- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Former Oklahoma Gov. David Hall, who maintained his innocence long after an indictment complicated his public legacy, died Friday at age 85 after suffering a stroke at a California hospital, his daughter said.

Hall was already in the hospital when doctors discovered a blood clot, according to his daughter, Julie Martin. His wife, Jo Evans Hall, and three children were there when he died, Martin said.

Hall served one term as a Democratic governor, from 1971-75, and was indicted on federal racketeering and extortion charges three days after leaving office. He was later convicted of bribery and extortion and served 19 months of a three-year sentence. All the while, he maintained his innocence and wrote a book about his experience.

“He loved being governor of Oklahoma,” Martin said. “Loved the state, loved the people. He never had a harsh word to say.”

David Walters, who served as the state’s Democratic governor from 1991-95, recalled Hall’s gregarious nature and his capacity to remember names better than any politician Walters could remember. He also praised Hall’s willingness to increase revenue during tough financial times.

“His own financial controversies and accusations - which led, of course, to conviction - cloud his administration, but he had the courage at the time to raise revenues when the state desperately needed them, and so met his obligations as the head administrator for the state,” Walters said.

George Nigh, a Democrat who was Hall’s lieutenant governor and later became governor, said Hall presided over the state during a tough financial time, which made it challenging to initiate new programs.

Current Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, said in a statement her thoughts and prayers were with Hall’s family.

“During his tenure as governor, he focused on the state’s education system and was committed to expanding Oklahoma’s roads,” Fallin said. “He called education the ‘golden problem solver of the 20th century,’ and introduced what was then the largest-road-building program in Oklahoma history.

“I served as a page at the Capitol my sophomore year at Tecumseh High School, and still have the picture Governor Hall took with me.”

Martin said Hall was a compassionate man who genuinely enjoyed listening to and learning about people and took his spiritual life seriously, she said.

Before he died, Hall served as the primary caretaker for Jo Evans Hall, who has Alzheimer’s disease, Martin said. His death surprised the family, as he regularly played tennis at his home in La Jolla, California, and was in good physical shape.

Hall is survived by his wife and three children, including Martin, Doug Hall and Nancy Zumwalt.

“We worshipped our father,” Martin said.

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