Skip navigation
Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Governor Robert Samuel Kerr

by Leonard D. McMurry

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

Governor Robert Samuel Kerr by Leonard D. McMurry

The Artwork

Robert Samuel Kerr was Oklahoma's first native-born governor. He was born near Ada, Indian Territory, September 11, 1896. He was a student at East Central Normal School and Oklahoma Baptist University. He was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1922 and practiced in Ada. Beginning as a drilling contractor in 1926, he built up a large oil producing company and at the time of his death was President of the Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Inc. He served as Governor of Oklahoma from January 13, 1943 to January 13, 1947. He was elected U.S. Senator on November 2, 1948 and served until his death January 1, 1963. While governor, Kerr's administration liquidated the state debt. During his tenure as U.S. Senator, he worked to get the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System developed, changing much of Oklahoma's landscape. He is buried at his birthplace near Ada.

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.