James Toler “Jim” Harvey, 72, of Little Rock, retired Chief Executive Officer of Central Arkansas Water and a Jackson County Farmer, died Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.
Jim was born Dec. 13, 1939, in Swifton to Joe and Thelma Harvey. He is survived by his loving wife of 50 years and best friend, Linda Allen Harvey; daughters, Gaye Collins (Jan), and Jamie Harvey, of Little Rock; grandchildren, Cody Harvey Cortinez, Keifer Collins, and Cheyenne Collins; sister, Linda Norris of Swifton; and a host of friends and colleagues. He was preceded in death by a son, Greg; and his parents. He was a member of Pleasant Valley Church of Christ. Jim was CEO of the Little Rock Municipal Water Works from 1996 through 2001 and CAW from 2001 until his retirement in April 2007. When the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock merged their municipal water systems in 2001, they turned to him for his expertise in utility and business management. At the helm of the newly-consolidated utility, Jim spearheaded a seamless transition to merged operations, human resources, and finances that included assets of $225 million and a service area encompassing 360,000 consumers in 15 cities and communities. Known for a strong sense of community and devotion to family, Jim was a living example of selflessness and following the Golden Rule. He left every situation or place better than he found it, including the lives of people around him. He had an executive leadership style that balanced accountability with compassion for employees and customers. Jim’s career was dedicated to public service and specifically the protection of public health. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17 and served with the 11th Marines, First Marine Division, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. from 1957-1959. After being honorably discharged from military service, he returned to his hometown of Swifton. He met the love of his life, Linda Allen, who lived in nearby Alicia. They married Dec. 26, 1961. Their family grew to include Gaye, Greg and Jamie. While a dispatcher with the Arkansas State Police troop at Jonesboro, Jim enrolled in Arkansas State University. He earned a masters degree in chemistry in 1971. He accepted the job as chemist with LRMWW in June 1971 that led to a 35-year career. By this time, he had earned a reputation as one of the top water quality experts in North America and had been instrumental in the development of an internationally-accepted comprehensive training program entitled “Principles and Practices of Water Supply.” Jim took his responsibility for the metropolitan area’s water supply and public health very seriously and respected the importance that planning, as well as, infrastructure and operational integrity, played in assuring reliable and high-quality drinking water. At his direction, the utility stayed a step ahead of compliance with increasingly stringent standards of the Federal Safety Drinking Water Act and kept pace with the metropolitan area’s increasing demand for water, even in times of emergencies or system difficulties. He was proud of the community’s plentiful and quality water supply and the instrumental role he had in maintaining it. To safeguard the community’s assets, he introduced the utility’s first water conservation and watershed protection initiatives. The watershed protection initiative led to a fierce but victorious battle during the 2005 session of the Arkansas General Assembly. To educate stakeholders, he carefully outlined the multi-barrier approach that is necessary to ensure high water quality. The result was a broad coalition of elected officials, water utilities, community and business groups, property owners, environmentalists, and recreationists that came together to defeat proposed legislation that would have restricted the authority of public water suppliers to protect drinking water sources. Many people credited Jim for the expertise, credibility, and integrity that he brought to the proceedings. He credited the community for its commitment to a safe drinking water supply. Equally as selfless in leading a team of almost 300 utility employees, he always greeted each employee by first name and with a smile and firm handshake. He stressed the rewards of both professional and personal development and he ensured there was no semblance of a glass ceiling that might have limited opportunities for employees in his administration. For employees who had not finished high school, he provided the opportunity for them to earn a General Education Diploma. For employees who had a high school education, he encouraged them to pursue their college studies with the assistance of the utility’s tuition reimbursement program. He set a standard of excellence in service to customers and shared a mutual respect with employees. He fostered and shared his philosophy of teamwork in a multi-session course that he was instrumental in developing for utility employees. He was very visible in the community and among employees at the utility’s seven operations sites. On occasion, customers participating in consumer research or calling in to the utility about an issue would mention him by name. For his outstanding contributions, the utility’s headquarters in downtown Little Rock is named in his honor – the James T. Harvey Administration Building. Under his leadership, CAW earned an America’s Crown Community Award from American City & County Magazine and the National League of Cities for the exemplary success and regionalism concept of the water utilities consolidation. The utility also earned the Gold Award for Competitiveness Achievement from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the Environmental Excellence Award for Public Water Supply from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For his instrumental role in the success of the water utilities merger and regionalism