Class of 1958
(Dry), singer, TV personality, author, and founder of Anita Bryant
Ministries, International, made her debut at two years old, singing
Jesus Loves Me. At ten, she had her own TV show. At Will Rogers, she
was active in the Round-Up, the choral music program and, as a
sophomore, played Nellie For bush in South Pacific.
was a finalist for Miss America, and appeared regularly on such radio
and television shows as The Don McNeil Breakfast Club, George Gobel and
appeared with Dr. Billy Graham in his crusades, and she and Dr. Graham
have the distinction of being the only two people who have appeared at
both the Democratic and Republican political conventions. Several White
House appearances made her President Johnson’s
favorite singer, and he requested that she sing The Battle Hymn of the
Republic at his funeral. She toured with Bob Hope, entertaining the
troops overseas for seven years and appeared on his televised Christmas
Special. Anita was voted the most admired woman in America three years
in a row by Good Housekeeping Magazine and was named one of the most
influential women in America by the Gallup Poll.
Anita was the commercial face for Coca-Cola and the Florida Citrus
Commission, and was the first woman inducted into the Florida Citrus
Hall of Fame. Her smiling face singing
to the Florida Sunshine Tree…”
was seen hundreds of times each month on TV. At the age of 26, she was
the youngest person ever inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
Jo Daulton Beier, known as “Jo” while
at Rogers, appeared as Bloody Mary in Rogers’
production of South Pacific, as well as soloing in the Round Up and
Messiah choir concerts. She began her voice study in Tulsa with Lorna
Moore, then studied with Richard Conrad, Boston Academy of Music, and
coached with the late Wolfgang Vacano of Indiana University and Teatro
Jo made her European debut as
Tosca at the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landestheater, in Flensburg,
(then West) Germany, where she was engaged as dramatic soprano,
specializing in the operas of Verdi, Wagner, Richard Strauss, Puccini
and Mozart. During her years in Europe, she sang dramatic soprano roles
in many German and Danish opera houses, as well as concerts with German
orchestras. She performed recitals and concerts in Italy, England, the
In the USA, she has performed
with symphony orchestras and regional opera companies around the
country, including San Francisco Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, The
Opera Organization, and Opera in the Ozarks.
Jo also had a varied career
in the Broadway genre, performing around the USA in Hello, Dolly!, The
Sound of Music, Carousel, Camelot, Man of La Mancha, Once Upon a
Mattress, Damn Yankees, Cabaret, and many others.
lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where she still is actively
teaching, performing and directing—in her
70s—and is a
sought-after adjudicator for the Washington State Music Teachers
Association. She also teaches master classes in Seattle.
Bennett (Danskin) was a star at Will Rogers and went on to become a
Tulsa days, besides singing, dancing and playing the piano in the
Round-Up and other events at Rogers, she appeared in the Annual Sunrise
Easter Pageant. Lynette went on to become an award-winning Broadway,
film and television actor/singer/dancer.
lived and performed in New York City, London and Los Angeles, and
starred in productions at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Avery
Fisher Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and London’s West
have been shown at the New York and Sundance Film Festivals.
Broadway performances include Funny Girl, starring Barbra Streisand,
and The Yearling, starring David Hartman. In London, she played
reporter Mary Sunshine in the West End production of Chicago. Other
London performances included leads in The Merry Widow, The Merry Wives
of Windsor, and The Magic Flute.
Off-Broadway, she starred in The Lion in Winter and Gigi. Television
appearances include The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, One Life
to Live, As the World Turns, America’s Most
Wanted and Married With Children. Lynette’s
cabaret act was orchestrated by her former pianist Barry Manilow.
is probably best known to television audiences for her marvelous
one-woman show on PBS: Will Rogers’ Romance
with Betty and America, performed and written by Lynette. Commissioned
by Gilcrease Museum, Lynette also wrote and performed in Home Lands:
The Surprising Women of the West. She is listed in Who’s Who in
Entertainment and Who’s Who of
Class of 1960
early 1950s, Elvin Bishop used to listen late at night to a radio
station from Nashville that played rhythm and blues, between rock n’roll and
obsessed with the blues, and when he won a National Merit Scholarship
in physics, he chose the University of Chicago, not because it was one
of the most prestigious universities in America, but because it was on
the south side of Chicago, which was ground zero for the clubs in which
much of this music was being played.
was a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 1963, the
beginning of a long and successful career in music. His first smash hit
was Fooled Around and Fell in Love from his 1976 album Struttin’ My
Stuff. Elvin’s music
includes smokytavern, gut-bucket blues, raucous roadhouse rhythm and
blues, and rollicking goodtime rock and roll.
first live-concert DVD, That’s My
Thing: Elvin Bishop Live in Concert, was recorded live at the Club Fox
in Redwood City, California on December 17, 2011. It was released on
the Delta Groove label in October 2012. The DVD was nominated for Best
Blues DVD of 2012 by The Blues Foundation.
in northern California and currently works with Delta Groove
Productions, which produced his most recent release, the
Grammy-nominated The Blues Rolls On, featuring Red Dog Speaks, an
affectionate nod to his 1959 red Gibson ES-345 guitar.
inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998.
Chambers Bradshaw is known by many in the Tulsa community as the owner
of Tulsa World of Gymnastics. Others know her as the one who took
Will-on the-Hill to heart, becoming a leading authority on the man,
Will Rogers. After graduating from The University of Tulsa with a
degree in music, she studied at the Princeton New School for Piano
a docent at the Will Rogers Memorial and Museum, in Claremore,
Oklahoma, in 2008, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the
Will Rogers Memorial Foundation. She was named coordinator of their
first-ever major fundraiser and founded the Rotary-sponsored Will
Rogers Gala, which annually honors a person who most exemplifies the
attributes of Will Rogers.
instrumental in protecting and preserving the rare portrait of Will
Rogers, by Italian artist Count Arnaldo Tamburini, which was presented
to the school in 1954, and hung there until 1997.
permanently loaned to the Gilcrease Museum in order to provide climate
control, light protection and improved security. A high quality
photographic copy now hangs in the school. Linda was the first woman to
hold the office of president of the Tulsa Rotary Club and has been a
major participant in their Water Well project in Nicaragua. She has
served as meet director for USA Gymnastics Olympics Qualifying Events;
in addition, she has worked with the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and the
United Way. She has coached Special Olympics gymnastics and served on
the board of Tulsa Advocates for the Rights of Citizens with
Developmental Disabilities (TARC). She was an Oklahoma delegate to the
White House Conference on Small Business in 1995 and that same year was
named Tulsa Chamber’s Small
Business Person of the Year.
