By Bradly Gill
In October 2020, Camden lost an integral part of the community in John Littrell.
Littrell was the owner of Southern Roots, a local beauty salon; a member of the Ouachita County Historical Society; and a prominent member of Camden’s LGBTQ community.
His obituary printed in the Camden News read, “The consummate entertainer, John was famous for his lavish parties, putting on ‘shows’ for his friends and family, and for his love of dancing, but he was perhaps best known for his amazing spirit. He was truly one of the most beautiful, most gentle souls to ever walk the face of the Earth – the absolute best of us. A stranger to no one, John loved everyone he met, and they couldn’t help but love him in return.
His life was a veritable masterclass in unbridled joy, genuine kindness, and limitless love. He was an inspiration and a blessing to the many hearts and lives he touched.”
On Thursday, June 10, the community of Camden came out to Native Dog Brewing to pay its respects to Litrell and sample the new beer, “Glittrell,” brewed in his memory, with profits going to the Camden Historical Society.
As flashy as the man it was named after, “Glittrell” is a peach cream ale complete with edible glitter.
A dollar off each glass sold, plus five dollars from the sale of tie dyed shirts featuring the Native Dog logo were to be donated.
Native Dog owner Bobby Glaze said, “When we built the Native Dog, we had community in mind, and we wanted a place where everyone felt welcome, where everyone wanted to come. I think tonight we see that.”
Lauren Glaze, co-owner of Native Dog said, “John was community. He loved this community.”
Glaze said three things about the beer remind her of Littrell: he loved beer, he had a peach tattoo and she added, “Glitter gets everywhere and it sticks with you, that was John’s sparkle. It stayed with you. Every time you see this beer swirl in the sunlight, think of him and his love, cause it’s still here. I know it is.”
Kathy Boyette told the Camden News about Littrell’s love of performing in the Oakland Cemetery Walk, in which members dress up in historically accurate clothing and portray prominent members from Camden’s past.
”John did my hair. He loved to act and dress up, so he was doing my hair and I would tell him what was going on with the cemetery walk, and he always wanted to be involved in that… He really wanted to do it, so the first thing he did was a fundraiser dinner he did for the HUB, ” Boyette said. “It included a ghost tour of the museum.”
Littrell portrayed one of the characters and from then on was a standard participant in both Fall and Spring Oakland Cemetery Walks.
Boyette said he even went so far as to purchase his own costume for the events. She also recalled his elaborate Fourth of July fireworks and the year he even took his show out the the Camden Country Club for residents to enjoy.
Melissa Conley, one of Littrell’s best friends, co-worker at Southern Roots and new owner of the salon said, “John was everybody’s best friend. Everyone he came in contact with left with a smile on their face. He never met a stranger.”