Oklahoma Department of Human Services Commissioner Jay Dee Chase, 82, of Norman, died Sunday following a short struggle with pneumonia, family members said.
Chase was appointed to the commission by Gov. Brad Henry in February 2007 and was one of the most outspoken commissioners.
“We were very saddened to hear of Jay Dee's passing,” said Preston Doerflinger, interim director for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. “In the short time I have worked with Jay Dee, I found him to be passionate about human services and willing to fight for the issues important to him. The employees of this agency had no better advocate. He was not only a dedicated member of our commission but he was a decorated war veteran who served our country in combat and during the Cold War.”
Fellow Commissioners Aneta Wilkinson and Richard DeVaughn remembered their friend with fondness.
“It has been a pleasure to serve on the commission with Jay Dee these past few years,” Wilkinson said. “We became such good friends and I will miss him greatly. Jay Dee was dedicated to this agency and the people we serve. He has been criticized recently for being outspoken over issues but his heart was always in the right place.”
“I know the state of Oklahoma and the country is losing a great American,” DeVaughn said. “Jay Dee served his country in Korea and was a great supporter of the University of Oklahoma. He was a gentleman to the tee and a great friend. He will be missed.”
Chase served with the U.S. Army in Korea from 1951 to 1953. He received a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, a Combat Infantryman Badge and 11 additional medals. In 2004, he was named 100 Percent Disabled American Veteran for Oklahoma. He received a Certificate of Recognition for his service during the Cold War (Sept. 2, 1945, through Dec. 26, 1991) from U.S. secretary of defense, Bill Cohen.
Chase was president of a pharmaceutical company from 1970 to 1984. He served two years on the Oklahoma Legislative Pharmaceutical Committee. He also has served on the boards of Arvest Bank, the Firehouse Art Center in Norman and the Arthritis Foundation.
He was an avid University of Oklahoma supporter and rarely missed a home football game. Chase is survived by his wife, Vickie, his daughter, DeAnn, and his son, Charles, whose nickname Bud is for legendary OU football coach Bud Wilkinson.
A remembrance for family members and close friends probably will be scheduled before the first OU football game this fall, a family member said.
Chase donated his body for organ sharing and anatomical research.