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Oklahoma Government Leaders and Politicians

Hear and learn from the oral histories of Oklahoma's most influential government leaders, politicians, and how their work shaped the state of Oklahoma.

Learn From These Influential Oklahomans

Ann Bartlett

Ann Bartlett

Former First Lady of Oklahoma

Ann Bartlett, former Oklahoma first lady and widow of the late Oklahoma U.S. Senator and governor Dewey Bartlett was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. Ann Smith met Dewey Bartlett …

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Betty Boyd

Betty Boyd

Queen of Tulsa TV

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Betty Boyd became known as the “Queen of Tulsa TV” after a career in broadcasting that lasted over twenty-five years. This self-described “wall flower” blossomed as …

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Bill Anoatubby

Bill Anoatubby

Governor, Chickasaw Nation

Governor Bill Anoatubby’s  childhood was spent in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, where he graduated from Tishomingo High School in 1964. He attended Murray State College and graduated from East Central State College before …

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Buddy Fallis

Buddy Fallis

Tulsa County District Attorney

S.M. “Buddy” Fallis graduated from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1960 and went on to become the assistant Tulsa County District Attorney in that year. He was …

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Carrie Dickerson

Carrie Dickerson

Black Fox Nuclear Plant Protester

When Carrie Dickerson first saw a newspaper headline about the electric company’s plans to build a nuclear power plant near her home in Inola, Oklahoma, she knew little about nuclear …

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David Hall

David Hall

Former Oklahoma Governor

David Hall was the 20th Governor of Oklahoma serving from January 11, 1971 to January 13, 1975. He was born in Oklahoma City, graduated from Classen High School and The …

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David L. Boren

David L. Boren

Politician

Since his inauguration as president of the University of Oklahoma in 1994, he has initiated twenty major new programs while increasing the donor base from 18,000 to over 100,000 friends and alumni.

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Denzil Garrison

Denzil Garrison

State Legislator

Denzil “Denny” Garrison served Oklahoma as a state representative and senator from 1957 to 1974 and filled the role of Minority Leader in both houses. In his legislative service he …

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Enoch Kelly Haney

Enoch Kelly Haney

State Legislator, Seminole Chief, and Artist

The only full blood American Indian to serve in the Oklahoma Legislature, Enoch Kelly Haney was elected as a state legislator and a senator. He became the Vice Chair of …

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Ernestine Dillard

Ernestine Dillard

Singer

Ernestine Dillard of Bixby, Oklahoma is perhaps best remembered for her April 23, 1995 performance when she electrified 11,000 mourners and a national television audience with her “God Bless America” …

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Frank Keating

Frank Keating

Former Governor of Oklahoma

Born in St. Louis, Frank Keating grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. His thirty-year …

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Fred Harris

Fred Harris

Former Oklahoma Senator

Fred Harris grew up in the small town of Walters, Oklahoma, where he was born in a two-room house. He was first elected to the Oklahoma State Senate where he …

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Frosty Troy

Frosty Troy

Journalist and Editor

Forrest J. “Frosty” Troy was the founding editor of the Oklahoma Observer. A member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, Frosty has covered state and national politics, government and …

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George Nigh

George Nigh

Former Oklahoma Governor

Governor George Nigh served four different terms as the governor of Oklahoma–more than anyone else in our state’s history. In 1950 at age 23, Nigh became the youngest member of …

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Henry Bellmon

Henry Bellmon

Former Governor & Senator

Henry Louis Bellmon was a member of the Oklahoma legislature, the 18th and 23rd Governor of Oklahoma (the first Republican to hold that office) and a two term United States …

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James R. Jones

James R. Jones

Politician and Lawyer

At an early age James Robert Jones was fascinated by politics after he visited the offices of the county attorney, Ed Edmondson. When he was twelve years old, Jones stumped …

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Jeannie McDaniel

Jeannie McDaniel

Former Oklahoma Congresswoman

A longtime Tulsan, Jeannie McDaniel has worked to better her city for more than twenty-five years. She worked at the Citizens Crime Commission from 1981 to 1991—serving as director from …

