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Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn speaks at a news conference in Oklahoma City in this March 28, 2018 photo. (Sue Ogrocki/AP)

OSU mourns death of former Sen. Tom Coburn

Monday, March 30, 2020

Former Oklahoma Sen. Thomas Allen Coburn died March 28 at his Tulsa home after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 72.

“We join many across our state and nation in mourning the loss of former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn,” Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis said in a statement.

Coburn graduated from OSU in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

“We were deeply honored and proud to call him a graduate,” Hargis said.

At OSU, Coburn was a member of the Blue Key Honor Society, Business Student Council — where he was president — and Sigma Nu Fraternity.

His honors include being named a Top 10 Senior in the College of Business Administration, induction in the Spears School Hall of Fame in 1998, and being named a School of Accounting distinguished alumnus in 2015.

From 1970 to 1978, Coburn worked as the manufacturing manager at the Ophthalmic Division of Coburn Optical Industries in Colonial Heights, Va., helping the Virginia division expand from 13 to 350 employees while capturing 35 percent of the U.S. market.

After selling the family business, Coburn became an obstetrician in Muskogee, Oklahoma, delivering more than 4,000 babies.

He entered politics, representing Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District from 1995 to 2001 before winning two terms in the U.S. Senate beginning in 2004. In 2015, he stepped down due to health issues.

In 2014, Coburn was named one of the Spears School’s 100 for 100 honorees during the school’s 100th anniversary celebration.

“As my time in public life winds down, I’m more convinced than ever that our nation needs people with real life experience and a frame of reference outside of politics to serve in elected office,” Coburn said in 2014. “The Spears School played a critical role in providing me with a frame of reference and perspective that has been invaluable for me in business, medicine and politics. I’m so grateful for OSU’s commitment to students, our state and our nation and am humbled to be one of the 100 for 100.”

Hargis praised Coburn as a “true Cowboy.”

“He was a person of principle and character,” Hargis said. “His public servant life reflected his uncompromising belief in American freedom and independence. The Cowboy family is grateful for Tom’s service to our country, state and university. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Monica Roberts |Director of Media Relations | |405-744-4800

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