bmonthly July 2024

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We live, work, and play in Bartlesville, and we’re proud to serve our neighbors with integrity

Experienced, Honest, Local


Welcome to July friends...and Happy Independence Day, America!

Independence Day, known colloquially as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence. This formative document was written by Thomas Jefferson and was ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, establishing the United States of America. On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to dissolve the connection between “this country” and Great Britain, declaring the “United Colonies of North America” to be free and independent states.

Four years ago we started a contest to get our readers involved in the magazine. We picked a subject in the community and asked you to take pictures and submit them. Since that first year we have had some stunning pictures voted on by our Facebook followers. The winner gets their picture showcased on a full page in the magazine. We also have 9 judges vote for the best picture for the cover. You never disappoint us in your creativity and the beauty of your pictures. This year we wanted you to take pictures of “Beautiful Bartlesville.” You had any subject you wanted to take and WOW you came out with some stunning pictures of this beautiful city. We want to thank everyone who took the time to enter the contest this year with their pictures. This year’s People’s Choice Winner, with an incredible reflection picture of the Price Tower, was taken by Caleb Little. It had over 200 votes. Congratulations, Caleb, and thank you for entering this beautiful picture. This was the closest judge’s choice winner we have ever had, and actually it was a tie breaker. The winner for this prestigious honor of being the cover for July bmonthly was Andy Dossett. His photo is of fireworks exploding behind the Sooner Park Play Tower designed by the famous architect - Bruce Goff - in 1963. This tower was a gift to the children of Bartlesville by Mrs.

Price, who was the wife of H.C. Price. Mr. Price built one of the most famous buildings in the United States - the Price Tower - which was designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

When July rolls around, the most important date is July 23rd, the day all my dreams came true. I married the love of my life and the one who completes me… Christy. Happy 19th Anniversary baby! Oh what 19 years it has been for us! You, who after all these years and all I put you through, still choose me and us. The love I have for you is immeasurable. As the luckiest man, I don’t know where I would be without you. Who would have known that 40 years after we first met in the fall of 1985 as teenagers that we would be husband and wife, have 7 kids, and 5 grandbabies together.

Through so many ups and downs and the enemy throwing everything at us, we are still hand and hand and stronger than ever. When I fell off the cliff with my addiction, you stood strong and did not give up on me or us. With 6 kids under the age of 13 and a new baby, you had just enough fight and belief in me to withstand the winds of destruction, and we pulled through. After the loss of Tyler just 4 years into our marriage, our roles reversed. I carried you and our family through the storm. This October will be 15 years since we lost him.

Not many couples can work together like we do. We work side by side on the magazine and B the Light Mission. We don’t get tired of being around each other. With us it’s always been different. You are my best friend and the one I want right next to me as the months and years come a little faster. Living life with you has brought me blessings that I could never have imagined. Without your love, your belief in me, and your never-give-up attitude, we are where we are today. You said I do that July day and changed my life forever. I love you and Happy Anniversary!


Volume XV Issue VII

Bartlesville Monthly Magazine is published by ENGEL PUBLISHING

Offices located in Downtown Bartlesville in the historic Price Tower 510 Dewey Ave, Suite 400, Bartlesville, OK 74003 P.O. Box 603, Bartlesville, OK 74005

Publisher Brian Engel


Engel Publishing

Director of Sales & Marketing

Keith McPhail

Community Liaison

Christy McPhail

Project Manager Andrea Whitchurch


Shelley Greene Stewart

Delivery and Distribution

Tim Hudson Calendar/Social Media

Contributing Writers

Debbie Neece, Kay Little, Kelly Hurd, Aaron Kirkpatrick, Jay Hastings, Joe Colaw, Brent Taylor, Keith McPhail, Jay Webster, Miriam Walker, Joe Todd, Abigail Singrey, Maria Gus, Lori Just

Contributing Photographers

Debbie Neece, Todd Edwards, Brett Price, Becky Burch, Westside Community Center, Donnie Mooreland, OKM Music, Andy Dossett

Kids Calendar

Jessica Smith


July Cover Contest: Capturing the beauty of Bartlesville! Judges’ Choice Winner Andy Dossett.

Creative concept by Keith and Christy McPhail

Design by Engel Publishing

bmonthly Managing Editors Keith and Christy McPhail.

Sonya Reed...

More Than Meets the Eye

Many in town recognize Sonya Reed from her volunteer work, teaching career, or time in banking at Arvest, but there’s much more to her story. She’s an avid collector, an enthusiastic book club member, and an amateur poker player. Her claim to fame is playing at the same table with baseball great Jose Canseco in a poker tournament at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, knocking him out of the tournament and earning his bounty chip. Now, as she celebrates her recent retirement, she is looking forward to a new chapter in Bartlesville and beyond.

Reed’s roots in the Bartlesville community run deep. Both she and her husband were born in Bartlesville and graduated from Bartlesville Public Schools. Her father, Donald Brisbin, a Bartlesville College High School graduate of 1955, served as a police officer, then worked for Reda Pump, while her mother Mary worked in banking.

Bartlesville provided Reed with an idyllic childhood, from trips to Kiddie Park and Sooner Pool to magical memories of the Christmas parade. Her mother worked at First National Bank — now Arvest — and they invited employees’ children to watch the parade through the windows, a steaming cup of hot chocolate in hand.

In high school, Reed continued her athletic endeavors, playing shortstop in both competitive softball and school softball. It consumed much of her time, as she played nearly 100 games each summer, then went straight into practices and games for Bartlesville High School softball.

Reed learned the value of hard work and dedication from her softball coach, Jerome Gibson, a former coach at Bartlesville High School. Under his guidance, Reed and her teammates clinched the Class 4A State Championships in 1982 and 1984 and finished as runners-up in 1983 and 1985; with Reed earning the All-State designation for 4A softball in her final year.

She remembers a time when her team did not give a game their all – even if they won, and Gibson drove them home from an away game straight to the softball fields to practice some more.

“He expected a lot out of us, but he got a lot out of us,” Reed said.

However, she chose to leave softball behind temporarily

when it came time to attend college and choose a career. Instead, inspiration struck in her junior year English class, where she served as an aide for former Bartlesville High School teacher Jeanie Gentry. In addition to Reed’s love of reading and writing, she admired the impact Gentry had on her students.

“I loved her sense of humor,” Reed said. “She took her students seriously, and she was so real. I wanted to be like her.”

Reed went on to major in English literature at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, then known as Bartlesville Wesleyan College. She and fellow Bartlesville native Scott Reed met and fell in love, marrying in 1987 and choosing Bartlesville as the place to make their home. Their daughter Sadie was born in 1992.

Reed’s fourteen-year teaching career at the Mid-High School holds deep significance for her. Early on, she eagerly embraced additional responsibilities, including co-leading the Academic Team with teacher and friend Theresa Miller, teaching speech, and advising the yearbook staff. Her athletic prowess also found an outlet as she coached softball and track, blending her love for sports with her dedication to education.

“There are always special students who grab your heart,” Reed said.

For Reed, the greatest advantage of teaching was the flexibility it afforded her to spend time raising her daughter. However, as her daughter grew up, Reed began to consider

other career options. Arvest, where her mother had worked and where Reed herself had worked throughout college, made sense.

In 2007, she signed on to become a client advisor with Arvest Wealth Management, then was promoted to Investment Officer. She put in the hard work to get her Series 7 and Series 66 securities licenses, as well as a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor designation, an accomplishment she’s very proud of. Reed enjoyed getting to know her clients, and in 2021 she was promoted to a dual role as SVP Mortgage and Private Banking manager.

