Betty Bumpers

Last updated
Betty Bumpers
Betty Bumpers was pictured with Bill Clinton and Dale Bumpers 1999.jpg
Bumpers in 1999
First Lady of Arkansas
In role
January 12, 1971 January 3, 1975
Governor Dale Bumpers
Preceded byJeannette Edris Rockefeller
Succeeded byClaudia Riley (acting) [1]
Personal details
Betty Lou Flanagan

(1925-01-11)January 11, 1925
Grand Prairie Community
Franklin County
, U.S.
DiedNovember 23, 2018(2018-11-23) (aged 93)
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Dale Bumpers
(m. 1949;died 2016)
Known forAdvocacy for immunizations and world peace

Betty Lou Bumpers (née Flanagan; January 11, 1925 – November 23, 2018) was an American politician, advocate for childhood immunizations, and world peace activist, who served as the First Lady of Arkansas from 1971 to 1975. [2] Together, she and Rosalynn Carter ran a successful campaign to ensure that all American school children were immunized. Bumpers was also the wife of the late Dale Bumpers, the governor of Arkansas from 1971 to 1975 and then U.S. Senator from 1975 to 1999. [3] [4]


Early life

Bumpers was born in the Grand Prairie community in Franklin County, Arkansas, to salesman and auctioneer Herman Edward "Babe" Flanagan and his wife, the former Ola Callans, a teacher. [5] [6] She grew up in Franklin County, except for a period during World War II when her family lived in Fort Smith and in the state of Iowa. [5]

After studying at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and Iowa State University, [7] she taught elementary school. [8] In 1949 she married Dale Bumpers, a high school classmate who was then in law school at Northwestern University. [9] After her husband finished law school, the couple settled in Charleston, Arkansas, where Dale Bumpers practiced law and Betty worked as an elementary school teacher. [3] They had three children. [3] [9]

Advocacy for childhood immunization

In 1970, Dale Bumpers was elected governor and after his inauguration in 1971, she became the state's first lady. [5] In that role, she decided to focus on the well-being of children and families. [3]

Responding to Arkansas' having one of the lowest rates of childhood immunization in the United States, she initiated a statewide campaign to immunize all of the state's children against childhood diseases. [9] Her Every Child by '74 program, which involved cooperative effort by state government, professional organizations of doctors and nurses, the Arkansas National Guard, the University of Arkansas extension service, faith-based organizations, and other volunteers. [3] [4] It was a very successful campaign, delivering immunizations to over 350,000 children on just one Saturday near its peak. [9] As a result of the program, the state attained one of the highest childhood immunization rates of any U.S. state. The Arkansas program was adopted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a model for nationwide use. [3] [4]

Dale Bumpers entered the U.S. Senate in 1975, and the couple moved to Washington, D.C.. [9] Two years later, when Jimmy Carter arrived in Washington as the new President, Betty Bumpers sought his support for a nationwide program of childhood immunization and enlisted the assistance of First Lady Rosalynn Carter. [3] [4] After finding only a small number of states required children to be immunized before entering school, the two women joined forces and undertook a campaign to convince every state to adopt this requirement. [9] After just two years of advocacy work focused on individual state governments, they achieved their goal of having all 50 U.S. states require immunization for school entry. [4] [9]

A measles epidemic in 1989-1991 that killed more than two hundred children led to a new collaboration between Bumpers and Carter. [10] Concerned that preschool children were vulnerable to preventable illnesses because they were not getting immunized on schedule, they founded the organization Every Child By Two, with the aim of assuring immunizations for all American children by the age of two. [11] Bumpers said that the group's efforts to establish outreach programs and immunization registers in each state had contributed to an immunization rate of 90 percent for children from birth to age two in 2012. [4] [9]

Bumpers with President Jimmy Carter at the White House Betty Bumpers and Jimmy Carter.tif
Bumpers with President Jimmy Carter at the White House

