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Official firm portrait of Joe Lewallen for his "In Memoriam" tribute

In Memoriam

Joe C. Lewallen, Jr.

July 17, 1960 – April 1, 2024

Joe C. Lewallen, Jr., a brilliant real estate lawyer, mentor, partner, and director with McAfee & Taft, passed away on April 1, 2024, at the age of 63.  As one of his closest colleagues said, “He represented the best in all of us.”

Born and raised in Tulsa, OK, Joe earned his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University in 1982 and entered private practice in 1985 after graduating from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.  By the time he joined McAfee & Taft in 2014, he had already established himself as one of the state’s preeminent real estate lawyers, with his legal achievements earning him perennial inclusion in the Oklahoma Super Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, and the exclusive Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.

“It was an absolute privilege and honor for me to have been able to work with him and learn from him in so many ways,” said Cole Marshall.  “I joked with him all the time that I called him the Great White Buffalo of real estate law in Oklahoma – this mystic creature you hear about all the time – because he always worked on the coolest and the hardest and most complicated projects.”

And there were many reasons for that. According to Josh Smith, one reason was because Joe was always thinking ahead, routinely solving problems before others even realized there was a problem to be solved.  “Joe would identify issues, and by the time I could even start to worry about it, he’d say, ‘You know, I think I saw something similar in a deal five, ten years ago.  Doesn’t exactly fit, but we could tweak it a bit, and this would solve it.’  And it did.  He was a brilliant lawyer, always self-deprecating and downplaying his role, even on the largest transactions.”

More than anything else, though, what made Joe a universally beloved member of the McAfee & Taft family was his kindness – the way he treated people and the way he made people feel.  No one walked away from an encounter with Joe without feeling uplifted or better about themselves or a particular situation.

“When I think of Joe, what I think about is his humanity,” said Brandon Long.  “He was just a good human being.  The way he thought about people and firm issues – even difficult issues – was always very kind.  He’s the kind of person that makes you say, ‘Man, I want to be like that person. You know, that’s the kind of person I want to be.’”

Carrie Petty, his legal assistant of nearly 14 years, said Joe modeled kindness from the very day he started at McAfee & Taft, setting the tone and standard for everyone with whom he worked by being respectful, thoughtful, and appreciative.  “Setting that tone helped develop this amazing group of lawyers that I work with personally and that I love, and I attribute all of that to him.”

Indeed, by respecting, encouraging, and connecting with his younger colleagues, Joe had a significant impact on the lives and careers of up-and-coming generations of attorneys at McAfee & Taft.

“I had the privilege of working with Joe for the first four years of my career, which is just the biggest honor and blessing you can really ask for,” said Haley Nimmo.  “Joe had this uncanny ability to just make everyone feel comfortable, and that’s pretty much how I felt with him from day one.  He was so incredibly humble, and he took every opportunity to give someone else credit for something he had done or to give praise, even for the smallest of things.”

Joe’s impact on his colleagues was extensive, extending far beyond the boundaries of professional life.

“I’m only one of numerous attorneys who consider themselves blessed to have worked with and learned so much from an attorney as talented and professional as Joe,” said Simon Bright.  “Of the many, many reasons that I am thankful for my time with Joe, his commitment to his faith, family, clients, and community will forever leave an impact on me, both professionally and personally.”

Cole Marshall added, “He always treated me as his equal and always showed me an immense amount of respect, and because of that we connected really quickly – not only from a professional standpoint, but we became, over time, really great friends, and I am a better lawyer, and a better man, and, frankly, a better father and a husband because of my relationship with Joe.”

As deeply as he cared for others, Joe was equally loved.

“Joe had this unique ability to manage this incredible workload, giving incredible attention to his clients as well as the firm and his partners and all the staff,” said managing director Michael Lauderdale.  “He cared about his family above all things, and he was able to manage that with a tireless work ethic. Everybody knew Joe. Everybody loved Joe. And we’re just going to miss him greatly.”

Joe is survived by his wife, Jamie, son Baxter and wife Kara, son Ben and wife Christina, daughter Addie, three grandchildren, sister Debra and husband Doug, and numerous family members, friends and colleagues.  He was proceeded in death by his son Tripp.

Read Joe’s obituary here: https://www.oklahoman.com/obituaries/pokl0776068