Stipe service draws more than 800
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
McALESTER -- Former Sen. Gene Stipe, who dominated the state Capitol for more than 50 years, was remembered Tuesday as a man who loved his constituents and had a passion for public service.
His more colorful side also was not forgotten.
The McAlester Democrat died Saturday at the age of 85.
He spent 53 years in the Legislature, resigning in 2003 while facing charges of making illegal campaign donations.
More than 700 people filled the First Baptist Church to pay their respects and swap stories. At times, the atmosphere was more like a family reunion than a funeral.
Politicians, lobbyists, legislative staffers, judges and his constituents greeted each other with warm handshakes and embraces.
Wherever Stipe went, he was from that place, said former Gov. George Nigh.
"He said never forget the people," Nigh said. "You are here to represent them."
Gov. George Nigh shares a story as he gives a eulogy during a funeral for Senator Gene Stipe in McAlester. Looking on is John Massey. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World