A 1981 conversation with her college-student daughter Brooke inspired Bumpers to become a peace activist, focused on ending the nuclear weapons race. [3] While driving together to Washington, D.C., they crossed the Clinch River, the namesake of the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project, leading Brooke to ask her mother what the family would do in a nuclear war or the aftermath of a nuclear disaster. [9] Bumpers' light-hearted response of "Well, honey, I guess we’d just go back to Arkansas" did not silence her daughter, who responded "Don’t be so stupid, Mother," and asked what would happen if Arkansas was destroyed. [9] The realization her daughter considered nuclear war to be a real threat to her future motivated Bumpers to start a campaign for peace. [9] [12]

After discussing the matter with her fellow Senate wives and other like-minded women in Washington, Bumpers decided to work to bring mainstream American women into the campaign for a nuclear weapons freeze, building on her earlier experience with grassroots volunteer activism. [3] She started the organization Peace Links in Little Rock in 1982, Peace Links worked with established women's groups such as garden clubs, parent teacher associations, and church organizations to educate women about the consequences of the nuclear arms race and to engage them in campaigning for world peace. [9] [12] [13] Within a short time, Peace Links expanded beyond Arkansas and counted some 30,000 members around the United States. [3] [9] It operated as a national organization for nearly 20 years, disbanding in 2001 after the end of the Cold War. [3] [9]

Later life

Bumpers, Bill Clinton, and Dale Bumpers in 1999 Bill Clinton and Dale and Betty Bumpers 1999.jpg
Bumpers, Bill Clinton, and Dale Bumpers in 1999

In their later years, the Bumpers lived in Little Rock, Arkansas. [14] She and Rosalynn Carter continued to be involved with the leadership of Every Child By Two in her later years. [9] Her husband of 66 years Dale Bumpers died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in January 2016. [15]

On November 23, 2018, Bumpers died from complications of dementia and a broken hip in Little Rock at the age of 93. [14]

Awards and recognitions

The National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center was named for Betty and Dale Bumpers in recognition of their efforts to promote childhood immunizations and vaccine research. [3]

Among the awards that Bumpers received were:

In 1994, Peace Links gave her a special Peace Links Founders Award. [13] In 1995, she and her husband shared the Maxwell Finland Award of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases; in 1998, they shared the March of Dimes Citizen of the Year Award, recognizing their commitment to children's health and polio eradication. [16] The couple also were joint recipients of the Excellence in Public Service Award of the American Academy of Pediatrics. [16]

Bumpers received honorary degrees from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas; the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and the University of Massachusetts. [16] [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

First Lady of the United States Hostess of the White House, usually the wife of the president of the United States

First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) is the title held by the hostess of the White House, usually the wife of the president of the United States, concurrent with the president's term in office. Although the first lady’s role has never been codified or officially defined, she figures prominently in the political and social life of the nation. Since the early 20th century, the first lady has been assisted by official staff, now known as the Office of the First Lady and headquartered in the East Wing of the White House.

Vaccination Administration of a vaccine to protect against disease

Vaccination is the administration of a vaccine to help the immune system develop protection from a disease. Vaccines contain a microorganism or virus in a weakened or killed state, or proteins or toxins from the organism. In stimulating the body's adaptive immunity, they help prevent sickness from an infectious disease. When a sufficiently large percentage of a population has been vaccinated, herd immunity results. The effectiveness of vaccination has been widely studied and verified. Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases; widespread immunity due to vaccination is largely responsible for the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the elimination of diseases such as polio and tetanus from much of the world.

Rosalynn Carter Wife of the 39th President of the United States, Jimmy Carter

Eleanor Rosalynn Carter is an American who served as First Lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981, as the wife of President Jimmy Carter. For decades, she has been a leading advocate for numerous causes. Carter was politically active during her White House years, sitting in on Cabinet meetings. She was her husband's closest adviser. She also served as an envoy abroad, particularly in Latin America.

Betty Ford U.S. First Lady: wife of Gerald Ford

Elizabeth Anne Ford was the First Lady of the United States from 1974 to 1977, as the wife of President Gerald Ford. As First Lady, she was active in social policy and set a precedent as a politically active presidential spouse. Ford also served as the Second Lady of the United States from 1973 to 1974.

