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|Acting Governor of Arkansas|
January 3, 1979 – January 9, 1979
|13th Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas|
January 14, 1975 – January 19, 1981
|Preceded by||Bob C. Riley|
|Succeeded by||Winston Bryant|
|Arkansas Attorney General|
|Preceded by||Bruce Bennett|
|Succeeded by||Ray Thornton|
|Member of the Arkansas House of Representatives|
Joe Edward Purcell|
July 29, 1923
Warren, Bradley County
March 5, 1987 (aged 63)|
Benton, Saline County
|Spouse(s)||Helen Hale Purcell|
|Children||Lynelle and Ede|
|Served unexpired term of David Pryor, following Pryor's ascent to the United States Senate|
Joe Edward Purcell (July 29, 1923 – March 5, 1987) was Acting Governor of Arkansas for six days in 1979 as well as Arkansas Attorney General from 1967–1971 and the 13th Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas from 1975–1981.
Life and career
Purcell was born in Warren, the seat of Bradley County, in southern Arkansas. He graduated from Little Rock Junior College and the University of Arkansas School of Law at Fayetteville. From 1962 to 1967, he served as the municipal judge in Benton in Saline County. He also served as prosecuting attorney in Benton prior to having been elected judge.
In 1966, Purcell unseated Attorney General Bruce Bennett, a strong segregationist from El Dorado in the Democratic primary election. He then defeated in the general election a stronger-than-usual opponent, Republican Jerry Thomasson, a former Democrat and a state representative from Arkadelphia in Clark County.
In 1974, Purcell was elected lieutenant governor; he handily defeated the Republican Leona Troxell of Rose Bud in White County, a former associate of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. He was reelected as lieutenant governor in 1976 and 1978 under Governors David Pryor and Bill Clinton. 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 was twice a candidate for governor. In 1970, he was considered the leading challenger to former Governor Orval Faubus and ran second to Faubus throughout the primary race, but was edged out of a runoff berth by less than 500 votes by Charleston attorney Dale Bumpers, who went on to defeat Faubus and then the Republican Governor Winthrop Rockefeller in the general election. Purcell was Bumpers' choice to chair the Arkansas Democratic Party, a position which he held from 1970 to 1973. His chief task as party chair was to purge followers of presidential candidate George Wallace of Alabama and former gubernatorial nominee James D. Johnson from the party ranks and to limit the influence of the Faubus-era "Old Guard" faction. He entered the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1982 and surpisingly edged out former Congressman Jim Guy Tucker for a runoff berth with former Governor Bill Clinton. Purcell lost the Democratic nomination in a runoff primary to Clinton, 46 to 54 percent.
Purcell resided in Benton until his death at the age of sixty-three.
Purcell married the former Helen Hale from Prescott, Arkansas, and the couple had two daughters, Lynelle and Ede. He had three grandchildren: Brian Hogue, David Hogue, and Erin Hogue.
- "State of Arkansas: Governors". theus50.com. July 2011. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
| Acting Governor of Arkansas
Bob C. Riley
| Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas
| Arkansas Attorney General