Leroy was born October 12, 1929, to Homer Caesar and May Theo Folks in Hydro, OK, and passed away May 30, 2021, in Stillwater, OK.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Leroy Folks, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
Visitation will be held Thursday, June 3, 6-8 p.m., at Strode Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, June 4, at First Baptist Church, Stillwater, followed by a reception, and 5 p.m. at a graveside service at Coop Prairie Cemetery in Mansfield, AR.
Leroy was raised on a farm and started his education in a 2-room school. From a young age, he demonstrated exceptional academic skills. Prior to enrolling at Oklahoma A&M, he served with the 45th Infantry Division, 158th Field Artillery Battalion, in Japan and Korea as Operations Chief. After his service, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics with an emphasis on statistics, and was a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. He later earned his Ph.D. in statistics at Iowa State University.
While at Iowa State University, he met the love of his life, Sue Folks, on a Sunday evening at The Roger Williams Club at First Baptist Church. One year later, they married in Sue's hometown of Mansfield, AR. They moved to Richardson, TX, where he worked at Texas Instruments for several years.
In 1961, Leroy and Sue moved to Stillwater where he began his career at OSU as an associate professor with the mathematics department. He served as chair of the statistics department for 25 years and was named a Regents Service Professor, retiring in 1998. He is a Life Fellow of the American and International Statistical Association and The Royal Statistical Society.
Leroy was a gentle man and a gentleman. He was also a believer in Christ, artist, gardener, traveler, college professor and Sunday School teacher. He had a dry wit and good sense of humor. Leroy was passionate about his family and always made time for his children and grandchildren and was excited to meet his great-grandchildren. He loved introducing them to new places and new things, and providing opportunities for their growth. He was involved with Rotary, American Legion, Meals on Wheels, Arts and Humanities Council and First Baptist Church in Stillwater, OK.
Leroy was preceded in death by his parents; wife Sue; sister Rachel; brothers Homer and Dale Folks; and many other beloved family members and friends. He is survived by daughters Martha (Don) Laughlin, Poteau, OK, Karen (Damian Radice) Folks, Grand Junction, CO, Ellen (Joe) Ayres, Stillwater; son John Martin (Michelle) Folks, Eden Prairie, MN; nine grandchildren, Rachel (Nathan) Bates, Justin (Audrey) Laughlin, Daniel (Katie) Laughlin, Doni (Carson) Wann, Audrey Ayres, Jackie Ayres, Tommy Ayres, and Charlie and Evelyn Folks; six great-grandchildren, Keira and Colin Bates, Olivia and Archer Wann, and Vivian and Bennett Leroy Laughlin. He is also survived by his brother Eldon Folks, Oklahoma City; and sisters Dorothy Ewing, Ames, IA, and Marilyn Tautfest, Edmond; sisters-in law Jean Folks, Houston, TX, Betty Folks, Edmond, Shirley Jo Martin, Waldron, AR, and Janice Martin, Texarkana, TX; and many other beloved family members and friends.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, Alzheimer's Association, or J. Leroy Folks Award to honor distinguished alumni of OSU Department of Statistics.