- Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

April 2, 2014

Former Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Hargrave built legacy

Ada — Former Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Rudolph Hargrave died Tuesday in Ada. He was 89.

A graveside service is set for 2 p.m. Friday at Oakwood Cemetery in Wewoka, with the Rev. Susan Rice presiding, according to Stout-Phillips Funeral Home in Wewoka.

Hargrave was born Feb. 15, 1925, in Shawnee and lived in Wewoka. He earned his law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1949 and opened a private practice in Wewoka, which he continued until 1964.

He served as a county judge in Seminole  County from 1964 to 1967, then served as a Seminole County Superior Court judge from 1967 to 1969. He was a district judge from 1969 until 1978, when he was appointed to the state Supreme Court by then-Gov. David Boren.

He was elected chief justice of the state’s highest court in 1989 and remained on the court until he retired in 2010.

While he was serving as chief justice, Hargrave was elected vice president of the National Conference of Chief Justices. He was the only Oklahoma Supreme Court justice to hold that position.

Hargrave was recently honored by the Sovereignty Symposium, a national conference on tribal law sponsored by the Supreme Court and other organizations. The Hargrave Prize, which was first presented in 2013, is awarded to the best three faculty papers at the conference.

Hargrave is survived by his wife, Madeline, and three children. His son John, who survives, is the president of East Central University.

The moot courtroom in ECU’s Chickasaw Business and Conference Center is named for Hargrave.

For a full obituary, see page 2 of today’s Ada News.

A legacy at ECU

All legacies begin with someone and for the Hargraves at East Central University it was Justice Rudolph Hargrave.

In a transcript interview with Hargrave during the 2011 Lou Watkins Lecture by political science student Joe Trail and Dr. Christine Pappas, department coordinator of the political science and legal studies, he talked about how he met his wife Madeline and how ECU was a springboard toward his law career.

“If East Central had a law school, I never would have left East Central. I loved it there. I had a job putting up the lights down at the football field. Because somebody would shoot them out if we didn’t. I would go down on Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon if it was a night game,” Rudolph said. “I turned on the P.A. system one time and turned it up just as loud as it would go and I sang to the girls in Knight Hall. I immediately, got called to the President’s office and was told not to do that anymore. I don’t know if they didn’t like my singing or just didn’t like what I was doing.”

He eventually met his future wife, Madeline (Shipley), during her first year that she was enrolled at the university.

Madeline graduated from ECU in 1949, and Rudolph, after earning about 90 hours of credit at ECU, obtained his degree from the University of Oklahoma that same year.

Rudolph took the bar exam, but before he got the results, the pair were married on faith that same year.

“That’s easy to remember. I’ve been a lawyer 62 years and I’ve been married 62 years,” Rudolph said in 2011. “It was a good year.”

The couple made their home in Wewoka where they chose to raise their three children Cindy, John and Jana (all ECU alums).

Most recently, a moot courtroom in the new ECU Chickasaw Business and Conference Center, which opened in August of 2013, was named in honor of Justice Hargrave after overwhelming support from family and friends. The courtroom benefits legal studies and criminal justice majors.

In honor and memory of Justice Rudolph Hargrave, the family has requested that donations be made to the Madeline Hargrave Centennial Endowment at the ECU Foundation in lieu of flowers.

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