Family, Lawmakers Attend Funeral For Oklahoma Senator Gene Stipe


Tuesday, July 24th 2012, 3:44 pm
By: Emory Bryan


Many of his political protégés gathered to say goodbye to one of Oklahoma's most influential politicians.

Former State Senator Gene Stipe was laid to rest in McAlester, Tuesday.

Stipe's funeral was as much about the man's politics as the man himself, with former colleagues praising Stipe's idea of public service.

"Once the election is over, we're not Republicans or Democrats—we're Oklahomans and Americans working for the good of this country and this state," said Frosty Troy.

Stipe spent more than half of his life in the legislature—53 years, spanning half of the state's history.

7/21/2012 Related Story: Embattled Former Oklahoma Lawmaker Gene Stipe Dies

He built a political dynasty that survived accusations of everything from corruption to tax evasion.

In 2003, a campaign finance scandal forced his resignation from the Senate.

George Nigh, Former Oklahoma Governor, said, "Every Saturday... He would open up his office and any constituent, sit there - 300 people there - and listen to his people."

While there was plenty of praise for Stipe, there were only passing references to the scandal that ended his political career.

"And I know that Gene Stipe wasn't a perfect person, but let me give you a clue: there's not a perfect person in here," said Reverend Steve Dennis, of the Checotah First Baptist Church. "Everybody in this room has made mistakes."

Stipe's admirers remember him as an example of the best of Oklahoma's lawmakers, who never forgot whom he represented. 

Stipe was 85.

He died Saturday after years of declining health.