Dank was genial and gentle, friend of seniors and children, challenging in debates

Heartfelt were words of colleagues mourning the death of state Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City.

Response to loss of the feisty conservative was authentic and bipartisan, with many saying they believed he is now reunited with his beloved wife, and predecessor at the Capitol, Odila.

House Democratic Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said Dank was “a true gentleman and a genial colleague. David was an avid advocate for his constituents, especially for senior citizens.”

Inman described Democrats in the House as “shocked and saddened” at Dank’s death.

He concluded his passionate statement by saying, “He will be sorely missed. We send our deepest condolences to his family. We realize the enormous loss they, and we in the House of Representatives, have suffered with his passing.”

Former Republican leader Larry Ferguson said that in this hyper-partisan age, “it made him no difference whether it was a Democrat or a Republican” who had a good policy idea.

Former state Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said he was sorry “David and I did not get one more chance to dine at Grandy’s and discuss the good old days. … I will miss working with him and the challenge of trying to debate him on policies. I have no doubt he has rejoined the love of his life.”

House Speaker Jeffrey Hickman, R-Fairview, called Rep. Dank “a talented journalist and a keen businessman.”

Hickman reflected, “Jana and I, and our children, along with our House of Representatives family, are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of David. I don’t know of another public servant who had greater integrity or more passion about doing what he believed was best for the state he loved and unselfishly served.

“I had the good fortune to serve in the House with Rep. Odila Dank as well as David, but the true honor were the friendships I developed almost instantly with both of them more than a decade ago when I was elected.

“David particularly loved children and his devotion to leave a better Oklahoma for the next generation motivated him daily in all aspects of his public service. David and Odila quietly contributed significant financial resources to numerous programs which made a difference in the lives of children across our state.”

Hickman mourned, “Personally, he became another grandfather to me and my family, and every conversation we had about any topic, whether we agreed or disagreed, began with questions about my three children and ended with something he wanted me to be sure to tell them.”

Hickman’s statement concluded, “I know how much David has missed Odilia and how lonely he has been since her passing. I rejoice in their reunion but I will miss so much his voice, his smile, his counsel, his wit, his laugh and most of all, I will miss my friend.”

Services likely include a Prayer Service at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, and the Mass of Christian Burial at Christ the King Church at Noon Thursday.

Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, joined the chorus of praise early last weekend, as news spread among Capitol “regulars” that Dank had died.

In comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, Bingman reflected, “He was a dedicated legislator and a tireless advocate for taxpayers and constituents, but more importantly he was a man of honor and integrity. These qualities were evident in everything he did, from his hard work at the state Capitol to numerous other community leadership and public service efforts.”

According to Mike Brake, a longtime journalist who worked with Dank for many years at a newspaper which reviewed political trends, Dank died sometime Friday at his home “of an apparent heart attack. His body was discovered Friday afternoon by Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan,
 a close friend who went to check on Dank’s welfare.”

Brake summarized Dank’s career in public life. The statesman represented House District 85 in north west and central Oklahoma City. First elected in 2006, “During his legislative service he chaired the first House committee dealing with senior issues and a statewide task force on tax credits. Dank was known as an outspoken advocate of reform.

“Dank was preceded in death by his wife, former State Rep. Odilia Dank. He is survived by stepdaughter Trina, her husband Gale and grandchildren Daniel and Hannah, all of Owasso, and by brother Jan, of California, and sister Yvonne, of Tulsa.”

In lieu of flowers, the family designated for memorial gifts the Odilia Dank Memorial Fund at Birth Choice of Oklahoma, 4701 S. Western, Oklahoma City, OK 73109.

NOTE: This story first appeared in The City Sentinel newspaper, on page one of the April 16-30 print edition. McGuigan, who teaches at a public charter alternative school, is publisher of The City Sentinel, and editor of CaptiolBeatOK.com. He is a member of the board of directors for BirthChoice of Oklahoma. In 1974, he co-founded Birthright of Stillwater.