Michael Nicholas (Mike) Kumpuris Jr. (1927‒2010)
Michael Nicholas (Mike) Kumpuris Jr., a longtime resident of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and later of Bryant (Saline County), worked for forty-one years at St. Vincent Infirmary (now CHI St. Vincent Infirmary) in Little Rock. He was initially given a position as part of the crusade to fight polio in 1952 by the infirmary executive at the time, Sister Margaret Vincent Blandford. In 1954, Kumpuris was asked to create their initial physical therapy clinic, where he was engaged in state government regulations for licensure of Arkansas’s physical therapy practitioners, which was an innovation for the state.
Mike Kumpuris was born on March 26, 1927, in El Dorado (Union County) to Lucille Wright Kumpuris and Michael N. Kumpuris Sr. In 1944, while attending Little Rock Central High School, he played offensive tackle and won all-state honors. His team went on to win the state football championship for Coach Raymond Burnett. In 1945, he graduated from Central High, and in 1945‒1946, he served in the U.S. Navy, where he won a Golden Glove Boxing Championship.
Kumpuris married Anne Christine Kober on June 23, 1946; they had two children, Thomas and Michele.
Kumpuris went to college on a football scholarship at the University of Montana in Missoula, playing both offensive tackle and guard, and graduated with a BS in 1950. He went on to play in the 1947 inaugural Hula Bowl and was later invited to the Green Bay Packers training camp. He graduated from Stanford University in California in 1952 with a master’s degree in physical therapy.
In 1973, he was named a Fellow of the American College of Hospital Administration. From 1961 until his retirement in 1993, he served as senior vice president of St. Vincent’s.
An active Rotarian, Kumpuris served as club president and district governor in 1991–1992, in addition to creating dozens of Paul Harris Fellow recognitions, the highest award from Rotary International. He was elected to a two-year term on the Little Rock School Board at the age of seventy-two. He was co-founder of Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services (MEMS), founder of two active neighborhood associations, founder of the first senior citizens’ exercise program in Bryant, and project chairman for Arkansas Polio Plus. He won the KARK Channel 4 Community Service Award in 1995 and the Senator David H. Pryor Award for humanitarian services in 1998. He volunteered for and led numerous boards and functions at two churches of which he was a member, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Little Rock and Friends in Christ Lutheran Church in Bryant. His charitable works included missions to Germany, Greece, Honduras, India, Pakistan, Russia, and Tanzania, as well as numerous humanitarian efforts throughout Little Rock and Arkansas.
He died on July 18, 2010, at St. Vincent from complications of hip surgery and is buried at Pinecrest Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Alexander (Pulaski and Saline counties).
For additional information:
Obituary for Mike Kumpuris Jr. http://www.tributes.com/show/Mike-Kumpuris-88990714 (accessed June 9, 2021).
Chris T. McAllister
Eastern Oklahoma State College
Last Updated: 06/09/2021