Former Gov. George Nigh's history of service

George Nigh has spent most of his life serving Oklahoma, its people
by Bryan Painter Published: May 19, 2013
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A history of service

George Nigh, a graduate of McAlester High School, served with the U.S. Navy. He obtained an associate degree from Eastern Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1948. Nigh was a 22-year-old college senior at East Central State College in 1950 when he became the youngest member ever elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, representing Pittsburg County.

During his four terms as a representative, he taught school in McAlester and remained in the grocery business.

In 1958, Nigh become the youngest lieutenant governor in the nation's history at age 31. In January 1963, Nigh was sworn in as governor to fill the nine days of the unexpired term of J. Howard Edmondson. In 1979, he was sworn in to fill the last five days of the term of David Boren. A week later, he was inaugurated to begin the first of two terms to which he was elected.

Upon his re-election on Nov. 2, 1982, he became the first gubernatorial candidate to carry all 77 counties. He remains the only one to do so.

Nigh's storied life includes being chosen to lead the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond in 1992.

Bob Burke wrote in “Good Guys Wear White Hats”: “In fact, George had been McAlester's youngest teacher, Oklahoma's youngest legislator, the youngest lieutenant governor in the nation, and was now the oldest person ever hired as a university president in Oklahoma.”

BRYAN PAINTER, Columnist


by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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