Former state Rep. Opio Toure has died after battling a deteriorating lung condition. He was pronounced dead Monday at St. Anthony Hospital at the age of 53.
"Rep. Opio Toure will be remembered as a fighter, a vigorous debater, who wasn't scared of any issue," said Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. "He took on issues that other people wouldn't touch, which made him not only a good legislator, but a great one. We have lost a true soldier for peace and justice. He was my mentor and I will miss him greatly."
Toure was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1994 as a Democrat and served until 2006, when he was term-limited out of the election cycle. He was the House Minority Floor leader during his last term.
After leaving the Legislature, Toure became a professor at Langston University.
Gov. Brad Henry praised Toure during Monday's State of the State address, which took place a few hours after the announcement of Toure's death.
Much of Toure's work, as an attorney as well in the Legislature, focused on social issues, particularly the criminal justice system. He was a staunch opponent of the death penalty.
"Nobody spoke with more authority or worked harder for the disadvantaged than Representative Toure," said former state Sen. Bernest Cain. "There was a spirit of kindness and goodness to him that will be missed." -Scott Cooper