completing high school, Phil Butler graduated from the U.S. Naval
Academy in 1961. He became a naval aviator in 1962, flying jets off
aircraft carriers in combat during the Vietnam War. On April 20, 1965,
his bombs malfunctioned, causing his A4C Skyhawk to explode. He
survived the ejection and evaded the enemy for four days, but was
captured and became a POW for 2,855 days—the
eighth longest-held POW, enduring deplorable conditions and torturous
treatment . Only 685 U.S. prisoners survived their ordeals, largely due
to the support and encouragement from their fellow American prisoners,
and a commitment to the Vietnam POW motto: “Return
With Honor.” His
military decorations include two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, two
Legions of Merit, two Purple Hearts and the Medal of Valor from
his release in 1973, he spent eight months recovering and readjusting
to normal life, then earned a masters and doctorate of philosophy from
The University of California, San Diego. Phil completed his Navy career
as an organizational development consultant and professor of management
at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He retired
from the Navy in 1981, and founded Camelot Enterprises, a consulting
company working with corporations on team building, interpersonal
skills, leadership development and strategic planning. Phil was able to
use personal examples from his Navy education, his career, and his POW
experiences as a motivational speaker and seminar leader. He continues
for community service organizations, serving on the board of directors
for more than 20.
exemplifies Live with Honor, defined as respect, commitment and service
dedicated to peace and social justice, the environment, and improving
quality of life for those less fortunate. Phil Butler’s life
defines what it means to be a hero. His autobiography is “Three
Lives of a Warrior.”
Caruthers came to Tulsa at age three, after his father’s death.
Summers were spent working on his uncle’s farm
to help support his family. In addition, he held part-time jobs as a
newspaper carrier, grocery delivery boy, and in a butcher shop. Trips
to the library fostered a lifelong desire for education. After Preston
finished his junior year at Will Rogers, where he was class
vice-president, he, like scores of his classmates, answered the call to
arms for World War II. Preston’s hard
work as a boy prepared him well for the rigors of military life. He
continued his studies in English, math and history through military
correspondence. Navy Medical Corps School taught him anatomy,
physiology and nursing. Preston settled in Arlington, Virginia, where
he attended college at George Washington University on the GI Bill.
age of only 23, Preston started his own construction business, and in
the boom of post WWII, was hugely successful because of his talent,
energy and business acumen. His crowning achievement was the creation
of Belmont Bay in the 1990s—a
thriving, beautiful waterfront community only 30 minutes south of
is affectionately called “Mr.
of his outstanding community involvement, including serving on the
Arlington County School Board, Virginia State Board of Education,
Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges and the Advisors of George
Mason University. Preston and his wife have provided generous financial
support to Marymount College, the Virginia Hospital Center Foundation
and the National Museum of the United States Army.
Chandler excelled in several sports at Will Rogers and won a
scholarship to Bacone Indian College in Muskogee and played on their
National Junior College Football Championship team. He was scouted for
a scholarship to the University of Florida and led the nation in
punting. He was selected by the New York Giants as the number five pick
in the National Football League draft.
The Giants won the NFL
championship that first year—1956.
After nine years with the Giants, Don became a Green Bay Packer, which
reunited him with Vince Lombardi who had been a defensive coach for the
Giants. The Packers won the NFL championship the first year and won the
first two Super Bowls before Don retired after 12 years of professional
football. Among his football honors are several punting and scoring
titles, and selection to the Florida Gators Hall of Fame, the Giants
Hall of Fame and the Packers Hall of Fame. Both The Tulsa World and The
Daily Oklahoman selected Don as one of Oklahoma’s
Outstanding Athletes of the Twentieth Century.
As outstanding as his
football career was, Don may be remembered most for his rugged good
looks and his television career as one of the original Marlboro men in
the early ‘60s.
Don made many national television commercials and was a popular public
speaker. Don died in 2011, survived by his wife, two sons, two
daughters and ten
Stephen D. Chesebro’
Class of 1959
from winning the title of
“Ugly Man” and
barely making the football team to proving himself an outstanding
student, both at Will Rogers and the Colorado School of Mines in
petroleum engineering, then on to the position of top executive of one
of the largest oil companies in America. At CSM, he was quarterback of
the football team, all-conference baseball, and a member of the golf
team. In 1991 Steve was awarded the school’s
Distinguished Achievement Medal; an Honorary Ph.D. followed in 1998. In
2009 he was appointed to the Colorado School of Mines Foundation Board
of Governors, and in 2011 was inducted into the school’s
Athletic Hall of Fame.
leadership with Tenneco Oil Company, their technical team developed a
revolutionary gas well completion technology that is now the industry
standard. In 1994, he helped to lead the formation of the Gas Industry
Standards Board that vastly improved the efficiency and accuracy of the
natural gas delivery system throughout North America. These same
standards are now being applied to the electrical industry. Steve
retired in 1997 as chairman of the board and CEO of Tenneco Energy only
to take a two-year position as president and chief operating officer of
Pennzoil. Currently, he serves as chairman of the board of Harvest
Natural Resources, Inc., an international exploration and production
impressive business career is almost eclipsed by his outstanding
hands-on commitment to youth advocacy programs. He was named Houston’s Child
Advocate of the Year in 1996. Steve married Miss Will Rogers XXIII,
Dollie Austin, in 1965. They live in Houston and have two children and
Richard Counts, MD
Class of 1959
Counts could have been a successful actor, writer, musician or
businessman, but thankfully for people the world over, he chose to be a
physician. He earned his B.A. and M.D. at Washington University Medical
School, St. Louis. Internship and residency followed at University
Hospital, University of Washington, in Seattle. He spent two years as a
clinical associate in Hematology at the National Institutes of Health,
Bethesda, Maryland, then returned to the University of Washington, from
which he retired in 2008 as professor of medicine, Division of
Hematology, and became professor emeritus.
established one of the first centers in the U.S. for comprehensive care
of hemophilia, a rare, inherited bleeding disorder caused by the lack
of a critical blood protein. The Puget Sound Blood Center, of which he
was president and CEO, was among the first to produce large quantities
of a concentrated form of this protein from volunteer donors. PSBC
serves hospitals all over western Washington by providing about 200,000
units of red cells annually for transfusion, and operates a large
testing lab which serves four states, performing sensitive DNA testing
for infectious agents on donated blood. In 1970, 90% of hemophilia
patients were expected to die by the age of 20; today, because of Dr.
Counts and others like him, most hemophilia patients enjoy near normal
life expectancy and the ability to have careers and families.
and his UW colleagues discovered the most common causes of
post-traumatic and postsurgical bleeding and developed techniques for
preventing this fearsome complication. These procedures have been
widely adopted and have significantly reduced the mortality of
post-surgical bleeding. Dr. Counts has published an impressive list of
textbooks and peer-reviewed papers
Class of 1955
Centrahoma, Caddo, Antlers, Harthorne, Jenks. Paul Davis lived in
numerous Oklahoma towns before arriving at Woodrow Wilson Junior High
and Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, where his art teachers–Mr.