“It was such a great experience,” she said. “Arvest was wonderful to me.”

Volunteering has always been very important to Reed. She advises younger colleagues to be careful not to overcommit, though. Reed has been extensively involved in the community, serving on the boards of The Journey Home, The Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation, and the former Mutual Girls Club of Bartlesville, now rebranded as HeartMatters. She was also a member of the Bartlesville Library Trust Authority, Rotary Club, Dewey Civic Association and the Green Country Pilot Club, among others.

“I started out the wrong way by saying yes to everything, but it ended up being the right way,” Reed said. “I found the things I was really passionate about.”

For Reed, the mission of The Journey Home, a not-for-profit hospice, tugged at the heart strings. She joined the committee before the facility even existed, helping fellow Bartians Doug Quinn and Jodie Shorter and others bring the plan to fruition. The Journey Home opened its doors on Jan. 21, 2014.

“I started when it was just a thought,” Reed said. “Now, I’m so proud of what it’s become.”

Her dedication to The Journey Home was evident through her years of service on the board, and her lemon bars served at the bingo fundraisers became legendary, according to The Journey Home Executive Director Brennan Bissinger.

“Sonya is one of the sweetest souls,” Bissinger said. “She’s an asset, period. She has a great heart.”

Now, Reed’s looking forward to more free time to focus on her interests. In addition to volunteering, she has several hobbies that are important to her. Though she hasn’t taught in decades, Reed still celebrates her love of literature through reading and participating in a book club. She loves reading novels of all genres, but has particularly loved books by David Graham, the author of Killers of the Flower Moon, and books by Erik Larsen, a narrative nonfiction writer whose latest book, The Demon of Unrest, covers Abraham Lincoln’s term as president

before the start of the Civil War.

As both she and her husband are avid collectors, they enjoy going to estate sales to find unique things. For Sonya, a great find would be a melamine splatter bowl, as she collects as many of them as she can get her hands on. Melamine bowls are made of scraps leftover when plastic is poured into molds. Then the scraps are collected, throwing different colors together, and used to create melamine splatter bowls.

“I love how unique they are,” she said. “There’s just something about them. No two are alike.”

For Reed, family has always been the most important aspect of her life. Her Bartlesville roots have only deepened over time, especially since her daughter, Sadie, married Thad Reed—unrelated to them— the son of long-time Bartlesville physician Dr. Gerald Reed. Sadie and Thad now live in Bartlesville with their two children, Lincoln and Lennox; and as Thad attends medical school in Joplin, they share time between the two locations. Thad aspires to remain in Bartlesville as a physician when he completes his doctoral studies.

Now, with her retirement from Arvest, Reed looks forward to new adventures. She and her husband have trips planned to Phoenix, Ariz., the black hills of South Dakota and Santa Fe, New Mexico, over the summer. In addition, they will be in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, as she and her husband plan to play in some satellite tournaments. Maybe they’ll even play with another celebrity.

“There’s so much to see in the United States,” Reed said. “We’ll never be able to see all of it in one lifetime.”

However far she travels, though, Reed, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, thinks there’s no place like home.

Abbie Sharpton
Abbie Sharpton
Abbie Sharpton
Addison Powell
Adriana Lopez Garcia
Andy Dossett
Ali Veach
Ashlyn Deason
Ashlyn Deason
Carol Hitchcock
Carol Hitchcock
Emily Voelkers
Felicitas Wilson
Felicitas Wilson
Felicitas Wilson
Heather Murphree
3rd Place Judges’ Choice
Heather Murphree
James Wareham
James Wareham
James Wareham
Katherine Powell
Katlynn Hanks
Katlynn Hanks
Katrina Van Atta
Katrina Van Atta
Kaylee Hagar
Katrina Van Atta
Paula Bruner
Paula Bruner
Shawn McCollam
Paula Bruner
Susan Steward
Susan Steward
Susan Steward

Around Town with Edgar Weston

Welcome Back…Our next stop on Johnstone Avenue is the original Home Savings and Loan Building at the southwest corner of 5th Street and Johnstone Avenue.

In June 1905, L.E. Phillips purchased land on Third Street and contracted architect Walton Everman and contractor M.E. Graybill to build a building at 107 E. Third Street/Frank Phillips Blvd. This building became the home of L.E. and Frank Phillips’ Citizens Bank and Trust, joined by a handsome number of oil companies. Phillips Petroleum Company incorporated June 13, 1917 and had its first company offices on the second floor of this building.

Starting small, the Home Savings and Loan began loaning October 15, 1905 and received their charter in 1908, just one year after statehood. Their first location was in the original Masonic Building at the southeast corner of Johnstone Avenue and Third Street (current location the I.T.I.O. building, home of Brian Black’s Bambino’s Bistro). By 1915, Home Savings and Loan was standing on solid ground and their capital stock had grown to a million dollars. The company relocated to 309311 S. Johnstone from 1913-1919 and the Maire Hotel at 401 S. Johnstone in 1920; then a final move to 107 E. Third Street, in the Phillips brother’s Trust Building, where they resided until 1978.

During 1978, Home Savings and Loan built their new building at the southwest corner of 5th Street and Johnstone Ave. Honoring two entrances and addresses, 101 W. 5th Street and 501 S. Johnstone Avenue, a parking garage was added in 1980 at 505 S. Johnstone. In 1989-1990, Cimarron Federal Savings and Loan briefly occupied the building.

Then yet another financial institution took a giant step forward. The Jane Phillips Sorority was a force of ladies on a mission to create financial security for their members. Much

like Home Savings and Loan, the Sorority had humble beginnings. Initially organized in Kansas City in 1937, their plan quickly spread across ten states and by April 1939, their institution was financially solid.

This beginning evolved into the Sixty-Six Federal Credit Union which operated in the basement of the Adams Building at 411 S. Keeler Avenue (1955-1961). Expansive growth brought them a new address at 108 E. 4th Street (1962-1964). On October 9, 1964, fire consumed 4th Street between Johnstone and Dewey Avenues…their building was destroyed. They relocated to the newly constructed Professional Building at 5th and Keeler (1966-1977) and built a free-standing building at 333 S. Keeler Avenue where they operated 1978-1990.

In 1991, the original Home Savings and Loan building and parking lot was purchased by the Sixty-Six Federal Credit Union who also operated a branch office at 610 W. Hensley Blvd. Financial expansions into markets in the Lawrence, Kansas, Houston, Texas, Springdale, Arkansas and North Carolina brought great opportunities. In 2013, the 66 Federal Credit Union was rebranded with a name change to Truity Credit Union. According to Credit Union representatives, the name Truity was blended from the words trust and integrity, two traits the Truity Credit Union has exemplified since their inception, 85 years ago.

To Be Continued…

Yes, we actually want to get to know you.

Sure, technology gives us the tools to manage our lives more efficiently. But when it comes to your money, no amount of innovation can replace face-to-face support and customized solutions. So, here’s to handshakes, calling you by name and putting your money to work for you.


