The Honorable Carlos C. Chappelle - Chapman Legacy Society
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Gifts Established:

  • Judge Carlos J. Chappelle Memorial Law Endowment Fund | Est. 2019
brick engraved with name Family and Friends of Judge Carlos Chappelle

The Honorable Carlos C. Chappelle

Success appeared to come easily to Judge Carlos James Chappelle, who was a member of Tulsa Central High School’s 1969 State Championship Basketball Team. He earned undergraduate degrees from the University of Oklahoma at Norman and from Tulsa Junior College before launching a fruitful career as a nursing home director and real estate broker. Even with this success, Chappelle’s interest turned to law when he thought about the opportunities it would give him to better serve his community.

Chappelle graduated from The University of Tulsa College of Law in 1980 and worked in private practice for 14 years and as a part-time instructor at Tulsa Community College. Then in 1995, he was appointed to serve as a Special Judge in Tulsa County District Court and discovered his life’s calling. As a Special Judge, he served from 1995-2009 on nearly every docket, including juvenile, criminal, mental health, domestic, and civil.

In 2009, he was appointed District Judge, a position he would hold until his retirement in May of 2015. In 2014, he had been elected Presiding Judge, the first African-American jurist to hold this position in Tulsa County. His fellow jurists described Chappelle as a beacon of leadership at the courthouse, who was always well prepared and ethical, with an even temper and sense of fairness that enabled him to address the humanitarian and social issues often related to legal matters.

Judge Chappelle served on numerous boards and commissions, advocating for his fellow citizens through his work, and he earned a number of awards and honors, including Best of Tulsa Community College 2013.

As the youngest child of the Rev. Dr. T. Oscar Chappelle, Sr., the longtime pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church, Carlos was an enthusiastic supporter of the T. Oscar Chappelle, Sr. Scholarship Program, which has assisted many young Morning Star members in their educational pursuits.

Judge Chappelle was a devoted father to his son, Stephen Kito Chappelle, and he was a loving mentor to his nephew, Danny C. Williams, Sr., who served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma (2012-2017), and who is currently a lawyer with the firm Frederic Dorwart, Lawyers PLLC. Williams followed in his uncle’s footsteps by attending The University of Tulsa College of Law and pursuing a career in law.

Judge Carlos Chappelle passed away in June of 2015, and his family, friends, and colleagues decided to honor his legacy by establishing a namesake endowment fund for TU law students with gifts that had been made to the university in his memory. The Judge Carlos J. Chappelle Memorial Law Endowment Fund provides need-based support in many forms to law students, including scholarships, summer stipends, books, supplies, and other educational expenses, with help available each year to multiple students with a variety of needs.

The University of Tulsa is proud that this important source of support bears the name of an accomplished alumnus and distinguished Tulsa County jurist, who made a difference in the lives of those he served.