Oklahoma mourns Clem McSpadden

UPDATE:  Services for Clem McSpadden will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Clem McSpadden Bushyhead Ranch Arena, 13 miles north of Claremore on Highway 66.  The Chelsea Funeral Home is coordinating arrangements.

Former State Senate leader and Congressman Clem McSpadden of Chelsea died Monday at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.  A rancher, McSpadden was the grand nephew of Will Rogers.  He earned a degree from Oklahoma State University in 1948 after serving in the Navy from 1944 to 1946.  McSpadden was elected to the State Senate in 1954; and served until 1972 (elected president pro tempore for two sessions).  He was a rancher; insurance executive; real estate developer; professional rodeo announcer; contract director, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association; and delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1968.  McSpadden was elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-third Congress (January 3, 1973-January 3, 1975); was not a candidate for reelection to the Ninety-fourth Congress in 1974; and was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1974.
Regardless of party, all Oklahomans will miss the leadership of Clem McSpadden and many of those from both parties are expressing deep feelings of respect and regret at his passing.

U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican said, “Kay and I were saddened to hear of the death of Clem McSpadden who passed away after a battle with cancer.  Clem was a close personal friend, our friendship went well beyond politics.  When I was first elected to the State Senate in 1968, it was Clem, the Democratic President Pro-Temp that gave me a ride to the Capitol on my first day and took the time to introduce me to fellow members. Like many Oklahomans, I will most fondly remember him for his rodeo announcing. Clem will long be remembered and admired for his many contributions to Oklahoma. His family is in our thoughts and prayers."
Kenneth Corn, Democrat Caucus Chair said, “I’ve known Clem since I first came to the Capitol 10 years ago.  He was a strong voice for agriculture and the rural way of life.  He was truly a legend in his own time who exhibited the very values that make Oklahoma great.
“Clem McSpadden was one of Oklahoma’s last great cowboys.  We’ll miss his steady leadership and presence at the State Capitol and his voice in the rodeo arena.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family for their loss,” Corn added.

State Senate Co-President Pro Tempor Glenn Coffee, Republican said, “Last night Oklahoma lost one of its finest cowboys, Clem McSpadden. He was a worthy successor to the Will Rogers mantle, and a legend in his own right. Clem McSpadden loved his country and his state and served them both with honor and dignity. We will dearly miss him.”

"Oklahomans from every walk of life mourn the loss of Clem McSpadden," Ivan Holmes, Chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party said.  "Oklahoma democrats have lost a true leader and friend," Holmes continued.  "Clem represented the best of what it meant to be an Oklahoma democrat by always being the voice of the common people," Holmes added.

McSpadden died late Monday while undergoing treatment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.  
{mosimage}"I will always remember his quick wit, easygoing humor and soft southern drawl.  Whether on the floor of the State House, the U. S. House, or at a rodeo, Clem always had a way of reminding us of our common roots," Holmes said.

"Clem McSpadden gave his great uncle, Will Rogers, a run for his title as Oklahoma’s favorite son," Holmes concluded.

Gov. Brad Henry said, “Clem McSpadden was a true Oklahoman, a dear friend and a deeply committed public servant who loved the state of Oklahoma and its people, and he spent his life working to make a difference in the lives of those around him.  Through his work in the Oklahoma Legislature and in Congress, Clem helped to build the great state we know today.

“Clem was not only respected in political circles.  Outside of the State Capitol and Washington, D.C., he was known and admired as a legendary rodeo announcer who loved the sport and carried on the heritage and tradition of the West.

“Kim and I send our deepest condolences to the McSpadden family. I know we join all Oklahomans and many more around the country in extending our thoughts and prayers to them in this time of grief,” Henry added.

To read more on Clem McSpadden, click here for a report titled “The legacy of an Oklahoma son” by Sarah Allison of the “Cowboy Journal” published in 2007.