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

MTP Remembers: Sen. Dale Bumpers on Meet the Press in 1987
MTP Remembers: Sen. Dale Bumpers on Meet the Press in 1987

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.

See more of Dale Bumpers through the years:

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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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