Willie Stokes

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For other people named Willie Stokes, see Willie Stokes (disambiguation).
Willie "Flukey" Stokes
Willie Stokes.jpg
Photograph of Stokes attending his 30th wedding anniversary party from Chicago-based Jet Magazine (January 28, 1985).[1]
Born Willie Morris Stokes
December 12, 1937[2]
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died November 19, 1986(1986-11-19) (aged 48)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.[3]
Cause of death
Murder (gunshot; mouth and chest)
Resting place
Oak Woods Cemetery
(Chicago, Illinois)[4][5]
Residence 4808 S. Drexel Blvd.
(South Side, Bronzeville)[6]
Nationality African-American
Other names Flukey
Super Dude
Occupation Drug Kingpin
Criminal charge
a) Narcotics trafficking
(cocaine and heroin)
b) Attempted bribery
Criminal penalty
a) 18 months incarceration
b) 36 months probation
Criminal status a) Completed sentence
b) Died before completion
Children Willie Morris "The Wimp" Stokes Jr.
Motive Flamboyant lifestyle
Conviction(s) a) 1979 narcotics conviction[8]
b) 1985 bribery conviction[9]

Willie Morris "Flukey" Stokes (December 12, 1937 – November 19, 1986) was a reputed Chicago mobster from the South Side well known for his silk suits,[10] diamond rings, and flamboyant lifestyle[11] as a drug trafficking kingpin and pool hall owner.[12] Stokes immortalized himself in Chicago by throwing a $200,000 party on his 30th wedding anniversary in 1985 and for the decadent funeral he arranged for his murdered 28-year-old son, Willie "the Wimp" Stokes, Jr. in February 1984.[12][13] The elder Stokes had his son buried in a Cadillac-style coffin with $100 bills stuffed between his diamond ring laden fingers.[14] Two years later, Flukey would also be murdered, along with his chauffeur, sitting inside a 1986 Cadillac limousine[3] while talking on his wireless telephone.[6][15]

The Cadillac coffin[edit]

Willie Stokes garnered international notoriety for the arrangements he made for his son Willie the Wimp's funeral.[14] The younger Stokes followed his father's example trafficking narcotics and rivaled his dad's appetite for gambling. Flukey said of his son, "[he was] a fine young man; he was very well liked and did a lot of gambling."[16] Willie the Wimp was buried in a custom-designed casket made to resemble a Cadillac Seville. At his viewing he was propped up in the coffin with his hands on the steering wheel. The casket had functioning headlights and taillights that blinked, whitewall tires, a windshield and a vanity license plate that read "Wimp", Stokes' nickname. He wore "a flaming red suit, a jaunty gray hat and diamond rings. Several $100 bills stuck out from between his fingers."[14][17]

Sounds like a song[edit]

Bill Carter and Ruth Ellsworth, of Austin, Texas were reading the Austin American-Statesman one morning and they read the syndicated column about Willie the Wimp. Carter said, "I said to Ruth, 'This isn't a column—it's a song'." They drove to the studio, and Carter said that "in the two miles it took us to get there we put the column to music." Jimmie Vaughan was at the studio, and he called his brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, to tell him about it.[17] Stevie liked the song, recorded it, and performed it live for his fans around the world. Much of the songs lyrics came directly out of the column including a quote from Willie the Wimp's mother where she described her and her husband's reason for wanting an extravagant funeral for their son. She said that her son "left like he lived—in a lively manner."[17] It was worked into a verse in the song that says, "In his Cadillac to heaven he was waving that banner; He left like he lived, in a lively manner."

"Willie the Wimp"[edit]

Bill Carter first released the song as "Willy The Wimp (And His Cadillac Coffin)" on his 1985 album, Stompin' Grounds[18] (Jimmie Vaughan also played lead guitar on the album, possibly how the song was introduced to his brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, later on). Stevie Ray Vaughan released his version of "Willie the Wimp" on his Live Alive album in July 1986.[19] The blues-rock standard begins: "Willie the Wimp was buried today, They laid him to rest in a special way" which leads into a full description of the decadence that was Willie the Wimp's funeral. The song mentions "the casketmobile, Willie the Wimp's red suit, the money between his fingers, [and] the headlights"—into the catchy refrain, "Talkin' 'bout Willie the Wimp in his Cadillac coffin."[17] Stevie Ray Vaughan performed the song live in concert at the Midtfyns Festival in Denmark in 1988.

Ambush and death[edit]

Notwithstanding the $200,000 anniversary bash Flukey arranged for his wife or the wedding vows they renewed on that occasion, he was with a mistress the day he was murdered. Stokes was killed by two men who lay in wait for him as he stopped to drop off his girlfriend, Diane Miller, outside her residence on 79th Street and S. Ellis Avenue. On November 19, 1986 at 12:38 a.m. a gunman armed with a 12-gauge pump shotgun, pointed at the windshield and shot out the glass. He then proceeded to shoot more rounds through the passenger side. Stokes died from gunshot wounds in the mouth and upper chest. His driver, Ronald Johnson, was killed by a second gunman with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. The woman ducked behind the back seat and survived the attack uninjured.[10][15]

