Frank D. White
|Frank D. White|
|Governor of Arkansas|
From: January 19, 1981 – January 11, 1983
|Party||Republican (after 1980)|
Democrat (before 1980)
|Spouse(s)||Mary Blue Hollenberg White (Div. 1973)|
Gay Daniels White (m. 1975-his death)
|Service Years|| 1956-61|
Frank Durward White (1933-2003) was the Republican governor of Arkansas from 1981 to 1983. He and former U.S. Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt of Harrison, Arkansas, are the only two politicians ever to defeat Bill Clinton in an election.
A native of Texarkana, Texas, White was born Durward Frank Kyle, Jr., after his father, who died when the boy was six. He then took the stepfather's last name and reversed "Durward Frank" as "Frank Durward". White graduated with a Bachelor of Sciene in engineering from the United States Naval Academy on the recommendation of Democratic Senator John McClellan of Arkansas.
Originally a Democrat, White relocated to Little Rock and served as director of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission during the admnistration of Governor David Pryor. He switched parties in 1980 to challenge the reelection of Governor Clinton. First, he defeated fellow Republican Marshall Chrisman of Ozark in Johnson County, who questioned White's Republican credentials as a newcomer to the party. Oddly, White's Republican predecessor as governor, Winthrop Rockefeller, who served from 1967 to 1971, had also been director of the industrial development commission under Rockefeller's predecessor as governor, Orval E. Faubus.
White's election as governor coincided with the triumph of Ronald Reagan as U.S. President and the reelection of Arkansas U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers. In 1981, White appointed Faubus director of the Arkansas Veterans Department, a selection criticized by many Democrats and some liberal Republicans. In 1982, White again defeated Chrisman in the Republican gubernatorial primary. White won the support of James D. Johnson, the Democrat who had lost the 1966 gubernatorial election to Rockefeller. But Bill Clinton handily unseated White in the general election and would therefore remain governor of Arkansas until 1993, when he was inaugurated as the presidential successor to the defeated George Herbert Walker Bush.
In 1986, White failed in another race against Clinton, who had beaten Faubus in the Democratic primary. From 1998 to 2003, White served under Republican Governor Mike Huckabee as the Arkansas banking commissioner. He died two weeks before what would have been his seventieth birthday. He is interred in Little Rock at the historic Mount Holly Cemetery. He and his second wife, the former Gay Daniels, were founding members of a fundamentalist Christian church in Little Rock.