Rep. Claudia Griffith (D-Norman) has died. She was 67 years old.
First elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2014, Griffith represented east Norman, with House District 45 stretching to Lake Thunderbird from 12th Avenue.
A former PTA president, Griffith held a masters in public health from the University of Oklahoma and was well-known in Norman as the former director of Health for Friends.
“It is completely unexpected and shocking,” Rep. Collin Walke (D-OKC) said. “She was a wonderful mentor to incoming freshmen about the legislative process.”
Walke said he served with Griffith on a House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Finance, and he said she looked out for members of the 2016 freshman class.
“She was a wealth of knowledge,” Walke said.
Rep. Chris Kannady (R-OKC) said he was in Houston for a friend’s memorial service when he learned of his colleague’s passing.
“This is heartbreaking personally and for our state,” Kannady said. “I was elected with Claudia. She was a partner on veterans issues and a champion for many other issues. She was not partisan, and she was a true leader. She will be missed greatly.”
Multiple members of the Oklahoma Legislature told NonDoc they had heard Griffith died of a heart attack.
“Much can be said about the Oklahoma Legislature, but behind all of the talking points and political parties, we are real people with families,” said Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-OKC). “Today, we lost not only a colleague but a dear friend. Rep. Griffith was thoughtful, kind, and passionate about her district and our state. She will be missed.”
Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC) also offered his “sincere condolences” to Griffith’s friends and family.
“She dedicated her professional life to serving others as a nurse and later as a representative,” Dollens said.
House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-OKC) called Griffith “an excellent legislator and an even more wonderful person.”
“She was always willing to work with anyone who wanted to make the state better,” Echols said. “She was a champion for veterans and on health care issues. She will be missed.”
Griffith was in Senate runoff
In recent months, Griffith had been running for Oklahoma State Senate District 16, making the upcoming runoff election against fellow Democrat Mary Boren.
“I’ve spent my time in the House of Representatives working to find sustainable budget solutions, improve our public schools, and provide affordable healthcare access to Oklahomans,” Griffith said when announcing her Senate bid.
She raised three children and is survived by her husband, Jim, of more than four decades.
(Update: This post was updated at 5:12 p.m., Saturday, July 14, 2018, to include an additional quote from Rep. Claudia Griffith’s colleagues. It was updated again at 5:42 p.m. for the same purpose.)