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R. E. Lee Van Winkle. Without any injustice to later years it can be stated that the period of greatest achievement in the undertaking and carrying out of vital municipal improvements in Oklahoma City occurred during the few years immediately preceding and following the entrance of Oklahoma into the Union as a state. In the course of a few years a raw western prairie town was transformed into a metropolis that was the surprise and wonder of all the Southwest, and which in the extension and development of permanent municipal service and institutions soon placed Oklahoma City ahead of many older centers which had been cities of wealth and power before Oklahoma City had become a name in geography. It is a point of no little significance that this time of municipal upbuilding in Oklahoma City corresponds closely with the period in which R. E. Lee Van Winkle was mayor of the city. Mr. Van Winkle first served as mayor of Oklahoma City from 1899 to 1901, but it was during the term from 1903 to 1905 that his official record was adorned with its most important achievement. As mayor of Oklahoma City Mr. Van Winkle won for himself the thanks and good will of all the honest people for his able and determined fight for clean, wholesome administration of civic affairs. It will be recalled that at one time he brought about the indictment of six out of ten members of his city council for unbecoming conduct, known by a more familiar name as grafting. His administrations can be accepted as the point of origin for practically all the better public improvements such as paving, before the close of his second term had given Oklahoma City more miles of paved streets than almost any city in the Southwest, and also the establishment of a municipally owned waterworks system.
Aside from his record of public service, Mr. Van Winkle has for a number of years been prominent in manufacturing and lumber circles in Oklahoma, and is also one of the leading Masons in the state.
R. E. Lee Van Winkle was born at Van Winkle’s Mills in Benton County. Arkansas, July 17, 186.’!. His parents were Peter and Temperance (Miller) Van Winkle. He acquired his early education in the home schools and in the University of Arkansas, and grew up in the rugged surroundings of the timber covered district of Northwest Arkansas. The home school which he attended was built and maintained by his father for a number of years. Four of the sons had been taught by private tutors in the home prior to the establishment of this school which was also attended by other children in the community.
From early boyhood Mr. Van Winkle has been acquainted with the technical side of lumbering, gained by experience in his father’s mill. For twelve years after leaving school he was in the retail lumber business, and then turned his attention to wholesale lumbering and manufacturing. In 1896 Mr. Van Winkle organized the Oklahoma Sash & Door Company, and served as its president and manager until 1904. In that year he disposed of his interests, and has since made the wholesale business the object of his attention, and is at the head of the Van Winkle Lumber Company, with offices in the Lee Building at Oklahoma City. He still holds some extensive interests in manufacturing and wholesale concerns in the timber belts of Arkansas.
Mr. Van Winkle for several years was a resident of Pittsburg, Kansas, and while there was a member of the city council in 1886-88. In politics he is a democrat and is a member of the Episcopal Church. In Scottish Rite Masonry he has taken thirty-two degrees and is also a member of the Uniform Rank of the Knights of Pythias. He is a past master of the Masonic lodge of Pittsburg, Kansas, and on January 24, 1890, joined Abdala Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Leavenworth. Kansas. He is a past potentate of India Temple at Oklahoma City and a past representative to the Imperial Council.
On November 14, 1883, at Lebanon, Missouri, Mr. Van Winkle married Marcella A. Faulkner. Her father, D. W. Faulkner, was a banker and railroad contractor at Lebanon. Mr. and Mrs. Van Winkle have only one child, Vere, now Mrs. Frank B. Sorgatz. Doctor Sorgatz is professor of pathology in the State University of Oklahoma. The Van Winkle family has been established in America many generations, and through his ancestry Mr. Van Winkle is eligible to membership in the Sons of Revolutionary Fathers.