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Jim Hewgley

Jim Hewgley

Former Mayor of Tulsa

Jim Hewgley Jr. was an independent oilman who served two terms as Tulsa’s mayor from 1966 to 1970. In his first mayoral-election victory, he defeated incumbent Mayor Jim Maxwell, who …

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Jim Inhofe

Jim Inhofe

U.S. Senator

U.S. Representative and Senator from Oklahoma from 1987, James Mountain Inhofe was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on November 17, 1934. He grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he attended …

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Joe Morris

Joe Morris

Former US District Court Chief Judge

Judge Joe Morris was formerly Vice President and General Counsel of Shell Oil Company, General Counsel of Amerada Petroleum Corporation and Dean of the College of Law at the University …

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L. Francis Rooney III

L. Francis Rooney III

Manhattan Construction and U.S. Ambassador

L. Francis Rooney III is the fourth generation of his family to own Manhattan Construction Company.  Manhattan was founded by Laurence H. Rooney in Chandler, Oklahoma Territory, in 1896. As …

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LaDonna Harris

LaDonna Harris

Social Activist and Politician

“What is it like to live in a tent?” asked Robert F. Kennedy’s five-year-old daughter, Kerry, when she met Ladonna Harris for the first time in 1965. This exchange between …

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Lee Roy West

Lee Roy West

Federal Judge

Lee Roy West has made several thousand friends in over 40 years of public service as a law teacher, state court judge, member of the Civil Aeronautics Board, federal judge …

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Marian Opala

Marian Opala

Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice

Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian P. Opala was born January 20, 1921 in Lodz, Poland. In 1939, Marian had just enrolled in law school when Nazi Germany invaded his homeland. …

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Maxine Horner

Maxine Horner

Former Oklahoma Senator

Maxine Horner was one of the first two African American women to serve in the Oklahoma Senate. While working for Congressman James R. Jones she became interested in politics, which …

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Neal McCaleb

Neal McCaleb

State Legislator; Chickasaw Nation, DOT

Neal McCaleb is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and a former George W. Bush administration official. Before his involvement in politics, McCaleb was a civil engineer and businessman. He …

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Norma Eagleton

Norma Eagleton

Public Official and Lawyer

Norma Eagleton is known for many accomplishments including first female Tulsa city commissioner and Oklahoma corporation commissioner. Norma was the first woman elected to a voting position on the Tulsa …

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Paul Thornbrugh

Paul Thornbrugh

Politician and Businessman

Paul Thornbrugh was a patriot, public servant, politician, and businessman. Paul served during World War II as a sailor in the U.S. Coast Guard. As a public servant he served …

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Penny Williams

Penny Williams

State Senator

Penny Williams was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives (1981–1988) and to the Oklahoma Senate (1989–2004). Born in New York City in 1937, she attended Sarah Lawrence College, the …

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Robert J. LaFortune

Robert J. LaFortune

Former Mayor of Tulsa

Tulsa civic leader and oilman Robert LaFortune was born at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, January 24, 1927. In 1920, his father Joseph Aloysius LaFortune and his mother Gertrude …

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Ron Norick

Ron Norick

Former Mayor of Oklahoma City

Ron Norick was the Mayor of Oklahoma City from April 1987 – April 1998. During his terms in office he oversaw the Metropolitan Area Projects plan known as MAPS. The …

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Stephanie Seymour

Stephanie Seymour

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge

Judge Stephanie Kulp Seymour, who joined a historic class of women judges in 1979 when she was appointed to the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, was encouraged early on …

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Tom Coburn

Tom Coburn

Former Oklahoma Congressman & Senator

Tom Coburn is a physician, a former congressman and senator from Oklahoma, and is a member of the Republican Party. Coburn was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in …

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Wes Watkins

Wes Watkins

Former Oklahoma Congressman

Congressman Wes Watkins was raised on a small cattle and peanut farm near Bennington in southeast Oklahoma. As a young boy, Watkins was involved in 4-H and FFA and later …

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