501 Life Magazine | 10th anniversary: A look back at 501 LIFE
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10th anniversary: A look back at 501 LIFE

It’s been 10 years since 501 LIFE launched its first edition, which featured a nighttime photo taken in Downtown Conway.  

“We had many conversations with our editorial board about what the magazine would look like and what it wouldn’t,” said publisher Sonja Keith. “We considered several different ideas but settled on the downtown image for the first image – it was where our business started and the magazine began so it was an ideal choice.”

The Faulkner County Editorial Board was “Loving LIFE”: Monica Lieblong (seated, from left), Deanna Ott, Margaret Smith, Beth Franks, Amy Reed, Jan Spann; Julie LaRue (seated, back); Donna Spears (standing), Lori Ross, Pat Otto, RaeLynn Callaway, Don Bingham, Johnny Adams, Jerry Hiegel, Jack Bell, Jon Patrom, Glenn Crockett, Roe Henderson, Tom Keith, Kiera Oluokun and Sonja Keith. Not pictured: Kay Dalton, Spencer Hawks, Mathilda Hatfield, Mike Kemp, Karl Lenser, Lori Melton and Jennifer Whitehead. (Mike Kemp photo)


Since then, the cover of 501 LIFE has seen a wide range of images – from sunrise atop Petit Jean Mountain and the spectacular view from Pinnacle to the beauty of Greers Ferry. “We’ve also depicted the 501 in all of is beauty and splendor, including wonderful autumn images (by 501 LIFE Photographer Mike Kemp) to the stunning Old Mill in North Little Rock in a winter snow (taken by 501 LIFE Contributor Bill Patterson).” 

Top 10 Covers


A lot of time and effort has gone into identifying monthly themes and front cover illustrations. Each year, 501 LIFE has utilized reoccurring themes – like home and garden, health and wellness, and the holidays – while presenting some unique and different topics. “Our talented 501 LIFE team as well as our editorial boards have had some really creative ideas for themes,” said Sonja. “It has been so exciting to see those ideas coming together through photography and design to create an engaging and attractive cover.”

“Each month, so much thought and preparation goes into the photography and design of the front cover of 501 LIFE,” said Publisher Donna Spears. “The magazine theme obviously determines the cover photo or art.  Each reader has an individual interest and that seems to be a favorite, but some just pull at our heart more than others.”

The Conway County Editorial Board was “Loving LIFE”: Mary Clark (seated, from left), Shelli Crowell, Alicia Hugen; Donna Spears (standing), Kristi Strain, Stephanie Lipsmeyer, Jim Taylor, Stewart Nelson, Dr. Larry Davis, Morgan Zimmerman, Shawn Halbrook and Sonja Keith. Not pictured: Alisha Kooce.

For this 10th anniversary edition, 501 LIFE engaged its editorial boards, contributors and some of its advertisers to identify the Top 10 covers. It was a difficult task, creating the need for a list of honorable mentions.

“In the case of some of those that were voted favorites, clearly they spoke to many of our readers,” said Donna. “In particular, the tornado of 2014 ripped through our communities and changed lives forever. The American flag in the midst of all the destruction was captured in the first few days. Readers identified with it immediately.” 

Vilonia resident and former 501 LIFE contributor Angie Davis took the tornado damage photo featured on the cover of the June 2014 edition of the magazine.

“The ‘In Honor of our Heroes’ edition published in July 2011 was a reminder of those that served our country,” said Donna. “Their inspiring stories should be documented so that we will always remember why we can enjoy our freedom in America.” 

The White County Editorial Board was “Loving LIFE”: Betsy Bailey (seated, from left), Brooke Pryor, Natalie Horton; Donna Spears (standing), Kristi Thurmon, Mike Parsons, Philip Hays, Carol Spears, Cassandra Feltrop and Sonja Keith. Not pictured: Tara Cathey, Matt LaForce and Hannah Owens. (Mike Kemp photo)

Mike, who takes most of the photos featured on the cover, photographed Pearl Harbor veteran Herbert English of Plumerville for the cover story in the July 2011 “In honor of heroes” edition. Jeremy Higginbotham designs the front cover each month, and the husband-wife team of Jennifer Godwin and Nick Walker design the inside pages of the magazine.

Another Top 10 cover featured a very unique image – a Christmas tree in the chapel at Garvan Woodland Gardens at Hot Springs – taken by Linda Henderson.

“We are very blessed to have such an incredible team of writers, photographers and designers,” Sonja said. “I’m so thankful for Mike Kemp, who does most of our photography, as well as our other contributing photographers. We are also blessed with highly creative designers, Jeremy Higginbotham, Nick Walker and Jennifer Godwin. They are all so talented and we greatly appreciate them.”