Weekly Storytime Babies & Toddlers

10AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Preschool

11AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Babies & Toddlers

10AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Preschool

11AM; Bartlesville Public Library

July 4th Freedom Fest Hot Dog Eating Contest

2:30PM; Sooner Park Stage

Freedom Fest hosted by Bartlesville Kiwanis

6PM; Sooner Park

Dewey Fireworks and Duck Derby

6PM; Don Tyler Park

Summer Reading Show

2PM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Babies & Toddlers

3 11 16 23 24 17 25 12 13 14 4 10 8

Weekly Storytime Babies & Toddlers

10AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Preschool

11AM; Bartlesville Public Library

10AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Preschool

11AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Cinderella presented by Bartlesville Children’s

Musical Theatre

7PM; The Center

Grand Reopening

3PM; Bargain Center

Cinderella presented by Bartlesville Children’s Musical Theatre

7PM; The Center

Cinderella presented by Bartlesville Children’s Musical Theatre

2PM; The Center

Cinderella presented by Bartlesville Children’s Musical Theatre

2PM; The Center

Camp Woolaroc ages 6-8 10AM; Woolaroc

Weekly Storytime Babies & Toddlers

10AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Preschool 11AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Camp Woolaroc ages 9-11 10AM; Woolaroc

Weekly Storytime Babies & Toddlers

10AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Preschool 11AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Babies & Toddlers

10AM; Bartlesville Public Library

Weekly Storytime Preschool

11AM; Bartlesville Public Library

All Month

Kiddie Park Open for the Season (closed Sundays and Mondays) 6PM; Kiddle Park


Know of an upcoming event you would like to see on our calendar? Visit us at


Dewey Fireworks and Duck Derby Don Tyler Park Sat, July 6

8 am Bartlesville Farmers Market Frank Phillips Park Sat, July 10 10:30 AM

Healthy Cooking Methods with Stacey Bartlesville Public Library Sun, July 11 Times Vary

Cinderella presented by Bartlesville Children’s Musical Theatre The Center

The shows run through the weekend. Tue, July 13

10 AM Grand Reopening Bargain Center

Obstacle course, face painting, give aways, Police and Fire, SPCA, raffles Family Fun Day Frank Phillips Home Fri July 19


Monthly Lego Club Bartlesville Public Library

10:30 AM

Green Country Reptile & Exotic Expo

Bartlesville Community Center

9 PM Sizzlin Summer outdoor movie night The Princess Bride Unity Square Sat July 27

8 PM

43rd Annual Green Country Rodeo Bartlesville Round Up Club

All Month in July

Mountain Man Camp

10 AM every day during normal Woolaroc Business Hours.

Want to learn how to throw a tomahawk or shoot a black powder long gun? Then the Mountain Man Camp is the place to be! Guests are transported to a 1840s fur traders’ camp where they experience hands-on engagement.

Animal Barn

One of the most popular spots for children at Woolaroc is our Animal Barn— originally used as the official Dairy Barn for Frank Phillips’ prized herd of cows. Now, the Animal Barn houses some of our favorite furry friends – which include but are not limited to rabbits, chickens, goats, and donkeys.


OKWU Softball Kiddie Camp

July 1-July 2


Ages 5-14

Cost: $106

OWU Softball Fields

OKWU Softball Prospect Camp

July 10


Grades 9th-12th Grade

Cost $106

OKWU Parent/Wrestler Evening Camp

July 26-July28


Cost: $45

Elementary-Middle School

Mueller Sports Center

OKWU Youth Competition Camp

July 29-Aug 1


Cost: $90

Mueller Sports Center

OKWU Men’s Basketball Select Prospect Camp

July 30: 1:00pm-4:00pm

July 31: 9:00am-12:00pm

Cost: $75 per day

Summer Strength and conditioning Program


June and July

Athletes entering 10th-12th Grade-8:00am-10:00am

Athletes entering 7th-9th Grade- 9:00am-11:00am


Veterans’ Home Health

Homemaker and Home Health Aide Care

What is it? A Homemaker and Home Health Aide is a trained professional who can visit a veteran’s home and assist with daily activities. These services help veterans maintain their independence and stay in their own homes. While not nurses, these aides are supervised by registered nurses who assess the veteran’s needs.

Who is eligible? All enrolled veterans are eligible if they meet clinical criteria and community care requirements. Services may vary by location. A copay may apply based on VA serviceconnected disability status.

What services are offered? Services are tailored to individual needs such as:

• Personal care

• Household tasks

• Companionship

• Grocery Shopping

BiosHealth and the Veterans’ Home Health Support program allows you to stay in your own home, while receiving support from compassionate caregivers.

Call 918-333-8500 for more information.

Bartlesville’s Funeral Friends

Ask a child what he wants to be when he grows up and answers may range from policeman, astronaut or doctor. Rarely, if ever, will the answer be funeral director. However, all such careers are essential in life, and death. In times of deepest sorrow, the places we turn for comfort are family, church and our Bartlesville’s Funeral Friends.

In Washington County, the 1895 Bartlesville Magnet documented births/deaths, visitors and business dealings. In 1899, William Berentz and Robert Muzzy established their hardware and furniture store in a frame shack at 112 E. Second Street. Berentz also operated a Tonsorial Parlor with barber shaves and baths. Six years later, the partnership dissolved and Berentz expanded his operations into an adjoining building creating three departments: furniture, hardware, and undertaking and ambulance service.

In 1901, early pioneers George Keeler and Sam Bopst established an undertaking business in their General Store, increasing their offerings from farm implements, wagons, stoves and plumbing supplies to coffins and burial preparations.

John and Claud McMican arrived about 1905 and opened their undertaking parlor and furniture store at 209 Third Street with a multi-sized stock of caskets. In 1908, McMican added a white horse-drawn Studebaker emergency wagon/ambulance to his business offerings; and, in 1909, Washington County awarded McMican

a contract for pauper burials; adults at $6.20 and children at $3.90. That same year, Willis Ripley joined the McMican Undertaker and Art Supply Store. About 1911, McMican relocated to Nowata.

John McCallister arrived in Bartlesville in 1896. He was a colorful man who held Embalmer’s License #39 and served on the Oklahoma Funeral Director Association board, as Santa Claus and as a revered firefighter. He was so admired that one of the city’s firewagon horses was named “Mack” in his honor.

Life happens between our dash...birth-death

McCallister’s first day as County Coroner was November 16, 1907 and his first clients were Ernest Lewis and George Williams, victims of “Oklahoma’s Statehood Day Shooting.” McCallister operated at 120 E. Second Street, then relocated to 410 E. Fourth Street. He retired in 1945 and sold his business to College High School graduate Joe Harrison, who also offered 24-hour free ambulance service.

Harrison moved his funeral business to Barnsdall in 1949.

Claude Burt arrived in Dewey in 1911 and established the Burt Funeral Home at 415 East 8th Street. In 1926, he relocated to 308-310 E. Third Street in Bartlesville. Noted in local newspapers as “American’s Most Beautiful Funeral Home,” Burt’s Cadillac ambulance was available anywhere in the city for one-dollar fare. In 1942, he again relocated to 521 S. Johnstone Avenue and retired at that location in 1952. He passed away in 1974 and his Neekamp funeral friends cared for him.

Eugene Earley arrived as a diploma toting licensed mortician and worked for Berentz until establishing his own business in 1916. Earley died in 1923 and his wife and son continued the business until July 1929, at 216 E. Third Street.

Berentz became partners with J.B. Kerrick in 1917; Berentz retired in 1919 and died May 1931. The Berentz and Kerrick Funeral home operated at 800 S. Dewey Avenue from 1921-1923 under the care of Kerrick, who file bankruptcy. Joe Neekamp purchased the 800 S. Dewey home in 1924 and established the Neekamp Funeral Home, still in operation today.

