Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Longtime former U.S. Sen. Jim Mountain Inhofe dies at age 89

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Former Senator Jim Inhofe, dead at 89.

WASHINGTON – Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, the longest-serving senator from the state, died Tuesday morning surrounded by family after suffering a sudden illness at age 89.

Inhofe, whose political career spanned six decades, established himself as a fixture of Oklahoma politics and a mainstay of the conservative ideology. He championed U.S. military strength and strong defense spending, later serving as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee from late 2018 to 2020, a longtime goal of the former senator.

He also served as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, often speaking against climate change. Inhofe famously threw a snowball on the Senate floor to protest notions of man made global warming in 2015.

Before serving as a senator, Inhofe spent four years as the mayor of Tulsa, 10 years in the Oklahoma Legislature, and eight years as a member of the U.S. House. Inhofe was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994, where he served five terms until retiring in 2023, citing long-term complications of COVID-19.

U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma City), one of Inhofe’s colleagues, said he was a true legend and force to be reckoned with in the Senate.

“Cindy and I are deeply saddened about the loss of Oklahoma’s favorite son, Senator Jim Inhofe,” Lankford said in a statement. “We grieve along with our state and nation the loss of a true patriot for our American values and way of life. He kept his relationship with Jesus, his family, and all Oklahomans as his priority. His passion for our military, aviation, energy, infrastructure, Africa, and our personal freedom was vital for our state and our nation.”

Longtime colleague and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) also released a statement on Inhofe’s passing, writing that any legislator would dream of having his legacy.

“The Senator for Oklahoma lived up to his unique and distinguished middle name: Jim was a Mountain of a man,” McConnell said in a statement. “The people he served, a group much larger than the proud residents of the Sooner State, were better for it. Jim’s diligent stewardship of massive infrastructure projects transformed life across the Heartland. His relentless advocacy for American energy dominance unlocked new prosperity across the country.”

Similarly, U.S. Congressman Kevin Hern (R-Tulsa) released a statement calling Inhofe a dear friend, mentor and titan in Oklahoma.

“Jim spent his life in service to his country, both in uniform and in the halls of Congress. He will always be remembered as a fighter, especially for our military service members,” Hern said in a statement. “Jim’s legacy of service, leadership, and faith reflect the Oklahoma Standard and the pride he held in his work. Along with the family, friends, and many Oklahomans who knew and loved him, I mourn the loss of a great man.”

U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Cheyenne) also mourned the passing of Inhofe, saying that learning under Inhofe’s leadership has only strengthened his sense of duty.

“His long career in the United States House and Senate serves as a testament to his strong moral compass and innate desire to better his home state,” Lucas said in a statement. “From being a larger-than-life advocate for Oklahoma’s military installations to improving infrastructure across the state, Jim Inhofe has made an impact on Oklahomans that will be felt for generations.”

Inhofe grew up in Tulsa, where he later attended the University of Tulsa. Along with briefly serving in the U.S. Army in 1955, Inhofe also worked in aviation, real estate and insurance.

According to Inhofe’s family, funeral services are pending.

 

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more stories by Gaylord News go to GaylordNews.net.

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