Dale Bumpers, an Arkansas Democrat who rose to prominence in the 1970s as a reformist governor emblematic of a new wave of Southern leaders and then served four terms in the U.S. Senate, where he was known for his oratorical skills and political independence, died Jan. 1 at his home in Little Rock, Ark. He was 90. A former trial lawyer in the Ozark foothills, Mr. Bumpers triumphed over a set of formidable Arkansas politicians, including Winthrop Rockefeller and J. William Fulbright, to launch his career. As governor from 1971 to 1975 and then senator until 1999, he displayed masterful technique as a public speaker that was a key to his success. “Funny as all get-out and could talk an owl out of a tree,” another Arkansas politician, President Bill Clinton, once observed.
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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.