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Joe Purcell

In office
January 3, 1979 – January 9, 1979
Lieutenant N/A
Preceded by David Pryor
Succeeded by Bill Clinton

In office
1975 – 1981
Governor David Pryor
Bill Clinton
Preceded by Bob C. Riley
Succeeded by Winston Bryant

In office
1967 – 1971
Preceded by Bruce Bennett
Succeeded by Ray Thornton

Born June 29, 1923(1923-06-29)
Warren, Arkansas
Died March 1987 (aged 64)
Benton, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Profession Attorney
Served unexpired term of David Pryor, following Pryor's ascent to the United States Senate

Joseph Edward Purcell (July 29, 1923 – March 1987) was the Acting Governor of Arkansas for six days in 1979 as well as Arkansas Attorney General from 1967-1971 and its Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas from 1975-1981.

Purcell was born in Warren, the seat of Bradley County, in southern Arkansas. He graduated from Little Rock Junior College and served in the United States Army during World War II. He graduated from the University of Arkansas Law School in 1952 and practiced law in Benton, Arkansas.

From 1955-1959 he served as a city attorney in Benton. He was municipal judge from 1959 until 1966, when he was elected attorney general. He defeated the Republican Jerry Thomasson in 1966 and again in 1968. As attorney general, Purcell instituted a number of reforms and innovations, including a pro-active consumer protection office which sided with ratepayers and borrowers against public utilities and banks and which strictly enforced election laws to ensure honest balloting.

Purcell developed a reputation for integrity which led many to encourage him to run for governor in 1970. In that race, he placed third, behind former Governor Orval Eugene Faubus and Dale Leon Bumpers, a 45-year old Charleston lawyer whose boiling, telegenic appeal edged out Purcell's laconic, almost wooden speaking style. Bumpers went on to defeat Faubus in the runoff and then Republican Governor Winthrop Rockefeller in the general election. Purcell ran again in 1982 and secured a runoff berth, but he lost the nomination to former Governor Bill Clinton. U.S. Representative Jim Guy Tucker, State Senator Kim Hendren of Benton County in northwestern Arkansas, and Monroe Schwarzlose of Cleveland County, ran in that same primary but finished in third, fourth, and fifth place, respectively. Clinton then toppled incumbent Republican Governor Frank D. White in November, who had unseated Clinton in 1980.

Purcell was elected lieutenant governor in 1974. He handily defeated the Rockefeller Republican Leona Troxell of Rose Bud in White County. He was reelected to the post in 1976 and 1978. He served as Acting Governor for six days in 1979, having filled the unexpired term of then senator-elect David Hampton Pryor of Camden.

Purcell resided in Benton until his death at the age of sixty-three.

Purcell married the former Helen Hale, and the couple had two daughters, Lynelle and Ede.

Purcell has three grandchildren: Brian Hogue, David Hogue, and Erin Hogue.

Political offices
Preceded by
David Pryor
Governor of Arkansas (acting)
January 1979
Succeeded by
Bill Clinton
Preceded by
Bob C. Riley
Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas
1975–1981
Succeeded by
Winston Bryant
Legal offices
Preceded by
Bruce Bennett
Arkansas Attorney General
1967–1971
Succeeded by
Ray Thornton







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