Oklahoma State Senate
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: April
Great-grandaughter Pat Dennis and grandaughter Wanda Baily unveil
the portrait of Lamar Looney.
Painting of Oklahoma’s First Female Senator Dedicated
A portrait of Mrs. Lamar Looney, the first woman ever
elected to serve in the Oklahoma State Senate, was unveiled during
a ceremony in the State Senate Chamber on Tuesday.
The painting is the latest in a series of historical paintings,
a project by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund,
Inc. The portrait is sponsored by the 2005 Senate Women’s
Caucus, Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin, the Oklahoma Commission on the Status
of Women, the Rural Women’s Business Center and the Family
of Mrs. Lamar Looney. The painting was done by Norman, Oklahoma
artist Mike Wimmer.
Born in 1871 in Alabama, Mirabeau Lamar Cole was named after Mirabeau
B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas.
“Mrs. Looney was a pioneer woman in many ways. As a child,
she loved to read her father’s law books. As an adult, she
and her husband moved from Texas to Oklahoma, but she soon was widowed
with five children under the age of 10 to raise alone. She taught
music, farmed and did whatever she needed to care for her children,”
said Charles Ford, former State Senator and President of the Historical
In 1912, Mrs. Looney was elected registrar of deeds for Harmon County
and was later elected twice to serve as county treasurer. In 1916,
she was elected to the position of Harmon County Clerk and in 1920,
friends persuaded Mrs. Looney to run for the State Senate.
“When you think about the fact that Mrs. Looney was running
for office and elected at a time when women couldn’t even
vote in this country, her accomplishments are all the more impressive,”
said Sen. Debbe Leftwich, spokesperson for the Senate Women’s
Caucus. “Her courage and determination made it possible for
the rest of us to follow.”
While in the Senate, Looney served as chair of the State and County
Affairs Committee, the Prohibition Enforcement Committee and the
Agriculture Committee. She was the only woman to serve in the Oklahoma
Senate until the mid-70's.
Mrs. Looney pushed for legislation that would allow women to serve
in all state offices, but the constitutional amendment was not adopted
during her lifetime. She died on September 3, 1935.
Her granddaughter, 88 year-old Wanda Baily of Oklahoma City, was
among the relatives on hand for the dedication. The family was joined
by members of the Senate Women’s caucus for the unveiling.
Baily remarked that seeing the women in the chamber “felt
great—that’s where we belong.”
To view this portrait and other pieces of original art sponsored
by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc.,
go to www.oksenate.gov and select “Senate Artwork.”
Senate Communications Office- (405) 521-5774