Mandell Matheson was an unapologetic crusader. He crusaded as a journalist, a legislator and a legislative consultant–a.k.a. lobbyist. He spent most of his many careers trying to right the wrongs in state government and to make life better and fairer for Oklahomans. As a lawmaker, he learned to accept that "You win some. You lose some. And some get rained out." Matheson died at his home in Tulsa December 10, 2011. He was 73. He joked that he could never hold a job. He started working as a newspaper photographer while in high school. He worked for two newspapers in Oklahoma City, one in Tulsa, and television stations in Indianapolis, IN, and Oklahoma City. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and was a trooper with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. While covering state lawmakers, he decided to become one, putting him in a better position to fight injustices. One of his first targets as a reporter with The Tulsa Tribune was oilmen who were polluting Rogers County and creeks and rivers feeding Lake Oologah. His photographs and stories about the damage from unplugged and improperly plugged oil wells sparked a crackdown that impacted the entire state. He was promoted to the Tribune's capitol bureau in 1969 to cover the House of Representatives and state government. He left journalism for the last time to become press secretary for gubernatorial candidate David Hall in 1970. He quit two months before Hall was elected, saying he was tired of politics as an insider. Two years later, he was back at the state Capitol as a legislator bent on reform. He won the House seat by knocking on nearly every door in the north Tulsa district and defeating a 14-year incumbent. Matheson became one of the young Turks, bucking tradition and challenging old concepts. The first-term lawmakers fought for reforms and were cursed by the old-timers as irreverent and opinionated. Blunt and straightforward, Matheson gained respect and was elected assistant majority floor leader. It helped that he could out talk everyone else in the building. He was proud of sponsoring the first Oklahoma law to regulate lobbyists and several years later became one. He poked fun at politicians. One of his bills would have put a "neither" square on election ballots so voters could show they didn't like any of the candidates. He led passage of laws to protect drivers from unscrupulous car repairmen, require screening of salvage yards in residential areas, allow optometrists' patients to have their glasses made wherever they chose, and require that voters be told before an election how money from a bond issue would be spent. He advocated a fulltime pardon and parole board, reform of the public trust program in Oklahoma and a five-year auto-tag program. Oklahoma Monthly magazine named him one of the top 10 lawmakers in 1976, saying that his pragmatic approach and common sense served him well. Oklahoma Common Cause honored him for casting 2,200 consecutive votes, and as Outstanding Public Servant for his work in penal reform, lobbyist registration, protection of Oklahoma consumers, and support of the Equal Rights Amendment. He was the first person honored by the Tulsa Section of the National Council of Jewish Women and the Community Relations Committee of the Tulsa Jewish Community Council for "outstanding service and dedication to the people of Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma." In 1978 when Matheson decided to not seek election to a fourth two-year term, he told a reporter "If you want to get anything done, you have to join the establishment. The key is not to sacrifice your own principles and motives. Democracy is a highly inefficient form of government. It's noisy. It's inefficient at times. It's confused, and it's worth it." At the end of his six years in the House, he went to work as human resources director for Sooner Pipe and Supply and later became a legislative consultant. One of his proudest accomplishments as a lobbyist was convincing lawmakers to create Children First, a state Health Department program that teaches expectant mothers how to care for themselves and their babies. He left the Capitol for the last time in May 2004. Mandell L. Matheson was born August 13, 1938, in his grandfather's house near Alex in Grady County. He and his brothers attended a one room school house at Tabler before the family moved to Capitol Hill in Oklahoma City. He was writing a book, "Gander Flats," about his childhood there. He graduated from Capitol Hill High School and attended Oklahoma and Tulsa universities. Matheson died five days before he and his wife Karen would have celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary. Survivors include brothers Jerry and wife Betty, David and wife Nancy, Phil and wife Priscilla of Oklahoma City, sister Gayle Watkins and husband Greg of Hurst, TX, step-brother Whitney and wife Levera Shoup of Silver City, NM, numerous nieces, nephews and many, many close friends. Preceding him in death were his parents, Harriett Murray and Carl Lafeyette Matheson, and brother Carl Lee. Matheson was a member of B'nai Emunah Synagogue and the Oklahoma Cremation Society. A memorial service is pending. The family suggests donations be given to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg PL, SW, Washington, DC 20024, or the National Museum Foundation of the Marine Corps, PO Box 96628, Washington, DC. 20090-6628. (The Tulsa World, 12/18/2011)
Burial: Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.
Created by: MillieBelle Record added: Dec 15, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 81985632