Higgins in 8th grade, Ms. Ownby in 9th, and Hortense Bateholts at Will
his talent. He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York on
scholarship, and worked at the famed Push Pin Studios before embarking
on a long and successful free-lance career. His distinctive style led
to commissions for magazines, books and posters, most notably for
New York Shakespeare Festival, and his paintings have been the subject
of solo exhibitions in galleries and museums in the U.S., Europe and
Asia. Davis also created posters for Tulsa Mayfest 2002 and for Will
Rogers High School 75th Anniversary. Honors include Halls of Fame of
the Art Directors Club and the Society of Illustrators, and doctorates
from SVA and the Maryland Institute College of Art. He is a Fellow of
the American Academy in Rome. In 1988 Governor Frank Keating declared
the opening date of his exhibition at the Philbrook Museum
Davis Day.” www.okdavis.com
Gordona Moore Duca
Class of 1958
Moore Duca received her real estate license in 1971, and was
recognized, both locally and nationally, as one of the outstanding
realtors in residential real estate. She opened her own real estate
firm in 1975, and was named realtor emeritus in 2011 by the National
Association of Realtors.
extraordinarily successful career, Gordona received many recognitions
and honors. She was appointed by Governor David Walters to the Oklahoma
Real Estate Commission.
reappointed to a second term by Governor Frank Keating, and served as
chair of the commission. Gordona served on the Kansas City Federal
Reserve Bank board in addition to serving on the boards of the Metro
Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority, Tulsa
Regional Hospital, Hillcrest Hospital, Oklahoma School of Science and
Mathematics, Metro Christian Academy, Indian Nations Council of Boy
Scouts, Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, Cystic Fibrosis, Tulsa Area
United Way, Leadership Tulsa, Arts and Humanities Council and the
Junior League of Tulsa.
voted Gordona the Best Business Owner in Tulsa People Magazine in 1988.
In 1997 Gordona was named the Oklahoma Business Woman of the Year by
The Journal Record, and in 1993 she was named Realtor of the Year by
the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors. She was presented with the
PHH Cup in 1992, which is the highest award given by the largest
relocation company in the real estate industry. Gordona is married to
Larry Heiliger and has one daughter, Dawn Duca.
After graduation from
Rogers, James Dunn earned a degree in engineering physics from the
Colorado School of Mines, where he was named to the first team All
American Academic Team and later earned a masters degree from Stanford
University. In 1966 he began work for TRW at NASA in Houston, as
Manager of the Mission Trajectory Control Program supporting the Gemini
and Apollo space programs. Colorado School of Mines invited Jim back in
2011 to receive the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.
In 1968 Jim returned to
Tulsa to run the family business, Mill Creek Lumber and Supply Co.,
which his dad had started in 1934. He helped to build the business to
be the twenty-first largest building materials company in the United
States. Millcreek has 11 lumberyards throughout Oklahoma and Kansas and
two distribution centers. In addition, Millcreek has divisions for home
improvement, kitchen cabinet distribution, structural systems, carpet
and tile, and an extensive commercial and architectural millwork
operation for the building of large commercial buildings.
outstanding record of community service includes chairman of the Tulsa
Metro Chamber of Commerce, chairman of Tulsa Community College
Foundation, vice chairman of Tulsa Industrial Authority, Tulsa Public
Schools Foundation, Tulsa Community College Foundation, Tulsa Vision
2025, Indian Nations Council of Governments, Oklahoma City Chamber of
Commerce, and director of the Oklahoma City branch of the Federal
Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Inducted in 2015
and Principal Planner of R.D. Flanagan & Assoc., LLC, Ronald
Flanagan was a key member of the team that created the City of Tulsa’s
nationally-recognized flood hazard mitigation program and has received
numerous awards, including FEMA’s
Outstanding Public Service Award. Because of his work, Tulsa went from
being the most flood-prone community in the U.S. to having the lowest
flood insurance rates in the nation. He subsequently contributed to
hazard mitigation policies across the nation. Ron served with
distinction as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army, receiving a Letter of
Commendation from General W.C. Westmoreland for his design of the
camouflage uniform, still in use today. He served in Germany during the
Berlin Crisis, two tours in Vietnam as an Advisor and was awarded a
Bronze Star Medal for Heroism in Combat.
Class of 1958
Inducted in 1989
David Gates, the son of
a band director and piano teacher, excelled in piano, bass and guitar,
and by the time he came to Will Rogers, he was playing in local bands.
After attending the University
of Oklahoma, David moved to Los Angeles in 1961, working as a music
copyist, studio musician and producer for a Who’s
Who of recording artists. Success followed when his song Popsicles and
Icicles hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The Monkees recorded
his hit song, Saturday’s
Child. By 1970, he had worked with many leading artists, including
Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin and Brian Wilson, all while releasing
singles of his own on several labels. The second album of David’s
band, BREAD, became a breakout success, with the number one single,
Make It with You, and was the first of seven consecutive BREAD albums
to go Gold. From 1970 to 1973, BREAD charted 11 singles on the
Billboard Hot 100, all written and sung by David Gates. The single,
Clouds, peaked at number 47 on Billboard’s
Hot 100 chart. A second single, Sail Around The World, reached number
50. In 1975, he released the album, Never Let Her Go. The title track,
released as a single, reached number 29 on the Hot 100 chart. His most
successful single as a solo artist, The Goodbye Girl, reached number 15
on the Billboard chart in 1978. His next single hit, Took the Last
Train, reached number 30 on the Billboard chart. The David Gates
Songbook was released in 2002. Frank Sinatra covered the song, If, in a
live performance at Madison Square Garden. Boy George took Everything I
Own to the top of the UK charts.
performed on the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall
in London, and the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, an accomplishment only
a few artists have achieved.
Inducted in 2015
Community volunteer and
business owner, Herald Givens spent his life in service to others. Even
as his health was declining rapidly due to ALS, he continued to support
the charities, which have become dear to him over the years. Always
civic-minded, Herald had been a stalwart model of giving back to one’s
community quietly, but with joy, building friendships while providing
relationship with The Little Light House began in 1979 when he
volunteered his services as a photographer. He continued helping TLLH
in various ways, including serving as a member of the Board of
Directors, and remained a faithful supporter for 35 years. Herald has
been one of Leadership Tulsa’s
greatest champions since he joined in 2002, serving on their Board of
Directors, and is a recipient of their prestigious Paragon Award. He
died December 19, 2014.
Class of 1955
Inducted in 2015
Often referred to as the
Undisputed King of Comic Books, Archie Goodwin was an American comic
book writer, editor, and artist. He worked on a number of comic strips
in addition to comic books, and is best known for his Warren and Marvel
Comics work. For Warren he was chief writer and editor of landmark
horror anthology titles Creepy and Eerie, and for Marvel he set up the
creator-owned Epic Comics as well as adapting Star Wars into both
comics and newspaper strips. He is regularly cited as the
comic book editor, ever.”
are well-known in the world of comic books, including Batman: Night
Cries, Manhunter, Classic Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; Blazing
Combat; Wolverine/Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection; Alien; Star Wars
Omnibus: Episodes I-VI: The Complete Saga; Star Wars: A Long Time Ago
Volume 3: Resurrection of Evil; The Rebel Storm (Classic Star Wars,
#2); and Essential Iron Man, Vol. 3.