Authorities described Stokes as "the richest and most flamboyant drug dealer on the South Side" stating that "[he] was known to win or lose as much as $250,000 over a single weekend in Las Vegas"—and that he "seldom missed a night at local race tracks". Although Stokes owned a local pool hall,[12] law enforcement officials stated that Stokes was officially listed as "unemployed"; and that he declared gambling income on his tax returns to account for his riches.[15] Unbeknownst to Stokes, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was concluding an investigation and was preparing to serve him with a federal grand jury indictment for "drug racketeering, operating a continuing criminal enterprise and income tax evasion".[15] Garfield Hammonds, assistant special agent in charge of the Chicago Drug Enforcement Administration said "Chicago has lost one of its biggest sources of supply for cocaine and heroin", regarding Willie Stokes.[20]

Stokes was renowned for his flamboyance: usually wearing suits of fine silk, with his "fingers weighted with diamond-cluster rings as big as silver dollars, his forearms festooned with gold bracelets, a gem-emblazoned watch on his right wrist and a gold chain with a diamond-studded 'F' for 'Flukey' around his neck." However, on the day he died he was wearing jogging clothes and no jewelry at all. The Cook County medical examiner recorded that Stokes died wearing "blue sweatpants, powder blue undershorts, a red leather jacket, a red T-shirt underneath a blue T-shirt with the word 'Michigan' written on it, white sneakers, brown socks and a black cap."[21]


Compared to his son's funeral, "Flukey" Stokes' arrangements were considerably modest. The service was held at the A.R. Leak Funeral Home on 78th Street and S. Cottage Grove Avenue, which also conducted the ceremony for the younger Stokes.[22] Over 7,000 people filed past Flukey's casket for a final glimpse of the slain mobster.[5] Stokes was mostly spoken of with reverence by the crowd in attendance—one young mourner said of Flukey, "I was walking on the same street he was walking, I went up to him. I spoke to him. He spoke back. I introduced myself. He shook my hand and everything."[23] Mothers were seen lifting their young children above the coffin so they could see Stokes adorned for his final viewing. He was laid "in a mahogany coffin with a custom-designed powder-blue interior". Stokes wore tinted sun-glasses, "a blue suit, blue silk shirt, blue tie and handkerchief and blue python shoes" and he was holding a portable telephone. The floral arrangements that surrounded him included "cars and dice fashioned from polystyrene foam, illustrating his passion for luxury automobiles and his claim on his income tax returns that his riches came from gambling."[23]


  1. ^ $200,000 Wedding Anniversary (Jet Magazine-January 28, 1985)
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b Reuters (November 18, 1986). Reputed Drug Kingpin Slain. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ a b (November 21, 1986). Thousands Pay Respects at Reputed Drug Kingpin's Burial Service. Associated Press. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Wattley, Philip; Sullivan, Paul; O'Brien, John; Baumann, Edward (November 19, 1986). Drug King Stokes Killed In Ambush. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  7. ^ Page, Clarence (November 23, 1986). A Final Poke At 'Flukey' Stokes. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  8. ^ (November 22, 1986). Reputed Drug Kingpin Buried in Style. Associated Press. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  9. ^ United Press International (November 19, 1986). Reputed drug kingpin slain; South Side Chicago dealer may be to blame, police say. The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Associated Press (November 19, 1986). Diamond-studded lifestyle may have been downfall of Chicago drug dealer. The Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  11. ^ Associated Press (November 19, 1986). Reputed Chicago Drug Kingpin Slain in His Car. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  12. ^ a b c Deparle 2005, p. 40.
  13. ^ Tucker 2010, p. 32.
  14. ^ a b c (March 19, 1984). Chicago Gambler Buried In Cadillac-Style Coffin. Jet. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  15. ^ a b c d Baumann, Edward; O'Brien, John; Sullivan, Paul; Wattley, Philip; Myers, Linnet (November 19, 1986). Reputed Drug King Killed In Ambush (Page 1 of 2). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  16. ^ Greene, Bob; Chicago Tribune (March 12, 1984). Casket made 'Wimp' Stokes's funeral legendary. Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  17. ^ a b c d Greene, Bob (September 2, 1990). Thanks, Stevie, For Playing Our Song. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  18. ^ Bill Carter Stompin Grounds. discogs.com. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  19. ^ (July 1986). Live Alive. Allmusic.com. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  20. ^ Wattley, Philip; Sullivan, Paul; O'Brien, John; Baumann, Edward (November 19, 1986). Drug King Stokes Killed In Ambush. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  21. ^ Baumann, Edward; O'Brien, John; Sullivan, Paul; Wattley, Philip; Myers, Linnet (November 19, 1986). Reputed Drug King Killed In Ambush (Page 2 of 2). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  22. ^ (November 19, 1986). Flashy funeral is certain for drug kingpin. Spokane Chronicle. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  23. ^ a b Brotman, Barbara (November 22, 1986). 7,000 Say Farewell To Flukey. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 30, 2013.


  • Tucker, Donald W. (July 19, 2010). The Two-Edged Sword. Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing. ISBN 9781608445660.
  • Deparle, Jason (August 30, 2005). American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, And A Nation's Drive to End Welfare. New York, NY: Viking Penguin. ISBN 9781448713073.