James C. Leake, Sr.

Class of
James C. Leake, Sr.

James C. Leake, Sr.

“The demands of his diverse business interests have not deterred Jimmy Leake from a great and generous contribution to the public’s good through his continued service to state government.”
Governor George Nigh, 1980


Oklahoma native James C. Leake, Sr., grew up on the farm his grandfather homesteaded in 1891. He worked the soda counter at Rickner’s Bookstore and Restaurant in Norman while attending college at the University of Oklahoma and, as a trombone player, even took a job repairing the school’s band uniforms on a $10 sewing machine. He became president of the band in 1938 and raised money for trips, where he often slept in the baggage car to protect the group’s uniforms and instruments. In 1940 Leake married Marjory Griffin, the daughter of grocery pioneer J. T. Griffin of Muskogee. He became a salesman for Griffin Grocery Company and, during World War II, played an important role in expediting food shipments for the federal government. Upon the death of J.T. Griffin, Leake assumed part of the management responsibilities of Griffin Enterprises. He has served as chairman of the Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, the Will Rogers Memorial Commission, and the Honey Springs Battlefield Park Commission. Leake won the American Heritage Award for “The Gilcrease Story,” the Chicago International Film Festival Award for “The E.W. Marland Story,” and the Edward R. Murrow Award for “The Five Civilized Tribes: The Unfinished Journey.”

Fun fact

James Leake owned one of the world’s largest collections of Rolls Royce automobiles and founded The Antiques Inc., a museum of classic and vintage cars in Muskogee. He also served as chairman of the International Automobile Hall of Fame.

Oklahoma connections

Leake was born and raised on a farm near Chandler, Oklahoma.









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