Dale Bumpers American politician

Dale Leon Bumpers was an American politician who served as the 38th Governor of Arkansas (1971–1975) and in the United States Senate (1975–1999). He was a member of the Democratic Party. Prior to his death, he was counsel at the Washington, D.C. office of law firm Arent Fox LLP, where his clients included Riceland Foods and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

DPT vaccine combination vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus

DPT is a class of combination vaccines against three infectious diseases in humans: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. The vaccine components include diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and killed whole cells of the bacterium that causes pertussis (wP).

Vaccine hesitancy, also known as anti-vaccination or anti-vax, is a reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated or to have one's children vaccinated against contagious diseases. It is identified by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten global health threats of 2019. The term encompasses outright refusal to vaccinate, delaying vaccines, accepting vaccines but remaining uncertain about their use, or using certain vaccines but not others. Arguments against vaccination are contradicted by overwhelming scientific consensus about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

Vaccination schedule series of vaccinations

A vaccination schedule is a series of vaccinations, including the timing of all doses, which may be either recommended or compulsory, depending on the country of residence. A vaccine is an antigenic preparation used to produce active immunity to a disease, in order to prevent or reduce the effects of infection by any natural or "wild" pathogen.

The National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), formerly known as the National Immunization Program until April 2006, is charged with responsibility for the planning, coordination, and conduct of immunization activities in the United States. NCIRD is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, located in Atlanta, Georgia, and housed in the CDC's Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases (CCID). The National Center for Immunization provides consultation, training, statistical, promotional, educational, epidemiological, and technical services to assist state and local health departments across the US in planning, developing, contracting and implementing immunization programs.

Vaccination policy refers to the health policy a government adopts in relation to vaccination. Vaccination policies have been developed over the approximately two centuries since the invention of vaccination with the purpose of eradicating disease from, or creating a herd immunity for the population the government aims to protect. Vaccinations are voluntary in some countries and mandatory in others, with mandatory vaccination policies sparking opposition. Some governments pay for all or part of the costs of vaccinations in a national vaccination schedule. Cost-benefit analyses of vaccinations have shown that there is an economic incentive to implement vaccination policies as vaccinations can save a significant number of lives and costs.

Khaliya, also known as Princess Khaliya Aga Khan is an advocate for mental health and a Columbia University-trained public health specialist.

Every Child By Two (ECBT) is a non-profit organization, based in the United States which advocates for vaccinations. Founded in 1991, its stated goals are to "raise awareness of the critical need for timely immunizations and to foster a systematic way to immunize all of America's children by age two." ECBT was founded by former First Lady of the United States, Rosalynn Carter, and former First Lady of Arkansas, Betty Bumpers.

Vaccine Research Center

The Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center, more commonly known as the Vaccine Research Center (VRC), is an Intramural Division of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the US National Institutes of Health. The mission of the VRC is "to conduct research that facilitates the development of effective vaccines for human disease." The primary focus of research is the development of vaccines for AIDS, but the VRC also is working to develop vaccines for Ebola and Marburg viruses and for influenza.

Rubella vaccine is a vaccine used to prevent rubella. Effectiveness begins about two weeks after a single dose and around 95% of people become immune. Countries with high rates of immunization no longer see cases of rubella or congenital rubella syndrome. When there is a low level of childhood immunization in a population it is possible for rates of congenital rubella to increase as more women make it to child bearing age without either vaccination or exposure to the disease. Therefore, it is important for more than 80% of people to be vaccinated.

Kate O'Brien is a recognized international expert in the areas of pneumococcal epidemiology, pneumococcal vaccine trials and impact studies, and surveillance for pneumococcal disease. She is also known as an expert in infectious diseases in American Indian populations. She is a pediatric infectious disease physician, epidemiologist, and the director of the Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals Department at the World Health Organization (WHO), a role she took on in January 2019. In this role, she is responsible for leading the overall work and strategy of the Department to advance the vision of reducing the health, social and economic burden of vaccine preventable diseases. The Director works across all levels of WHO in collaboration with partners to deliver country impact.

