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
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
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.