Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Distinguished Alumni

Frank Polk

Frank Polk - 1988

Frank L. Polk was born near Reydon, Oklahoma, in Roger Mills County. His father, Louis, died of a heart attack when Polk was only three years old. There were seven children for his mother, Nettie, to raise. Polk had an older brother who was 19 and took over the farming for the family. In order to complete high school, Polk lived in Strong City with his sister and brother-in-law, Lee and Nig Wells. When Polk attended SWOSU he worked at the College Book Store which was owned by Lee Ratcliffe.

Always a friendly and outgoing man, Polk was a member of the Bulls, the men’s pep organization at SWOSOU. When he was a senior, he was elected President of the group. He was Junior Class President while at SWOSU and a member of the Student Council which was very active at the time. Polk graduated from SWOSU on a Thursday and was sworn into the Air corps as an Aviation Cadet the following Sunday in 1941, leaving immediately for San Diego. Primary flight training followed at Lindberg Field. Then he was transferred to Moffett Field near Palo Alto for the second phase of pilot training. Next came a transfer to Luke Field, Phoenix, Arizona for advanced training. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and received his pilot wings on January 9, 1942.

Frank became acquainted with a lovely young woman named Shirley Douglas, whose mother, Frances Douglas, taught at Weatherford Junior High School and was later H.S. librarian. During her grade and high school years in Weatherford, Shirley often performed as a singer and dancer and was in many programs. While earning her Bachelor of Arts degree at SWOSU, she was active in the chorus and glee club. She was also a member of Tri J’s. Frank and Shirley were married on March 16, 1942 in Las Vegas, Nevada and were stationed in Minter Field, Bakersfield, California for 3 ½ year. Frank was an instructor, a flight commander and for two years Squadron Commander while there. In April of 1945, Polk was transferred to Lincoln Army Air Field in Nebraska to join a “Bomber group” which was to be sent overseas. The war in Europe ended while the group was being formed. Polk was made a group commander, assigned to Lincoln Field. He was not discharged until June of 1946.

Returning to Oklahoma and civilian life, Polk worked with the War Assets Administration as a negotiator to dispose of all of the airports in Oklahoma which the army had taken over during the war. Every major airport in Oklahoma was included in the group. Polk worked with the mayors, councils, and city managers of towns all across Oklahoma. Despite the responsibilities of the job, it was a wonderful opportunity for Polk to meet many “fine people” which he enjoyed very much. Shirley became the homemaker for the family which soon enlarged by three children, Frank Lee, Douglas Lyons, and Shirley Lynn.

In 1948, Polk became associated with Southwestern Stationary and Bank Supply in Amarillo as a salesman. Nine months later, he transferred to Oklahoma City and began selling for the company in the metropolitan area. The company had stores in Lawton, Ponca City, and Amarillo, Texas. In 1953, Polk became a Vice President and member of the Board of Directors. He had begun accumulation an interest in the various store locations. Southwestern Stationary and Bank Supply offers a number of business elated items for sale and also is a major printer and lithographer. The company went from 20 employees in the early 1950’s to over 50 employees in the early 1960’s in just the Oklahoma City Area. Since Polk became President and Chief Executive Officer in 1963, other changes have taken place in the company, as of course is the general pattern as people retire, die, and move. Polk is presently active in the Oklahoma City and Kansas City operations of the corporation. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Lawton firm, but ha sold his stock in other Southwestern locations. The printing and lithographing plant in Oklahoma City is one of the best equipped in the southwestern part of the United States. The plant is 75,000 square feet in size. In the past few years, the company has spent several million dollars on the latest and best equipment. There are 70 employees in the graphic arts division. Four color lithography is available and Polk says, “We strive every day to make every job a first class one.” In the office furniture line, the company employs several commercial interior designers to help businesses furnish their offices. A large showroom affords customers and opportunity to see and select office furniture. “Southwestern has a reputation for good service following sales. We believe our customers should be treated as we want to be treated when we are the customer. We have had many of the same customers for over thirty years, and add new ones all the time,” said Polk. Active in business related organizations, Polk is a longtime supporter of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. He has also been a member of the Sirloin Club for many years. The Polks are charter members of the Petroleum Club of Oklahoma City. Polk is a long time member of the Touchdown club (O.U. Football) and also of the Oklahoma Heritage Association. Polk was a member of the Board of Trustees of Heritage Hall School from 1971-1974. He is also a charter member of the President’s Associates Group at O.U. Both Frank and Shirley are lifetime members of the Southwestern Oklahoma State University Alumni Association.

The Polks are very pleased to have so much of their family near them. Frank and Shirley’s children all live in Oklahoma City. Despite a very active life in business and Oklahoma City social circles, the Polks have never lost their Western Oklahoma friends and a feeling for the roots from which they come. They return often to Western Oklahoma and SWOSU for alumni events and other occasions important to their friends.