Warren G. Gutheroth, MD
Class of 1945
Guntheroth graduated from Will Rogers and received a full scholarship
to Harvard University. He earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School
in 1952 and began his career in pediatric medicine as a Research Fellow
at Harvard from 1953-55. Warren joined the medical staff of the
University of Washington Medical School in Seattle in 1957, where he
founded the department of Pediatric Cardiology and remained for
fifty-five years. At the time of his death in 2012, he was the most
senior member of the medical school staff.
contributions to pediatric medicine were significant. He was the first
American physician to publish a paper calling for the Back to Sleep
position for infants, preventing thousands of deaths each year from
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). He published hundreds of articles
and three books, one of which was translated into five languages.
mountain climbing and his dogs, and he loved talking about both, so he
wrote a book, Climbing with Sasha, his favorite Husky. His
autobiography, My Life, Loves and Battles, honored the profound
influence of women in his life and saluted the importance of hard work
and honesty. Warren was a fighter for social justice and equality all
his life and a generous contributor to social justice-oriented
charities and political causes.
medical resident in the 50s, he met two nurses at Boston Children’s
Hospital, best friends and roommates, Ellie and Sally. In 1954, he and
Ellie were married. They had three sons and a happy marriage until Ellie’s death
in 2007. Sally had been around the Guntheroth family for 53 years. She
and Warren fell in love after Ellie’s death
and were married in 2009. Warren and Ellie both valued education and
knowledge. All three children went to college. Two became engineers,
and the third became an entrepeneur.
Class of 1960
Inducted in 2015
Recently Retired Public Information Officer of the Indian Capital
Technology Center, Roberta Scott Hamilton demonstrated that adversity
is an opportunity when she lost her leg to cancer in 1964. The former
Miss Tulsa and second runner-up in the Miss Oklahoma Beauty Pageant of
1961, did not let that stop her. Continuing to live a full and active
audience now embraced people with disabilities throughout the world.
Some of the most notable awards include La Sertoma International Woman
of the Year, USO Service Award, Arkansas/Oklahoma Handicapped
Professional Woman of the Year, Tulsa Community Service Award, National
Finalist, U.S. Handicapped Professional Woman of the Year, 2005
Jefferson Award for Community Service, 2007 National Friend of Career
and Technical Equity Education Council Award. She has been listed in
Outstanding Young Women of America, Personalities of the South,
National Register of Prominent Americans, Who’s
Who of Women of the International Biographical Association.
Harrison, D Min
Rev. Tom Harrison was born
in Norman, Oklahoma. He attended Sequoyah Elementary and Cleveland Jr.
High in Tulsa. He has undergraduate and Doctor of Ministry degrees from
Oral Roberts University, and a Masters of Divinity from Asbury
Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He was awarded an honorary
Doctorate from Oklahoma City University.
Tom pastored Vici/Lenora
(Woodward District), Sallisaw (Muskogee District) and Sunny Lane
(Oklahoma City South District). He has been the senior pastor at Asbury
United Methodist in Tulsa since 1993.
has served as a delegate to Jurisdictional and General Conferences of
The United Methodist Church, and as a delegate to the World Methodist
Council. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Baltic Methodist
Theological Seminary in Tallinn, Estonia; as the alumni chair for
Asbury Theological Seminary; and on the Oklahoma Wesleyan Board of
Trustees. He has written 12 books called Perceptions which are heard on
five Tulsa FM radio stations during the peak morning drive. Tom and his
wife, Dana, have three children, Joshua, Jessee and Jeffrey.
Class of 1955
Wilson Heth, PhD, Class of 1955, Professor Emerita of UCLA, is a
citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She began her primary
research in Oklahoma Cherokee music and music of surrounding tribal
groups, and throughout her career she continued researching, doing
applied work in, and publishing American Indian music, ethnomusicology,
dance, education, and other American Indian topics.
traveler, Charlotte served with the Peace Corp in Ethiopia for two
years, with the distinction of being the first female volunteer from
Oklahoma. She then taught at the Junior High and High School level
before beginning her career at UCLA. There she taught courses on
comparative American Indian music, as well as graduate seminars in
Contemporary American Indian issues, Cultural World Views of Native
America, among other things.
In 1994 she
left the teaching profession to accept the post of Assistant Director
for Public Programs at the National Museum of the American Indian,
Smithsonian Institution. There she curated exhibits and led workshops
for museum professionals and educators. Upon her retirement, she served
as visiting curator at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.
Charlotte is multi-lingual and has been featured in numerous
publications, films, and recordings.
the many honors she has received, Charlotte was inducted as an Honorary
Member of the Society for Ethnomusicology.
Susan Eloise Hinton
published her first work, The Outsiders, only one year after graduation
from Will Rogers. Always an avid reader, her best-selling novel was a
result of the dissastisfaction she had with books written for young
adults. Countless young people have said that The Outsiders was the
first book they had ever read cover to cover, and S.E. Hinton soon
became known as “The
Voice of the Youth.”
She followed The
Outsiders with That was Then, This is Now, published in 1971. In 1975,
she expanded her short story, Rumble Fish, into a novel, which garnered
the entire spectrum of reviews, from “her
Tex followed in 1979. In March, 1983, the movie The Outsiders was
released, starring Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Emilio
Estevez, Diane Lane and another of Will Rogers’
Hall of Fame members, Gailard Sartain. In October 1983, the movie
Rumble Fish, was released, again starring Matt Dillon and Diane Lane,
with Dennis Hopper, Nicholas Cage and Laurence Fishburne. The movie,
That was Then, This is Now was released in 1985, starring Emilio
Estevez and Morgan Freeman.
In 1988, Susan received the
very first YASD/SLJ Author Achievement Award, which was given by the
Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association and
the School Library Journal. That same year she released Taming The Star
a complete change of direction, her last two books are for children of
elementary school age: Big David, Little David, and The Puppy Sister.
When not writing books, S. E. Hinton loves to ride her horses and spend
time with her husband and son.
W. Jones, MD, PhD
Class of 1959
Jones, M.D., Ph.D., attended the University of Tulsa and was accepted
into Tulane University School of Medicine early, on scholarship, where
he earned his doctor of medicine degree. He earned his Ph.D. in cell
biology, also from Tulane. In 2002 Jim earned a master of health
administration from the University of Missouri.
intern, residency and fellowships took him to Philadelphia General
Hospital, Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Charity Hospital of
Louisiana, and Ochsner Clinic. As a result, he became board certified
in general surgery, thoracic surgery, and critical care.
served in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps as a lieutenant commander, 2nd
Marine Division, and has variously been professor at the Baylor College
of Medicine, chief of surgery at the Houston Veterans Affairs Hospital,
and chair of surgery at the University of Missouri. He considers
himself most fortunate to have been hired by Dr Michael DeBakey at
Baylor College during the
Assistant Editor, Journal of Vascular Surgery and, as an author, has
published three books on medical ethics and has more than 370
master certification in scuba diving has enabled Jim to visit vaunted
dive sites worldwide.
career spanning 35 years, he performed or supervised over 12,000 open
heart operations. Invited lectureships allowed Jim and his bride to
travel extensively. He states that his greatest professional
gratification has been participation in the education of thousands of
medical students and hundreds of surgeons.
