Freddie Keith Means passed away on the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, after a long and greatly fought battle with prostate cancer. Fred Means was born November 1, 1936, the son of Champ B. Means and Bonnie Louise Taylor, in Orr, Oklahoma. Fred is survived by his wife, Yasodhara Mitty Mohanty Means, of Norman, OK, an active attorney, retired previously from the State of Oklahoma. Fred had seven children. The oldest, Champ B Means, passed away in 1997. He is survived by six children, Joseph V. Means, of LaGrange, Georgia, Justin Bradfield, of Atlanta, John Newton Means, of Norman, Oklahoma, Padmini Menu, of Philadelphia, Bonnie Christine Lane, of Tampa, Florida, and Thomas Keith Means, of Tampa, Florida, and many grandchildren, and even a great-grandchild.
He was a highly intelligent soul who cared for others, sometimes to his own detriment. Fred was referred to as a gentleman of gentlemens and a gentle giant by his wife’s family and the many people who met him in India. His generosity towards needy children, needy adults, and all those that he loved was given without hesitation or expectation or adulation. Fred loved his family and friends more than anything. He would drop everything without hesitation when someone needed him. Fred made friends easily, with everyone from all walks of life. In a room full of people, he was always the largest personality in the room, often entertaining with one of his true life movie like stories or one of his tall tales, like being a Frog Herder in Louisiana. However, everyone in that room would feel like they had an individual and personal friendship with Fred, because that is how he was – he gave everyone his undivided attention. Fred never judged anyone, never criticized anyone, and always tried to understand people. He cared about people’s experiences because he understood that is what made them who they are. Fred loved people – knowing them, understanding them, and knowing their history. This is what made him love history, languages, and different cultures, and what made him so good at his job in law enforcement.
Whether during his travels in India or Belgium, Fred was able to overcome his knowledge of lack of languages simply by listening to the men and women who he met in hotels, restaurants, ashrams, and family homes. He treated everyone equally. Menial workers, and working class people as well as famous scholars, governors, and judges were both treated with the same respect and kindness. He lived by his father’s words: class, education, money, jobs, and status are not distinctions to judge people by, because in the end they are all alike. He was happy to call all good people a friend, no matter their background.
As a child, Fred was born and raised in Orr, Oklahoma on his grandfather’s ranch. When he got older, his parents moved with Fred and his brother, Paul B. Means (deceased) to California, where Fred was a star high school football and baseball player. After high school, Fred joined the United States Airforce, where Fred became a star baseball player for the Airforce. He went on to study history at Whittier College. He won during his term at Whittier College. Fred had a history professor at Whittier College whom he respected and admired because she was a woman ahead of her time. She encouraged him to apply for the Woodrow Wilson Scholarship, which he won. Only one person in the United States is awarded this scholarship per year. Fred went to Stanford University for graduate studies in Chinese History, American Civil War History, and European History.
Fred’s love of history started with his own rich heritage. His ancestors date back to the 1200s, and originated from the Clan Menzies, a highland Scottish clan. In the 1600s, his ancestor immigrated from Scotland to Pennsylvania, and later ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. In more recent history, Fred’s great-grandfather, Josiah Means, left Alabama after the civil war and settled with his children in Spanish Fort, TX on the southside of the Red River. Josiah’s four sons, including Champ B. Means (Fred’s great uncle) and John Newton Means (Fred’s grandfather) forged the first cattle drive from Texas through the Northern Plains, which was known as the Means Trail before being famously known by other names. John Newton Means was one of the earliest pioneers to Oklahoma, and established a ranch in Love and Johnston County that spanned 15 square miles.
