DALE BUMPERS was born in Charleston, Arkansas, on August 12, 1925. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, and received an LL.D. from Northwestern Law School in 1951. Early on, he practiced as a small-town attorney, owned and operated a hardware store, raised cattle, and became active in community affairs. After serving in the Marines during World War II, he finished his education at the University of Arkansas and Northwestern University Law School. His public service included: member, County Board of Education (1952-1970); Charleston School Board (1958-1970); Charleston City Attorney (1955-1970); and Special Justice of Arkansas Supreme Court (1968). He ran for Governor of Arkansas in 1970, and was elected to two terms. During his first term, he and his wife, Betty, became early advocates of childhood immunization. Governor Bumpers chaired the Democratic Governors’ Association from 1972 to 1973 and served on the National Governors’ Conference Executive Committee from 1973 to 1974. Governor Bumpers was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974. He chaired the Senate Small Business Committee, advocated a strong but sane defense budget, and was a champion of the taxpayer and a foe of government waste. Throughout his 24-year career in Congress from 1975 until 1999, he was the acknowledged leader on immunization issues. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he worked to increase funding for efforts to improve and purchase vaccines for childhood diseases like measles, mumps, whooping cough and polio, and to develop new vaccines against diseases like bacterial meningitis.
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture: Dale Leon Bumpers (1925–2016)