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Dennis Richardson dies following battle with cancer

Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson died Tuesday night following his battle with cancer.

The news was announced Wednesday morning. The 69-year-old secretary of state was surrounded by friends and family at the time of his passing.

The release said, in part, “Dennis leaves a legacy of always aiming high, expecting excellence, moving fast, and doing what is right for the people. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such an incredible leader and wonderful friend. He will be greatly missed.”

After the news of his passing, Gov. Kate Brown ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff in honor of Richardson. Flags will also be flown at half-staff on the day of his interment from sunrise to sundown.

Brown will appoint Richardson’s successor. In a statement her office said she would make a choice in the coming weeks and would consider a Republican who commits to not entering the 2020 election.

“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. 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.”

Remembering Dennis Richardson

In June 2018, Richardson announced that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer. During a Facebook Live, Richardson said the tumor had been found at an early stage and he planned to continue working and fulfilling his responsibilities.

“In May, I was diagnosed and began treatment for a small, cancerous brain tumor. While this was a difficult diagnosis to hear, I’m blessed and optimistic. We caught it early. I have a treatment plan in place, and I have an exceptional support system here at work and at home. I am taking on this challenge the same way I’ve taken on every challenge since my days flying “Night Hawk” as a combat helicopter pilot—I’ve considered my options, set my goal, developed my plan, and failure is not an option.”

Earlier in February, Richardson said he was scaling back in-office hours to rest and give his treatment for brain cancer every opportunity to succeed. Prior to that, he made a rare public appearance in the state capitol on Jan. 7 for the swearing in of the labor commissioner.

Richardson was born in 1949. He leaves behind nine children and his wife Cathy. He served six terms in the State Legislature from 2003-2015. He was elected secretary of state in 2016.

Lawmakers respond to Richardson’s death

Rep. Greg Walden said, “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.”

House GOP Leader Carl Wilson said, “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.”

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney said, “I am sad to learn Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson passed away last night after battling and suffering from brain cancer. He was dedicated to his faith and family, his community and his country. He was dedicated to Oregon. He was a budget hawk.  He cared about people. I will miss him.”

Oregon Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick said, “Dennis Richardson was a kind and decent man. He served his country with distinction in the military. He served his community of Southern Oregon and the State of Oregon with integrity and dedication. I had the pleasure of serving with Secretary Richardson in the Legislature for many years. He loved this state and we will miss him.”

Congresswoman Suzanna Bonamici said, “I am sad to hear that Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson passed away last night following his brave battle with cancer. I had the honor of working with Sec. Richardson when we served together in the Oregon State Legislature, and I always valued his contributions and commitment. He was a great public servant who dedicated much of his life to Oregon and our country. We often spoke of his family, and my thoughts are with them and his friends at this difficult time.”

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek said, “I am saddened by the passing of Secretary of State Dennis Richardson. He was a man of integrity and a dedicated public servant. Secretary Richardson lived and served with distinction. My heart goes out to his family during this difficult time.”

Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum said, “I was saddened to wake up to the news of the death of my friend and our Secretary of State Dennis Richardson. Dennis was a wonderful and caring person—and, the quintessential public servant. His optimism for making Oregon stronger and fairer was contagious. I will miss our ‘check-in’ lunches in Salem, where we talked about a wide variety of topics affecting both of our agencies. At our last lunch he gave me a coin with his motto engraved on it: ‘Having been given much, what will you give in return?’ I will treasure it always. From the Oregon Department of Justice, we send our condolences to his wife and family, friends and community. And we will all take Dennis’ motto to heart as we continue the work of making Oregon better every day. Thank you, Secretary Richardson, for your extraordinary contributions to our state. You will be greatly missed.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley said, “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dennis Richardson. I will always have fond memories of serving with Dennis in the state legislature, and tremendous appreciation for his dedication to serving our state. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in peace, Mr. Secretary.”

Video: Lawmakers remember Dennis Richardson

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