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Former Oklahoma lawmaker Abe Deutschendorf dies at 77

A funeral is scheduled Friday for former Oklahoma state Rep. Abe Deutschendorf, from Lawton. Deutschendorf was also the uncle of the late singer/songwriter John Denver, whose birth name was Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: December 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm •  Published: December 25, 2012

A former longtime legislator was remembered Monday as a man of character and faith who won't be forgotten at the state Capitol.

Abe Deutschendorf, of Lawton, died Sunday while preparing a meal for several homeless people and families at Trinity Baptist Church in Lawton, where he served as a deacon. He was 77.

Deutschendorf also was known as being the uncle of the late singer/songwriter John Denver, whose birth name was Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.

“He was always proud of that,” said Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs.

Deutschendorf, a Democrat, was elected to the House District 62 seat in 1994. He served until 2006, when he couldn't seek re-election because of legislative term limits.

“Rep. Deutschendorf was one public servant who was as known for his faith and character as well as for his legislative accomplishments,” said House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, who succeeded him in the House District 62 post. “Abe was a shining example of a servant leader. His faith, character and devotion to his wife, Sammy, until her passing, continue to be revered in the halls of the Capitol and will be remembered for generations to come. It was an honor for me to succeed Rep. Deutschendorf as representative for District 62.”

Dorman served in the Legislature with Deutschendorf during his final term. Before that Dorman worked for him for several years as a member of the House staff.

“He was the kindest, gentlest man that I've ever seen go through that building,” Dorman said. “He constantly was going on mission trips with his church. He cared for his wife who was ill until she passed away a couple years ago.”

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