Arnold Moore was a rambunctious lad who knew he wanted to be a funeral director since childhood and often held funerals for deceased neighborhood pets, with his friends in attendance. He attended the Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago before beginning his funeral career in 1938, working at McCallister’s Funeral Home. The following year, he established the Moore’s Funeral Home at 500 S. Dewey. Uncle Sam called Arnold to WWII and during his absence, his wife, Ruth, maintained the business. In 1950, the Moore’s relocated to 621 S. Johnstone Avenue and also operated at 802 N. Cherokee in Dewey. Arnold had a beautiful horsedrawn hearse for parades and special occasions. After his death in 2010, the special occasion was carrying him to Memorial Park Cemetery for eternal rest. The funeral service then merged to become Arnold Moore & Neekamp Funeral Home, continuing to serve Washington County at 710 S. Dewey Avenue.

From 1935-1938, black undertakers, Garnett Manor and H.J. Ross operated the Manor-Ross Funeral Home at 710 West Sixth Street in Bartlesville. In 1944, the duo also operated the ManorRoss Funeral Home in Tulsa’s North Greenwood district. Their partnership was mutually dissolved in 1948.

The Ragsdale family established the nation’s longestoperating African American funeral business beginning in Arkansas and relocating to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. The

Ragsdale legacy began with William Ragsdale opening a livery stable in Muskogee, renting horse-drawn hearses for funerals. After studying embalming, he established the Home Undertaking Company in 1889 with a branch in Tulsa’s Greenwood area. During the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, their business was burned and they relocated to open funeral homes in Bartlesville, Tulsa and Ardmore.

William’s son, Lewis Ragsdale graduated from the Tuskegee Institute and Worsham School of Mortuary Science in Chicago before establishing the Ragsdale Funeral Home at 704 W. Sixth Street in Bartlesville. In June 1941, the Oklahoma Negro Embalmer’s and Funeral Directors Association met in Bartlesville at the “Colored Baptist Church.” Organized by Mr. Lewis Ragsdale, one hundred sixty-five delegates from Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas were in attendance. Ragsdale moved to California in 1945 and died there in 1957.

Keith Stumpff was a mortician at Keeley-Neekamp for several years before opening the Stumpff Funeral Home at 1600 SE Washington Blvd. in 1967, now 57-years at that location and Nowata, Barnsdall and Skiatook.

With 20 years of experience, Dewey High School graduate Carter Davis is the funeral director at the Davis Family Funeral Home in Bartlesville and Dewey.

Death has been a frequent visitor and constant companion at times throughout history; i.e. war, medical epidemics, weather related emergencies. However, Bartlesville’s Funeral Friends have not only been community supporters, they have brought comfort when our darkest clouds consumed us.

Did You Know?

Bartlesville’s funeral directors have been diligent record keepers and have left in their wakes a wealth of genealogical tools, often documenting much more than births and deaths of family members. If you are researching genealogy records, don’t overlook the expertise of your local funeral home director, Bartlesville Area History Museum, or . Now You Know *

He Can Do Anything... Even Without Sight: The Story of Gwynne Blackledge

Bartlesville’s history has been intertwined with Kansas history through the years. This month I am going to tell how furniture buying has done that.

David Moore, a friend, had asked me last year to write about Gwynne Blackledge. I recently visited with Dale McBride in the Caney Valley Historical Museum in Caney, Kansas, as he shared about his uncle Gwynne.

Gwynne was born in 1896, in Caney, Kansas, with an undeveloped optic nerve, which caused him to be blind all his life. He never had a formal education, because he realized it was a waste of time, due to his disability. His parents taught him when he was a young boy that he could do anything if he wanted to do it bad enough.

When Gwynne was 13, he and a friend opened a popcorn stand near his father’s bank, the Caney Valley National Bank. The boys made $8 that first day. The people in the community could smell the popcorn all over downtown, so they had no trouble selling it.

Several years later as a young teen, Gwynne learned about electricity. His mother would read books to him on electronics. She would describe the diagrams and he was able to wire their house for electricity. During this time, he built his own wireless station, the first in the area.

He then became interested in photography. When taking pictures, he just needed to know the distance to the subject and then adjust the camera. He even won a $50 prize from the Eastman Kodak Company for his beautiful winter photo.

Later, while Gwynne owned an automobile dealership, he would work on the cars and often outsold the dealers in the Kansas City territory. In fact, he was able to drive a car on the brick and gravel roads in Caney, but at slow speeds. Of course, there were not very many cars in Caney at that time.

Most of the time he walked on the brick streets, without a cane. The lack of vision intensified his other senses, which is

why he could walk and occasionally drive on the noisy brick streets. His sense of touch was intensified also, as he could tell all about the furniture just by touching it.

In 1923, Gwynne married Flossie Jordon. They never had children because Gwynne had been told that his blindness would probably be handed down to any child born to him. Flossie was a great partner for Gwynne. She talked him into selling his auto dealership and opening a furniture store. This was the start of Blackledge Sales Company. After Flossie died, Gwynne married Maxine McBride Jones, a widow working for him. They continued to make the furniture store successful.

They had the store laid out in vignettes to help the customers see how the furniture could look in their homes. The Blackledges only sold good quality furniture and at a decent price. People came from all over to this small community to buy quality furniture. Most of the time they did not know he was blind because he could walk confidently throughout the store, telling all about the products. In fact, as Dale told me, the best customers were Phillips employees from Bartlesville.

He also ran the local bank for awhile after his father who was the president died. Much like Frank Phillips, his father loaned money to outlaws, including Henry Starr. This kept his bank from being robbed.

Gwynne Blackledge died in 1982 and was mourned by the community. As David Moore said, “Everything Gwynne accomplished was nothing short of incredible, without the benefit of sight and no formal education, all adds irony to his story.”







“Well, this is one of those topics, one of those conversations where you think: I wonder if we’ll look back on this and think ‘That was spot on’ or ‘Yeah, I don’t know what he was smoking when he came up with that idea …’”

That’s how I opened the latest DreamersLive podcast episode (which can be streamed anywhere by the way). And to be honest, I’m still not sure whether my hypothesis hit or missed.

Maybe you can help me decide.

Some cultural movements come in like a crashing wave, while others gently blow in more like a breeze, almost

imperceptible. That’s what I felt (I think) a couple of weeks ago. There was a subtle, warm current of air that carried a light aroma, the slightest sweetness that was just strong enough to get my attention.

When I tried to describe this feeling, this impression - the best phrase I could come up with was “Outrage Fatigue.” (Which it turns out is a real thing. Really.)

Here’s what I sensed: As a people we have been called by our party leaders, media heads, and even some comedians, pastors, and entertainers to an ever-increasing level of anger and outrage. But it turns out that being angry about everything, all the time, for long periods of time is . . . well,

exhausting. At some point, we can develop “Outrage Fatigue.”

I’m no political scientist or sociologist or even historian, but I think I see how we might have arrived in this place. Our side called us to arms (repeatedly). They demanded a cultural war and we went along with it. It was necessary. So we answered the call and did the drills and we repeated the chants and went to the rallies and we gave the battle cry and we got all worked up . . . and after several years we’re left asking ourselves - does any of this really matter? Is anything that different since we enlisted?

Here’s the fallacy: there is no finish line. There is no final victory. There isn’t a moment when the Democrats or Republicans are finally declared the winners. That’s not how our country works. (That’s not how the world works, really.)

