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RICHARD JAMES

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February 8, 1926 - July 17, 2013 STROUD An incredible husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, and mentor to many left this earth on July 17, 2013, at the age of four score and seven to be with his personal Lord and Savior. The patriarch of his family, Richard leaves behind a professional legacy and personal commitment to his colleagues, clients, friends, and family. Richard James's Oklahoma roots began with the 1891 Oklahoma Land Run when his maternal grandparents homesteaded 160 acres in the Sac & Fox Opening. This land, which is northwest of Prague, remains in the family today. Richard was born on February 8, 1926, to Lena (Bierman) and Fred James and grew up on a farm during The Great Depression. Richard graduated from Prague High School in May of 1943 and subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Navy's V-12 program in November of the same year. The Navy sent him to Tulane University in New Orleans as an Apprentice Seaman and then on to Naval Officer Training School. Two years later, Richard graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Tulane with a degree in mathematics. Upon graduation, Richard returned to Oklahoma to attend the University of Oklahoma Law School. During his tenure there, he served as an editor of the OU Law Review. Following law school in 1949, Richard established a law practice in Stroud and practiced continuously there for the last 64 years. One of his first clients was the city of Stroud. He continued in this role for 56 years, making him the longest serving public servant in the state of Oklahoma. Richard was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives at the young age of 24 and served from 1951 to 1954. While in office, he co-authored the bill that gave women the right to serve on Oklahoma juries. In the 1960s, Governor Bellmon appointed Richard to serve as a Special Justice to the Oklahoma Supreme Court after seven members of the Court had to recuse themselves from hearing a case. In 1967, Governor Bartlett appointed him to fill a vacancy on the Board of Regents for OSU and A&M Colleges; he served on this board until 1971. Richard also served on the Oklahoma Indigent Defense Board and has been recognized for being a sixty-year member of the Oklahoma and Lincoln County Bar Associations. Richard always preferred to be known as a "country lawyer." He distinguished himself as exceptional in his profession and was well respected as opposing counsel. Richard engaged in a lifetime of courtroom litigation and argued many cases before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. One of his most significant cases before that Court occurred in 2003 which involved $158,000,000 in government bonds that he argued were unconstitutional. Richard took on this case to defend the Oklahoma Constitution for the benefit of the citizens of Oklahoma and thereby saved them from millions of dollars of debt. The Court ruled in his favor. Richard's service to his community included over 60 years of membership in Stroud Lions Club. He served them in a variety of offices and was selected to be a Melvin Jones Fellow for Dedicated Humanitarian Services from the Lions Club International Foundation. He was named Stroud's Citizen of the Year for 1969 and received the Stroud Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010. During most of the 1960s, Richard served on the Stroud School Board. He was a longtime supporter and active member of the First Baptist Church of Stroud, where he taught an adult Sunday school class for many years. In 2000, Richard established the Richard James Family Foundation primarily for the benefit of Lincoln County. Richard's life personified the best of Oklahoma values. He distinguished himself in all areas of his professional and personal life; he exemplified a man of integrity, ethics, faith, strict principles, and generosity. Richard was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Lloyd James; sister, Avis Frost; and niece, Patsy Reneau. He is survived by his loving wife, Patsy James; three daughters: Anne Jones and husband Bruce, of Tulsa; Mary Lynn Hill and husband Gary, of Edmond; and Randa Lea Hohweiler and husband Gary, of North Richland Hills, Texas; a son, Stephen James and wife Becky, of Stillwater; and a sister, LaVetta Whitehead, of Oklahoma City; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He is also survived and adored by nine grandchildren: Kelly James and wife Mindy, Sarah James Stewart and husband Brad, Andrew James and fiancee Crystal, Maggie Hill and fiance Andrew, Abby Hill Rhodes and husband Max, Jessica Jones Slater and husband Chase, William Jones, Joshua Hohweiler and wife Stephanie, and Jill Hohweiler Baxter and husband Blair. Richard was also the proud great-grandfather of Noah Stewart, Luke Stewart, Henley James, and Will Hohweiler. His family will lovingly carry on his legacy. Services will be held on Saturday, July 20, at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of Stroud, under the direction of Parks Brothers Funeral Service, with Interment following at the Stroud Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, 825 NE 13th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73104; or First Baptist Church of Stroud Missions Fund, P.O. Box 600, Stroud, OK 74079. He was born, he picked cotton, he went to school, he served his country, he was a great country lawyer, he taught, he farmed, he traveled, he was a baseball fanatic, he was devoted to Lincoln County, he was a lifelong Republican and patriot, he treasured Thanksgiving, he delighted in the Lord, he loved and was beloved by his family, and he died peacefully.

Published in The Oklahoman from July 19 to July 20, 2013
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