George Nigh’s career included service as a teacher, grocer, public relations professional, university president, and 32 years in public office.
His political career began in 1950, as a 23-year-old senior at East Central University, when he was elected to the House of Representatives as its youngest member.
While serving in the legislature, Nigh taught at his alma mater, McAlester High School. In 1958, at age 31, Nigh was elected lieutenant governor, the youngest in Oklahoma history and the youngest then serving in the United States. He was elected governor in 1978, then became the first Oklahoma governor to earn re-election in 1982. He remains the only governor to carry all 77 counties.
He also completed two brief unexpired terms when Governors Edmondson and Boren resigned early to go to the U.S. Senate.
Upon leaving the governor’s office in 1987, he returned to education as a distinguished statesman in residence at the University of Central Oklahoma and became president in July 1992, serving for five years.
He was appointed by President Clinton as national chairman of the President’s Committee to raise funds for scholarships for all surviving children of those killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. He is lifetime president of the Donna Nigh Foundation, which benefits Oklahomans with developmental disabilities.
He is a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Vo-Tech Hall of Fame and the US Jaycee Ten Outstanding American Hall of Leadership.
At the Oklahoma Christian Associates Dinner in April, the university honored Nigh and his wife Donna with the Lee Allan Smith Spirit of Oklahoma Award.