Tulsa: February 2014 Archives

Art Rubin, RIP

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art_rubin.jpgArthur E. Rubin, grand old man of the Tulsa County GOP, died Sunday, February 2, 2014, at the age of 93. Visitation is tonight, Friday, February 7, 2014, from 5 - 7 p.m. at Moore Funeral Home Rosewood Chapel at 2570 S. Harvard. Funeral is Saturday, February 8, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2550 E. 71st St (south side of the street, east of Lewis Ave.) in Tulsa. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Art's memory to St. Simeon's Episcopal Home, where he spent his final years.

Art was a Republican stalwart when being a Republican in Oklahoma seemed like a lost cause. It's hard to imagine, but there was a time when an overwhelming percentage of Oklahomans were "yellow dog" Democrats, and elections were won or lost in the Democratic primary. In 1960, the earliest year for which statistics are available, only 17.6% of Oklahoma voters were registered Republican, and 82% were registered Democrat. That was about the time Art became active in Republican politics, right after a disastrous 1958 election in which Democratic nominee J. Howard Edmondson won 74% of the vote to Phil Ferguson's 20%.

It took a great deal of courage and perseverance to be a Republican in those days. Art worked to rebuild the party nearly from scratch, recruiting candidates and marshaling volunteers and donors. Art saw his efforts rewarded as Oklahoma elected its first Republican governor in 1962 and began an unbroken streak of voting for Republican presidential candidates in 1968, and as Republicans swept every U. S. Senate and House seat in 1994, gained a majority in the State House in 2000 for the first time since 1920 and took the State Senate in 2008, and had begun to make inroads in once-rock-solid Democratic county courthouses. At his passing, Republicans were nearing a plurality of registered voters (always a lagging indicator), with 43.2% to the Democrats 44.8%

In 1988, Art Rubin served as one of Oklahoma's presidential electors, casting his vote for George H. W. Bush and Dan Quayle. He was a delegate to the 1992 Republican National Convention. He was an early and fervent supporter of John Sullivan's special-election run for Congress in 2001/2002. He was a beloved presence at party conventions and club luncheons, and his advice was often sought out by office holders and party officials. While his wavy hair turned white over time, the determined gaze you see in the photo above never dimmed.

One of the earliest entries on BatesLine was about a May 2003 banquet honoring Art Rubin for his decades of service to the Republican Party.

Art did not mince words. In this story about the 1991 Tulsa County Republican convention, Art said of Vince Orza, a Republican gubernatorial candidate who endorsed Democrat David Walters for governor in 1990, "The guy is a two-faced s.o.b.; you can't trust him. He invited Walters to his house." Of the job of party County Chairman, Rubin remarked, "Nobody else wants that damned job. It's a lousy job. All you do is get criticized and thrown out."

Art was a Ronald Reagan conservative, staunchly pro-life. He preached the importance of party unity, urging that, as Republicans, our differences with the Democrats are more profound than our differences with one another.

Art and his wife Doris lived for many years on Gary Lake, at 2854 S. Gary Avenue, north of 31st Street. He raised endangered trumpeter swans and other waterfowl on the lake, starting in 1969. In 1989, he donated a pair of swans, later given the names Fred and Ginger, to the new pond on the University Center at Tulsa (now OSU-Tulsa) campus. The lake was notable for its flamboyant Christmas displays, and the Rubin home was no exception.

Professionally, Art Rubin was an attorney specializing in family law, a 1950 graduate of OU Law School, an associate of the Gable Gotwals firm.

One of his legal anecdotes was quoted in a 2006 Tulsa World story about divorce court:

Longtime attorney Art Rubin could have died in divorce court when it was revealed that his client, who swore she was a devoted Christian wife, was sleeping with another man.

Rubin asked the woman during testimony whether this was true.

"Yes," she said, "but the good Lord has already forgiven me."

An online professional profile lists his credits as follows:

Phi Delta Phi. Associate Editor, Oklahoma Bar Journal, 1978-1984. Author: Property Division in Divorce, 54 Oklahoma Bar Journal 531, February 26, 1983. Assistant Professor of Law, University of Tulsa, 1951-1952. Member, Oklahoma Industrial Finance Authority, 1965-1973; Tulsa River Parks Authority, 1980-1986. Member, Board of Trustees, Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System, 1989-1991. Member, Federal Judge Selection Committee, Northern District of Oklahoma.

MORE: The Oklahoma Republican Party issued this tribute to Art Rubin:

The Oklahoma Republican Party wishes to express their condolences for the Arthur Rubin family of Tulsa upon the passing of their father, grandfather, and friend. Arthur Rubin's leadership within the Oklahoma Republican Party earned him a reputation as the "grandfather" of the Tulsa County Republican Party, and his advice, energy, dedication, and understanding gained him state and national recognition. Chairman Dave Weston said, "Oklahomans will miss Mr. Rubin and all that he contributed to the Republican Party, but also who he was as an individual."

If you'd like to share your memories of Art Rubin, I'd be honored to add them here. Post a comment or email me at blog@batesline.com


At Art Rubin's funeral, he was eulogized by U. S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, law firm colleague Jim Gotwals, and a family friend.

Inhofe told the oft-repeated story of how Art Rubin got him to run for office for the first time. The scene is lunch at the Beacon Grill at 4th and Boston, 1966, shortly after the election of State Sen. Dewey Bartlett (father of Tulsa's current mayor) as Oklahoma's second Republican governor, leaving his legislative seat vacant.

Art never asked you to do anything. He told you. So we sat down on these little round stools that they had at the Beacon Grill, and he says, "I want you to run for the vacancy that's been created because Dewey Bartlett's now the governor." And I said, "Art, I'm not going to do it.... First of all, I've got all these kids at home," and Art said, "It's a part-time job." And he's right, it was. And I said, "I don't have any organization," and he said, "You need an organizer." And he looked up, and there was a lady walking across the Beacon Grill, her name was Millie Thompson.... he said, "Millie, come over here. I want you to head up the 'Volunteers for Inhofe' -- he's going to run for the state legislature."

Now I know that there are people -- 'cause I'm kind of extreme and you know that -- there are people in here who don't like me. You won't raise your hand, you won't acknowledge it now, but I know you don't. So -- but if you don't like me, don't blame me, blame Art.

Art Rubin's funeral program was a traditional Lutheran liturgy, including readings from Scripture (Isaiah 61:1-3, Psalm 23, Revelation 21:2-7, John 6:35-40), congregational hymns ("O Day of Rest and Gladness," "In the Garden," and "How Great Thou Art") and a sermon from the Rev. Scott Burmeister, pastor of Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church.


Norman James writes:

Art and I were cousins. We finished school at about the same time, and had rooms in adjacent houses on South Carson. One evening we were walking to dinner (neither of us owned a car), talking about jobs and money. He was earning $150 a month as a law clerk, I was making $225 as a "Laborer". Art said, "I would be SO happy if I knew I could make $500 a month the rest of my life."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from February 2014.

Tulsa: August 2013 is the previous archive.

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