Class of 1968
Charles Kimball, ThD,
Class of 1968, is the Presidential Professor and Director of Religious
Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Charles served for 12 years as
Chair of the Department of Religion and Professor in the Divinity
School at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.
An expert on the Middle
East, Charles is a frequent guest on national and local television and
radio programs, where he interprets events and interfaith issues. He
has delivered lectures at more than 200 colleges and universities,
churches, conferences, and civic organizations in
the U.S. and Canada. Charles has made important contributions in
furthering the cause of inter-religious understanding, human rights,
and conflict resolution in the U.S. and throughout the Middle East.
Having lived and studied in Cairo, Egypt, Charles returned at the age
of 29 to meet with the Ayatollah Khomeini, opening talks to help
resolve the standoff over the 52 Americans taken hostage in Iran seven
weeks earlier. This meeting and two other trips to Iran during the
hostage crisis propelled
him into the international media spotlight.
He has traveled
extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East and is the founder
and adviser for Churches for Middle East Peace in Washington DC. He is
the co-founder and board member of U.S. Inter-Religious Committee for
Peace in the Middle East and meets frequently with heads of state,
foreign ministers, ambassadors in various countries, as well as with
the White House, Congress and the State Department. He participated in
the Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, and in
1972, while a student at Oklahoma State, Charles
co-founded the National Student Prayer Breakfast Movement. He has
authored five books and has had his work featured in numerous national
Wright Kizziar, PhD
Class of 1957
Kizziar graduated from Will Rogers and The University of Tulsa,
returned to Will-on-the-Hill to teach English and Journalism, then
completed her doctorate in psychology at TU.
She and her
late twin, Dr. Judy Hagedorn, opened a psychology practice, hosted two
local TV talk shows and were the first women honored as University of
Tulsa Distinguished Alumni. They appeared on network television shows,
including Good Morning America and Today, and were interviewed by Larry
King, Dick Cavett, Barbara Walters and Tom Snyder. The twins published
two books, Search for Acceptance: The Adolescent and Self Esteem, and
GEMINI: The Psychology and Phenomena of Twins.
proudest accomplishment is being a founding member of Fresh Start Women’s
Foundation. Fresh Start has helped more than 200,000 women in need who
are seeking self-sufficiency, and opened a state-of-the-art Women’s
Resource Center on October 1, 2002. She remains committed to helping
women to help themselves.
YWCA in Phoenix honored Janet at their Tribute to Women for her work in
health and healing. She continues to advocate for those dealing with
domestic violence, child abuse, AIDS, co-dependency, drug and alcohol
abuse, and adolescent pregnancy. She is listed in Who’s Who in
America, Who’s Who in
the World, Who’s Who in
American Women, and International Who’s Who in
favorite quote is from George Eliot. It hangs on a plaque dedicated to
her at the Women’s
Foundation Resource Center:
we live for, if not to make the world less difficult for each other?”
Class of 1949
Lewis loved baseball and singing, but singing won out and he turned
down a college baseball scholarship. Bill became one of the foremost
operatic tenors of the twentieth century, performing in every major
opera house in the world. His career at New York’s
Metropolitan Opera House lasted 35 years, where he sang about 50
performances a year of 140 roles in ten languages.
voice in Tulsa with Lorna Moore, and while at Will Rogers was an active
participant in choral groups and the Round-Up. After graduation, he
pursued his vocal studies at the University of Colorado and Texas
Christian University. In 1955 he was the national winner in the New
York Metropolitan Opera Auditions. He used his prize money to go to New
York and continue his studies. His Met career began in 1957 and the
rest is operatic history.
Critics have described
performances as magnificent, electrifying, exhilarating, brilliant,
superb, sincere, intelligent, admirable and a major triumph—with
a passion for diction.
retirement from singing, Bill accepted a one-year contract as an
artist-in-residence at the University of Texas, in Austin. His work was
so outstanding that he is still there 17 years later. In addition to
his work at the University of Texas, Bill is the director of the highly
regarded, privately funded Franco American Vocal Academy in France,
which provides high-level instruction and performing experience for
some 60 college-age singers and musicians.
Class of 1988
Mayberry is one of the most outstanding athletes to have graduated from
Will Rogers High School. He led the 1988 Ropers basketball team to a
state championship— to
date, the last state championship for the Ropers.
graduation from Will-on-the-Hill, Lee played four years for the
University of Arkansas and helped the Razorbacks go to the Final Four
in Denver in 1990 and win the Southwest Conference title in 1991,
year in that conference. The following year, the Razorbacks were the
Southeastern Conference West champions with a 9-1 record. Lee scored
1,940 points for the Razorbacks.
He played on
the United States team that won the bronze medal at the Goodwill Games
of 1990, in Argentina.
Following his college graduation, Lee became a star with the National
Basketball Association, playing four years with Milwaukee and three
years with Vancouver. In his first four seasons he played in all 328
games on his team’s
remarkable achievement for a sport as physically demanding as
greatest contribution to the sport, however, may be off the court. In
2002, he co-founded Playing with Purpose, a basketball ministry in
Tulsa that helps equip boys and girls with the tools they need to
succeed in basketball, and in life. Playing with Purpose emphasizes
excellence in athletics, academics and, most importantly, spirituality.
his wife, Marla, have five daughters…of course—a
Inducted in 2015
From the age of 26, Don
Mellott, Chairman/Owner of HIS Specialists, LLC, has owned several
companies, including Mohawk Steel Company in Tulsa. He has served as
CEO of Aztec Industries and n the late 70’s
through the early 80’s,
Don and his wife, Janet (Class of ’64),
started and ran a cow/calf business in the Tahlequah area. In 1988 he
started Heater Specialist, LLC and remains active in this business
today. The Mellotts gave the first major contribution to help start
Victory Christian Center’s
a 38,000 square foot building that offers after-school programs, summer
programs for kids, GED classes, a major medical clinic, among other
services. The Mellott Family Foundation, Inc. serves to gain useful
approaches for their philanthropic interests.
Ernest Moody is a name known
to every Will Rogers senior who proudly wears the Rogers class ring. We
all remember lining up early in the morning under the hot August sun to
receive our rings.
Since 1944, customers have
come to recognize the Moody name as synonymous with quality and
integrity. It all began with a broken clock that teenaged Ernest and
his mother could not afford to repair; the cost was $1.00. A
neighborhood watchmaker sold young Ernest the 25 cent part he needed
and showed him how to repair it himself.
