2014 Hall of Fame Honoree
The Honorable James O. Ellison, ’46
James O. Ellison graduated from high school at OMA in 1946. He attended the academy under a work scholarship program by which he received credit on tuition in exchange for work performed in the mess hall. He states that this arrangement, coupled with the school’s education and military training, developed a sense of responsibility shared by other OMA graduates.
Upon graduation, Ellison attended the University of Missouri for a year before transferring to the University of Oklahoma where he received dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and law in 1951.
He served on active duty with the U.S. Army for two and a half years until his discharge in 1953. He later became a member of the 45th Infantry Division, Oklahoma National Guard, where he served from 1955 through 1963.
Upon his release from active duty in 1953, Judge Ellison opened a one-man law practice in Red Fork, Okla., with his wife Jody acting as his secretary. He continued as a solo practitioner until 1955 when he joined Byron Boone and eventually became a senior partner in the law firm of Boone, Ellison and Smith with the addition of L.K. Smith as a partner. The firm grew in size and reputation into a major Tulsa law firm.
In 1979, Ellison was nominated by Senator David Boren and appointed by President Carter as U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma. He served in that capacity as both active and senior judge until 2005 when he became an inactive U.S. District Judge.
During his legal career, Ellison served as Trustee of the following entities: Hillcrest Medical Center; Columbia College, Columbia, Mo.; University of the Ozarks, Clarksville, Ark.; and the Mary C. Alexander Trust.
He received the Rogers State University Constitutional Award in 2000.
About the Hall of Fame award, Ellison said, “What makes this a significant and unique honor is the knowledge of the long line of OMA cadets who left this Hill to serve their country in many ways; a great number of whom lost their lives in that service. I remember them each time I come back. All honor belongs to them.”