Former Governor Honored By Greater Lawton Rotary Club
The Greater Lawton Rotary Club held a grand celebration earlier today, and the guest of honor was former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh, who celebrated his 90th birthday in Lawton.
The celebration is a bit early for Nigh, whose actual 90th birthday will take place June 9th. Nigh served as both the 17th and 22nd Governor of the state, serving terms from
January 5th 1963 to January 12th of the same year, and again from January 3rd, 1979 to January 12th, 1987. Nigh had been elected Lieutenant Governor in 1958, ran for the Governor's office in 1962, but lost in the primary election for the Democratic nomination. But when sitting governor J. Howard resigned the office in January of 1963 to take the seat of U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr, who died in office. This gave Nigh the opportunity to become governor until seceding the office just one week later.
Nigh again ran for Lieutenant Governor in 1966, running unopposed in the Democratic primary election, and won the office in the general election with just 51.5% of the vote. He was re-elected to the office in both 1970 and 1974. Nigh would again run for Governor in 1978, winning the Democratic nomination in a run-off election, before winning the general election with 51.7% of the vote. His re-elections to the Governor's mansion in 1982 and 1986. His 3 full terms and two partial terms in office give him a total of 5 terms in office, more than any other governor in state history. He was also the second-longest serving Lieutenant Governor in state history, with 16 years of service to Oklahoma.
Nigh, a veteran of World War II, spoke about public service, his life in politics and how he convinced legislators to make "Oklahoma" the state song. Nigh went on to say that his hopes for younger generations is that they will see his career as an example that they don't have to move out of state to accomplish their goals.
Since leaving office in 1987, Nigh has written a book, served as President of the University of Central Oklahoma and also served on the Board of Directors of JC Penney. Since retiring completely in 1997, Nigh travels the state with his wife and daughter doing community service, as well as serving as an advisor to the International Bank of Commerce.