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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Governor Robert Lee Williams

by Leonard D. McMurry

Bronze
Dimensions:
Commissioned by the Oklahoma State Legislature
Dedicated 1982
Second Floor: Hall of Governors

Governor Robert Lee Williams by Leonard D. McMurry

The Artwork

Robert Lee Williams was Oklahoma's third Governor. He was born December 20, 1868, at Brundidge, Alabama. He earned a number of college degrees including LL.D., was admitted to the Alabama Bar in 1891, and began his practice in Troy, Alabama. In 1896, he went to Atoka, Indian Territory. His long years of public service included: Member of the Constitutional Convention, 1906-1907; Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, 1907-1914; Governor of Oklahoma, January 11, 1915 to January 13, 1919; United States District Judge; Eastern District of Oklahoma, 1919 to 1937; United States Circuit Judge, Tenth Circuit, 1937-1939. He retired in 1939 and died at his home in Durant, Oklahoma, April 10, 1948.

The Artist

Known as Oklahoma's own "Michelangelo," Leonard McMurry was born to a family of prominent cotton farmers in the Texas panhandle. McMurry moved to Oklahoma in 1955 and then lived in Stilwell and Oklahoma City. Under the teachings of sculptors Carl Mose and Ivan Mestrovic, McMurry perfected his craft. His magnificent sculptures of Oklahoma icons can be seen across the state including the '89er statue on Couch Drive in Oklahoma City and the Praying Hands that grace the lawns of Oral Roberts University.

In accordance with Oklahoma's Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1982, McMurry was commissioned to sculpt busts of 21 past Oklahoma Governors. The Hall of Governors exudes Oklahoman's pride in her past legislative guardians. Regarding his works, McMurry states, "Each piece must have a soul, a living quality that's far more important than just physical representation. A piece has to have guts: the strength, power, and dignity, that makes it a monument." McMurry has accomplished that very feat within the grandiose Hall of Governors in which visitors may come face to face with naturalistic representation of Oklahoma leaders.