Former Oklahoma Republican senator and congressman Tom Coburn died in March of last year, but his memorial service was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finally being held on Saturday at South Tulsa Baptist Church.
"We talked for quite a while after Tom passed about when we were going to do this service, and after a while we kept waiting and waiting and finally decided we really wanted to do this when you could be here and you could be here in person," pastor Eric Costanzo told those in attendance inside the crowded sanctuary and those watching a livestream.
The service included remarks from family members, college friends, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers who served with Coburn in Washington.
"Thank you for giving us your Saturday morning to honor one of the greatest leaders, fathers, husbands, friends certainly I've ever known but maybe that ever lived in this great state of Oklahoma," said former Tennessee Republican Rep. Zach Wamp.
"He was the iconic conservative leader of our generation. Period," Wamp said.
Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania said he developed a deep friendship with Coburn despite their extremely different political ideologies.
"I've met many conservative Republicans and many liberal Democrats and a lot of them I don't think believe a word they say. But Tom Coburn believed everything he said," Doyle said.
"My life is a lot richer and a lot better from having known Tom Coburn," Doyle said. "He was real. He was authentic. He was a dear friend and I miss him."
Republican Sen. James Lankford, who holds the seat Coburn vacated with his 2014 resignation, led the audience in prayer, asking God to use the memorial service to help convert non-Christians in attendance to his and Coburn's faith.
"Father, I pray for anyone who is watching this service or sitting in this room today that came because of their deep respect for Dr. Coburn but they do not know you, the one who made Dr. Coburn who he was -- I pray for that person today, that they would look past the man Dr. Coburn and that they would meet Jesus today," Lankford said.
Coburn was a staunch conservative who practiced medicine before entering politics and earned the nickname "Dr. No" for his opposition to federal spending during his time in the Senate. He was 72 when he died on March 28th, 2020.