R. E. Echols. The profession of law is one that affects the most valuable interests of organized society, and hence arises the high public place which is accorded the honorable, well qualified lawyer. The bar and bench, in every civilized community, represents, as a whole, the cultured citizenship, the effective leaders, and because of this the profession is frequently well represented in public life. All other things being equal, choice naturally falls upon those best equipped through training and experience, for other fields of responsibility. A foremost member of the Elk City bar and well known in his profession all over Beckham County, is Hon. R. E. Echols, formerly state senator, and a vitalizing factor in all that concerns the development and welfare of Oklahoma.
R. E. Echols was born June 2, 1873, in Upshur County, Texas, and is a son of W. H. and Maggie (Callaway) Echols, the former of whom was born in Anderson County, Texas, in 1848, and the latter in Upshur County in 1850. W. H. Echols in early manhood moved from Anderson to Upshur County, where he married, and from there, in 1876, removed to Terrill, Kaufman County, Texas, during his active years engaging in merchandising. In 1909 he retired and settled at Altus, Oklahoma, where he still lives, he and his wife being leading members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at that place. They have five children: J. W., who is a physician and surgeon at McAlester, Oklahoma, is a graduate of the Louisville University, where he received his medical decree; R. E.; Flossie, who is the wife of R. D. McAfee, a merchant at Terrell, Texas: Renna, who is the wife of Thomas A. Howells, an ice manufacturer at Altus, Oklahoma; and Basil, who resides on his ranch in Montana.
W. H. Echols is a democrat in his political views and fraternally is identified with the Masons and the Elks. During two years of the war between the states, he served as a soldier in the Confederate army, enlisting from Texas. He suffered for a time as a prisoner of war, but later was exchanged.
R. E. Echols attended the public schools and was graduated in the class of 1895, from the Terrell High School, after which he entered the law department of the University of Texas, where he continued for three years, and in 1899 was admitted to the Texas bar. Ambitious and enterprising, Mr. Echols had the canny foresight of his Scotch ancestors, in making choice of a professional field, in the fall of 1900 coming to Elk City, and in the same year was admitted to the Oklahoma bar. He has been identified in every way with this section ever since and has built up a large and lucrative law practice by honorable methods, covering both civil and criminal cases, and naturally has been concerned in a large amount of important litigation. He is a valued and useful member of the county, state and national bar associations, and his law library is comprehensive and up to date.
In 1907, when Oklahoma assumed the dignity of a state, the elections were matters of great importance and the selection of members of the state senate were carefully looked after by both political parties. One election that brought very general satisfaction was that of R. E. Echols, and his administration of the office during his first term brought re election, so that he served two full terms, four regular sessions and also four special sessions. While at Oklahoma City Mr. Echols was no mere figurehead, on the other hand the records prove that he was as faithful in performing his duties as he was able in statesmanship. The senatorial district he represented was composed of Beckham, Roger Mills, Ellis
and Dewey counties. During the first session he was chairman of the corporation committee; during the second of the judiciary No. 1 committee, and during the third and fourth sessions was chairman of the congressional apportionment committee, and additionally was a member of a number of other committees, to all of which bodies he gave time and consideration, expert counsel and practical help. Senator Echols was the author of the bill creating a board of public affairs, which selected body has been operating for several years, and has proved of great usefulness. He was elected chairman of the Oklahoma State Convention, April 11, 1916.
Senator Echols was married in 1908, at Greenville, Texas, to Mrs. Sallie (Chandler) Mays, who was the widow of J. A. Mays, formerly a banker of Elk City, who left two daughters: Ida, born in 1902, and Mary, born in 1904, both attending school. Mrs. Echols was born at Greenville, Texas, and is a daughter of Doctor Chandler, a well known physician of that city. Senator and Mrs. Echols have one son, R. E., Jr., who was born in 1909.
While Senator Echols has been busy with law and politics for a number of years, he has found time to accept fraternal relationships and has become well known in the leading orders. He belongs to Elk City Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, No. 182; Elk City Chapter No. 50; Elk City Knights of Pythias, of which he is past chancellor and has served also as a delegate to the grand lodge; and to Lodge No. 1144, Elks, of Elk City. Endowed with great talent as a lawyer, he is esteemed in his profession, and his sincerity, public spirit and loyalty to friends have made him admired in public life. Among his associates of everyday life his conduct has always been such as to win unqualified respect if not warmer emotion. In many ways Senator Echols may be named as one of Oklahoma’s representative men, possessing, as he does, qualities dear to the people of this stirring state–honesty, independence, courage and enterprise–the same qualities which led his ancestors from Scotland to Virginia in colonial times, and sturdily supported them after they reached there.