SALEM, OR -- Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson lost his battle with cancer Tuesday night, at the age of 69. Deputy Secretary of State Leslie Cummings released a statement Wednesday morning saying Richardson passed away at about 9 p.m., surrounded by family and friends at his home.
Richardson was elected to Oregon's House of Representatives in 2002 and served 12 years. He ran for Governor in 2014, losing to John Kitzhaber, who resigned three months after the election. Richardson became the first Republican elected to statewide office since 2002 when he took over as Secretary of State in January of 2017.
Cummings says, "From his service in Vietnam as a combat helicopter pilot to his 30-year legal career and 19 years in public service, this father of nine and grandfather of 31 found great joy in serving and taking care of others." He added that Richardson leaves a legacy of always aiming high, expecting excellence, moving fast, and doing what is right for the people.
Governor Kate Brown ordered all flags at public institutions immediately lowered to half-staff in honor of Richardson. She released the following statement on his death, "Dan and I are saddened to hear this news today. Our hearts are with Secretary of State Richardson's family, friends, and fellow lawmakers today," said Governor Brown. "Regardless of what side of the aisle his colleagues sat on, we all knew Dennis' kind heart guided his career of service to the people of Oregon. His reputation for perseverance not only guided him through the fight with cancer, it also gave us all reassurance that he was fighting cancer with the same determination he brought to work every day."
The Oregon Constitution requires the Governor to appoint a new Secretary of State. She says he and her staff will begin the process of reviewing candidates and make an appointment in the coming weeks. Brown has decided to consider appointees from the Republican party who commit to not entering the 2020 election for Secretary of State, as she did in 2015 when selecting her own successor.
House Republican Leader Carl Wilson (R-Grants Pass) issued the following statement:
"We have suffered a great loss with the passing of Dennis Richardson. Dennis was a steadfast man who loved family, his country, the State of Oregon, and the people he served. This loss is a difficult one for us all. His death will be deeply mourned by all his former colleagues in the Oregon House of Representatives.”
And Congressman Greg Walden released the following statement:
"I am so saddened to learn of Secretary of State Dennis Richardson’s passing. Dennis was such a kind, caring, and thoughtful friend. A wonderful public servant, and a deeply loving husband and parent. Dennis’ quiet competence and civility is such a rarity in today's world. I feel blessed to have known and worked with him for so many years. Mylene and I are sending our prayers to Cathy and their children. Dennis served his country with honor and his body of work leaves Oregon better for the next generation."