So here we are.

We’ve responded every time our side has called us to rage and fear and to be suspicious of our neighbor (even if they are in the pew next to us). And then, consciously or subconsciously, we start to think, “But I sorta like Carl. And our kids are friends. And to be honest, I can’t always keep track of why I’m supposed to hate him. And Carls’s wife also makes those really amazing chocolate chip cookies . . .”

Before you know it, you’re experiencing “Outrage Fatigue.”

The actual medical term is Outrage Fatigue Syndrome. How official and totally real does that sound? (If it can be termed, we can be afflicted by it.)

I can absolutely see a series of expensive commercials listing the warning signs of OFS. Well-groomed, fiftysomethings in perfectly coordinated casual wear would be shopping at farmers’ markets, doing yoga, and dining on patios at sunset with strings of dim lights overhead. But each of the “otherwise healthy” looking couples would seem a bit confused. Like something was missing. Before you know it, they would find themselves surprised to be getting along . . . with everyone. Maybe one couple would completely forget to check someone’s party affiliation before inviting them over. Then a VoiceOver would encourage you to meet with a medical professional if you experience any of the following symptoms: “Thoughts of not watching multiple hours of FOXCNN a night. Electile Disfunction. Not feeling in the mood to argue. Experiencing nonpolitical gatherings lasting four or more hours.”

So it turns out that maybe there is some validity to this gentle breeze and the slight cultural shift it whispers. All the major “news” networks including FOX are down 10-15 percent in prime-time viewership from this time last year. And that’s during an election year, with multiple court cases involving our former president and with two very significant wars/conflicts continuing to rage on.

Now to be sure, some of that drop-off is due to changes in our viewing habits.

More of us are getting our news online. (God help us.) Some of us are disconnecting because we’ve already seen this election show (and we didn’t enjoy it that much the first

time). Some of us are tuning out because by and large the economy is up, the Market is up, jobs and take-home pay are up, inflation is trending down and we’re not directly involved in any fighting.

But I think in the face of all these major, ongoing news sagas - Outrage Fatigue is actually playing a significant role as well. I can feel it in the people I talk to. Politics comes up far less than it did a year ago. When political and media leaders say outlandish, hateful things it feels tired and repetitive rather than “entertaining.”

This trend certainly doesn’t suggest there aren’t singular issues that will get our attention, even our anger and focus. It’s just to say as a country maybe the temperature is coming down a few degrees (actual temperatures excluded). Maybe we can begin to pick and choose a few issues to work through as a people instead of living at a constant, unsustainable “red alert” for the foreseeable future.

Doesn’t the very idea of that feel like a breath of fresh air?

Just acknowledging that this rage tactic hasn’t produced a worthwhile outcome and that maybe we can let up a bit feels like a welcomed revelation. It may be time to let go of this selfindulgent anger for something else. Just like the farmer and cowman, perhaps the Vagina Hats and Viking Helmets can be friends. (I hear a Broadway musical coming on . . .)

So there it is.

I may be completely wrong. (It wouldn’t be the first time.) But just maybe we are ready for something else?

It’ll take some bravery to be sure. If we’re not vigilant, well the other side might gain ground. And that’s just how it goes. That’s how they win . . . when we’re not paying attention.

Maybe. But I doubt it.

The more plausible answer is that fear is a brand and it keeps us watching. So when we turn it off, we tend to hate less, worry less frequently, and generally feel happier as a country and as humans.

It could also be that 90 percent (not 50) of us love this country, pay taxes, want good things for our kids, and just want to get on with getting along. That’s what I’m ready for.

If you want to weigh in on this, listen to the DreamersLive podcast. Add comments and suggestions or email me. I’d love to hear your thoughts and observations.

Until then, I’ll see you here next month.


A Beacon in the Night

Exciting things are happening at the B the Light Mission, founded by Keith and Christy McPhail. As with any worthy project, progress seems to be two steps forward and one step back. We have faced a mountain of bureaucratic roadblocks since we took our first step in accepting the generous gift from Ascension St. John Jane Phillips Hospital in the form of the National Institute for Petroleum and Energy Research (NIPER) test-site building on Virginia Avenue in Bartlesville. Some things are just under governmental control and we are diligently working to dot all I’s’ and cross all T’s. With that said, the B the Light Mission is just steps away from opening in just months.

The level of local need is astounding. Oklahoma often has some pretty extreme heat and cold weather situations resulting in unhealthy circumstances for our unsheltered public. As a temporary warming or cooling shelter, the ‘B the Light Mission’ was put to the test over the last freezing winter and we saved lives. During the recent tornado outbreak that effected Washington and Osage Counties, ‘B the Light’ and the support teams from the Northern Oklahoma Red Cross partnered to support our Barnsdall neighbors in their darkest hours by providing housing, meals and clothing support. Both organizations plan to continue this partnership for future community emergencies.

Our Mission is to “Bring Hope to the Hopeless, Food to the Hungry, Love to the Lost, Healing to the Broken and Shelter to the Struggling.

It has taken an army of volunteers and community support to meet regulatory requirements and bring construction to its final stages. We along with board member, Don Stivers, have met with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Governor Stitt, Senators James Langford and Julie Daniels, Staff of Senator Markwayne Mullin’s office, Representatives John Kane and Judd Strom, Congressman Josh Brecheen, Bartlesville’s Mayor Dale Copeland and City Manager Mike Bailey to gain support and help pave the path towards success.

The mission has recently seen significant upgrades, including a new roof funded by the Lyon Foundation and the Parsons Foundation. The ‘B the Light’ kitchen has been completely remodeled, walls painted, showers tiled and bedrooms furnished. The Mission plan is to house 20 men and six women each night in a secure environment, offering a shower, fresh change of clothes, two hot meals and a comfortable place to rest at the end of their day while working a plan to transition into the public with purpose, employment and boosted self-esteem.

As we get closer to opening, our desire is to continue to highlight others in the community, as we’re partnering with them to make a difference. Our B the Light article is a new feature you will be reading each month. This first article is about Jeff. We first met Jeff during one our Warming Shelters last year. He came again this year to offer help as we were helping our neighbors from the Barnsdall tornado. He is an amazing example of how our friends walk out of homelessness and into a productive lifestyle. You’ll continue to read more about these individuals each month, who are already “being the light” here in Bartlesville.

Keith & Christy McPhail give US Senator James Lankford a tour of the facility.

Slices of Love

The bookends of a life are just that.

It is the beginning followed by the ending, in that order. But in-between, where the living takes place, life unfolds as one year gives way to the next. And it’s in-between these bookends that the stories are firmly stacked to remain upright - or mostly upright.

Life often happens on life’s terms. You’ve seen it right? You slip one book out of the middle and they all fall down.

Rarely if ever does life happen exactly the way we’d like it to, or how it should.

From both the vivid and the vague glimpses of our past, we shape our own story. Or more to the point, it is shaped for us.

Looking at life through the prism of a dusty and cracked window, does a child really see what’s in front of them? After all, dysfunction may mirror normalcy to a brand new pair of eyes that are watching.

But who’s watching the baby?

Sadly, things remain unseen and out of view behind cracked and dirty windows, or as the case was with Jeff, a door. And this particular door was violently kicked in by his aunt, as she rescued him from the unseen.

And to quote the Counting Crows, “In between the moon and you, the angels get a better view…”

She found her nephew that day and offered him freedom from abandonment.

He was 7 months old.

