Cover photo for Don Arnold's Obituary
Don Arnold Profile Photo
1942 Robert 2024

Don Arnold

July 31, 1942 — January 15, 2024

Robert "Don" Arnold, a loving husband and father, a doting grandfather, a successful attorney, and a public servant, passed away peacefully with family Monday morning at Abundant Christian Living Community in Johnson City, TN following a lengthy illness. He was 81.

Born on July 31, 1942, in Sullivan County, TN, Don was the oldest of three children of the late Robert and Francis Arnold. He attended Holston Valley High School in Sullivan County where he met Linda, his loving wife of 62 years. In addition to Linda, Don is survived by sons, Jonathan, of Asheville, NC, Matthew (and wife Julie), of Potomac, MD, daughter Dr. Amy Canuso (and husband Sean), of Carroll, IA; grandsons, Will (and wife Erin), Jack, RJ, Caeden, Gibson and Logan; his sister, Linda Slagle; niece, Elizabeth Spurrier (and husband John); sister-in-law, Betty Arnold; niece, Gina Lynch (and husband Lee Jay); and nephew, Jarrett Arnold.

A graduate of East Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee Law School, Don had a successful career practicing law and established the firm Hicks, Arnold, Haynes, and Sanders in 1968. He was passionate about public service and served on the Johnson City Planning Commission, the Johnson City Commission, the mayor of Johnson City, and a Tennessee state senator, where he also served as minority leader. He finished his career in law by serving almost 10 years as a Washington County General Sessions Judge.

Don's most rewarding professional accomplishment was working to establish and then leading Tennessee's first Recovery Drug Court, which incorporates the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, probation officer, treatment providers, and other program staff who worked together to ensure defendants have the support of the judicial system and access to treatment services while they work to get their families and children back.

Later in life, Don renewed a childhood love of farming by trading in his golf clubs for cows and a tractor. He spent many weekends and evenings on a small farm near the Washington County and Greene County line.

Visitation will take place 4:00-6:00 PM on Thursday, January 18th at Central Baptist Church in Johnson City. The service will begin at 6:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, and in keeping with Don's passion for helping others, the family requests that donations be sent to Families Free, a 501(c)3 organization designed to build better communities through the transformation of vulnerable families, especially those affected by incarceration., PO Box 5645, Johnson City TN 37602.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Don Arnold, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, January 18, 2024

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Starts at 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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