Transportation 25

James B. "Jim" Townsend

November 25, 1927 ~ July 18, 2019 (age 91)


James B. “Jim” Townsend, 91, of Shawnee, Oklahoma passed from this life Thursday, July 18, 2019 at his home. 

He was born November 25, 1927 to John D. and Rose (Baker) Townsend in Haileyville, Oklahoma. 

James “Jim” to his family and friends, attended Haileyville Public Schools and graduated from the Oklahoma Military Academy in December 1945. 

Jim was working for Rock Island Railroad until 1946 when he began his military career with the Far East Command, serving under General MacArthur.  He returned home following two years of service to resume his work with Rock Island Railroad.  He ran from Booneville, Arkansas, to Sayre, Oklahoma, mostly on freight and passenger trains, as well as across the Southern District of Rock Island, including the Shawnee and El Reno lines. 

When in Shawnee, he would take his meals at Art’s Café.  While there he met a lovely young lady, June Childers.  Jim and June were married on August 8, 1949 at Draper Street Methodist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  They made their home on U.S. Highway 102 in Shawnee and raised three sons, James L. (Larry), Jeffrey and Jay.  

Jim worked as a locomotive fireman and engineer from 1945-1980.  While working on the railroad Jim became active in politics and served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1964-1980.  He was the Majority Floor Leader in the 35th and 36th Legislatures (1975-1978). 

Jim worked at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation from 1980-1982, serving as State Rail Planning Coordinator. During this time he conducted an economic study of the Rock Island Railroad that was being liquidated He requested, and received an appropriation of $23 million from the Legislature which was used to purchase 96 percent of the Rock Island Railroad and restored service to the industries and communities on 90 percent of the railroad. 

The following nine years, Jim served the State of Oklahoma on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulating utilities, transportation, and the oil and gas industries of Oklahoma.  

From the time of his retirement in 1991 to present, Jim was privileged to serve as Interim Director of the Department of Pollution Control, and also served as the Governor’s office representative to the Oil the Gas Compact Commission.  

Throughout the years Jim has been recognized for his service by various organizations and groups.  Among the distinguished honors “Legislative Conservation Award” by the National Wildlife Federation; “Award of Appreciation” by the Oklahoma Association for Children with Learning Disabilities; the “2014 Carl Albert Award” by the Oklahoma Democratic Party; induction to the “Oklahoma Scenic River Hall of Fame”; and on October 31, 2017, during the Oklahoma Governor’s Water Conference, Townsend was recognized as an “Oklahoma Water Pioneer”. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Rose Townsend; 2 sisters, Lena Yandell and Rose Mary McEntire; and 1 brother, J.D. Townsend. 

Those left to cherish his memory are his loving wife of nearly 70 years, June Townsend of the home; 3 sons and 3 daughters-in-law, Larry and Ronda Townsend of Tecumseh, OK, Jeff and Sherrie Townsend of Fairfield, PA and Jay and Vicki Townsend of Norman, OK; 8 grandchildren; 9 great-grandchildren; and many loving friends and extended family. 

Memorial Service will be 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, July 23, 2019 at Bethel Acres Assembly with his son, Pastor Larry Townsend, Bethel Acres Assembly and Cliff Scott officiating under the direction of Cooper Funeral Home of Tecumseh. There will be no public visitation or viewing.

To send flowers to James' family, please visit our floral section.


Memorial Service
July 23, 2019

2:00 PM
Bethel Acres Assembly
18509 Bethel Road
Shawnee, OK 74801

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