About Senator Dale Bumpers


Born August 12, 1925 in Charleston, Arkansas, Dale Bumpers became the 38th Governor of Arkansas and a four-term U.S. Senator.  He attended the University of Arkansas, spent three years in the Marine Corps during World War II before earning a law degree at Northwestern University. Mr. Bumpers returned home to Charleston in 1951 with his wife Betty where he practiced law, raised cattle and operated the family hardware, furniture and appliance store. He also served as city attorney, school board president and president of the local Chamber of Commerce. He was elected governor in 1970 and senator in 1974.  

As a U.S. Senator from 1975 to 1999, Mr. Bumpers served on the Appropriations Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and chaired the Small Business Committee. He facilitated an innovative land exchange to swap Idaho timberland for bottomland forests and wetlands in Arkansas, adding 41,000 acres to the White River and Cache River National Wildlife Refuges. As Governor, he helped stop the channelization of 232 miles of the Cache River and its tributary, Bayou DeView. 

Mr. Bumpers and his wife Betty have been married for 65 years. Together they championed childhood immunization on a national scale. They have three children, Brent, William and Margaret, and seven grandchildren. 



What Arkansas and National Leaders Say About Senator Bumpers


Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe 

“Senator Bumpers has always been a tireless protector of our environment, and understands the need to preserve our natural legacy for future generations. Naming the White River Refuge for Dale will also help preserve his own legacy for future generations, a step I’m sure he’d say can mean only good things for our State. It’s that charming confidence and dedicated service that have made Dale a beloved Arkansan to millions including me.”  


U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor 

“Senator Bumpers has done so much for our state—from strengthening Arkansas’s agricultural industry to expanding the White River National Wildlife Refuge,” Pryor said. “I was honored to lead the charge to rename the White River Refuge in his honor and ensure that my children and our future generations will be able to enjoy our state’s natural beauty for decades to come. Thank you, Senator Bumpers.”  


U.S. Sen. John Boozman 

“This is a fitting tribute for Senator Bumpers who played an influential role in promoting and maintaining Arkansas’s outdoor recreation areas and natural resources.”  


U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin 

"I have fond memories of my internship in Senator Bumpers' office, and I'm glad his service to our country as a soldier, Governor, and Senator will be honored in this way."  


Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Director Mike Knoedl 

“Sen. Bumpers is a legend in this state. His conservation advocacy will leave an indelible mark on Arkansas for future generations. It is fitting and long overdue that he be honored for his work to preserve this unique region.”  


Richard W. Davies, Executive Director, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism 

"Dale Bumpers has done more for conservation and parks in Arkansas than anyone I know of. He saved the Arkansas State Park system in the early 1970’s, investing more money in the parks than had been spent in their entire history combined. I remember when he had the hearings on the land swap with Potlatch to benefit the White River Refuge. We said it was a good deal then, and even a better deal for our grandchildren. That has turned out to be true. Dale Bumpers has always looked out for Arkansas’s natural attributes, and this honor is more than well deserved."  


David Houghton, President, National Wildlife Refuge Association 

"I can't think of a more fitting tribute to one of the Refuge System's greatest supporters than naming the White River National Wildlife Refuge after Sen. Dale Bumpers," said National Wildlife Refuge Association President David Houghton. "Bumpers is a living legend who played a pivotal role in creating the 80-mile corridor connecting the Cache River and White River refuges. People and wildlife have him to thank for this lasting conservation legacy."  


Dale Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Ducks Unlimited 

“Few have done as much for Arkansas fish and wildlife resources than Senator Bumpers. He has been a champion for conservation as evidenced by the leadership he provided for the Cache and White River National Wildlife Refuges. It is fitting that he receive this permanent recognition.”   


Nancy DeLamar, past Director, The Nature Conservancy, Arkansas 

"The legacy of Senator Dale Bumpers will endure through the thousands of acres of natural and wild (I think natural or wild would suffice, not sure both are necessary, I prefer natural) lands that his efforts as Senator helped conserve. Long before the rest of world was aware of their importance, Senator Bumpers was working to protect and restore the wetlands of the Arkansas Delta. He introduced legislation in the early 1980's that created the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. He then accomplished the historic land exchange that united the Cache and White River refuges. No other person has done more to sustain, restore, and conserve The Natural State than Senator Dale Bumpers. Having his name associated with the White River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas honors both the man, Arkansas, and the nation."  


Chris Colclasure, Director, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission 

“Perhaps no agency in Arkansas state government owes its existence more to Senator Dale Bumpers than the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. He laid the ground work for our commission in his first term as Governor. His vision and dedication to making this state a better place for future generations through education and conservation is still evident today in the 60,000 acres that make up our 71 natural areas. But his vision was so much larger than just Arkansas. After joining the United States Senate, he helped the rest of the country understand that Arkansas’s unique wilderness areas and scenic rivers were national treasures and should be protected as part of the heritage of all Americans. Some great men are remembered for what they create, but we will always remember Senator Bumpers for what he ensured would remain.”  


Brett Kincaid, Executive Director, Arkansas Audubon 

"Naming the White River National Wildlife Refuge after Senator Dale Bumpers is a fitting tribute to an Arkansas legend. His leadership in the U.S. Senate brought needed attention to our state's natural beauty and habitats that so many of us have enjoyed throughout our lives. Because of his work Arkansas can continue to share our natural beauty, birds, and other wildlife."  


Wayne Shewmake, President, Arkansas Wildlife Federation 

"On behalf of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, we would like to thank Senator Bumpers for his support on the Cache River and the White River. With his help and support, Arkansas waterways are in better condition and better for the public."