Former Arkansas Governor, U.S. Senator David Pryor, dies at age 89

Former President Bill Clinton laughs with former Senator David Pryor after receiving the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding on April 12, 2006 at the International Monetary Fund in Washington. Pryor died Saturday at the age of 89, his family announced. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

April 20 (UPI) — David Pryor, the 39th two-term governor of Arkansas and then the three-term U.S. senator, died Saturday in Little Rock, Ark., of natural causes, his family announced. He was 89.

Pryor, a Democrat, graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1957 and won election to the state House of Representatives three years later.


He also earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas in 1964 while serving in the state legislature.

After serving three terms as a state representative, Prior won a special election in 1966 to replace U.S. Representative Oren Harris.

While serving in the House of Representatives, Pryor advocated for the elderly and opposed the Vietnam War.

He unsuccessfully challenged incumbent U.S. Senator John McClellan in 1972.

“The true test of men and people does not come when we accept our victories,” Pryor said of his narrow defeat. “It comes when we accept our defeats.”

He spent the next several years practicing law before running for election as the 39th Governor of Arkansas. Pryor won the 1974 election with 66% of the vote and served as governor for the next four years.

His political career around that time inspired another young lawyer named Bill Clinton to enter politics.

Pryor won a second term in 1976 and set his sights on the U.S. Senate in 1978, winning a narrow victory over two members of Congress at age 44 to fill a vacant seat.

While serving as a senator, Pryor continued to advocate for older adults and improving conditions in assisted care facilities across the country. He was re-elected twice before retiring from politics in 1996.

His son Mark Pryor also became a two-term senator from Arkansas.

David Pryor’s life and political career are fondly remembered by Democrats and Republicans alike.

“David Pryor’s charisma and moderate politics made him a force at the ballot box for decades,” the Arkansas governor said. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “While the Senator and I served in different political parties, I, like all Arkansans, deeply appreciated his diligent stewardship of Arkansas and our interests during his public life.”

Former President and Governor of Arkansas Clinton expressed his sorrow on behalf of himself, the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend David Pryor, one of Arkansas’ greatest servant leaders and one of the best people I have ever known,” the former president said in a speech. rack posted on X.

Pryor “fought for progressive policies that helped us put our divided past behind us and move toward a better future together,” Clinton said, adding: “He was always one of America’s greatest advocates for its elderly and … was fair , compassionate and full of common sense. He truly loved the people he represented, and they loved him back.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said Pryor was an inspirational force as he served the people of Arkansas and the nation.

“His example served and will continue to serve as an inspiration to our fellow Arkansans,” Cotton said in a statement. “I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and loved ones, for whom I pray that his memory will always be a cherished blessing.”

Pryor is survived by his wife Barbara Jean, sons David Jr. and Mark, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.