. They usually don’t investigate the same. But depends on whoever got pulled into it. But they’re all part of the multidisciplinary team as well as your prosecutor or anybody else in government who is supposed to be helping this child, this victim.
Then it’s us, the nonprofit. The 501(c)(3).
[00:39:27] KM: Which is called the Children’s Advocacy Center?
[00:39:29] SH: Right. They’re called Children’s Advocacy Centers, and some places in the law they were referred to as a child safety center. We’re a safe place for the kids to tell all.
[00:39:42] KM: Yeah, that’s important.
[00:39:42] SH: And they won’t be heard. They won’t be intimated. They’re not in a jail looking at people when scary uniforms with badges and guns. We are not decisions makers as to their future and how they’re being handled. We’re there strictly for the child to find out what all’s been going on. We don’t do an interrogation. It’s an interview. We call it a forensic interview, because we are looking for details. But we don’t have this litany off questions like an interrogation. It’s a conversation, and we know how to talk to children. We know age appropriate things to say to them. What their vocabulary is. What the meaning of every day common words are to them at their development level. I mean, simple words like hard and sort do not mean the same thing to a four-year-old that it does to a nine-year-old.
[00:40:43] KM: Really?
[00:40:44] SH: A four-year-old is going by texture, not firmness.
[00:40:50] KM: Oh, really?
[00:40:50] SH: Yes. They’re going by texture. I did not know this. One of the forensic interviewers told me this. I was, “Oh my God!” There are so many words out there. Well, agents don’t have time to know all these and how all the kids are, and policeman – They’re not really policemen, but they’re trained out of the state police, or division of the state police, but they are not police officers.
[00:41:16] KM: So, if I am a neighbor and I know that my next-door neighbor is abusing a child because I can see it on the child’s face, because you can see children in their faces. They’re just so open and honest about everything. You can in their face that they’re scared or there’s something. What would I do to help the child?
[00:41:32] SH: You can call the local police right away if you’re thinking they’re in immediate danger. I would suggest that. Eventually, the hotline would be called.
[00:41:44] KM: What’s the hotline?
[00:41:46] SH: Well, the simple way to remember it, and this was one of the things the state police agreed to change was to make it easier for the general public is to remember 1-844-SAVE-A-CHILD.
[00:42:01] KM: That’s pretty easy.
[00:42:02] SH: That’s the hotline.
[00:42:03] KM: 1-844-SAVE-A-CHILD.
[00:42:06] SH: Right. Just spell that out. A few extra letters. Don’t worry about it. It will well –
[00:42:10] KM: Yeah.
[00:42:11] SH: It’s a couple of extra letters.
[00:42:12] KM: I was about to say, “That’s too many.”
[00:42:13] SH: It’s too many, but it’s fine. It will roll over to the official numbered phone number.
[00:42:22] KM: It will redirect to the right number.
[00:42:23] SH: Yeah. It will still go to the same operator pool, and they are all together in this room and they have supervisors and they take the information. While you’re on hold, which could be for 30 minutes.
[00:42:40] KM: There’s that many people calling in?
[00:42:41] SH: That’s that many people calling in and that few operators that we’ve funded. We just got extra funding through a TANF grant for there to be more operators, and I think we’re up to four more operators to answer, and it’s 24/7.
[00:42:56] KM: It’s statewide.
[00:42:56] SH: It’s statewide. That number works statewide.
[00:42:59] KM: Is it a free phone call?
[00:43:00] SH: It’s a free phone call, and they take the information what you know. While you’re on hold, you’ll be told the information that’s needed, because you got to have names. You have to have addresses. Whatever particulars you might know, so that they know who it is you are really talking about, and they keep a record of that. So, they can cross reference it in case they get other calls on it. Depending upon what you tell them. What’s going on. They will send out an investigator or not or they’ll cross-reference it and see whatever else has come on it.
[00:43:38] KM: So, before you call 844-SAVE-A-CHILD, you need to get all your information on a piece of paper there, the address, child’s name, probably the age.
