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Donna Idelle Axum (January 3, 1942 – November 4, 2018) was an American beauty pageant winner, author, television executive producer, philanthropist and model. She was crowned Miss America in 1964. One month earlier she had been crowned Miss Arkansas.

Donna Axum
Donna Axum.jpg
Axum in 1964
Donna Idelle Axum

(1942-01-03)January 3, 1942
DiedNovember 4, 2018(2018-11-04) (aged 76)
Alma materUniversity of Arkansas
TitleMiss America 1964
PredecessorJacquelyn Mayer
SuccessorVonda Kay Van Dyke
Spouse(s)Michael Alan Buckley
Gus Franklin Mutscher
(m. 1969; div. 1972)

J. Bryan Whitworth (m. 1984)
Donna Axum signature.jpg

After her Miss America win, Axum taught classes at Texas Tech University and worked in television such as starring on The Noon Show and Good Morning Arkansas. Aside from Miss America, Axum was an active civic leader as she served on the National Committee for the Performing Arts of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. after being nominated by President Bill Clinton, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Van Cliburn Foundation and Texas Christian University College of Fine Arts Board of Visitors.


Early lifeEdit

Axum was born in El Dorado, Arkansas.[1] Her Miss America scholarship was used to complete her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in speech/drama, television and film.[2] While there, she was a member of the Delta Iota Chapter of Delta Delta Delta.[3]

Miss AmericaEdit

Axum made her first bid for Miss Arkansas before 1963, but was unsuccessful.[4] In 1963, before her final year at the University of Arkansas, Axum made her second bid for the 1963 title and won.[4] She won the Miss America pageant about a month later, becoming the first of only three Arkansans to win the title.[4] The other two are Elizabeth Ward (1981) and Savvy Shields (2016).[4]

Later careerEdit

Axum held many titles after serving as Miss America: university instructor, author, television executive producer, TV hostess, professional speaker and civic leader.[1][2] In 1988, Axum was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Arkansas and served on its National Development Council.[5] She also served on the steering committee of a seven-year capital campaign that raised more than $1.046 billion for the university.[6]

Axum taught speech classes at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and later worked in television, starring in programs like The Noon Show and Good Morning Arkansas.[4]

Axum was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be a member of the boards of the National Committee for the Performing Arts of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C..[4] She also served at the Fort Worth Symphony, the Van Cliburn Foundation, named for the famed pianist from Shreveport, Louisiana, and the Texas Christian University College of Fine Arts Board of Visitors.[7]

Axum remained active at the University of Arkansas, participating in campaigns to help most of the university's fundraising efforts until her death in 2018.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

Axum first married Michael Alan Buckley and had one child, Lisa.[8] They later divorced and in 1969 she married Gus Franklin Mutscher, who served as Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives from 1969 to 1972 and later as the Washington County judge.[8] The pair divorced in 1972.[8] She married J. Bryan Whitworth, executive vice president of ConocoPhillips, on March 1, 1984.[1] The Whitworths lived in Fort Worth, Texas.[8] They had five children.[1]

As an author Axum penned How to Be and Look Your Best Everyday: A Comprehensive Guide from a Former Miss America in 1978.[1]

Axum died on November 4, 2018, at age 76 in Fort Worth from complications of Parkinson's disease.[9][4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e "Arkansas' first Miss America, Donna Axum Whitworth, passes away". Magnolia Reporter. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Donna Axum Whitworth, Miss America in 1964, dies at 76". Arkansas Times. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  3. ^ "Delta Delta Delta". University of Arkansas. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "1st Miss America from Arkansas dies at 76". Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  5. ^ "Donna Axum Whitworth, first Miss Arkansas to be crowned Miss America, dies at 76". THV11. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  6. ^ Kinch Jr., Sam; Procter, Ben (1972). Texas Under a Cloud: Story of the Texas Stock Fraud Scandal. Jenkins.
  7. ^ "Miss America History 1964". Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2006.
  8. ^ a b c d Hendricks, Nancy. "Donna Axum Whitworth (1942–)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
  9. ^ "First Miss Arkansas To Win Miss America Dies At 76". 5NewsOnline. Retrieved November 5, 2018.

External linksEdit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jacquelyn Mayer
Miss America
Succeeded by
Vonda Kay Van Dyke
Preceded by
Edye Addington
Miss Arkansas
Succeeded by
Pam Jackson