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David Hampton Pryor

Gov. David Hampton Pryor

  • January 14, 1975 - January 3, 1979
  • Democrat
  • August 29, 1934
  • April 20, 2024
  • Arkansas
  • University of Arkansas
  • Married Barbara Jean Lunsford; three sons
  • Representative, Senator
  • Fulbright Scholar


DAVID HAMPTON PRYOR was born August 29, 1934, in Camden, Arkansas.  In 1957, David Pryor married Barbara Jean Lunsford, with whom he had three sons, including Mark Pryor (U.S. Senator 2003-2015). He received a B.A. in political science from the University of Arkansas in 1957 and a LL.B. from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1964. Pryor founded the Ouachita Citizen (Camden, Arkansas) in 1957 and served as its editor and publisher until 1961. Pryor’s political career began in the Arkansas House of Representatives where he served three terms, 1961 to 1966. He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1967 to 1973. He was elected Governor of Arkansas in 1974 and reelected in 1976.

During his two terms, Pryor was named co-chair of the Ozarks Regional Commission and of the Southern Regional Education Board. In 1979, Pryor was sworn in as a U.S. Senator in the 98th Congress and he served until 1997. During his tenure, he was secretary of the Democratic Conference, third in the Senate Democratic Leadership, and a member of the Senate Democratic Steering Committee. He chaired the Agriculture Subcommittee on Agricultural Production and Stabilization of Prices and the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Service, Civil Service, and Post Office. Pryor also chaired the Senate Special Committee on Aging and the 1995 White House Conference on Aging. Pryor also served on the Senate Finance Committee. In 1997 Pryor spent a semester as a Fulbright Distinguished Fellow of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. In 2000 Pryor accepted a two-year term as the Director of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture: David Hampton Pryor (1934–)

Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors’ Conference, 1978.

The U.S. General Accounting Office

Old State House Museum

Recent Arkansas Governors