The Edmond Sun

Local News

July 25, 2012

Oklahomans pay last respects to Stipe

McALESTER — From cowhands, to educators, to two former governors, Oklahomans of all types gathered for the funeral services of former District 7 state Sen. Gene Stipe at the First Baptist Church in McAlester on Tuesday.

Former Gov. George Nigh, a McAlester native, and former Gov. Brad Henry, were among those who helped fill the First Baptist Church to pay their respects to Stipe.

Nigh joined Senior Federal Judge Lee West, of the Western District of Oklahoma; well-known journalist Frosty Troy, former state Sen. John Massey, and Stipe’s grandson, Ty Anis, in delivering eulogies.

The Rev. Steve Dennis, who has a church in Checotah, opened the service.

“I know he was not a perfect man; but guess what? Nobody in this room is perfect,” Dennis said.

Speakers said they were there to celebrate Stipe’s life and achievements, including his more than 50 years in the state Senate, and there was little reference to his later legal troubles.

As a recording of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” sounded through the church, scenes from Stipe’s life, from a boy wearing overalls, to a young sailor, a 21-year-old legislator, to finally, photos of the man considered the dean of the state Senate, were shown on a huge screen.

Judge West said he had a quote from James Dean, stating the best you can ask of life is to “live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse.”

“Gene adhered to an entirely different motto,” West said, saying Stipe did not look at life as a slow journey to the grave.

Rather, he figured you should “skid in sideways, used up and worn out, and say ‘That was a hell of a ride!”’ West said, drawing some chuckles from many in the pews. West also read from a poem that ended with the lines “Remember my best.”

“At your best, Gene, you were a fighter for the little guy,” West said.

Nigh, the former governor and lieutenant governor for the state, said “Sen. Stipe sends his regrets that he couldn’t be here today. He’s probably in Krebs, having lunch, or in his law office, meeting with constituents, said Nigh, referring to Stipe’s longtime practice of meeting with his constituents on Saturdays.

“He was born in Blanco, graduated from Savanna, ate in Krebs and lived in McAlester,” Nigh noted. “I could say the same thing about Hartshorne and Haileyville,” or other communities in the area.”

“Wherever he went, he was from ‘near here,”’ said Nigh, before going on to refer to another politician who carried the practice to extremes.

Referring to Stipe, he said “He would never forget the people; he was here to serve them.”

Nigh also pulled a a Stipe campaign button from his pocket that read “Shake hands with a friend of Gene Stipe.” Nigh said that’s what he wanted everyone present to do.

Troy, the renowned Oklahoma journalist who is also from McAlester, said he gave Stipe one of his nicknames.

“I nicknamed him the Prince of Darkness because of some bill we disagreed on,” Troy said, before going on to talk about how Stipe championed mental health issues and education.

“He had three passions: mental health, education and penal reform,” Troy said, before giving a pep talk to the Democratic faithful in attendance — although Republicans were there as well.

“I never thought I’d see the day this would be the reddest state in the nation,” Troy said.

Troy said at one time schools in some remote areas of Southeastern Oklahoma were in bad shape.

“There were schools that were not fit for pigs to wallow in,” Troy said. At the same time, many schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa were in fine shape, he said.

“What about all the other kids?” Troy asked, noting Stipe’s contributions to education during his years in the Senate.

Although Stipe was an ardent Democrat, Troy recalled that Stipe said “Once the election is over, we’re not Republicans and Democrats. We’re Oklahomans and Americans.”

Massey, taking the podium, recalled how Stipe once told him “Everybody can teach you something, because everybody knows something.”

The Rev. Dennis recalled how Stipe help start and finance the Pittsburg County Community Thanksgiving Dinner, and how he and his brother, the late Francis Stipe, would pay for Christmas for a needy family every year.

Dennis said those present should remember that Gene Stipe was from the Sooner State.

“If his horse left a little earlier,” he was fulfilling the tradition of a great state,” Dennis said.

