The headline in The Oklahoman for Sept. 20, 1959, read: “Notorious Bank Bandit Dies,” and the story led with: “A 58-year-old man, virtually forgotten by society for 23 years died Saturday in the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kan. His death brought back the notoriety he had outlived.”
Frank Delmar, a convicted murderer and possible associate of Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, earned the dubious honor of being the first man arrested by the FBI for bank robbery. If he and his fellow bank robbers had robbed the People’s National Bank of Kingfisher 23 days earlier, it would have still been a crime prosecuted under state law, but President Franklin Roosevelt had signed a bill into law making the robbery of a national bank, a federal offense.
Delmar and seven others had escaped the prison at Lansing, Kan., on Jan. 19, 1934. On May 31, Frank Delmar and three other escapees robbed the People’s National Bank of Kingfisher of $3,000. The bank robbers took four bank employees hostage but released them unharmed.
On Aug. 12, 1934, Frank Delmar was arrested near Claremore by two federal agents. He was tried for his crimes and could have received the death penalty because of the kidnapping of the bank employees, but he received a sentence of 99 years in the federal prison at Leavenworth.
He remained in prison for 23 years until his death Sept. 19, 1959.
The newspaper article, which served as his obituary, said: “He entered the federal prison immediately, and virtually dropped from the eyes of society.” For the 23 years he was in prison, Delmar “never wrote a letter, never received one, and never had a visitor. He had no known relatives.”
The article ended with the statement: “And Saturday, his death closed the book. It marked the severing of another link with the wild days of gangsterism for the entire midwest.”