During the civil rights movement, while studying at Stanford, Fred took a leave of absence to participate in the civil rights movement by actually helping face to face black individuals and families as a social worker for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. He saved the life of a 16 year old black pregnant woman and her breached baby by taking her in his own car to the closest hospital – which was a white only hospital. After they refused to accept her, Fred held shotgun to the doctor and said that the law requires you to deliver this baby and save the life of the girl. Fred also saved the life of a man who appeared at his door with seven bullets in his chest. Fred removed the bullets from his chest, as he was taught by his father, an old time Oklahoma cowboy. This man lived to a ripe old age, and told Fred’s son, Joseph Means, that Mr. Freddie was a great man. As another example, Fred took up the cause of a young black boy’s painting that was ordered to be taken down because the artist was black. The young artist won a competition for his painting and it was hung up in a school. Once discovered that the artist was black, the boy was ordered to take down his painting. Fred advocated for the boy and said that the painting must stay in the school. This invited the wrath of the Klu Klux Klan, ending with a shoot out and a stand off outside of his house, which Fred won. Fred also took up the cause for unequal housing for the blacks in Georgia. These eventually landed in the court system as famous historical cases. At the time, Fred could only persuade a new young lawyer to take the case as no other lawyers would touch these cases. These cases ended in triumph for the civil rights movement in Georgia. After making his mark on the civil rights movement, Fred returned to Stanford to finish his graduate studies after already having studied American Civil War History ad European History, but this time focusing on Chinese history. While at Stanford, Fred continued to work for the Stanford Research Institute and Hoover Institute, and contributed towards the opening of the relationship with China under Secretary of State Kissinger.
When international politics thwarted his planned trip to the Philippines to complete his PhD work in 1975, Fred returned home to Oklahoma with his parents, whom he took care of till their death. Fred started his law enforcement career as a Deputy Sheriff in Johnston County. Within a year he was Chief of Police in Tishomingo, and he was also well on his way to a truly historic law enforcement career. When Agents of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics came to assist his department in an investigation, he found one of his life’s callings in drug enforcement. He joined the OBN in 1977, working his way up to supervisor and ultimately was named Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics in 1988.
His kindness never distracted from his keen awareness of eminent danger and rescue of those around him. Fred was respected by his fellow employees and others in the same trade as he across the United States of America as a visionary and a leader. For his knowledge and innovated ideas of linking intelligence and information for the benefit of those in his trade. His idea was to be able to share information and intelligence with all members of law enforcement in local, federal, and international without the territorial needs. Fred also worked on introducing drug courts and advocated for drug courts across America. As a visionary, he saw that drug addicts should be treated with compassion and receive treatment for their addiction.
As an OBN Agent, Fred honed his skills as an investigator without peer. He focused and specialized on complex criminal conspiracy cases because his academic studies of history taught him that the scourge of illegal drugs was best attacked at its source. He and like-minded agents with whom he worked literally revolutionized the way drug investigations are conducted. During his tenure as OBN Director, Fred Means established himself as perhaps the most visionary law enforcement administrator of his day. He placed a premium on professionalism among agents, increasing the educational requirement to require a college degree for most starting agents. It was Fred’s vision which formed the Association of Oklahoma Narcotic Enforcers in 1989, a professional organization which now boasts over one thousand members and focuses on training and professionalism among drug enforcement officers. In 1991, Fred directed his Intelligence Division to undertake and publish a statewide survey of street gangs in Oklahoma, which at that time were just making inroads into rural parts of our state bringing with them drug trafficking and other violent crime. It was also during Fred’s tenure that the Bureau instituted the nation’s first computer assisted prescription monitoring program to fight he diversion of legal drugs and medicines into illicit channels.
After Fred’s retirement from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, he was an investigator for Attorney General Drew Edmondson, where he worked on a variety of investigations ranging from the Oklahoma City Bombing, domestic extremists, to solving cold cases. He then worked with the Cherokee Marshall Service and reorganized their drug task force, felony criminal investigations, and was responsible for the creation of a SWAT Team. He served as a consultant and educator about the drug trade in retirement.
A service was held at the Orr Cemetery in Ringling, Oklahoma on January 29, 2021. The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, memorial gifts be give to The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma, 10425 S. 82nd East Avenue #104, Tulsa, OK 74133. Please make checks payable to The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma and indicate in the memo line of the check that the gift is in memory of Freddie K. Means.
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