Guleke, James O. (1891–1938)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: January 23, 2020

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James O. Guleke, attorney and philanthropist, son of Edward Guleke, was born in Grayson County, Texas, on January 8, 1891. He moved with his parents and sister to Childress at the age of six, then eight years later to Amarillo, where he graduated from Amarillo High School in 1910. He worked his way through Baylor University as a bookkeeper, graduated from the University of Texas law school in 1915, and was admitted to the bar. He began his law practice in Amarillo in the summer of 1916. When the United States entered World War I in 1917 Guleke enlisted in the service and went to camp at Leon Springs. Although he was given a captain's commission in the Fourth Texas Cavalry, he was released because of physical disability and subsequently was in charge of the supply troop at Amarillo. He married Agnes Seewald on November 21, 1917. They became the parents of a son and two daughters.

In addition to practicing law at the firm of Stone and Guleke, formed in 1921, Guleke emerged as a prominent philanthropist and civic leader. He was a member of the Central Presbyterian Church in Amarillo and, like his father, a leader in the local and state Masonic order. He was a charter member of Amarillo's Khiva Shrine Temple, of which he served as potentate in 1927–28. In 1926 Guleke became a regent of West Texas State Teachers' College (now West Texas State University) at Canyon. He and others proposed and sponsored the building and development of the Goodnight Trail into Palo Duro Canyon State Park, and he also was instrumental in sponsoring Palisades Park. In addition he was a charter member of the State Board of Education and published its reports. He also served as president of the Amarillo Bar Association.

Guleke's health eventually broke, and in the summer of 1938 he went to Colorado to recuperate. On his return he joined Dr. and Mrs. Loy Smith for a weekend fishing trip to Socorro, New Mexico. Smith later claimed that Guleke had been on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Whatever the reason, he committed suicide during the night of August 28–29, 1938, in Socorro. His body was taken back to Amarillo and interred in Llano Cemetery, which he had helped to beautify years before.

Amarillo Daily News, August 30, 1938. Joseph A. Hill, More Than Brick and Mortar (Amarillo: Russell Stationery, 1959). History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of the Cities of Houston and Galveston (Chicago: Lewis, 1895). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Education
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • School Trustees and Regents

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Guleke, James O.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 23, 2020