Former University of Oklahoma quarterback Jack Mildren, 58, was remembered by close friends Thursday as a man who was much more than a football star. "He was more than just a great athlete. He was a great political mind, and he will be sorely missed,” former state House Speaker Pro Tempore Danny Hilliard said. Victor Bird, now director of the Aeronautics Commission, was Mildren's leadership assistant when Mildren was Oklahoma's lieutenant governor. "He wanted to do things. He wanted to accomplish things. He wanted to make a positive difference, and was very frustrated by the slowness of state government,” Bird said. "Jack was used to seeing a problem, figuring out a solution and implementing it.” Mildren came into politics directly from a very successful career in the oil business in 1990 when he was elected lieutenant governor.' His brother Richard said Mildren was having some health problems relating to cancer, and was taken to Baptist Hospital. "They thought they would keep him overnight,” Richard Mildren said. Richard said he got a call late Thursday afternoon from his brother's son, Drew, who told him he lost his dad. Hilliard, who now is director of government relations for the University of Oklahoma, was at the state Capitol on Thursday when he got word that Mildren had died. "He called me last month to tell me he wanted me to know he was going through a radical procedure at M.D. Anderson. He was positive and upbeat,” Hilliard said. "We go back to Leadership Oklahoma Class 2,” Hilliard said. They became fast friends there. Both ran for public office in 1990. Hilliard, who is from Sulphur, was elected to the state House of Representatives, and Mildren was elected lieutenant governor. "If he was your friend, he was your friend for life,” Hilliard said. "I really can't believe it happened so quick.” House Speaker Christopher Benge, R-Tulsa, asked for a moment of silence Thursday night on the House floor. Members, who were working through legislation to finish by today's scheduled deadline, prayed and took time out to honor Mildren as a public servant and as an athlete.
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