Oregon’s highest-ranking Republican in state government died Tuesday at age 69 following an earlier brain cancer diagnoses.
“Regardless of what side of the aisle his colleagues sat on, we all knew Dennis’ kind heart guided his career of service to the people of Oregon,” Brown said in a statement. “His reputation for perseverance not only guided him through the fight with cancer, it also gave us all reassurance that he was fighting cancer with the same determination he brought to work every day.”
Following news of Richardson’s death, Oregon lawmakers began to send their condolences to his family.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, praised Richardson as a “wonderful public servant, and a deeply loving husband and parent. Dennis’ quiet competence and civility is such a rarity in today’s world.”
House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, called him “a man of integrity and a dedicated public servant.”
Former Rep. Julie Parrish, a Republican from West Linn, ran Richardson’s successful campaign for secretary of state.
“Oregon lost a shining light in Secretary Richardson, whose commitment to the three principles of Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity in state government were unparalleled in anyone with whom I’ve ever served in public office,” Parrish said in a statement.
“In two years as our Secretary of State, he kept every campaign promise he made, proving Republicans have leadership solutions that work, and that elected officials should strive to do their work for all Oregonians, not just a political party,” Parrish said.
Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum described Richardson as a wonderful, caring person and the quintessential public servant.
“His optimism for making Oregon stronger and fairer was contagious. I will miss our ‘check-in’ lunches in Salem, where we talked about a wide variety of topics affecting both of our agencies. At our last lunch he gave me a coin with his motto engraved on it: ‘Having been given much, what will you give in return?’ I will treasure it always,” said Rosenblum.
House Minority Leader Carl Wilson, R-Grants Pass, said in a statement that Oregon had “suffered a great loss.”
Oregon Department of State Lands Director Vicki Walker said that during his time on the state land board, Richardson worked to preserve Oregon’s Common School Fund legacy by advocating for actions that would most benefit Oregonians and public schools.
“Secretary Richardson’s expectations of accountable government raised the bar for the service provided by the Department of State Lands and state government. His dedication to good government set an example for us all, and he will be greatly missed,” Walker said.
Oregon state Treasurer Tobias Read described Richardson as being a man “devoted to his family, who loved and supported him at every step of the way.”
“Although we did not always agree politically, I had respect for the diligence and the energy he brought to his work. Oregon has lost an honorable public servant,” Read said. “My thoughts are with Cathy Richardson, his family and friends.”
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, like Richardson a Republican, remembered him as “a quiet leader and trusted friend who performed the work he loved with civility, grace, and kindness.”
Richardson was a six-term member of the Oregon House before he was elected secretary of state in 2016. He was the only Republican holding statewide office in Oregon.
Brown said in a statement Wednesday that she will consider appointees to replace Richardson from Republican party nominees who commit to not entering the 2020 race for secretary of state.