Jenks officials reflect on the life of Mike Tinker

Jenks officials reflect on the life of Mike Tinker

Do you ever drive into Jenks, look at the Oklahoma Aquarium, the Riverwalk Crossing or the Simon Premium Outlets sign and wonder how all that happened to come to Jenks?

Answer: two words, one name.

Mike Tinker.

Tinker, who served as Jenks City Manager, Jenks Mayor and Jenks City Council Member throughout the past three decades, passed away Nov. 19 following a battle with cancer.

Tinker was currently serving as Assistant City Manager in Sand Springs. He also served on the Board of Directors with the Indian Nation Council of Governments.

Tinker was well-known for his professionalism, compassion and dedication to every community he served. On top of Jenks and Sand Springs, Tinker also served in the Collinsville Municipal Government for several years.

“I’ve known Mike for three years and he is a really smart, funny and kind person,” Jenks Mayor Robert Lee said. “He devoted his life to serving the City of Jenks. The Oklahoma Aquarium is arguably the most important legacy he gave the City of Jenks. There would be no Riverwalk or no Simon Premium Outlets coming here without the aquarium and that is all because of Mike.”

Oklahoma House of Representative Lonnie Sims said Tinker dedicated his life to public service in serving the City of Jenks, Sand Springs and Collinsville.

“He was instrumental in the construction of the Creek Turnpike, ensuring long-term freeway access to Jenks. He developed the Oklahoma Aquarium, leading the way to the first commercial development along the Jenks riverfront and he helped shepherd Jenks through more than a decade of unprecedented residential growth and revitalization of Jenks’ historic Main Street.”

Mike Tinker served in the Jenks, Sand Springs and Collinsville municipal governments during his politcal career. He also owned the Jenks Restaurant on Main Street for several decades. Photos/Courtesy

Several decades ago, Tinker was the owner of the Jenks Restaurant on Main Street, along with his brother. After hearing that then Jenks City Manager Randy Ewing was trying to turn Main Street into a one-way street, he approached long-time friend Vic Vreeland about running for City Council to fight against Ewing.

“He was fired up and wanted to go in and make some changes,” Vreeland said with a chuckle. “I told him to calm down, but I felt it was a good idea to run for Council with him. We both were elected and then ironically he and Randy Ewing ended up becoming best friends.”

Main Street never became a one-way street.

I’m going to tell you right now, the Oklahoma Aquarium would not be in Jenks if it wasn’t for Mike Tinker. They should put a statue of him down there next to that facility

Vick Vreeland, former Jenks mayor

In the mid-1990’s, the City of Tulsa was set to vote on a new aquarium that would be located at 71st St. and Riverside Dr., but the city voted it down allowing for an opportunity for another city to jump on board.

“I remember Mike called me and said did you hear Tulsa voted the aquarium down,” Vreeland said. “He said I want to go after it and get that thing put in Jenks. I said, ‘What? I don’t know about that Mike.’ He was adamant about it. I never would have pushed for it if it wasn’t for Mike.

“It has been an amazing thing for Jenks since it has been here and what it has done for the riverfront here is incredible. I’m going to tell you right now, the Oklahoma Aquarium would not be in Jenks if it wasn’t for Mike Tinker. They should put a statue of him down there next to that facility.”

Services took place Tuesday at St. Bernard of Clairvaux with a Rosary taking place Sunday.

Kyle Salomon

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