Vaccines for Children Program

The Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) is a federally funded program in the United States providing no-cost vaccines to children who lack health insurance or who otherwise cannot afford the cost of the vaccination. The VFC program was created by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 and is required to be a new entitlement of each state's Medicaid plan under section 1928 of the Social Security Act. The program was officially implemented in October 1994 and serves eligible children in all U.S. states, as well as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Tetanus vaccine vaccine used to prevent tetanus

Tetanus vaccine, also known as tetanus toxoid (TT), is an inactive vaccine used to prevent tetanus. During childhood, five doses are recommended, with a sixth given during adolescence. Additional doses every ten years are recommended. After three doses, almost everyone is initially immune. In those who are not up to date on their tetanus immunization, a booster should be given within 48 hours of an injury. In those with high+risk injuries who are not fully immunized, tetanus antitoxin may also be recommended. Making sure pregnant women are up to date on their tetanus immunization and, if not, immunizing them can prevent neonatal tetanus.

Pearl Kendrick American bacteriologist

Pearl Louella Kendrick was an American bacteriologist. Kendrick is known for co-developing the first vaccine with Grace Eldering and Loney Gordon for whooping cough. She also contributed to the promotion of international vaccine standards.

Mission Indradhanush is a health mission of the government of India. It was launched by Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda on 25 December 2014. The scheme this seeks to drive towards 90% full immunization coverage of India and sustain the same by year 2020. Vaccination is being provided against eight vaccine-preventable diseases nationally, i.e. Diphtheria, Whooping Cough, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis and Hepatitis B and meningitis & pneumonia caused by Haemophilus influenza type B; and against Rotavirus Diarrhea and Japanese Encephalitis in selected states and districts respectively.

Carol Ann Judge was an American healthcare advocate and registered nurse. She served as the First Lady of the U.S. state of Montana from January 1, 1973, until her divorce from Governor Thomas Lee Judge in the winter of 1980. Judge, who was 31 years old when she assumed the role of First Lady in 1973, remains the youngest First Lady in Montana's history.


  1. Lockwood, Frank (2016-01-03). "1st lady for 11 days, Claudia Riley dies; Arkadelphian a Democrat stalwart". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette . Archived from the original on 2018-11-24. Retrieved 2015-10-12.
  2. Bowden, Bill (2018-11-24). "Betty Bumpers, Arkansas' former first lady, dies: She advocated for vaccinations, peace". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette . Archived from the original on 2018-11-26. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "Betty Bumpers (1925–)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Betty Bumpers". National Women's Hall of Fame.
  5. 1 2 3 "Betty Bumpers Interviews". PryorCenter. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  6. Barnes, Steve (November 24, 2018). "Betty Bumpers, Campaigner for Childhood Vaccinations, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  7. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture states she attended the University of Iowa.
  8. "President Clinton to Visit University of Arkansas". University of Arkansas Newswire. April 9, 2012.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Martin, Karen (June 1, 2012). "Betty Bumpers On Her Lifetime of Service and Volunteerism".
  10. "NIH Dedicates New Vaccine Research Center to Dale and Betty Bumpers President Clinton Delivers Keynote Address". AIDS Info. June 9, 1999.
  11. "About Us". Vaccinate Your Family. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  12. 1 2 Lindenmeyer, Kriste (2000). Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives: Women in American History. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 251–253. ISBN   9780842027540.
  13. 1 2 "Former Arkansas first lady Betty Bumpers dies at 93". Arkansas Online. November 23, 2018.
  14. Brown, Michael H. (January 2, 2016). "Dale Bumpers, Arkansas politician and barbed wit of the Senate, dies at 90". The Washington Post. ISSN   0190-8286 . Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Betty Bumpers' Awards and Recognitions". Every Child By Two. Archived from the original on February 22, 2013. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  16. National Women's Hall of Fame, Betty Bumpers
  17. "Institute Welcomes New Board of Directors". United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Jeannette Edris Rockefeller
First Lady of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Claudia Riley