Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and US senator, dead at 90

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) -- Dale Bumpers, the small-town lawyer who served Arkansas as governor and in the U.S. Senate and delivered a stirring speech during Bill Clinton's impeachment trial that helped save his presidency, died at home on Friday at the age of 90, his family said on Saturday.

Bumpers died surrounded by his family, said his wife Betty and his children Brent, Bill and Brooke Bumpers in a statement.

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Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and US senator, dead at 90
BETHESDA, UNITED STATES: US President Bill Clinton (L) laughs with former US Senator Dale Bumpers(D-AR) during the National Institutes of Health dedication ceremony of the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research center 09 June 1999 in Bethesda, MD. After the ceremony, Clinton said he was pleased to hear about the agreement reached between NATO and Serbian military officials. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO Joyce NALTCHAYAN (Photo credit should read JOYCE NALTCHAYAN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 21: FY99 APPROPRIATIONS--Dale Bumpers,D-Ark.,during the Senate Foreign Operations mark up. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 08: DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS MARKUP--Dale Bumpers D-Ark.,speaks during the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Markup. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, file photo, former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers greets members of the Political Animals Club before the organization's 30th anniversary meeting at the Governors Mansion in Little Rock, Ark. Bumpers, a former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator who earned the nickname "giant killer" for taking down incumbents, and who later gave a passionate speech defending Bill Clinton during the president's impeachment trial, died Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, in Little Rock, Ark. He was 90. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)
Former President Bill Clinton, center, and former U.S. Sens. David Pryor, left, and Dale Bumpers, right, all three ex-governors of Arkansas, take part in a open discussion during the Kumpuris Lecture Series, Friday, March 20, 2009, at Clinton Library in Little Rock, Ark.. (AP Photo/Mike Wintroath)
Former President Bill Clinton, center, laughs with former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, D-Ark., as Clinton is introduced by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in North Little Rock, Ark., Friday, Oct. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
FILE - In this Friday, Aug. 25, 2006, file photo, former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, D-Ark., laughs after an interview before addressing an Energy and Value-Added Products from Biomass workshop in Little Rock, Ark. Bumpers, a former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator who earned the nickname "giant killer" for taking down incumbents, and who later gave a passionate speech defending Bill Clinton during the president's impeachment trial, died Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, in Little Rock, Ark. He was 90. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)
Former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2006, in Little Rock, Ark. Bumpers spoke to about 60 political hopefuls at a training school for candidates sponsored by the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the Arkansas Broadcasters Association.(AP Photo/Mike Wintroath)
Former Arkansas Sen. Dale Bumpers speaks during a memorial Mass for late Missouri Sen. Thomas Eagleton, Saturday, March 10, 2007, at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis. Eagleton died Sunday in his hometown of St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers, is seen before Bumpers was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame, Friday, March 16, 2007, in Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Mike Wintroath)
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass, left, shakes hands with Sen. Dale Bumpers, D-Ark., right, as senators, from second left, John Glenn, D-Ohio; Alan Cranston, D-Calif.; and Ernest Hollings, D-S. Car., look on at the Democratic State Committee annual fund-raising dinner, Thursday, March 3, 1983, Boston, Mass. With the exception of Kennedy, the others are party presidential hopefuls. (AP Photo)
Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, left, chats with Arkansas Gov. Dale Bumpers during a breakfast meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Kansas City, Missouri, Dec. 6, 1974. Bumpers is also a senator-elect from Arkansas. (AP Photo)
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Bumpers had been in failing health for months. In December he suffered a broken hip in a fall at his home. Surgery was deemed successful but he remained bedridden after returning home from a Little Rock hospital.

Bumpers, a folksy and eloquent Southern Democrat who was a close friend of younger fellow Arkansan Clinton, served in the Senate for 24 years after he toppled storied Senator J. William Fulbright in a 1974 primary election.

"Dale Bumpers was a governor of profound historical importance, the most eloquent defender of our constitution in the Senate, a man who put his considerable gifts of wisdom, wit, and passion to work for the common good," Bill Clinton said in a statement on Saturday.

"The entire state mourns the loss of an Arkansas legend," current Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said in a statement.

Arrangements for his memorial service are being handled by Roller-Chenal Funeral Homes.

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