Monday, December 27, 2010

Butch Choate Services Set For Friday; Legislators Praise His Life And Career, Mourn His Passing

UPDATED (First reported 12/25/10) ~ Former State Senator Ralph "Butch" Choate of Hennessey died on Christmas Eve of a massive heart attack, his family reports. He had not been in ill health. He was 63.

Service arrangements are by Cordry-Gritz Funeral Home in Hennessey and will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at the First Christian Church of Hennessey. Burial will follow in Hennessey Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Butch's memory be made to the charity of your choice.

Choate, a Republican, was born in Enid to Jack H. and Jule J. Choate. He went to Hennessey Public Schools and graduated with honors in 1965.

Ralph enrolled and spent one year at The University of Oklahoma before being drafted into the Marine Corps in the spring of 1966. Ralph went to boot camp at Camp Pendleton in California and spent thirteen months in Vietnam.

Following his tour of duty, Ralph returned to Hennessey and enrolled at Phillips University in Enid where he completed his degree in May 1973.

He was active in the Hennessey community as a city council member and businessman.

Ralph owned and operated the Hennessey Ford dealership for fourteen years and worked with his father in the oil and gas industry.

He was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1980. After one term in the House, he was elected to the Senate in 1982 where he would spend eight years serving his constituents.

He also served six years on the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission and on the board of Pioneer Telephone Cooperative in Kingfisher.

He was always concerned about the viability of rural Oklahoma and worked to expand the pork industry. Following his tenure in the Legislature he continued to take an active role informing legislators about the benefits the pork industry brought to the state.

Choate owned and operated Turkey Creek Golf Course in Hennessey.

He is survived by his wife, Jan, and son, Judson, and his family.

Rep. Mike Sanders expressed his sorrow at hearing of Choate's death.

“I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family for the loss of such a good man,” Sanders, R-Kingfisher, said. “Senator Choate was a dear family friend and an important public servant in my district. He had a passion for helping rural communities in Western Oklahoma flourish and thrive. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family today.”

Senate President Pro-Tem-designate Brian Bingman said, “Senator Choate was a great man and a dedicated public servant. He gave greatly to his family, his community and his state and we are all better off as a result. I send my prayers and best wishes to his family as they experience this difficult time. He will be missed."

“Butch was a true statesman and public servant,” said Senator Patrick Anderson, R-Enid. “He loved his family and community and cared deeply about the people in rural Oklahoma. Butch was a friend, a supporter and a mentor to me – he will be missed by all who knew him.”

Anderson fondly remembered Choate as a person who always placed the needs of others above his own.

“Butch was the type of person that everyone enjoyed being around, as he could always light up a room with his personality,” Anderson said. “He would tell great and entertaining stories, and was very attentive to ongoing political issues. Whenever I would visit him, Butch would drop whatever he was doing and invite me into his office to discuss current events. However, before we would discuss politics, he would always want me to update him about my family first. I believe that describes the type of person that Butch was – people were important to him.”

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