NORMAN — When Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian Opala was freed from a German prisoner of war camp in spring 1945, his skills and opportunities were limited. Fortunately, he spoke several languages, including English, and interpreters were in high demand, keeping order among former prisoners.
Enter Capt. Clyde Gene Warr, a member of Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Division serving in George Patton’s Third Army. Opala became Capt. Warr’s interpreter. Later, Opala, with a nickel in his pocket, made it to the United States as a guest of the Warr family, of Warr Acres fame.
His fascinating transformation from a young Warsaw law student to freedom fighter for the Polish resistance to being appointed as the first-born Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice is the subject of a new book by Bob Burke and Ryan Leonard.
Justice Opala was a fascinating man whose principled life was dedicated to justice, no matter whose toes were stepped upon.
It’s on my fall bookshelf. The foreword is by OU President David L. Boren, who — as governor — first appointed Opala to a state court and then the Supreme Court. My wife, Karen, served as a clerk for Justice Opala in law school and our friendship continued through the years.
A week before his death in 2010, we shared a wonderful meal and hours of conversation at our home. It is one of those memories for the ages.
Next to the Opala biography is “John Q, The Life and Times of Jim Lange,” political cartoonist for The Daily Oklahoman for 58 years. His son, Robert Lange, also a professional cartoonist, reprinted some of his father’s favorite works with comments and a perspective only a son could provide.
“Growing up with a dad as a cartoonist is like being at Disneyworld every day,” wrote Robert Lange, the youngest of Jim and Helen’s four children. The book is available at Amazon.com or at bigheadtinybody.com.