Friday, February 27, 2009

On Friday, Duncan and the state lost a statesman, not a politician. Former Mayor, State Representative and Senator Wayne Holden passed away at the age of ninety years. The Mayor was not an imposing figure physically, but his presence filled a room. He commanded respect because of the way he conducted his life.

Wayne was born on a farm north of Loco when Oklahoma was just ten years old. He went to work for Halliburton when he was a young man. After serving four terms as Mayor of Duncan, Holden was elected to the state house at the age of 45. Wayne would stay in the state legislature- first as a representative, then as a Senator- for fourteen years. During Holden’s tenure in the legislature, he was elected Majority Whip, the highest position a Senator from that district had been elected to prior. That was until this year when Senator Anthony Sykes became Majority Whip.

Holden was the oldest of four kids and had two sons and two daughters. He was a vital part of Stephens County’s growth because of his principled, ethical leadership. Here are three examples that define who Wayne Holden was:

First, According to the archives of The Duncan Banner in 1977, Holden got the Oklahoma Historical Society to request a $12,500 appropriation from the state legislature to relocate the Stephens County Historical Museum to Fuqua Park. $12,500 seems like a drop in the bucket today, but Holden’s pleasant persistent persuasion made the appropriation happen. Wayne was interested in passing along Stephens County’s history to future generations.

Second, Holden was never afraid to proclaim his faith. The Trinity Baptist Church, Duncan web site lists Mayor Holden as one of their speakers at their dedication service on August 12, 1956. That’s just one example of Holden unashamedly declaring his faith. In fact, his faith “defined” him.

Third, Wayne wasn’t afraid to cross the aisle and work with Republicans. As a moral and fiscal conservative, he likely felt more comfortable later in life with the “R”s than the “D”s. At a county fair several years ago, the Mayor told me he was very concerned about the moral lapses and failures of national Democrats. He wasn’t so narrow minded or inflexible that he couldn’t work with those of a different political affiliation for the betterment of the community.

Wayne Holden contributed a great deal to our county and state, but none more important than the example of statesmanship.

Steve Fair
Stephens County Republican Party

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