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.
Axum in 1964
|Born||Donna Idelle Axum|
January 3, 1942
El Dorado, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||November 4, 2018 (aged 76)|
Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Arkansas|
|Title||Miss America 1964|
|Successor||Vonda Kay Van Dyke|
|Spouse(s)||Michael Alan Buckley|
Gus Franklin Mutscher
(m. 1969; div. 1972)
J. Bryan Whitworth (m. 1984)
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.
Axum was born in El Dorado, Arkansas. 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. While there, she was a member of the Delta Iota Chapter of Delta Delta Delta.
Axum made her first bid for Miss Arkansas before 1963, but was unsuccessful. In 1963, before her final year at the University of Arkansas, Axum made her second bid for the 1963 title and won. She won the Miss America pageant about a month later, becoming the first of only three Arkansans to win the title. The other two are Elizabeth Ward (1981) and Savvy Shields (2016).
Axum held many titles after serving as Miss America: university instructor, author, television executive producer, TV hostess, professional speaker and civic leader. In 1988, Axum was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Arkansas and served on its National Development Council. She also served on the steering committee of a seven-year capital campaign that raised more than $1.046 billion for the university.
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.. 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.
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.
Axum first married Michael Alan Buckley and had one child, Lisa. 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. The pair divorced in 1972. She married J. Bryan Whitworth, executive vice president of ConocoPhillips, on March 1, 1984. The Whitworths lived in Fort Worth, Texas. They had five children.
As an author Axum penned How to Be and Look Your Best Everyday: A Comprehensive Guide from a Former Miss America in 1978.
- "Arkansas' first Miss America, Donna Axum Whitworth, passes away". Magnolia Reporter. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- "Donna Axum Whitworth, Miss America in 1964, dies at 76". Arkansas Times. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- "Delta Delta Delta". University of Arkansas. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- "1st Miss America from Arkansas dies at 76". Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "Donna Axum Whitworth, first Miss Arkansas to be crowned Miss America, dies at 76". THV11. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- Kinch Jr., Sam; Procter, Ben (1972). Texas Under a Cloud: Story of the Texas Stock Fraud Scandal. Jenkins.
- "Miss America History 1964". Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2006.
- Hendricks, Nancy. "Donna Axum Whitworth (1942–)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved February 4, 2018.
- "First Miss Arkansas To Win Miss America Dies At 76". 5NewsOnline. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Donna Axum.|
- Delta Delta Delta Distinguished Alumnae profile
- "Donna Axum Whitworth". Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History. Retrieved February 4, 2018. video with transcript
|Awards and achievements|
| Miss America
Vonda Kay Van Dyke
| Miss Arkansas