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nigh

George Nigh

George Patterson Nigh (born June 9, 1927), was a popular Oklahoma U.S. Democratic Party leader, serving as Governor of Oklahoma on two separate occasions. Although the Oklahoma constitution only allows two consecutive terms, short term vacancies in the Governor's office twice elevated Lt.Gov. Nigh to the Governor's office. Additionally he was elected to, and served out two full consecutive terms.

He was born in McAlester, Oklahoma, and was the son of Wilbur R. and Irene Crockett Nigh. Nigh served in the United States Navy from 1945 to 1946 and graduated from East Central State College in Ada, Oklahoma in 1951. From 1951 to 1959, he alternated between service in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as a teacher in the McAlester public schools. During his tenure in the state legislature, he introduced legislation designating "Oklahoma!" as the state song. He served as Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma from 1959 to 1963. Taking office at age 31, he became the youngest state Lieutenant Governor in the United States.

Upon the sudden death of U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr in January, 1963, lame duck Governor J. Howard Edmondson resigned, elevating Nigh to the office of Governor, where he promptly appointed Edmondson to fill Kerr's remaining term.

He had served as Lieutenant Governor again from 1967 to 1979. From 1979 to 1987, he served two elected terms as Governor and was the first Oklahoma Governor to serve consecutive terms, but took office five days early, as a result of outgoing Governor David L. Boren's swearing-in as a U.S. Senator. He was reelected in 1982, carrying all 77 of the state's counties.

Following his term as Governor, he served as President of the University of Central Oklahoma from 1992 to 1997. In 1990 he was inducted into the Oklahoma CareerTech Hall of Fame and in 1992, he received the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award. From November, 2005 to April, 2006, he served as Interim Director of the state Tourism and Recreation Department, during the agency's search for a permanent director.

Nigh and his wife Donna appeared in walk-on roles in episode # 19 of the NBC soap opera Texas (playing themselves as Governor and First Lady of Oklahoma). The episode aired in August 1980. Cast member Lisby Larson (Paige Marshall) serenaded the couple with a rendition of "Oklahoma!"

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