(Oklahoma City) After waging a long and difficult fight, State Senator Larry Dickerson has lost his bout with cancer. Surrounded by family and friends, the 45-year old legislator died at Deaconess Hospital in Oklahoma City at approximately 2:20 p.m. Thursday.
Dickerson (D-Poteau) had been battling cancer for the past three years. Despite his illness, he continued his service in the Senate during that time, often shuttling between the State Capitol and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston where he underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The legislator was even on the floor of the Senate just this Tuesday, debating and voting on legislation for the 2002 session.
Dickerson was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 1986 to represent the people of Senate District 4 in Leflore and Sequoyah counties. For the past eight years, he served as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation.
During his Senate career, Dickerson was known for championing the cause of state employees and fighting to advance economic development initiatives in his eastern Oklahoma district, namely the four-laning of US-Highway 59. He was also the driving force behind several pieces of landmark legislation, authoring the largest highway program in state history a one-billion dollar road construction initiative that was passed by the Legislature in 1997. Just last year, Dickerson authored and passed SB 711 a measure that expanded mammogram coverage for Oklahoma women. This session, he was working to pass legislation that would increase health benefits for Oklahoma teachers.
On the Senate floor, Dickerson was known as a tough debater who rarely shied away from an opportunity to engage in a forceful but good-natured cross examination of one of his colleagues.
Born and reared in Poteau, Dickerson earned a bachelors of arts degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma in 1978 and a juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma law school in 1982.
After graduation from law school, Dickerson worked as an assistant district attorney in Leflore County before waging his successful campaign for the State Senate. In recent years, he has maintained a private law practice in Poteau where he lived with his wife Dee Ann and his son John.
This was Dickerson's second fight against cancer. After successfully battling the disease some two decades ago, the legislator spent recent years counseling other cancer patients about the process involved in treating the disease. He said those talks helped provide him with strength when he was diagnosed with cancer again.
Senator Dickerson will be buried in Poteau. Funeral arrangements are pending.