Ernest began to visit the
shop and help with repairs. When the owner retired, Ernest took his
life savings of $200, purchased the shop, and Moody’s
Jewelry was Ernest’s
ethic of quality service enabled him and his beloved wife, Mildred, to
Jewelry. His love for his alma mater, Will Rogers High School, made him
first high school ring headquarters.
is still a family-owned company, operated by his five children, with
the third generation now entering the business. Moody’s
is the largest family-owned jeweler in Oklahoma and is honored to serve
our community by giving a portion of every sale to its Route 66 Giving
Campaign, which supports over 66 charities right in our own backyard.
Ernest spoke often of “gifts
and demonstrated it as he gave generously to benefit others.
His family is honored to
continue this loving legacy in the Tulsa community.
Class of 1953
Morgan was an All-State baseball player for Will Rogers in 1953 and
upon graduation he was drafted into professional baseball. He played
minor league ball for the Chicago White Sox and the St. Louis
Cardinals, where he earned the nickname Cannonball for his powerful
arm. A knee injury, however, ended his pro baseball career. Then Gordon
left baseball for the U.S. Army.
graduated from The University of Tulsa, where he was the varsity
baseball coach from 1959 to 1962.
returned to Rogers where he taught and coached from 1962 to 1988,
changing the lives of countless young people. He coached swimming,
cross-country and baseball (502 wins
losses), winning four state championships. His teams won ten Conference
Championships and 13 regional titles. He coached 17 Oklahoma All-State
players, three of whom were High School All-American, then went on to
play professional baseball, with two going to the major leagues with
the New York Mets. After retirement from Will Rogers, Gordon coached
nine years at Bishop Kelley High School, where he won three state
championships, nine regional and nine conference titles in girls’
softball. He co-founded the Sunbelt Classic Series (now known as the
Heartland Baseball Classic), the elite high school baseball series in
baseball scout’s dream
for the recruitment of excellent players.
was named Coach of the Year ten times by City, Regional and State
Associations, and was inducted into The Oklahoma Coaches Association
Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Hall of Fame Baseball Coaches, Oklahoma Softball
Coaches Hall of Fame and Bishop Kelley Athletic Hall of Fame.
died in 2005.
Carol Walsh Morsani and
Frank Morsani met at Will Rogers, graduated from Oklahoma State
University, and have been married for 62 years.
Carol has been extremely
active in many nonprofit organizations and served on countless boards.
Currently Carol serves on the Foundation Board of the Moffitt Cancer
Center. She is a major benefactor and has served on the board of the
Tampa Museum of Art. Carol was instrumental in the creation of the
Women in Leadership and Philanthropy at the University of South Florida
as well as the Merit Society associated with Both Carol and Frank have
many prestigious awards, including doctor of humane letters from the
University of South Florida, and honorary doctor of letters from
Oklahoma State University, which has awarded only 18 honorary
doctorates in its 123-year existence. Carol received the Henry Bennett
Award for Distinguished Service from Oklahoma State University, as well
as the Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction. She shares with Frank the
Judeo Christian Humanities Award and the Philanthropists of the Year
award from the City of Tampa.
In 2002, the Tampa
Chamber of Commerce named Carol the Cultural Contributor of the Year.
Class of 1949
of Will Rogers and Oklahoma State University, Frank Morsani served four
years in the Navy during the Korean War. His career was predominately
in the automotive industry, ranging from serving as a Ford Motor
Company representative to owning a large network of automobile
dealerships in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Nevada. Like his wife
Carol, Frank is active in community leadership and philanthropy.
Justice Berger appointed Frank to the Prison Industries Council and he
served on many boards in Washington, D.C., including the National
Automobile Dealership Association, Board of Import Automobile
Dealerships, and the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
where he was chairman in 1985-1986.
the board of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center for nine years.
President Carter appointed Frank to the White House Conference on Small
Business. President Reagan appointed him to the Small Business
Administration Advisory Council.
and Carol have endowed chairs at Oklahoma State University, the
University of South Florida, University of Tampa and Moffitt Cancer
Research Hospital. They endowed the Medical School named in their
honor, and the Clinic for Advanced Health Care. They both served on the
Community Foundation Board.
philanthropy has supported the visual arts, performing arts, education,
medical research, and humanitarian charities.
Class of 1956
Russell Myers, was known
by his friends as “Roo”
while at Will Rogers. He was born in Pittsburg, Kansas and moved to
Tulsa, the Oil Capital of The World, in 1946, where his father taught
at The University of Tulsa.
own words: “I
was interested in cartooning as far back as I can remember and always
wanted to draw a comic strip. Most of my early training came from
drawing in my notebook when I should have been paying attention in
class. After graduating from Tulsa University in 1960, I absconded to
Kansas City, Missouri, to work for Hallmark, writing and drawing
(hopefully) funny greeting cards.I submitted my first strip to the
syndicates at age 16, while still at Will Rogers. Thus began a steady
succession of failures that finally culminated in the sale of
Broom-Hilda in 1970, a welcome break from my 15-year-long pattern of
rejections. In 1964, I married Marina and we’re
still going strong. We have two kids, Stewart and Rosie, neither of
whom have ever been arrested for anything and seem to like us so we
consider ourselves successful parents. We currently live in southern
Oregon where I stare out at the Rogue River when not dozing or drawing
Class of 1954
Nunneley, Class of 1954, is a Figurative, Wildlife and Military
Sculpture Artist. After graduating from Will Rogers, David served in
the Army and then majored in Art at the University of Oklahoma and the
University of Tulsa. He received advanced training in sculpture at the
Loveland Academy of Art in Loveland, CO and the Scottsdale School of
Art in Arizona.
his early career as an illustrator for a scientific instrument company
and later started his own instrument company. He then started his own
oil and gas equipment company, and was granted five U.S. patents for
various oil and gas-related products. He became president for a
subsidiary of a Pennsylvania utility company, subsequently becoming
vice-president of research and development for a major instrument
company in Tulsa.
In spite of his
reputation as a business leader, David considers becoming a successful
full-time sculptor in 1995 his most gratifying and courageous move. His
bronze monument sculptures and smaller works can be seen throughout the
U.S., Canada and Mexico. One of his most notable works is a statue of
the three Heisman Trophy winners and their Army coach, displayed at the
U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Locally, David’s
work may be seen at the Tulsa International Airport, the Williams
Center, Van Trease Performing Arts Center at Tulsa Community College,
Floral Haven Cemetery, Indian Nations Boy Scouts of America and the
Tulsa Ballet Center.
A seven and one half
foot tall statue of Sequoyah will be unveiled at Gilcrease Museum next
Class of 1942
Pitezel, Class of 1942, was a sophomore at Will Rogers High School when
the doors first opened in 1939. As a young man, Frank set his mind on
two goals: to get the best education he could and to receive a college
basketball scholarship. After studying hard and being a part of the
state basketball championship team in 1941, Frank was recruited by Hank
Iba to play basketball at Oklahoma A&M (OSU).
