Serving community for 60 years: Longtime local doctor makes impact on many residents’ lives

The below article originally appeared in the Bethany Tribune.

For nearly 60 years, Dr. John William Bumpus, MD, has been serving this community and the state of Oklahoma because he believes “there is a need for people to help and it’s something everyone who is part of a community should do.”

After listening to Dallas Baggett, the pastor at his church in Birmingham, Alabama, talk about Bethany-Peniel College (now Southern Nazarene University) in Bethany, Oklahoma Dr. Bumpus decided he would go to Oklahoma to study biology. He arrived in Bethany in 1948, and could never have dreamed the impact the decision would make on his entire life. Seventy years later, John is living in Bethany. Except for the years when he was studying to be a doctor, and serving in the USA military, Bethany has been his home and the rest his family lives in Oklahoma.

He married Mary Jean Evans, called “Gracie,” and they had two sons, Bill and Greg Bumpus, both of whom live in Bethany. At age 49, Gracie died in 1979. He married Eva Payne in 1982. She has two sons, Michael and Kyle Payne. Together Eva and John have 10 grandchildren.

After graduating from BPC in 1952, he studied medicine at Baylor in Houston and finished in 1956. He served as a medical officer for two years in the military, then returned to Houston for a specialty study for a year.

Dr. Leon Gilbert recruited him to practice in Bethany. John said he was eager to practice in a small town, located near a larger city. In the late 1950’s, Oklahoma City had not yet surrounded Bethany. Bumpus joined the doctor’s group at Gilbert Clinic in 1960. He stayed at Gilbert Clinic until 1964, when he and Don Brown, a Bethany builder, built Western Oaks Medical Center on 23rd Street at Alexander Lane. Dr. Bumpus recruited seven doctors to serve a rapidly expanding community.

Dr. Bumpus retired from his medical practice in 1990, and sold the clinic to the City of Bethany. Not long after, he was recruited by George Miller, then director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. John began a part time position with Oklahoma Healthcare Authority. After 27 years, he continues to be employed in his retirement years.

“I had a good run in medicine. The benefits flowed without me realizing it. I met a lot of people and I’ve enjoyed life. I’ve embraced life and every facet I’ve been involved in,” he said. 

In 1986, Bumpus served Oklahoma as the Republican representative for House District 84 during the 41st session under Governor Henry Bellmon. District 84 covers a large portion of Bethany.

“It was a good opportunity. Everyone ought to serve, if they can,” Dr. Bumpus said recently.

Bumpus has volunteered in many areas and said it was for the end goal of helping his community. One of the first collaborations was with then-Bethany Nazarene College men’s basketball coach David Baker.

Baker wanted to start a supportive alumni and local citizen’s group called, Benchwarmers. The group is still active. Each donor who gave was given the opportunity to obtain preferred upper level seats in the crowded Broadhurst gymnasium.

When Southern Nazarene built Sawyer Center in 1998, the Storm Chasers had courtside seats in a special section. Bumpus still has Storm Chasers’ seats from where he watches home games.

Beyond providing financial support, the Storm Chasers live out a life of value in front of all of our student athletes. The financial assistance helps our programs survive,” SNU athletic director Bobby Martin said.

As a way to help students at his alma mater in his area of undergraduate study, he was a founding member of Catalyst. Catalyst’s financial aid provides financial aid for scholarships and faculty and student research in the Division of Science and Mathematics. For more than 10 years, Catalyst has promoted excellence through tuition assistance and endowments. He was a charter physician at the Bethany Hospital, when it was built in the 1960’s at 7600 NW 23rd Street. While the building is no longer a hospital, the building still serves patients as Bethany Behavioral Health center.

He also was involved in building the first addition to Deaconess Hospital.

In the 1990’s, he was on the building committee for Southern Plaza. A senior adult living center for independent living opened in 2000 in Bethany at 36th Street and College Avenue. A recent addition to the west of the original building means Southern Plaza now offers three levels of care: independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care. Bumpus attends Bethany First Church of the Nazarene, and he served on the church board from the time E.S. Phillips was pastor, through David Busic’s. Years as pastor. He’s a member of the Reach Out Sunday school class.

Dr. Bumpus helped behind the scenes for many of the Excel Auctions, hosted
by Southern Nazarene University, to raise money for children to attend summer camps.

“The most influential person in my life was my Dad. He taught me how to work and serve and how to do my best. I try to embrace that philosophy, live honestly and do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” he added.

Bethany Improvement Foundation Honors a citizen, employee or business owner who is an exceptional volunteer. A story and photo run in The Tribune newspaper and on the BIF Facebook page. If you would like to recognize or nominate someone for BIF Honors, please contact Marcia Feisal at The mission of the Bethany Improvement Foundation is to benefit the citizens of Bethany, Oklahoma through charitable projects. For more information or to become a member, visit Anyone who loves Bethany and wants the best for our city is welcome.