Hundreds Attend Memorial Service For Dale Bumpers In Charleston

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CHARLESTON (KFSM) -- Hundreds of people attended a memorial service held for former Governor and U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers on Monday morning (Jan. 11).

“The family and the state of Arkansas are all gonna miss him terribly for a long time,” Archie Schaffer said.

Schaffer is not only the nephew of Bumpers, but he also worked for him on and off for nearly 20 years.

“He had a dramatic influence on my career,” Schaffer said. “ When he ran for governor the first time, I had just finished my first year in med school and nobody expected him to win because he was unknown and had never been elected to public office before, and so once he did win, I ended up working in the governor's office.”

Bumpers’ memorial service was held at the First United Methodist Church in Charleston, where Mayor Sherman Hiatt said Bumpers was once a member and sang in the choir.

“Dale Bumpers had an impact on nearly everyone in Charleston's life,” Hiatt said.

Long before his success as governor and in Washington, Bumpers played a key role in integrating the schools in Charleston in 1954.

“We were the first school district in the south that integrated, and Dale was the type of guy that always did the right thing," Hiatt said.

A national commemorative site in front of the school recognizes the historic milestone.

“That was something he was very proud of and something he wants people in Charleston and this part of the state in particular to remember and be proud of,” Schaffer said.

Bumpers passed away on January 1, 2016 at the age of 90.

“I'll miss being able to visit with him talk about politics,” Schaffer said. “He and I both, some people would say are obsessed with politics, and anytime we were together or on the phone that's what we usually talked about.”

Schaffer said he will also miss his uncle’s sense of humor.