[00:43:49] SH: Right. Particulars. Who they’re living with? Just whatever it is that you know so they can identify who it is that you’re talking about. Because if they’re going to send an investigator out to look this situation over –
[00:44:03] KM: And it will be DHS that comes out?
[00:44:06] SH: The hotline most likely would send out the division from the state police.
[00:44:14] KM: Oh, the state – Well, that’s scary.
[00:44:15] SH: When I say state police, it’s not going to be uniformed officer with a guy and a badge. I mean, they’ll have official documentation as to who they are, and they’ll go and see what information they can gather about that.
[00:44:30] KM: Because the children are scared to death of doing anything no matter what their parents do to them, if it is a parent. They still love them. They’re usually frightened a little bit about getting their parent in trouble. So, they won’t confess or tell anybody.
[00:44:45] SH: There’s all kinds of reasons that kids don’t tell. Some people have been known to go to their grave without telling. I know of a case in point where mom did. She actually committed suicide, and this is after her under aged daughter had told her that the grandfather, her mother’s father, had violated her and her mother and her dad wouldn’t believe her. It just kept on that way and finally she recanted. But her grandmother was actually in on it.
Her mom was always suffering depression. Eventually, she killed herself. Stephanie is the girl’s name, and she got the visiting more and more with her dad’s –
[00:45:39] KM: Just to tell everybody you’re upset.
[00:45:40] SH: Her dad’s side of the family, and for some reason confronted in her aunt and said, “We got to do something about this.” So, they had an intervention. The grandfather is a preacher. Okay? So, they have an intervention, “You can’t be doing this. You need help. You need to go to counseling. It’s got to stop.” So that’s what happened.
This is in the state of Georgia and went to the counseling. Counselor’s a mandatory reporter reported. So, you get investigations. Well, Stephanie is now 19. So, she’s going to go talk to the investigator, which is actually a prosecutor deputy. She says something about it and her younger sister is 15. She said, “Well, he was doing that to me too.”
[00:46:30] KM: Oh my gosh!
[00:46:31] SH: Okay. So, the younger sister goes to a CAC, a Children’s Advocacy Center. Talks to a forensic interviewer. It’s all videotaped. It’s all nice and quiet, and nobody is insinuating that she’s done anything wrong or she waited too long to talk or anything or questioning why. Stephanie, she’s over there with the big burly deputy prosecutor and he’s interrogated her, “What all happened? Why didn’t you tell?” and blah-blah-blah-blah.
[00:47:06] KM: The 19-year-old.
[00:47:06] SH: The 19-year-old.
[00:47:07] KM: And the 15-year-old has go a CAC.
[00:47:10] SH: She’s got a CAC that’s handling her as a victim, and the deputy is like, “You could be lying.”
[00:47:19] KM: Oh my gosh!
[00:47:21] SH: So, Stephanie comes out of the prosecutor’s office feeling dirty and trashed, and her younger sister leaves saying she felt like somebody finally believes me and I don’t have to carry this burden anymore and secrets.
[00:47:37] KM: And do they take him out of the home after that?
[00:47:40] SH: Yeah. Right. That’s the standard procedure, sexual – Yeah.
[00:47:45] KM: I don’t know that sometimes taking them out and put them in another homes, not just because you hear about foster parents doing the same thing.
[00:47:50] SH: I won’t go – I’m not well-briefed on all the procedures of the police or if the child’s in imminent danger. They’re going to make an immediate decision. They may arrest – But the child cannot.
[00:48:06] KM: You need to take the man out of the home.
[00:48:08] SH: Well, it can be moms.
[00:48:10] KM: Oh, really?
[00:48:11] SH: Yeah.
[00:48:12] KM: Oh! Why do mothers and grandmothers close a blind eye to that? Because that’s I think almost – Everybody I know that’s been molested, which is one in three women are I think used to be. I don’t know if it’s still that. You’re nodding.
