GEORGE PATTERSON NIGH was born in McAlester, Oklahoma and attended public schools in McAlester as well as Eastern Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College at Wilburton, Oklahoma prior to joining the U.S. Navy during World War II. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from East Central State Teachers College in Ada, Oklahoma in 1950. From 1952 to 1958 he taught at McAlester High School. He was also a partner in Nigh Grocery in McAlester from 1956 to 1960. Nigh served three terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. In 1958 he became the youngest person in Oklahoma history to win election to the office of Lieutenant Governor, which resulted in his succession to the governorship upon the 1963 resignation of J. Howard Edmondson to accept a seat in the U.S. Senate. Nigh served as governor for only nine days until the expiration of Edmondson’s term, following which he returned to his duties as Lieutenant Governor, a position to which he was reelected in 1966, 1970, and 1974. In 1978 he won election to the governorship in his own right for the four years beginning January 3, 1979, but prior to being sworn in he served five days of the unexpired term of David Boren following Boren’s early resignation. Nigh went on to win election to a second term as well. During his career in public service, he chaired the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors, co-chaired the Interstate Oil Compact Commission, served on the Executive Committee of the Southern States Energy Board, chaired the southern Growth Policies Board, and presided over the Council of State Governments. He was also a recipient of the Jim Thorpe Lifetime Achievement Award. After leaving office, he became President of the University of Central Oklahoma, a position from which he retired in 1997. In 2000, he wrote his autobiography, Good Guys Wear White Hats: The Life of George Nigh. Nigh holds the record for serving the most terms (four) as Oklahoma governor.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.