Jeff’s childhood was not unlike that of many other boys his age, as his adopted mother, his aunt, offered him the normalcy that any boy deserved. Growing up in Tacoma Washington, Jeff excelled in sports. Things began to take a dark turn however, when he was introduced to methamphetamine.

Meth - the larger than life gigantic parade float, hovering over the heads of many of our friends on the streets here in our own city. We can’t see it with the naked eye of course, but it’s there just the same.

Jeff began using meth, and the life that had been carefully laid out for him began to resemble a puzzle that somebody had just dumped upside down and out of the box. Looking back from a vantage point of nearly two decades, his existence began to resemble how it looked the day his aunt kicked in the door.

It would be nearly 13 years before he figured out how to put the puzzle back together again.

Jeff relocated to Montana and spent time in and out of jail, on the streets, and back to jail again. If he wasn’t living homeless and on the street, he was in and out of a jail cell. Time for Jeff was measured in the drug infused minutes that filled up his day.

Day after day, week after week, and as the months turned into years, he had finally had enough.

“Time ain’t nothing if it ain’t fast, but there’s a door in every cell…”

At the age of 32, Jeff finally walked out of his jail cell for the last time. Leaving the drugs and prison behind, Jeff, although a little worse for wear, eventually landed here in Bartlesville a new man and completely clean.

The day Jeff and I first met, he tried to convince me to eat a veggie

pizza. And I thought to myself, now why on earth would I ever do that?? Jeff is the manager of the Little Caesars here in Bartlesville, and he became the mastermind behind our local Slices Of Love. In this program, patrons can pay ahead for food for our homeless neighbors. Jeff began doing this after seeing one too many of our unhoused friends digging for food in the restaurant’s trash outside. The idea isn’t new, but the response here in town has been phenomenal.

Jeff knows what it’s like to be a homeless drifter on the street, but more importantly, and I daresay the most important sentence in this entire story; Jeff knows that the life of a homeless person does not have to be where they drop anchor. Jeff pulled up his own anchor, and didn’t let the life of keep him stuck in the same spot. And with every slice of pizza he’s able to give away, it sends the message, “Don’t drop anchor here.”

The man I met 3 weeks ago does not fit the profile of a homeless drug addict, nor an ex-convict for that matter. But then again, I wonder, what exactly would that profile be? That’s a question for another day to be certain, but suffice it to say, nobody’s born with the desire to end up homeless and on the street.

Jeff has turned the Little Caesars here in Bartlesville, which at one time was failing, into the highest selling store in the nation.

No, not in Oklahoma, but in the entire nation. And what was the reward for Jeff’s store selling more Calzones than anyone in the nation?

Not much, just a trip to the Superbowl!

His store was also chosen to run Little Caesars Love Kitchen this year during the NFL Draft, serving our United States Veterans from all over.

Due to the hard work and dedication of Jeff and his employees, he’s turned the Bartlesville Little Caesars into an award winning establishment.

Jeff is among one of the most memorable people I’ve ever met, and to call him an overcomer is actually an understatement. This man could have blown into town, after cropping out the freeze frame shots of his life, until all that was left was what he wanted us to see.

Jeff did not cut anything out, but chose to share as a glaring testimony of what the people we share our world with are capable of. “My mother loved and adopted 3 of her nephews, not long after high school, by herself.

She empowered me with a will to live and had it not been for her, a lot of doors would have remained closed forever. Being a dad, well that’s my new DOC- (Dad of Choice).

I strive every day to step up and be the father to my kids I never had. I stepped up just like my mother before me.”

Our city is fortunate to have Jeff among us. Once upon a time I wanted to be indifferent. It’s far easier that way, as caring is a much greater burden to carry. But the closest I could come to indifference was, well, nothing. I actually care.

Jeff cares. He landed in Bartlesville, caring enough about our neighbors on the street, to share the darkest moments of his life with us, in order to shine a light for them to see their way out.

To our homeless neighbors here on the street, Jeff is a candle in the darkness.

But he burns brighter than most.

Barnsdall Takes a Beating... But Keeps on Living

~ Originally written for The Fairfax Chief ~

I’ve listened to Meteorologist Travis Meyer on Tulsa’s News on 6 many times during inclement weather through the years. He’s a professional at maintaining his cool when reporting on inclement weather, so when I heard him say “This is more than a tornado warning, this is a tornado emergency,” the evening an EF-4 tornado had Barnsdall in its sights – I knew this was a bad one.

As residents ran to the cellar, the rest of Green Country stayed glued to the tube, hoping it would die out, fizzle, or at least part before getting to the Osage County community known for its big heart.

As folks emerged from underground, nothing could have prepared them for the devastation that awaited their return to the surface. Homes were not only ripped off their foundations, entire foundations were ripped out of the ground. Homes were splintered and hundred-year-old trees were shredded. Parts of the community taking the direct hit in the wake of the winds, looked as if a bomb had been dropped.

Barnsdall Mayor Johnny Kelley works at the Bartlesville Fire Department and was on duty the evening of May 5th as the tornado continued to rip and roar across Osage County, also wreaking havoc on Bartlesville. Mayor Kelley wasn’t able to return home until after midnight, to find his community devastated and his own property severely damaged.

“I can’t thank the Oklahoma highway patrol enough,” Kelley stated.

“FEMA, Oklahoma and Osage County Emergency Services, Senators Mark Wayne Mullin and Lankford, Oklahoma State Representative Judd Strom, the Osage County Commissioners, the Osage Nation, and everyone who has volunteered and donated have all been amazing,” Kelley added.

“We’ve been running on all eight cylinders,” Kelley stated referring to the work taking place by all involved, and the clean-up is underway with debris piles taller than downtown buildings.

In the midst of the devastation and destruction, if you drive through Barnsdall looking for the good, you’ll find it in the faces

of the folks who came together as a community Memorial Day weekend for their annual community Bigheart Days event. They could have called it off.

They could have said, “What’s the use?”

But instead, they came together – and they weren’t alone, as many from surrounding communities attended to support the tiny town of Barnsdall with the big heart.

It’s easy when everything is rosey to live in a virtual reality world, numb to our neighbors, ignoring needs, and relishing our comfort zone. But you find out what folks are made of when the rubber meets the road, when all hell breaks loose, and devastation rings the doorbell.

Johnny Kelley wouldn’t want me telling you this – but – when all hell broke loose in his community and also on his property, he stepped up to the plate, looked destruction square in the eye, and decided to swing for the fences in his efforts to lead – and even went above and beyond and bought the female FEMA workers Mother’s Day cards as they spent their Mother’s Day serving Barnsdall the weekend following the storm.

It would seem that the community with a big heart also has a mayor with one.

If you think of it, Johnny Kelley and his family could probably use a card of encouragement, as well, along with anyone else you know from the Barnsdall area.

One thing is for sure, May 2024 was a month we’ll remember – for the devastating storms in Oklahoma – as well as for the overcoming spirit and good Samaritan stories that have risen from the rubble.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a word of encouragement. If the storms have missed you, count your blessings and call your neighbors more often. You may even want to have them over for supper every now and then.

And, to all those folks who have given their time, money, service, and sleepless nights to the communities that have been hit – thank you! I see you. You’ve made a positive difference that matters and we all need more folks like you in our communities. Well done!

A Disney Adventure

“Four kids, four parks, four days, for LESS than $400. Including airfare!” That’s how my wife pitched our “Kirks do Disney” vacation. If $400 seems like an absurdly low cost to fly six people to Orlando for a four day Disney experience, all I can say is she’s a wizard. (Authors note: I know that the female version of a wizard is a witch, but I would like to still be married after she reads this article, so for the record, my wife = wizard.)