Stipe’s adult grandson, Anis, spoke of the family side of the longtime senator.

“Most of you know him as a senator, ‘Uncle Gene,’ a businessman, or an attorney. To me, he was just my grandpa,” Anis said.

He said his grandfather was the type of man who’d rather eat at a roadside barbecue stand than a four-star restaurant.

“When I take a long look at his life, I’m in awe of where he came from and where he ended up.”

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Gas State gas price plummets 18 cents in 25 days

    Abundant domestic refinery production is behind a steep 18-cent plunge in Oklahoma gasoline prices at the pump during the last 25 days, AAA reports.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • A Q&A on ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings

    On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.
    Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.

    Q: I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?
    A: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Washington, D.C., decided that the government can’t provide tax subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans purchased in 36 states where the federal government is operating the health insurance exchange. Oklahoma is one of the 36 states. A few hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Richmond, Va., issued a conflicting ruling that upheld the legality of the health-care law’s tax subsidies.

    July 22, 2014

  • June healthy month for Oklahoma jobs

    Nearly 10,000 new jobs in Oklahoma were created in June, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
    Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday the state experienced one of the largest increases in employment in the nation in June. More than 9,600 additional people joined the state’s workforce in June.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, its lowest ratio in six years. June’s rate was down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May and April, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

    July 22, 2014

  • Former OSU line coach having impact on Texas staff

    It was quite possibly the biggest coaching coup of the offseason and Oklahoma State was at the wrong end of it — former Cowboy offensive line coach Joe Wickline joining the staff for Charlie Strong’s Texas Longhorns.
    “It’s always good when you go hire staff and you look at just getting the right people within your program. And, a lot of times, guys know a lot of Xs and Os, but it’s all just about developing a player,” said Strong, Tuesday during the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days. “Joe and I, we’ve coached together at two different places. But just with him being within his conference and knowing the conference, he’s been a great asset.”

    July 22, 2014

  • Whataburger celebrates children’s superhero spirit with ‘Super-Duper’ event

    It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Super Duper Celebration! In the heart of every child lives a superhero and on Thursday Whataburger restaurants will celebrate the superhero spirit in all of us with an evening of family fun from 5-7 p.m. at its location at 421 S. Broadway.
    Customers can spend quality time with their little heroes and treat them to a superhero-themed celebration of food, activities and giveaways. Children 12 and under dressed in a superhero costume will receive a free kid’s meal. There will be a Whataburger photo booth and Whataburger’s mascot, Whataguy, will also be present to join the fun.

    July 22, 2014

  • Kenya Edmond man confesses to crimes in Kenya

    A federal grand jury alleges a 19-year-old Edmond man staying at a children’s’ home in Kenya engaged in illicit sexual conduct with residents ages 4-9.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS includes Edmond in heat advisory

    The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for areas including Edmond.
    It will be in effect from noon Tuesday to 7 p.m. Wednesday, a period during which afternoon heat index values will be near 105 degrees. Individuals exposed to the extreme heat for a prolonged period may develop heat-related illnesses, according to the NWS.

    July 22, 2014

  • Police respond to toddler tragedy at park

    A 2-year-old child has died after a tragic incident during the weekend at a popular Edmond park, a police spokeswoman said.

    July 22, 2014

  • Germans from Russia group plans annual meeting in Edmond

    The Central Oklahoma Chapter of American Historical Society of Germans from Russia will have its annual All State meeting on Aug. 9 at the Memorial Road Mennonite Brethren Church, 4201 E. Memorial Road, in Edmond.

    July 22, 2014

  • Goddard Students learn about animal behavior

    Animals can be fun, friendly and sometimes dangerous. That is what the students at Goddard School on North Western are learning this summer and this week they are learning about pets.
    Each summer Goddard School’s across the nation choose from a provided list of curriculum to use with their students that would be popular with the children. From learning about insects to a tiger safari, each summer is filled with creative learning.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Video
LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot
Poll

If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
Undecided
     View Results