Encouraged to join the
war effort by the legendary coach, Frank enlisted and trained as an
engineer. His platoon was involved in, among other things, the
of the Bulge,”
and Frank earned a combat Bronze Star and three battle stars.
returning to Tulsa, Frank married his high school sweetheart, Billie
Marie Hall, and began his successful career for the Public Service
Company of Oklahoma where he worked as Director of Engineering Services.
Billie, had nine children and Frank spent his adult life working toward
the goal of making Tulsa a better community for his family. Over the
years he has served in many church and community organizations,
including the Junior Chamber of Commerce. He spearheaded the effort to
build the four-plex, lighted Bear baseball stadium, where each year 450
boys between the ages of 8 and 16 could play competitive baseball,
regardless of income or abilities.
active in politics, and in 1980 was elected to the Oklahoma State House
of Representatives, where he served for ten years.
Class of 1975
football star, coach, business executive, and author started his
football career as a Will Rogers Roper and went on to play quarterback
for The University of Tulsa, where he graduated with a bachelor of
science in mechanical engineering in 1980.
In 1979 he
was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the National Football League.
He later joined the New York Giants. After brief time in the NFL, David
began his coaching career in 1983 at the University of Alabama, where
he was the coach of the quarterbacks and then, receivers. In 1986 he
became the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State University.
home to Tulsa in 1987 as the assistant head coach at The University of
Tulsa. Being named head coach in 1988 at age 31, he was the youngest
head coach in NCAA Division I Football. He remained in that position
until 1999. During that time, the Golden Hurricane played in two bowl
games (winning the 1991 Freedom Bowl and finishing 22nd in the nation).
His teams consistently graduated at a higher rate than the campus norm,
defeated teams from much bigger conferences such as Oklahoma, Oklahoma
State, Iowa, Missouri, and Texas A&M, and had many go on to
play in the NFL. David returned to coaching and to the University of
Alabama in 2003 as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In
2010, he became co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the
University of Mississippi.
is now in Tulsa as vice president of marketing at Pacer Energy
Marketing. He and his wife, Janet (WRHS
have three children: sons Daniel and Jordan and daughter Kendal. In the
fall of 2011, Rader published his first book, Missing
Page from the Playbook: Fundamentals Behind the Physical, Mental and
Emotional Elements of Commitment.
Class of 1962
“Hank” when he
was at Will Rogers
known internationally as the American master of the flamenco guitar. He
studied music at the University of Tulsa and began his career as a
student of the legendary Flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya. Ron also
studied classical guitar with Andres Segovia.
Ron is the
only individual ever to be awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in flamenco
guitar. He traveled thousands of miles in Spain, immersing himself in
the musical wisdom of the Spanish gypsy Flamenco masters.
Performance venues include New York’s
Carnegie Hall, Washington’s
Kennedy Center, concert halls and major colleges and universities
across the United States. Ron’s highly
acclaimed and popular school assembly program, The Power of Ole!
Optimistic Leadership Energy! reaches thousands of school children each
international tours have taken him to 15 countries, from Australia to
Switzerland and from Canada to Panama. While serving in the Army in
Vietnam, he performed in hospitals, schools and orphanages. He toured
for the State Department as a musical ambassador to Mexico, Guatemala
and other Latin American countries.
exciting CD: Viva Flamenco! and DVD: Live Your Passion, are available at www.RonaldRadford.com. His
music has been downloaded in more than 50 countries worldwide. Ron was
born in California, grew up in Tulsa, and now lives in St. Louis,
Missouri, where he continues his career as one of the world’s most
successful ambassadors of flamenco music.
A. Randle, JD
Class of 1962
Randle began a distinguished career after Will-on-the-Hill, graduating
from the University of Oklahoma, and a earning a law degree from the
University of Tulsa.
He began public service
with the Peace Corps in Brazil. In 1970, at the age of 27, he was
elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, followed by election
to the Oklahoma Senate in 1972, with re-election in 1976, 1980 and
1984. Rodger was twice elected president pro tempore of the Oklahoma
Senate, the Senate’s
top leadership position.
In 1988 he became mayor
of the City of Tulsa and led the successful campaign to change the city’s
form of government to mayor/city council. The vote came after four
unsuccessful charter change attempts during the previous 35 years.
Re-elected in 1990 by the largest margin in Tulsa’s
history, he became Tulsa’s
first mayor under the new form of government, marking the most
significant change in the City of Tulsa in the previous 50 years.
Rodger became professor in the Graduate College of the University of
Oklahoma in 1998. He also holds the title of professor and director of
the Center for Studies in Democracy and Culture.
His many civic
activities include president and chairman of the national Board of
Directors of Sister Cities International, the world’s
largest volunteer citizen diplomacy program; locally, he is a past
president of various organizations, including Tulsa Global Alliance,
Tulsa Committee on Foreign Relations, the Tulsa Philharmonic, and the
United Nations Association of Northeastern Oklahoma. He currently is
the honorary British consul for Oklahoma. In addition, he serves as
co-chair of the Bond Oversight Committee of the Tulsa Public Schools.
Class of 1959
J.D., Class of 1959, was commissioned in the United States Air Force as
a distinguished military graduate from Oklahoma State University in
1963 with a B.A. in Radio and Television, serving during the Vietnam
era, including duty stations in Southeast Asia. He received five
decorations for meritorious service and, as squadron commander, the Air
Force Outstanding Unit Award with combat
with the White House advance party when President Nixon pronounced the
Guam Doctrine in 1969 and coordinated the worldwide television coverage
of the historic 1971 meeting in Alaska between Nixon and Emperor of
Japan Hirohito. He ran the press accreditation center when Nixon
returned from his historic 1972 China visit.
In 1981, he
was appointed by the Reagan Administration to head the Southwestern
Power Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, equivalent in
rank to a deputy assistant secretary or three-star military officer,
testifying before Congress.
With a juris
doctorate from the University of Tulsa, he became an attorney at age
60, then initiated a class action on behalf of nearly 22,000 claimants
against a major corporation, settling for $72.5 million. He has
published many peer-reviewed articles, testified before the Internal
Revenue Service, and is nationally renowned for his expertise in
structured settlements and qualified settlement funds. TU named the
Richard B. Risk Practicum Endowment Fund in his honor.
2010, he formed the Will Rogers High School Community Foundation, which
has donated nearly $100,000 to the school, twice serving as its
Class of 1962
graduating from Rogers in 1962, James Russell became active in the
1960s civil rights and antiwar movements. He participated in the 1964
Tulsa sit-ins and initiated a successful campaign that included
basketball star Marques Haynes to integrate the Sand Springs public
schools. In 1966 he became the first editor of New Left Notes, the
national newspaper of Students for a Democratic
received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin in 1975.
