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Legacy Home > Directors > Biographies

Merle J. Lemley

J. Merle Lemley was Arkansas' 13th Director of Employment Security Division. He was appointed by newly elected Governor Dale Bumpers on February 1, 1971, and would serve through September 30, 1974 - most of Mr. Bumper's two terms in office. Mr. Dale Cline was the Director of the Arkansas Department of Labor during Lemley's tenure.

Dale Leon Bumpers made a name for himself in the small northwest Arkansas town of Charleston, where he practiced law - representing defendants in the school integration case and helping run his family's hardware store. Ironically, few people throughout the state knew him, and he was able to run for, and win the governorship on the strength of having "no name" before throwing his hat into the race.

In spite of the seven other names in the 1973 gubernatorial campaign - including Rockefeller, Purcell, and Faubus - Bumper's political savvy, brilliant wit, and impeccable timing served him well. Political historians rate Governor Bumpers as one of Arkansas' most progressive and effective state leaders. His two terms have been called revolutionary for Arkansas politics and governance. After serving two successful terms as Governor, Dale Bumpers continued his political success by upsetting the legendary U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, and going on to serve in the U.S. Senate for 24 years.