John Leachman Oliver, Jr.

John Leachman Oliver, Jr.

Died May 12, 2005

John observed in the class book and directory for our 25th reunion in 1990: “As I sit and contemplate the present, I find myself extremely comfortable in the Heartland of America providing professional legal services to individual, institutional and corporate clients with adequate time to enjoy service to the community and area and an opportunity to live life comfortably and at a somewhat slower pace. Less thought is given to the future than has been given to the past…The ‘need to succeed’ has passed as the driving force, and as we look to the next 25 years, the desire for personal satisfaction will, I hope, provide significant goals for living.”

John was educated in the Campus Training School in Cape Girardeau, MO, before graduating from McCallie School for Boys in Chattanooga, TN. At Yale, John was a nonresident member of Timothy Dwight, production director of WYBC, a member of Beta Theta Pi. He also participated in Dwight Hall. He graduated from Yale with a B.A. in economics, cum laude.

John went on to earn a J.D. in 1968 from the University of Missouri Law School, where he was not only Valedictorian but was also elected to Order of the Coif and Editor-in-Chief of the Missouri Law Review. The same year, John held a clerkship with Judge Roy W. Harper of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri before returning to Cape Girardeau to join the law firm his great-grandfather, Senator R.B. Oliver, had founded in 1894, practicing in his early years with his father, grandfather and great-uncle.

John was an elder in his Presbyterian church and was active in the Boy Scouts of America, both locally and nationally.

In 1989 Governor John Ashcroft appointed John to the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission for a six year term. In 1994 John was elected chairman of the Commission.

John died on May 12, 2005, survived by wife, Debi, son Jack and his wife, Rachel, and their children, Kate, Henry and Lilly, and daughter, Brandi.

In 2007 Governor Matt Blunt signed into law a bill that renamed a section of State Highway 74 “ John L Oliver, Jr. Parkway.”

John’s son, Jack reflects, “ We lost dad too early in his journey. He remained passionate about his love for the practice of law, consumption of knowledge, and the enjoyment of a good trout stream or a close Southeast Missouri basketball game. I hold on to the memory of Dad being told of the arrival of his first grandchild and immediately getting on a plane to come and hold her. We only wish that he was still here to encourage all three grandchildren to realize his passion for life and learning which was certainly heightened by his time at Yale.”

R. Douglas McPheters remembers:
John was one of my freshman roommates in Wright Hall. Not having a car, I was always fascinated with John’s weekend road trips, often to distant places like Randolph-Macon, where he claimed to use his large collection of drivers’ licenses from many states, to present a different license to each cop who stopped him for speeding, so as to not impinge on those activities.

Dodd Fischer remembers:
John was sharper than most of us, a lad from Cape Girardeau, who returned home to practice law, married his girl, then wife, after graduation. A gentleman of the first order. I can see him as though it were yesterday.