Robert R. Nigh, Jr. was born on November 1, 1959, in Enid, Oklahoma. He passed away peacefully at home surrounded by the love of his family on September 24, 2017, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
Rob graduated from Enid High School in 1978 and later earned his B.A. from William Jewel College in 1982. While attending William Jewel, Rob served as Student Senate president and was a member of the varsity soccer team and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
Rob's dedication to public service led him to the University of Oklahoma College of Law where he earned his J.D. in 1985. Rob served for 30 years as a criminal defense attorney representing primarily indigent and high-profile defendants in both public and private practice. Between 1989 and 1995, Rob served as an Assistant Public Defender in the Tulsa County Public Defender's Office and the Federal Public Defender's Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma and the District of Nebraska. In May of 1995, Rob was appointed as one of Timothy McVeigh's trial attorneys in the Oklahoma City bombing case, and later appointed as Mr. McVeigh's lead attorney on appeal.
In 1996 Rob went into private practice as a sole practitioner and later joined the firm of Brewster & De Angelis. While in private practice, Rob continued to primarily focus his work on the defense of the indigent and capital litigation in federal court taking appointments as a defender from the federal government and as a panel lawyer for the federal courts. In December of 2014 Rob assumed the position of Interim Chief Public Defender for Tulsa County at the request of the Tulsa County District Judges. Rob knew this was where he wanted to be and the District Judges consented to his request to stay on as the Chief Public Defender. Rob served as the Chief Public defender for Tulsa County from March 2015 until he resigned in July 2017 after learning he had cancer. He then went back to work at Brewster & De Angelis.
Rob was a member of numerous organizations and committees, including the Tulsa County and Oklahoma Bar Association, the Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers Association where he served on the Board of Directors from 1991-1994, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Governor's Subcommittee for Criminal Sentencing Reform and the Federal Western District of Oklahoma Criminal Justice Act Selection Committee for Capital Cases, among others.
Rob received numerous awards and honors, including the Courageous Lawyer Award from the Oklahoma Bar Association in 2002, the Neil E. Bogan Award for Professionalism 2015-2016 from the Tulsa County Bar Association and the William Jewel Life Time Achievement Award in 2016.
Rob was passionate about advancing the justice system and equally passionate about helping the underprivileged find a just way out of the system. Rob was a true believer and spent his life helping those who have no means to help themselves.
In addition to his professional dedication, Rob was tremendously blessed, totally devoted to his wife Holly, his two sons, and his family and was loved by everyone he met. He was a man of broad interest. He had a great sense of humor, loved outdoor adventures, including camping, hunting, fishing and also became a self-taught artist.
He was preceded in death by his father, Robert R. Nigh, Sr.
Rob is survived by his wife, Holly Nigh; two sons, Joseph Nigh and Ryan Nigh; his sister Mary and her husband Ben Ferem; his sister Stephanie Nigh Hendrick and her husband David Hendrick; his sister Normandie Nigh; his mother Helen Nigh; one nephew, Andy Kamataris; two nieces, Samantha and Taylor Kamataris; his cousin, George Nigh, former Governor of Oklahoma; and numerous loving friends and colleagues.
A Memorial Celebration will be Saturday September 30, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at Tulsa Centenary United Methodist Church in Tulsa.
Arrangements are entrusted to Schaudt's Glenpool Funeral Service and Cremation Care. Family and friends may send memories and condolences to the family, online at www.schaudtfuneralservice.com.
Published on September 26, 2017