Oklahoma leaders mourn the passing of OU Regent Bill Burgess Jr.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma leaders across the state are expressing their condolences after OU Regent, former The Lawton Constitution owner, lawyer, and businessman Bill Burgess Jr. died Friday.

“I learned of Bill Burgess’s passing last night as I was driving through Lawton on the highway named for him. Like that highway, Bill was such a foundational part of the Lawton community. He was a fierce defender of Lawton, a visionary for growing the community, and an endless advocate for Fort Still. I will miss his leadership and his friendship. I pray for his family during this difficult time. May they find peace, joy, and comfort in their memories of Bill,” wrote Senator James Lankford.

The Governor and Legislature of the State of Oklahoma honored Mr. Burgess by designating Interstate 44 through Lawton the “Bill W. Burgess, Jr. Highway.”

“As the son of a Sergeant Major in the Army, Bill Burgess had a special place in his heart for our nation’s soldiers stationed at Fort Sill, and he will be remembered as a selfless servant to this community. While the people in Lawton were his first priority, Burgess was a generous giver of his time and resources to move our entire state forward. Burgess’ legacy will live on through the vital projects he supported and advocated for to advance Oklahoma’s military installations, to mentor young Oklahoma entrepreneurs, and to promote higher education. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burgess family during this difficult time,” said Governor Kevin Stitt.

Governor Mary Fallin appointed Bill W. Burgess, Jr., to a seven-year term on the Board of Regents in 2014.

“The members of the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University are deeply saddened by the loss of Regent Bill W. Burgess, Jr. Bill loved Oklahoma and was both a friend and respected colleague. In his role as Regent since 2014, he tirelessly served the students, faculty and staff of the institutions he governed, and all understood his dedication to helping his fellow Oklahomans succeed through education. Bill had a keen sense of humor and common sense. He combined those qualities with a commitment to volunteer service and leadership which he exhibited throughout his life. His leadership and friendship will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kim, his entire family, the Lawton and southwest Oklahoma communities and the state of Oklahoma.”

Burgess was Chairman of the board of Vortex, the former owner/publisher of The Lawton Constitution, Civilian Aide to the Secretary for the Army, and the Senior Partner of Burgess and Hightower Law Firm. Burgess sold The Lawton Constitution to Southern Newspapers Inc. in 2018.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Oklahoma icon and dear friend Bill Burgess,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Bill was a resolute champion of many civic and philanthropic causes and a respected member of both the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents and State Regents for Higher Education. His countless contributions have made an immeasurable, positive impact on the state that will never be forgotten. Bill was an innovative leader through his law and business practices and a man of high, genuine moral integrity. As we mourn his passing and remember his accomplishments and wonderful life, my wife Cheryl and I send our deepest condolences to his many friends, family members and loved ones as the state grieves this tragic loss,” said Mike Hunter, Attorney General of Oklahoma.

As Chairman and principal owner of Techrizon, Mr. Burgess developed the enterprise into the largest Oklahoma software engineering company. Techrizon has developed software for today’s technologically advanced warfare specializing in smart weapon systems for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden and untimely death of my dear friend Bill Burgess of Lawton. Without question, Bill lived an incredible life in service to his community, state and nation. The world is truly a better place because of him. Bill was a gifted attorney, businessman and civic leader. He rendered invaluable service to our state as a regent for both the Oklahoma Board of Regents for Higher Education and the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. Bill also served our country as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, a job he took seriously and performed with exceptional energy and dedication. No one loved, admired and supported our men and women in uniform more than Bill. Widely recognized and respected as one of Oklahoma’s outstanding leaders, Bill was inducted into both the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame. As a businessman who developed the largest software engineering company in Oklahoma and was once the owner and publisher of the Lawton Constitution, Bill was admired for his entrepreneurial ability and success. A tireless advocate for Oklahoma business, he served stints as Chairman of both the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma Business Roundtable. Bill was not only an extraordinary leader for Oklahoma, he was one of my closest friends and strongest supporters. We bonded immediately when we met in the 1990s. But that wasn’t unusual for Bill. He had a gift for making and keeping friends. We relished our shared background as the offspring of career noncommissioned officers and the products of military families. And we worked tirelessly in the public arena to advance policies and leaders who we both thought would benefit our state and country. I extend my sincere sympathies to Bill’s dear wife, his beloved children, his extended family and his legions of friends, associates and admirers. Oklahoma has lost a leader of exceptional vision, energy, ability and character. And I have lost a dear friend whom I shall always remember and who I will miss for all my days,” Congressman Tom Cole said in a statement.

He has been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Education Hall of Fame, as well as being awarded the Corporate Entrepreneur of the Year by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

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