Richard C. Pillsbury

October 21, 1945November 21, 2020

If you had to bet on one thing, you could always bet on Dr. Richard Curtis Pillsbury, Sr. to be ready to tell you a joke. He often began conversations with “so, have you heard the one about…,” and, even if you had heard that one, you said “no” to hear it again with his perfect delivery and then deep, rolling belly laugh. It wasn’t only his jokes he was known for; he could masterfully tell a story or relay what happened in an evening in a way that could captivate any audience.

He was known by many as Dr. P., but that was one of many nicknames he had. Born in 1945 to Jane and Robert Pillsbury, he was known as “Dick” until middle school. There, three other “Richards” had that nickname, so the teacher assigned new ones. He went by “Rick” from that day on.

The oldest of four, he and his two brothers, James and Robert, and one sister, Patricia, grew up on military bases from Panama to Pennsylvania and dozens of places in between.

He received a football scholarship to the University of Maryland, where he spent his freshman year studying abroad in Germany. He traveled throughout Europe and Western Africa during his time abroad. He returned to the U.S. and suited up for the Terrapins football team, only to have his playing career cut short by a young Larry Csonka. He often joked how it was like being hit by a freight train. He finished that semester in the hospital with massive knee injuries.

He transferred to Trinity University in San Antonio, where he not only earned dual degrees in history and biology but met his future wife, Janey Stuart, whom he married in 1970 as a young medical student at the University of Texas, San Antonio. He often said he was attracted to her femininity and strength. She quickly learned never to let him fix appliances.

Following in the footsteps of many generations of Pillsbury Army doctors, Rick was commissioned into the U.S. Army, which paid for medical school. An internship in El Paso was followed by a residency at Walter Reed in Washington, D.C. It was there that the first two of three children were born, Kimberly and Richard, before a move to Fort Campbell in Kentucky, where he was the only ENT for 150,000 troops.

Fresh out of the Army and board certified in Otolaryngology, the then family of four settled down in El Dorado, Ark., and became a family of five after Megan was born. It was there that Rick – with Janey managing – opened his medical practice and, for more than 30 years, treated approximately 50,000 patients’ ears, noses and throats. He quickly gained a reputation across the region as a master diagnostician.

He also completed a stint as the Medical Center of South Arkansas’s Chief of Surgery and was a member of several professional organizations, but he made coaching countless softball, soccer and T-ball teams and supporting two daughters through more than 15 years of dance recitals a priority. He was front and center at almost every game, spelling bee and cheerleading competition.

Toward the end of his career, he added a new nickname to the list: “Babbo.” It’s Italian for “father” and the name he earned when he became a grandfather to the first of four grandchildren.

An interest in art and painting also emerged later in life, but it wasn’t until after retirement that he started honing those storytelling skills further and crafted what would become his recently published novel, The Time-Traveling Texan.

Rick is survived by his wife of 50 years, Janey, and their three children and spouses: Kimberly Pillsbury Steele and Nelson Steele; Richard C. Pillsbury, Jr. and Sarah Donley Pillsbury; and Megan Pillsbury Hollis and Ryan Hollis.

He is also survived by his younger brothers, James Pillsbury and Robert Pillsbury, and sister, Patricia Pillsbury Truitt, as well as four grandchildren: Joseph Richmond Pillsbury, Serena Blaine Pillsbury, Charlotte Ryan Hollis and Greyson Stuart Hollis.

Devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, avid joke and storyteller, loyal friend and trusted physician, it is no doubt that the world is less of a joyful place now that Rick Pillsbury is gone. He will be greatly missed.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please make a donation in his name to Life Touch Hospice in El Dorado, Ark., or the Sarah Cannon Fund at American Cancer Society in Nashville, Tenn.



No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
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Richard C. Pillsbury

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Pat Seybold

November 30, 2020

While I did not know Rick well I did enjoy the brief times we spent together. Janie and Rick where made for each other. Rick always made me laugh. While my father was ill I spent a great deal of time in El Dorado. Rick was kind enough to allow me to receive my allergy shots in his office. His daughter Megan saw me weekly and gave me my shot. While I waited my 20 minutes to see if there would be a reaction to the shot, I felt like I was observing a fun loving family in action. I always left the office feeling happy. Thank you also for allowing me to be apart of your family through your mother in law. I know you took exceptional care of her. While I no longer travel to El Dorado, I think of you and your family often. Love to your wonderful family. They will be held close to my heart today and always.

Beverly Zimmerebner Knapp

November 30, 2020

Dear Pillsbury’s,
I love each of you and maybe even loved Rick a little bit more! He was a larger than life presence in the most loving community on the planet and will be missed and remembered by all who knew him.
So many wonderful memories of Rick from the golf course to working in his office and becoming part of the family! Oh how I miss those days, especially Ama!
However, one of me fav memories was when he was the sideline doctor during EHS football games. I used to tease him asking how often there was an emergency ear infection during a game. Then...lo and behold... one of Mollie’s co-cheerleaders had a moth dive bomb into her ear! Rick was quick to get her to the office and remove the moth (that had already laid eggs in her ear!😳). Guess that shut me up!
I will always smile when in think of him...Rest in peace and love my friend.

Robert Trammell

November 29, 2020

Janey, Kimberly, Richard, Megan, and family of Rick's,

I am sorry for your loss of Rick/Dad. He was so grateful for you and your extended family, which included all the El Dorado friends. He was a good, cheerful man, personally kind. Bob Trammell - Little Rock

Aline Pepper

November 28, 2020

Dr. P will certainly be missed. I learned so much while working next to him at his clinic and MCSA. He IS w/o a doubt "living the dream" as he so many times would respond when ppl asked how he was. May God bless and comfort Janey, Kimberly, Megan, Richard, their spouses and his beautiful grands. And may your fond memories bring each of you comfort during this difficult time. Much love to you all.💞

Karen and Pat Howard

November 28, 2020

Sending love and prayers for comfort and strength to you all.

Karen and Pat Howard


November 25, 2020

Janey, Kimberly, Richard, and Megan, as well as family friends who's life Rick touched for decades,

Oh how we all loved Rick. I cannot imagine a world without him in it, but know he is having a great time telling his stories and jokes in his new home.
Thank you for writing such a wonderful eulogy. Now I know the real story of that knee and not just "oh I played a lot of football". We struggled getting around that knee injury at the gym. I'm surprised with him being the great story teller, that he never shared the how or why his knee wouldn't cooperate with us. Heaven gained a precious soul when he arrived.
Please know that this girl is praying for all of you during this difficult time and all throughout the holiday season.

Deanna Hopson

November 25, 2020

I have never forgotten Dr. Pillsbury coming out in his waiting room and holding our toddler so I could finish the paperwork for her big brother. It was our first visit, he didn't know me. It was special. I always knew I could call him with any questions about patients and he was generous to help when seeing our uninsured patients from Interfaith clinic. He was a special man and a great doctor. We have missed him.

Mary Scott Post

November 24, 2020

My sincere condolences to all the family, may you find comfort in each other & the many friends, acquaintances and the many people whose life he improved or changed as a healthcare provider.
For his patient’s, he went above and beyond & it was really appreciated. It was my hope that he would have a long & happy retirement.
It was obvious that he really loved his final role as a grandparent.
He will be missed

Catherine Quina

November 24, 2020

My family and And his family were neighbors for years he was our family doctor and his family Will remain in our hearts you will be missed

Jessamyn Forbess

November 24, 2020

Dr. Pillsbury was a local treasure. When I was growing up he was always there to help treat my ear infections. I was a shy child but Dr. Pillsbury always made me feel so at ease and made me smile with all of his jokes.


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