ctices in the Oklahoma National Guard and the state crime bureau.
Aside from civil rights, he helped create the Department of Commerce and laid the groundwork for a tourism department with the publication of Oklahoma Today magazine. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board came about to deal with the state’s underdeveloped water system.
Gary also initiated more than 4,000 miles of road construction and improved the state’s mental health system. Other accomplishments include the increased hiring and salaries of highway troopers, the construction of several low-water dams and implementing an insurance code.
“Few governors provided a more significant basis for future economic development,” Brown said.
After leaving the governor’s office in 1959, Gary made other attempts at elected office, including the U.S. Senate and another run for governor. However, both attempts were unsuccessful.
He died in 1993 and is buried near his home in Madill.
3. JAMES HOWARD EDMONDSON
There are few families as prominent in Oklahoma politics and government as the Edmondsons. And one of the family’s prime stars was Gov. James Howard Edmondson.
The son of a county commissioner and the brother of a congressman, Edmondson was steeped in politics. He served as a prosecutor and later county attorney for Tulsa County before embarking on his ambition to be the youngest governor in state history at the age of 33. He was labeled the “Big Red E” for his fiery red hair and campaign style.
Upon entering the office in 1959, he quickly showed his political skills with an agenda as aggressive as his campaign. Running on a platform of reform, Edmondson ramped up a series of proposals that brought radical change to Oklahoma. He supported the move to end Prohibition of alcohol