[00:48:27] SH: Well, the numbers had varied from one to four on females before they’re 18. Child suffers sexual abuse of some sort. Then one in six boys by the time they’re 18 shall have suffered likewise. Sexual is the biggie on the abuse – Is the sexual. The sexual is really hard on state agent people to talk about. Nationally, it’s 72 – Well, I’m sorry. Here in Arkansas, 72% is sexual abuse. Physical is 14%.
[00:49:09] KM: Wow! The other I guess would be mental.
[00:49:12] SH: Well, there is emotional abuse that comes into play.
[00:49:18] KM: Why do the parent, mothers, not standup for their children? Is it usually because they’re abused? Is it because they’re afraid of –
[00:49:25] SH: They don’t always standup for the children.
[00:49:27] KM: I mean, why is the person in the room? Why is the other parent in the house allowing this sort of abuse to go on?
[00:49:34] SH: They may or may not know about it.
[00:49:36] KM: Is that true?
[00:49:37] SH: It’s true. They may or may not know about it or if they do, they may be in such a situation, economic situation, or they may be victims themselves.
[00:49:48] KM: Oh, I see. I had a friend of mine, a 65-year-old man tell me just the other day that I have known for 40 years about the sexual abuse that went on in his household. Not to him, but to his brothers and sisters that he did not find out till he was a 50-year-old man. It was the fact that their mother didn’t stand up for them that hurt them almost more than the sexual abuse from their father.
[00:50:14] SH: Right, because silence is condoning. Silence is incorporating.
[00:50:19] KM: That was almost the bigger deal.
[00:50:22] SH: But there’s all kinds of situations. There’s another issue about chronic abuse. Chronic abuse will actually shut down the brain signal to your adrenal glands to kick it into gear, or you can’t go into kind of a frozen state. So chronic abuse shuts down the alarm system. So, to the world you appear that you’re complaisant and going along with it, but you’re really not. Things are frozen up and you’re not in a normal state of response.
[00:50:58] KM: Will you come back and talk some more about this. Our hour is up.
[00:51:00] SH: Absolutely.
[00:51:00] KM: I want to talk more about music. I want to talk – You’re so much fun to talk to.
[00:51:03] SH: Oh! There’s museology. Using music to teach algebra.
[00:51:07] KM: Oh my God! Okay. You’re coming back.
[00:51:09] SH: We just got it started in the Little Rock schools, and it’s sparking off.
[00:51:13] KM: Six months.
[00:51:13] SH: Oh, I don’t have that long. Can we do it tomorrow?
[00:51:16] KM: We could if I wasn’t booked all the way through July.
[00:51:18] SH: Okay.
[00:51:19] KM: This is for you. It’s an Arkansas U.S. flag and Georgia desk set. That’s for your home, for you to put on your desk.
[00:51:28] SH: I’ll take a picture and send it home to my siblings.
[00:51:30] KM: Oh, there you go.
[00:51:32] SH: I love it.
[00:51:32] KM: Thank you so much, Susan, for coming on. I really enjoy talking with you. Gray, who’s our guest next week?
[00:51:38] GM: Next week’s guest is Steve Landers of Landers Automotive Group.
[00:51:42] KM: Oh! It’ll be the second time for him to come on. He’s a character. He’s a kindred soul of mine. But he’s got health issues. So, he’s going to let me know on Monday how he’s doing. He’s had some knee surgeries and stuff. If he doesn’t come on, we’ll just air a rerun of his last show the last time.
I want to say thank you to my listeners. If you have a great entrepreneurial story that you’d like to share, send a brief bio or your contact info to kerry@FlagandBanner.com. To all, thank you for spending time with us. We hope you’ve heard or learned something that’s been inspiring or enlightening, and that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life.
I’m Kerry McCoy and I’ll see you next time on Up in Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:52:25] GM: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today’s show, go to FlagandBanner.com, select radio and choose today’s guest. All interviews are recorded and posted the following week. Subscribe to podcast wherever you like to listen.
Kerry’s goal; to help you live the American dream.