Longtime Associated Press Oklahoma Capitol correspondent Ron Jenkins has died at age 77.
Jenkins died Oct. 5 at his home in Choctaw, Oklahoma, of complications related to dementia, according to a statement from Asa Smith Funeral Service in Harrah, Oklahoma.
The native of Fort Smith, Arkansas, joined the AP in Oklahoma City in 1971 after working at small newspapers in Fort Smith and Oklahoma City. After covering University of Oklahoma sports during the mid-1970s, Jenkins began covering state government and politics in the late ’70s.
Jenkins covered several national political conventions for the AP, starting with the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York, and was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1997.
He was the dean of Oklahoma Capitol reporters when he retired in 2009, then was a public information officer in the state government until 2016.
“Ron was the gold standard of statehouse reporters,” said Lindel Hutson, former AP Oklahoma City Bureau chief. “He was quick, he was thorough, he was accurate. He had smarts, speed and style.”
Jenkins was a regular panelist of the Oklahoma Forum/Capitol Reporters Roundtable on the Oklahoma Educational Television Network.
“When it came to Oklahoma politics, he was a walking encyclopedia. His election predictions were uncanny,” Hutson said. “I had complete confidence in his ability to predict winners. He epitomized the AP standard, ‘be first, but first be accurate.’”
Pat Casey, a former AP staffer in Oklahoma City and New York, called Jenkins the consummate AP reporter.
“He could give you 500 flawless words in mere minutes or dictate the smoothest story you’d want just as quickly. He was justifiably the dean of the state Capital press corps and knew everybody from floor sweepers to the governor himself,” he said.