Leon C. Phillips bigraphy, stories - Lawyer and politician

Leon C. Phillips : biography

December 9, 1890 - March 27, 1958

Leon Chase "Red" Phillips (December 9, 1890 - March 27, 1958) was an American attorney, a state legislator and the 11th Governor of Oklahoma. As a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Phillips made a name for himself as an obstructionist of the proposals of governors William H. Murray and E.W. Marland, including components of the New Deal. As governor, Phillips pushed for deep cuts, but was unable to avoid an unbalanced budget.

After retiring from politics, he worked as an attorney before his death from a heart attack. He is buried in Weleetka, Oklahoma.

Later life

After he retired from the office of Governor, Phillips returned to his farm near Okemah, Oklahoma, and continued to practice law until his death.

Early life and career

Phillips was born in Worth County, Missouri, and moved to Oklahoma at an early age. While a student at Epworth University in Oklahoma City, he studied for the ministry, but changed to law and received his LL.B. from the University of Oklahoma in 1916. He married Myrtle Ellenberger of Norman, Oklahoma, on June 19, 1916, and they had two children.

Phillips was admitted to the State Bar in that year and to practice before the United States Supreme Court later. After service in World War I, as a private in the US Army, he returned to Okemah, where he practiced law.

Political career

Elected three times to the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1933 to 1938, he served as Speaker of the House in 1935. He led opposition to proposals from governors William H. Murray and E.W. Marland, the latter of which helped him attain his seat as Speaker., (accessed June 28, 2013)

He was elected Governor of Oklahoma in 1938, and served from January 9, 1939, to January 11, 1943. During his governorship he was charged with accepting a bribe, was tried twice, but was eventually acquitted. Phillips was the first state representative to be elected as Governor of Oklahoma and his term was marked by his proposals to trim the state budget. Despite deep cuts, the budget produced by the 17th Oklahoma Legislature was not balanced; it was the last budget not subject to constitutional requirements to balance the budget approved by voters in 1941.

Phillips considered the New Deal to be federal interference in the state and was an obstructionist.


Governor Phillips died, of a heart attack, while waiting for a client at the post office in Okmulgee on March 27, 1958. He is interred at Hillcrest Cemetery Weleetka, Okfuskee County, Oklahoma.

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