In a career that has combined critical scholarship with social
activism, he has taught at universities in the United States and as a
Fulbright professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in
Mexico and Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. In 2005 he was
named University Professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, the
highest honor in the Connecticut State University system.
the author of eight books, including Social Insecurity: 401(k)s and the
Retirement Crisis; Double Standard: Social Policy in Europe and the
United States; Escape from Texas: A Novel of Slavery and the Texas War
of Independence; and After the Fifth Sun: Class and Race in North About
Double Standard, Frances Fox Piven, president of the American
Sociological Association wrote, This is a wonderful book—a
sweeping portrait that helps us to understand the differences between
the European and American welfare states and why these differences are
Escape from Texas, Johns Hopkins historian Ben Vinson III wrote,
has so astutely captured the mindset of black slaves and their
complicated relationships with Mexico during the years leading up to
the Mexican-American War.
Fred G. Sanders
Class of 1945
Fred Sanders wanted to
study aeronautical engineering after graduation from Will Rogers. Only
four schools in the nation offered a degree in that field, and one was
own Spartan College. He completed the four-year program in two years
and joined McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis as a design engineer, making
$1.22 an hour.
military service, Fred returned to McDonnell and worked on the F-4 jet
fighter at the Northrop facility in California. Future assignments in
St. Louis and Florida included design and managerial leadership
positions on the Mercury and Gemini space programs; then it was back to
California for the Skylab project.
his excellent communication skills, Fred was frequently called upon to
host tours and provide information to Congress, astronauts and
scientists, such as Dr. Wernher von Braun.
awarded the NASA Prestigious Public Service Award in 1974, and was vice
president and general manager of the St. Louis division of
McDonnell-Douglas Astronautics when he retired in 1988.
The engineers held the
lives of the astronauts in their hands and astronaut Bill Pogue, pilot
of Skylab 4, said of Fred, “This
may seem a trivial problem, but as an
of a product, one certainly feels a surge of confidence when people
managing the program, led by Fred Sanders, solved even the most trivial
problems with speed, dedication and dispatch.”Fred
died in 2010.
Class of 1963
graduation from Will Rogers High School, Gailard Sartain earned a
bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Tulsa.
In 1971, he
began his entertainment career on KOTV when he created The Uncanny Film
Festival and Camp Meeting aka Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi. Gailard was a
regular on the popular country comedy music show Hee Haw for 20 years.
He has appeared in over
50 motion pictures, notably Mississippi Burning, Fried Green Tomatoes
and Elizabethtown. Today, Gailard is also well known for his
accomplished work as a painter and illustrator. He designed the cover
for fellow Rogers’
Hall of Fame member Leon Russell’s
resides in Tulsa with his wife Mary Jo.
Neil R. Sparks, Jr
Class of 1954
graduation from Will Rogers, Neil Sparks attended Oklahoma State
University and was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy
in 1959. Following naval flight training, he became a helicopter pilot.
In his more than 28-year career, he was deployed ten times on various
aircraft carriers, four times to Vietnam waters, flying combat
search-and-rescue and support missions. During a fifth deployment in
Vietnam, he flew in-country Navy Attack Helicopters, in support of Navy
SEALs and River Forces.
In July 1967
Neil and his crew flew more than 200 miles into North Vietnam, over
heavily fortified hostile territory, to rescue a downed Navy fighter
pilot. Under intense enemy ground fire, his helicopter was severely
damaged. Nonetheless, after 20 minutes in a hover, he miraculously
completed a successful rescue.
unprecedented valor and extraordinary heroism in combat, he was awarded
the Navy Cross, the highest award in the naval service, and second only
to the Medal of Honor. Neil completed his education at the Naval Post
Graduate School, commanded a helicopter squadron in Florida, and was
the operations officer of an amphibious assault ship. Neil’s
final duty was as the Navy member of the Marine Amphibious Warfare
Presentation Team that lectured in 33 countries.
honored as the most decorated member in the 50-year history of
Helicopter Squadron Two with 31 medals and ribbons.
Neil and Kay
Stover, also from Tulsa, were married in 1960 and had a son and
Class of 1944
Robert Stuart was known
while at Will Rogers because of his 1943 and 1944 state championships
in the 100 and 220-yard dash. His 100-yard time was an impressive 9.7
seconds. Robert was an outstanding athlete—track,
basketball and football—but
it was football that made him a Roper legend. Archrival Central High
had held the Ropers scoreless the first three years they played each
but Jackrabbit changed all that when he scored all four touchdowns in
defeat of Central in 1943. He starred at Tulsa University, playing in
the Orange Bowl game of 1945, before being drafted into the Army, which
led to a West Point appointment. Army was a football powerhouse in the
late 1940s, finishing in the top six teams in the nation for five years.
from West Point in 1949, Robert was assigned to the Air Force, where he
helped install their first computer system. He left the military in
1955 and worked for Douglas Aircraft in Washington, D.C. and Tulsa. In
1958 Robert joined J. D. Young Co. as a microfilm salesman and is now
the chairman of the board. He has been instrumental in the evolution of
copiers and printers and streamlined operations for clients such as
American Airlines and Phillips Petroleum.
Robert is a
member of Tulsa Executives Association, was a board member of Holland
Hall School and taught Sunday School at Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian
Church, where he served as an elder.
Paula Combest Unruh
Class of 1947
Combest Unruh graduated from Will-on-the-Hill and attended The
University of Tulsa and The University of Arkansas. She soon discovered
an active interest in politics, which took her all the way from the
Oklahoma Young Republicans to the national political arena in
Washington, D.C. Her position as Oklahoma Young Republican National
Committeewoman led her to Page Belcher, First District congressman, who
offered her a job in his Washington, D.C. office. She ultimately became
his campaign manager for many years.
list of community service and honors include American Red Cross Board,
Parent/Child Center, Legal Aid Chairman for Tulsa County Bar
Association, Jr. Association of Tulsa Boys’
Home, Tulsa Town Hall Board, president of the Tulsa Philharmonic Jr.
Association, president of the Women’s
Association and Cinderella Ball chairman. In 1973 Paula was honored by
Women in Communications as one of their Women of the Year, and in 1974
the mayor asked her to co-chair the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Bond
Issue Campaign, which passed after being defeated three previous times.
President Ford appointed Paula to a nine-year term on the National USO
Board. In 1981, President Reagan appointed her to serve as the director
of consumer affairs for the Department of Energy. President Reagan
again appointed her as principal deputy director general of the U.S.
and Foreign Commercial Service, the first woman to serve in that
She has led
international trade missions to Europe and Japan, and was named
executive vice- president of the Tulsa Global Trade Foundation.
Class of 1966
Inducted in 2015
graduation from Will Rogers, John Ward played football and wrestled at
OSU, where he was named All-American in both sports. He was a
first-round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings and played in the Super
Bowl twice. He later played for the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay
Following his retirement
from professional football, John graduated from NSU and spent most of
his career dedicated to public service. He was the Executive Director
of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, during which
time he was duly named “Mr.
For a decade before his death, John served as Executive Vice-President
of the Poultry Federation of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, managing
the Oklahoma office. He died December 4, 2012 after a brave battle with
GIST, a rare form of cancer.