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  John L. O'Brien, 1911-2007: Longtime legislator and 'first-rate speaker'
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Last EditedRalphie  Apr 23, 2007 12:32am
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MediaNewspaper - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
News DateSunday, April 22, 2007 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionJohn L. O'Brien, a former Democratic state representative from Seattle who once held the record as the nation's longest-serving legislator, died Sunday at age 95.

An office building on the state Capitol campus is named for O'Brien, a lifelong resident of southeast Seattle. He was appointed to the state House in 1939 on the death of the incumbent and -- except for a hiatus in 1947-49 -- served until he lost his final election campaign in 1992, when redistricting matched him in a race against another sitting House member.

O'Brien was speaker of the House from 1955 to 1963, longer than anyone else in state history, and speaker pro tempore for 16 years after that.

"He was very affable and easy to get along with and moderate in all his habits," said Albert Rosellini, Democratic governor in 1957-65 and before that a state senator from the same district as O'Brien. "He gave his position a lot of thought and did a good job as speaker."

Dan Evans, who was a Republican state representative before serving as governor from 1965 to 1977, said, "He was a first-rate speaker."

Evans remembered that one time when he challenged an O'Brien ruling, O'Brien slammed his gavel down so hard the head snapped off.
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