When talking about friends in Oklahoma City, it is hard not to mention one of the truest friends that Oklahoma City has ever had: Stanley Draper. Stanley Draper came to Oklahoma in 1919 after serving in WWI. He began his professional career with the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce as the manager of its dining room, and he literally worked his way to the top of the organization. He served as the Chamber’s executive director from 1927 until 1968, where he became a legendary leader and champion of Oklahoma City.
Draper is best remembered because of his diligent work to secure military defense contracts for the city. In fact, it was Stanley who was primarily responsible for enticing the military to locate Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City. Under his direction, a 14-member Industries Foundation of Oklahoma was organized to acquire land for defense installations. This group of businessmen banded together to provide the $300,000 necessary to purchase a 1,200-acre tract for an air base. In February 1941, Draper and his team convinced residents of Oklahoma City to approve a major bond issue that would allow the city to compete for the base.
The base was awarded to Oklahoma City, and Tinker soon became a vital link in the national defense system. Today, it continues to play an essential role in the area and is the largest single-site employer in the state of Oklahoma. Draper also created the Urban Action Foundation, which led to long-range planning for redevelopment of the downtown district.