The morning of the flight, our children marched onto their first-ever airplane ride vibrating with excitement. Mickey and Minnie Mouse backpacks nearly bursting with blankies and lovies, they were non-stop curiosity and rapid-fire chatter.

“Are you sure?”

“DaddyIsThisOurSeatIsThatThePilot? HowLongWillWeBeThere? WillWeSeeMickeyToday? CanISitNextToYouCanI…”

Abruptly, the flow of words and traffic ended. The line had frozen in front of an African American woman sitting in the aisle seat of row 12. All eyes instinctively turned to see why traffic had stopped as my 6 year old son, an avid fan of “Jake and the Neverland Pirates,” pointed at the woman’s durag and exclaimed “YOU LOOK LIKE A PIRATE!”

Everyone in that section of the plane held a collective breath. I wanted to sink through the floor. Maybe I could pretend not to know the boy. I silently willed him to stop talking and keep walking. Instead, he grinned and turned his pointer finger into a thumbs up and declared “and pirates are COOL!” The woman threw her head back and laughed before giving him a high five. It was a Disney miracle.

The first three days in the park went exactly how you would expect. We took pictures with princes and princesses in Cinderella’s Castle. Mickey gave us his autograph. We heard lions roar at the Animal Kingdom, and we soared over Arctic tundra and African safaris at Epcot. We collapsed into bed each night, exhausted and sunburned.

On our final day in Orlando we visited Disney Hollywood Studios. Before their recent redesign, Hollywood Studios was the least exciting park for children, because it hosted the fewest rides and characters. However, it was home to one famous experience: the Tower of Terror. This ride took visitors through a creepy hotel, climaxing with a 13 story free fall.

You might worry that a ride called “Tower of Terror” would be too intense for our four children, two of whom were barely tall enough to be allowed on. But my wife assured us, “it’s not that scary. I rode it in high school.”

That was good enough for three of the children, but not my youngest son: the Cautious Child. This boy wants to know every detail before making a decision. He will ask a hundred questions, then circle back to ensure all expectations are correct and everything is safe and sound. The Cautious Child had concerns.

“Daddy, will it be scary?” I had never been on this ride, so the conversation became a relay between my son, my wife, and me.

“Sweetheart, will it be scary?”

“Yes, but only a little.”

“Mommy said yes, but only a little.”

“How many times will it drop us?”

“Sweetheart, how many times will it drop us?”

“Just once.”

“Only one time, son.”

“I only know what Mom said.”

“Will you ask her again?”


“Yes, only one big drop. I rode it when I was a teenager.”

“Only one big drop, son.”

“Do you promise?”

“Mom promises.”

“Daddy, what does ‘Terror’ mean?” I pretended not to hear that one.

As we finally boarded the ride, he locked his fingers around the lap bar and whispered “one big drop.” As the ride slowly climbed the thirteen stories he began repeating it like a mantra, intensifying with the altitude: “one big drop. One big drop.” At last, the doors opened and we beheld Hollywood Studios from high above. He grabbed my hand again and said more loudly “One Big Drop.” Then we fell.

We all screamed, but we didn’t drop 13 floors. Instead we dropped 10. Then we rocketed back up. We floated for a moment and dropped a second time before slingshotting up yet again. On the third drop, my son lost control and screamed “THIS IS NOT ONE BIG DROP.” At this, all of the other passengers stopped screaming and erupted in laughter!

When the ride ended, my son was not laughing. He sprang from his seat and into my arms, crocodile tears on his cheeks.

“You said it was only going to be one big fall, but it was a LOT of falls.”

“I know,” I said, “It scared me too.”

“You were scared?”

“Absolutely! I didn’t really want to ride it either. I don’t know how Mom convinced us both to ride.”

“I know how she did it, Dad.”


“She’s a wizard.”

You Have a Choice!

Have you ever heard someone say, “I hate you!” Maybe it was a child on the playground. Maybe you heard it from a person in conflict in one our many riots of recent years. Maybe it was in the midst of a discussion regarding the variety of social issues we stress about these days. The famous Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915), a former slave, one of America’s greatest reformers, an educator and writer once declared: “ I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.” (Bob Cutshall, More Light for the Day, Parthenon Press, p.43.).

Wow, what an amazing statement of the power of choice! Hate is such a gripping emotion. The author, Daniel S. Lobel, Ph.D., writes; “Hate is an intense and passionate dislike of someone or something that has caused harm or that threatens to cause harm. Many people who experience hate dwell on the source of the feeling by obsessively reviewing hurtful or threatening influences. The sometimes-constant review of these hurts or threats causes a re-experiencing of the pain, fear, intimidation, etc., which prevents healing from these experiences. Focusing on healing from past hurts, rather than reliving them, will bring a greater sense of well-being and mental health.”

Everyone has experienced something that can generate the “gripping emotion” of hate. Choosing to not hate is one of the most important life choices we will ever make. Choosing to focus on healing rather than hating, like the choice Booker T. Washington made, is one of life’s best choices.

One of the best ways to focus on healing is to focus our thoughts on subjects that bring healing rather than hate. The Holy Bible instructs to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

Jesus taught His followers a paradoxical way of living that is the opposite of hate; “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:32–36, NIV84).

While we clearly know that the whole world does not embrace the Christian faith, we know that Jesus Christ led a small band of sub-culture activists of love. He was clearly teaching his followers to walk a different path, choose a different attitude and love your enemies. We know it isn’t natural, but there is supernatural power available to help us show love and compassion instead of hate.

Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced the very spirit of what Jesus Christ taught when he wrote: “In struggling for human dignity the oppressed people of the world must not allow themselves to become bitter or indulge in hate campaigns. To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing but intensify the hate in the world. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can be done only by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.” ( martin-luther-king-jr/quotes/hate).

So, we have a choice, hate or love. The only responsible choice is love! The only inextinguishable source of love is God. You can have God live in you and resource you with love if you ask Him. In 1965 the musical artist Jackie DeShannon sang the pop hit, “What the World Needs Now is Love,” and its still true today. Make a choice and choose love over hate, it can change your life, home, vocation, community, and it can change the world. Try it!


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Defying Norms

Tri County Tech Graduates Three Female Firefighters

Tri County Tech is defying the norm with the graduation of three female firefighters. Despite only 5 percent of firefighters in the U.S. being female, Ella Goodwin, Lauren Asbury, and Kiah Purdunn successfully completed Tri County Tech’s first-ever Firefighter Academy on May 8, 2024.

“Every little kid has their obsession, but mine never went away,” Goodwin said. “I’ve wanted to be a firefighter since my 4th birthday at a fire station.”

The Firefighter 1 Academy provides hands-on training in fire suppression techniques, including the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), hose deployment, forcible entry into structures, and more. Students culminate their training by participating in live fire scenarios at Tri County Tech’s Rescue Training Tower, which simulates realistic fire and smoke conditions. The academy instructors offer guidance and support, fostering confidence in the students.

“The Firefighter 1 Academy has really, really great people,” Goodwin said. “It’s so obvious how much they care. I would recommend it to anyone.” These trainings help supplement any previous firefighting experiences the students may have had.

