Donna Axum

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Donna Axum
Donna Axum.jpg
Axum in 1964
BornDonna Idelle Axum
(1942-01-03)January 3, 1942
El Dorado, Arkansas, U.S.
DiedNovember 4, 2018(2018-11-04) (aged 76)
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
Alma mater University of Arkansas
Title Miss America 1964
Predecessor Jacquelyn Mayer
Successor Vonda Kay Van Dyke
Spouse(s)Michael Alan Buckley
Gus Franklin Mutscher
(m. 1969;div. 1972)

J. Bryan Whitworth(m. 1984)
Donna Axum signature.jpg

Donna Idelle Axum (January 3, 1942 – November 4, 2018) was an American beauty pageant winner, author, television executive producer, philanthropist and model. She was crowned Miss America in 1964. One month earlier she had been crowned Miss Arkansas.

Beauty pageant competition of beautiful people

A beauty pageant or beauty contest is a competition that has traditionally focused on judging and ranking the physical attributes of the contestants, although most contests have evolved to also incorporate personality traits, intelligence, talent, and answers to judges' questions as judged criteria. The term refers largely to contests for women such as the Big Four international beauty pageants.

Miss America beauty contest

Miss America is an annual competition that is open to women from the United States between the ages of 17 and 25. Originating in 1921 as a "bathing beauty revue", the contest is now judged on competitors' talent performances and interviews. As of 2018, there is no longer a swimsuit portion to the contest, or consideration of physical appearance. Miss America travels about 20,000 miles a month, changing her location every 24 to 48 hours, touring the nation and promoting her particular platform of interest. The winner is crowned by the previous year's titleholder.

The Miss Arkansas competition is the pageant that selects the representative for the state of Arkansas in the Miss America pageant. Arkansas has won the Miss America title three times.


After her Miss America win, Axum taught classes at Texas Tech University and worked in television such as starring on The Noon Show and Good Morning Arkansas. Aside from Miss America, Axum was an active civic leader as she served on the National Committee for the Performing Arts of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. after being nominated by President Bill Clinton, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Van Cliburn Foundation and Texas Christian University College of Fine Arts Board of Visitors.

Texas Tech University Public research university in Lubbock, Texas, United States

Texas Tech University, often referred to as Texas Tech, Tech, or TTU, is a public research university in Lubbock, Texas. Established on February 10, 1923, and originally known as Texas Technological College, it is the flagship institution of the four-institution Texas Tech University System. The university's student enrollment is the seventh-largest in Texas as of the Fall 2017 semester. The university shares its campus with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, making it the only campus in Texas to house an undergraduate university, law school, and medical school.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Bill Clinton 42nd president of the United States

William Jefferson Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Prior to the presidency, he was the governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981, and again from 1983 to 1992, and the attorney general of Arkansas from 1977 to 1979. A member of the Democratic Party, Clinton was ideologically a New Democrat and many of his policies reflected a centrist "Third Way" political philosophy.

Early life

Axum was born in El Dorado, Arkansas. [1] Her Miss America scholarship was used to complete her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in speech/drama, television and film. [2] While there, she was a member of the Delta Iota Chapter of Delta Delta Delta. [3]

El Dorado, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

El Dorado is a city in, and the county seat of, Union County, on the southern border of Arkansas, United States. According to estimates, the 2012 census, the population of the city is 18,491.

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

A Master of Arts is a person who was admitted to a type of master's degree awarded by universities in many countries, and the degree is also named Master of Arts in colloquial speech. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree typically study linguistics, history, communication studies, diplomacy, public administration, political science, or other subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.

Miss America

Axum made her first bid for Miss Arkansas before 1963, but was unsuccessful. [4] In 1963, before her final year at the University of Arkansas, Axum made her second bid for the 1963 title and won. [4] She won the Miss America pageant about a month later, becoming the first of only three Arkansans to win the title. [4] The other two are Elizabeth Ward (1981) and Savvy Shields (2016). [4]

Elizabeth Gracen American actress

Elizabeth Ward Gracen is an American actress and beauty pageant contestant who won the title of Miss America in 1982.

Savvy Shields American beauty pageant winner

Savannah Janine "Savvy" Shields Wolfe is an American beauty pageant titleholder from Fayetteville, Arkansas who was crowned Miss Arkansas 2016. On September 11, 2016, she was crowned Miss America 2017 by Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell.

Later career

Axum held many titles after serving as Miss America: university instructor, author, television executive producer, TV hostess, professional speaker and civic leader. [1] [2] In 1988, Axum was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Arkansas and served on its National Development Council. [5] She also served on the steering committee of a seven-year capital campaign that raised more than $1.046 billion for the university. [6]

Axum taught speech classes at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and later worked in television, starring in programs like The Noon Show and Good Morning Arkansas. [4]

Lubbock, Texas City in Texas, United States

Lubbock is the 11th most-populous city in the U.S. state of Texas and the county seat of Lubbock County. With a population of 256,042 in 2015, the city is also the 83rd most-populous in the United States. The city is located in northwestern part of the state, a region known historically and geographically as the Llano Estacado and ecologically is part of the southern end of the High Plains, lying at the economic center of the Lubbock metropolitan area, which has a projected 2020 population of 327,424.

Axum was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be a member of the boards of the National Committee for the Performing Arts of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. [4] She also served at the Fort Worth Symphony, the Van Cliburn Foundation, named for the famed pianist from Shreveport, Louisiana, and the Texas Christian University College of Fine Arts Board of Visitors. [7]

Axum remained active at the University of Arkansas, participating in campaigns to help most of the university's fundraising efforts until her death in 2018. [4]

Personal life

Axum first married Michael Alan Buckley and had one child, Lisa. [8] They later divorced and in 1969 she married Gus Franklin Mutscher, who served as Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives from 1969 to 1972 and later as the Washington County judge. [8] The pair divorced in 1972. [8] She married J. Bryan Whitworth, executive vice president of ConocoPhillips, on March 1, 1984. [1] The Whitworths lived in Fort Worth, Texas. [8] They had five children. [1]

As an author Axum penned How to Be and Look Your Best Everyday: A Comprehensive Guide from a Former Miss America in 1978. [1]

Axum died on November 4, 2018, at age 76 in Fort Worth from complications of Parkinson's disease. [9] [4]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Arkansas' first Miss America, Donna Axum Whitworth, passes away". Magnolia Reporter. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  2. 1 2 "Donna Axum Whitworth, Miss America in 1964, dies at 76". Arkansas Times. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  3. "Delta Delta Delta". University of Arkansas. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "1st Miss America from Arkansas dies at 76". Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  5. "Donna Axum Whitworth, first Miss Arkansas to be crowned Miss America, dies at 76". THV11. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  6. Kinch Jr., Sam; Procter, Ben (1972). Texas Under a Cloud: Story of the Texas Stock Fraud Scandal. Jenkins.
  7. "Miss America History 1964". Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2006.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Hendricks, Nancy. "Donna Axum Whitworth (1942–)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  9. "First Miss Arkansas To Win Miss America Dies At 76". 5NewsOnline. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jacquelyn Mayer
Miss America
Succeeded by
Vonda Kay Van Dyke
Preceded by
Edye Addington
Miss Arkansas
Succeeded by
Pam Jackson