Born in rural Emmet County, Iowa. Graduate of the University of Iowa in 1961. Married to Evelyn Feddersen in 1958. They have two sons and two daughters.
He began collecting coins in 1949. In 1962 he formed A & A Coins, Inc. with Ben Marlenee and Roger Schnittjer. By 1965 he had become sole owner and sold the store in Iowa City in 1978. Oakes bought out Hickman and Waters in 1972. He joined partner John Hickman in 1972 to conduct sales of currency under the name of Hickman-Oakes. They conducted 38 auction sales from 1976 through 1989.
Oakes was a founder of the Iowa City Coin Club. He has served as president of the Iowa Numismatic Association. In 1991 he serves as treasurer for the SPMC. He collects half cents, large cents, and national bank notes. He has the finest known collection of Iowa obsolete notes.
Author of Iowa Obsolete Notes and Scrip in 1982. It was one of the series published by the SPMC. Author with John Hickman of Standard Catalog of National Bank Notes published in 1982. Co-Author of Standard Guide to Small-Size U.S. Paper Money 1928 to Date.
bio by interview 5/11/91