United Way of Union County executive director Alexis Alexander passed away unexpectedly at 50 on Saturday.
Alexander was an active member of the El Dorado community and championed local causes within her work with the United Way, helping to fund and support numerous local nonprofits and spearhead causes such as the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Alexander was also involved in the community outside her professional work including as an El Dorado Rotary Club member and former officer, in local government as a member of the El Dorado Parks and Playgrounds Commission and as secretary/treasurer for El Dorado Crimestoppers, among other positions.
Thanks in part to Alexander's leadership, the United Way of Union County through its annual campaign raised $1,289,148 in 2022-23, a continuation of a yearly tradition of raising over $1 million to help fund the organization's local partner agencies, such as the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, HOPE Landing and many others.
According to previous News-Times reporting, the Shreveport, LA native moved to El Dorado in 1996 and was involved with the United Way for over a decade. Before her work with United Way, she worked as a journalist (including at the News-Times), in marketing and at the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce. The Louisiana State University alumna (and avid Tiger fan) was known also as a music lover, an animal lover (particularly of dachshunds) and, overall, as a tireless advocate for her adopted community of El Dorado.
Alexander could even be found organizing community events in unexpected places and ways, such as putting together a watch party in May as a 300-ton kiln made its way through Union County and taking Spudnut donuts to the transporting crew.
Saturday afternoon, an impromptu community memorial gathering was held at the Mahony Family Library for friends and community members to grieve and remember Alexander.
Shortly after 4 p.m. a small crowd had already gathered at the library.
"Alexis had a way of bringing people together and I think this is evidence of that," said former El Dorado Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer, who led a community prayer during the gathering. A second gathering of friends and community took place at the Haywood Hotel in El Dorado on Sunday.
As further evidence of that statement, dozens of tributes to Alexander from friends and well-wishers flooded social media beginning on Saturday.
"Words can't express her impact in this community. We served on the Parks and Playground Commission together. She helped me navigate my term as Rotary president. She was involved in so many SHARE coalitions. There is a real void now in the community. I loved her sarcasm and dry humor. She could always be counted on and was the real deal all around. She will be sorely missed. A community grieves her loss," wrote Dr. Brian Jones, president/CEO of the SHARE Foundation.
Several local organizations also took to social media to pay tribute to Alexander.
"Her efforts with the United Way have allowed us to make a huge impact with thousands of children in Union County. She was a true community leader and will be missed by so many. We love you and appreciate all you did for our organization, Alexis," read a tribute posted by the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado.
Main Street El Dorado echoed this sentiment.
"Saddened by the news of our friend Alexis Alexander passing today. A few hours in shock and still seems like a bad dream. She was a friend to this community and she will be missed dearly. Always up for any shenanigans we could think of, [she] would volunteer from beginning to end and [was] just such a great human, a bright light and gave others strength even if she didn't know it," the organization posted.
Other tributes were simply posted by friends, even those who had not met Alexander in person.
"A friend I never met in person passed away this weekend and it has hit me harder than I might have imagined... A few have called her El Dorado's greatest cheerleader. Excellent description. Alexis was always promoting and celebrating others. I never got any impression that she wanted any of the spotlight. She was always shining it on someone else," wrote Todd Turner.
Others were posted by friends involved in the many community projects in which Alexander took part.
"Like everyone else who knew her, I am in complete shock over the loss of one of my heroes, Alexis Alexander. Besides her devotion to United Way, she supported other nonprofits in our community like #teamcorrie. ... [S]he was always there showing her love and support for her friends and her community. The world needs more people like Alexis," wrote Sandy Gross.
"We have lost the heart of this community. Alexis Alexander not only lived her life to the fullest, but just by the force of her presence, those around her -- or simply observing her -- lived our lives to the fullest," wrote Sherrel Johnson.
Details for memorial and funeral arrangements are forthcoming early this week, according to a source close to the planning process.
A service of celebration and joy will be led by Salvation Army Major David Robinson at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, August 2 at the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, 100 W. 8th Street. Services will be live streamed from the Murphy Arts District’s Facebook page.
Share your memories with and tributes to Alexis with us at eldoradonews.secondstreetapp.com/Remembering-Alexis-Alexander.