Former Oklahoma state Sen. Gene Stipe, whose long political career ended amid a congressional campaign finance scandal, has died. He was 85.
Longtime family friend Barry Moore says Stipe died peacefully Saturday at home in McAlester following a long illness. Moore's wife Mary, daughter Beth, and other relatives were with him.
Stipe, a Democrat, had the longest continuous run of any U.S. state senator, serving in that role from 1957 until 2003.
Among sitting lawmakers, only Georgia state Sen. Hugh Gillis' 56 years of legislative service eclipsed Stipe's.
Stipe's resignation came as the FBI probed his connection to illegal campaign contributions to the failed 1998 congressional campaign of fellow Democrat Walt Roberts. Stipe pleaded guilty to federal campaign violations and perjury in 2003.
He was twice declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Stipe's first wife, Agnes, died in 2002.
Known as the "Dean of the Senate," Stipe's 53 years in the state legislature -- half of the time Oklahoma has been a state -- is legendary.
In 1948, at the age of 21, Stipe was elected to the House of Representatives and served through 1954. In 1956, he was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate, where he served until 2003.
Stipe was a World War II veteran and a defense attorney and entrepreneur. He owned radio stations, newspapers, convenience stores and multiple oil and gas holdings.