Robert A. Hefner ("The Judge")
Fun Fact: The mineral conveyance form still in use today is based upon the original Robert A. Hefner Form.
Robert A. Hefner (“The Judge”) was born four miles north of Lone Oak in Hunt County, Texas in 1874 from humble roots. Educating himself under the stars at night with books sent to him from a cousin at Baylor, Hefner worked his way through college and secured his Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas in 1902.
As he wrapped up law school, the world-famous Spindletop discovery was made and he headed there to begin his law practice. He soon moved to Ardmore, OK in 1906, before Oklahoma statehood, after representing a Native American case and realizing the town was ripe for a young attorney. It was in Ardmore that his legal career really took off and clients began lining up at the door; clients like Humble Oil (now Exxon), Magnolia Petroleum (now Mobil), Gulf Oil Company (one of the “Seven Sisters” prior to its merger with Standard), Carter Oil, Skelly Oil (now Texaco), among others.
His civil service, however, began when he was elected mayor of Ardmore in 1920 and was convinced in 1926 to lend his name to the ballot for Supreme Court Justice, a position he served in for six years. Although he served as a Justice, his nickname of “the Judge” was attained years before when he had just moved to Ardmore for his ability to solve complex issues and disputes. Following his time on the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Hefner became Mayor of Oklahoma City in 1939, most noted for the building of Oklahoma City’s water reservoir system - Bluff Creek Reservoir, which was later renamed Lake Hefner. Hefner served his Mayorship during World War II and was pivotal in winning the military bid to place Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City - a time that brought the famous General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Chester W. Nimitz to Oklahoma City. “Looking to do as much as he could do for our boys in the war”, the Judge helped raise, along with E.K. Gaylord and Bob Hope, $40 million in US war bonds to commission the USS Oklahoma City. Today Lake Hefner, Hefner Middle School, Hefner Road and the Lake Hefner Parkway are all reminders of his visionary service to the City of Oklahoma City.
Aside from his civic involvement, The Judge was a visionary in the oil field as well; he amassed thousands of acres of mineral rights through The Hefner Company based upon ‘creekology’, which later proved to be a very sound investment. By the time he was elected Supreme Court Justice in 1927, he had already amassed over 33,000 acres of mineral rights in the Anadarko basin. Testament to his innovation regarding his legal practice and purchasing of mineral rights, the mineral conveyance form that is still in use today is based upon the original Robert A. Hefner mineral conveyance form.
He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1949.