Dale Leon Bumpers was born on August 12, 1925, in Charleston, Franklin County, Arkansas.
He attended the University of Arkansas for a brief time before enlisting in the United States Marines in 1941. After his discharge in 1946, Bumpers returned to the university, earning a B.A. in political science. He then completed a law degree at Northwestern University and in 1952 began practicing law in Charleston. As an attorney, Bumpers advised the Charleston School District to desegregate immediately after the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
Bumpers was elected governor of Arkansas in 1970 and US senator in 1975. During his tenure, he served on the US Senate Appropriations Committee, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and as chairman of the Committee on Small Business. He was an avid supporter of agriculture and environmental legislation, as well as of decreased military spending. Bumpers retired from the Senate in 1999. Known as a skilled orator, he returned to the Senate floor to deliver the closing argument on behalf of President Bill Clinton at his impeachment trial.
Bumpers became the director for the Center for Defense Information and practiced law in Washington, DC, before retiring to Little Rock in 2008. The Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas is named for him.
Bumpers passed away at his home in Little Rock on January 1, 2016.