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David Pryor remembered for his lifelong commitment to Arkansas's progress and public service

David Pryor
Encyclopedia of Arkansas
Talk Business and Politics
David Pryor

Former Arkansas Governor and U.S. President Bill Clinton on Saturday (April 20) praised the legacy of David Pryor, saying the former U.S. senator and newspaper publisher was “one of America’s greatest advocates” for the elderly and poor.

David Pryor, a key Arkansas political figure for more than five decades from the governor’s office to the halls of Congress, died Saturday (April 20). He was 89.

Clinton posted the following statement on social media: “Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend David Pryor, one of Arkansas’ greatest servant leaders and one of the finest people I have ever known.

“As state representative, U.S. representative, governor, and senator, he fought for progressive policies that helped us put the divided past behind us and move into a brighter future together. He was always one of America’s greatest advocates for the elderly, waging long battles to lower the cost of prescription drugs and to improve nursing homes and in-home care to help more people live in dignity.

“David made politics personal – from his famed retail campaigning to his ability to calmly and confidently explain tough votes to his constituents. He was honest, compassionate, and full of common sense. He really loved the people he represented, and they loved him back.

“I first met him and Barbara in 1966 when David was running for Congress, and over the next 58 years he would be my mentor, confidant, supporter, and above all, friend. Having him and Dale Bumpers in the senate when I was president was an extraordinary gift. I never felt far from home, and always trusted the unvarnished advice he gave, especially when the going got tough. I’ll also always be grateful that he served as the inaugural dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, where his very presence embodied the nobility and joy of public service.

“I will miss David very much, but we can all take comfort in knowing his legacy will live on in the work of the Pryor Center, in the citizen service of his family, and in all those living better lives because of his service. Hillary and I send our love and prayers to Barbara; David, Scott, and Mark; his grandchildren; and all the other people who also loved him.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., also praised Pryor, a lifelong Democrat.

“David Pryor was a true gentleman and a statesman who dedicated more than a half century of his life to the service of our state and nation. His example served and will continue to serve as inspiration for our fellow Arkansans. I extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and loved ones for whom I pray his memory will always be a cherished blessing.”

Gov. Sarah Sanders issued the following statement: “Bryan and I are mourning the death of a dedicated Congressman, Governor, and Senator, David Pryor. His career defied easy definition: a man with deep roots in Ouachita County who reached the heights of influence in Washington; a Solid South Democrat who stood strong against the Faubus machine; the architect of an Arkansas political dynasty who was just as comfortable in a Camden lumber yard as the Cambridge quad.

“David Pryor’s charisma and moderate politics made him a force at the ballot box for decades. While the Senator and I came up in different political parties, I, like all Arkansans deeply appreciated his diligent stewardship of Arkansas and our interests during his time in public life. And we can all thank him for his role in burying the divisive racial politics that infected Arkansas government before his tenure.

“I was honored that David joined me for my inaugural address and sat on the State House floor for my first address to the legislature. I remember meeting his son, Mark, when he served as Attorney General and I was elected Attorney General of Arkansas Girls State. He was kind and welcoming to me, and I know he learned that from his parents. David’s legacy lives on in Arkansas and U.S. government – and also through his wonderful family. On behalf of all Arkansans, Bryan and I share our deepest condolences with David’s wife Barbara, their son, former U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, and the entire Pryor family.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, issued the following statement.

“I’m deeply saddened to hear of the passing of David Pryor. A lifelong public servant, he served in the U.S. House and Senate, in the state legislature, and served as Governor of Arkansas. He dedicated himself to bettering the lives of Arkansans in each critical position he held. Mr. Pryor was the epitome of a statesman for the Natural State, and his legacy will no doubt live on for generations. My prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, issued the following statement.

“I am deeply saddened to hear that former U.S. Senator David Pryor passed away this morning. Having served as a Congressman, Senator, and Governor, it is clear he was dedicated to Arkansans and worked to improve their lives. My prayers are with his family during this difficult time, and I hope they can be at peace knowing that he lived a long and fulfilling life.”

This content has been contributed by the staff of our content partners Talk Business and Politics.