initiative, Jim was honored as Chief Executive Officer of the Year by Arkansas Business Publishing Group. Jim’s service to the drinking water industry included advising small water systems and serving in numerous officer and instructor capacities on the district, state, regional, national, and international levels. He championed professional training and certification for utility managers and operations and distribution personnel and was instrumental in expanding and strengthening such programming and opportunities for them. During his career, he served with the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and served as National Director of the Southwest Section of the American Water Works Association and Trustee for AWWA’s Water Quality Division. He chaired AWWA’s International Water Quality Conference and served as a member of the Disinfection Committee, Education Committee, Energy Management Committee, Taste and Odor Chemical Standards Committee, and Standard Methods Review Committee. On the regional level, he served in the offices of Arkansas Trustee to the Southwest Region, Section Chair, and Section Vice Chair and served as a member of the Audit Committee, Program Committee, Education Committee. He also was Local Host Chair for the annual conferences of the Southwest Section in Little Rock. He served 10 years as a member of the Arkansas Advisory and Water Operators Licensing Committee and served in all major offices of the Arkansas Water Works & Water Environment Association and the Central District – AWW&WEA. He was a past president of the Arkansas Water & Wastewater Managers Association, past member of the group’s Education Committee, and a charter member of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Instrument Society of America and was a past member of the American Chemical Society, American Society for Training and Development, and North American Lake Management Society. As an active member of the water utility industry, he stressed preparation in the sense of leadership and management skills and certification for employees. Other memberships during his career included the Ceremony Committee for the Arkansas Vietnam Veterans Memorial Dedication, Camp Robinson/Camp Pike Community Council, Razorback Detachment of the U.S. Marine Corps League, West Little Rock Rotary Club, Little Rock Metro Rotary Club, Pulaski Technical College Advisory Board, and the boards of directors for the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. He worked to improve opportunities for young people across the state and in our metropolitan community through Rotary International’s District #6150 Youth Drug Abuse Prevention and Education Program and the Greater Little Rock Youth Leadership Institute. After retiring from CAW, Jim enjoyed traveling with Linda and spending time with the children and grandchildren, who affectionately referred to him as “Jim-I”. He organized CCK Management, Inc., an executive management consulting business that bears the first initials of his three grandchildren, Cody, Keifer, and Cheyenne, and oversaw his family’s farming operation in Jackson County. His continued civic involvement included the Rotary Club of Little Rock, Pulaski Technical College Foundation Advisory Board and Arkansas Military History Foundation Board, MacArthur Military History Museum Commission. He was a supporter of the annual Marine Toys for Tots Little Rock campaign and for his quiet time, he ran Pinnacle Mountain, having been up and down the mountain more than nine thousand times. During his lifetime, Jim received numerous awards and honors that included Arkansas Water Manager of the Year, Arkansas Conservationist of the Year, Arkansas Senator Jim Argue Distinguished Leadership Award, Southwest Section-AWWA Glen T. Kellogg Leadership Award, induction into the Glen T. Kellogg Water & Wastewater Hall of Fame, AWWA’s George Warren Fuller Award for the Southwest Section, Honorary Member Award, Life Membership Award, and Diamond Pin Award, Financial Manager of the Year, Rotary International’s Distinguished Service Award and Outstanding Rotarian Award. He also was a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. Jim was a remarkable man who had a rewarding earthly journey and enjoyed a successful business career. He was quick to note that the achievements in his life were not his work alone. He credited many people for their help and guidance along the way. His greatest source of support was his wife, Linda, who he often said was the “wind beneath my wings.” Jim’s legacy is in the difference that he made in protecting public health and improving the lives of people around him. In his business life, he clearly understood the difference that quality drinking water made in public health and utilized his expertise to making sure that people across our nation had access to safe drinking water. In his personal life, he always took compassion a step further by lending a hand and looking beyond human differences. We love you, Jim. Your smile and contagiously positive attitude are missed. We thank God for the blessing of having you in our earthly lives and eternally in our hearts. Thanks to the medical staff of Baptist Health Medical Center, ICU-South. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Little Rock Police Helicopter Fund. A celebration of Jim’s life was held at 2 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, at Pleasant Valley Church of Christ in Little Rock, with Mr. Nick Hamilton and Mr. Danny Burleson officiating. Arrangements are by Roller-Chenal Funeral Home. Harvey extended credit for his slate of achievements and the strength of his service to many individuals who have had a role along the way. “None of us is where we are because of what he had done alone. I owe many people for their help and guidance but none more than my wife, Linda Allen Harvey,” he confided. Online guestbook: www.rollerfuneralhomes.com/chenal