Asbury, who comes from a family of volunteer firefighters, gained prior experience by shadowing the Ramona Fire Department during a fire incident in Ochelata. She has vivid memories of watching a fellow firefighter operate the pumper. Now that she’s completed Tri County Tech’s Academy, she’s looking forward to taking a more active role. For Asbury, volunteer firefighting is part of her family legacy. “My dad has been a volunteer firefighter my whole life,” Asbury said. “I wanted to help my community.”

Bridging the Gap for Volunteer Firefighters, Tri County Tech’s Academy aims to bridge the gap in training for volunteer firefighters in rural areas. Oklahoma’s rural fire departments rely on volunteers to fill their ranks. 81 percent of Oklahoma’s 746 fire departments are fully staffed by volunteers, according to FEMA, and another 9.6 percent are primarily volunteers. Currently, Asbury’s department, the Ramona Fire Department, has 12 volunteers who respond to emergencies. However, many rural fire departments struggle to train volunteers affordably. Tri County Tech’s Firefighter 1 Academy helps fill that gap by offering low-cost, high-quality training opportunities. It’s creating a pipeline for providing future volunteer and career


For Tri County Tech Chief Instructional Officer Tara Gotwalt, understanding the needs of rural fire departments starts with relationships. Tri County Tech has established connections with over 40 volunteer fire departments to help address those needs. As seasoned (or veteran) volunteers retire (or take a step back), having younger recruits like those trained in the Firefighter 1 Academy becomes essential to filling the ranks.

“Our mission is to bridge the gap for volunteer firefighters,” emphasized Tara Gotwalt, Chief Instructional Officer at Tri County Tech. “We understand the importance of nurturing the next generation of responders. Providing Business Solutions Beyond firefighting, Tri County Tech’s commitment to workforce development extends to diverse industries. From Perspective Advisors LLC to Ascension St. John Jane Phillips, the institution offers tailored training solutions to enhance organizational efficiency and productivity.

“Tri County Tech has the tools and resources to help you be more efficient, effective, and productive as an organization,” affirmed Gotwalt, encouraging businesses to explore the array of training opportunities available. Tri County Tech celebrates not only the accomplishments of Goodwin, Asbury, Purdunn, and their graduating class, but also the broader impact of empowering individuals to serve their communities with excellence. Visit to discover how Tri County Tech can support your organization’s growth and success.

Despite the team’s lackluster following prior to that, Winget infused an enthusiasm that fired up the community.

“He started renovating the stadium. ... He got us more games and got some press coverage,” former Winget player Mike Vaclaw said in 2008. “He really put the program on the map.”

And he inspired his players.

“I remember him seating during practice ... swinging that bat while we were taking infield practice, sweating like a stuck hog because he worked so hard,” Vaclaw said. “I remember between games (at the 1959 July Fourth tournament), Glenn came out with a wash tub and made lemonade for us. We sat down and drank. ... Glenn was always very helpful and he worked hard at coaching because he wanted the team to excel. ... He was always very genteel, very constructive. ... He made you feel good.”

Tourney survives, thrives despite tragic deaths

Winget died way too early, at age 42, shortly after the end of the 1961 season, the victim of sudden acute leukemia. The tourney was renamed in 1962 in his honor.

Devastation battered the tourney again in 1967, when Winget’s 24-year-old son Harold — a former Indians’ player — lost his life as an infantry officer fighting in Vietnam.

Family memories have been a Winget tradition.

The McNeill’s — dad Scott and son Logan — share an especially unique Winget connection. Each of them won the Belva Hively (Winget) MVP Award 24 years apart.

“We won it (the Winget title) in 1992,” Scott recalled. “I have lots of good memories about the Winget. It was always a fun time of year. I enjoyed having my son play for the team. I also had a brother who played.”

Logan won the Winget MVP honor in 2016.

This year

The 11-team field for 2024 includes the Doenges Ford Indians, Springfield Hillcrest (Mo.), Ft. Smith (Ark.), Oklahoma Mudcats, defending champion Three Rivers Bandits, Bryant (Ark.), SW Shockers Red, SW Shockers Black, Springfield (Mo.) Kickapoo, Greenwood (Ark.) and Mountain Home (Ark.) Lockerroom.

The Indians will be battling to win their 19th Winget title — and first since 2018. The 2024 squad of veteran skipperJohn Pannell romped to an 11-3 record in its first 14 games.

Some of the Indian veterans on the squad are Brenden Asher, Kaleb Bashford, Luke Fox, Nik Johnson and Kael Siemers. Eric Olenberger is another experienced diamond warrior who has bolstered the team.

A fireworks show is planned for July Fourth, Pannell said. Ah, memories

There were the years the tournament played throughout the

night, due to rain delays. Former beloved Winget organist Belva Hively recalled in an interview playing all night and watching the sun rise over the stadium.

Walton — who is tied with Solonberger for the most Winget titles by an Indians head coach (five) — recalled a special moment from the 1983 tournament, back when he and Mat Saddoris were assistant coaches.

“We were behind, 8-3, and we had a rain delay,” he said. “It’s 1 a.m. and John Hart hit a moon shot that put us ahead. Mat and I just hugged each other. There was so much emotion, especially being an elimination game.”

He also recalled the 1996 Winget, when he was head coach, when Courtney Barham stole home on a left-handed pitcher.

“I was there once way into the night because of a rain delay,” Burch said. “We sat around and watched for the rain to stop and I watched all the dads put out the field tarp. I remember being there at 2 a.m. and the lights going and baseball being played. It was pretty cool.”

Gone, but not forgotten

From the mid-1970s through about 2010, Belva Hively played continuous live organ music during almost each Winget game. She became a tourney institution herself. A cumulative total of thousands of locals and returning visitors people looked incredibly forward to hearing her gifted fingers play — mostly feel-good oldies and patriotic songs — each Winget. Even after a devastating stroke, she kept playing — her family had to help her up the stadium steps — until death finally stilled her music. But the echoes return every July.

“Belva was a first-class lady,” Walton said. “She loved baseball and she added just so much to the environment. She was just so good. ... That’s why we named the MVP trophy after her.”

There have been many superfans whose loud, supportive voices have been as familiar as the smell of Indian dogs and as sweet as the iced sodas and potato chip chili pies.

Superfan Gene Stapleton was a proud veteran that possessed a Texas Panhandle-sized smile that lit other fans with joyful incandescence. A lifetime Bartlesville resident, he passed away at age 84 in 2010 — less than a week after the end of that year’s Winget tourney.

“Gene was there all the time,” Walton said. “He was always rooting the boys on.”

Winget is all that

The Winget remains a well-run, competitive tournament that honors the best tradition of baseball from its early days.

It is a prized spectacle that brings honor to both the Bartlesville area and current generation of players.

Glenn Winget knew how to create magic.

After all, his mom always had a green lawn.

Story Changer

Every life is a story, and the story tells you all you need to know. And sometimes when you least expect it, you’ll meet a story changer.

I first met Evan Dougoud at a Quick Trip in North Tulsa. There was ice covering the parking lot, and I carefully made my way to where he sat waiting in his warm vehicle.

We were right in the middle of the ice event that took place in February of 2021, and the frigid atmosphere was experiencing the coldest wind chill recorded yet. From Tulsa to Washington County, a negative 27 degrees was impacting everyone from the neighborhoods, to the thick woods beyond the outskirts of town where our homeless neighbors dwell hidden away. And that is where Evan was headed with the donations I brought.

We are more than five years removed from that icy day in the Quick Trip parking lot, and my good friend Evan has gone from wintertime supply runs into the woods, to running one of Tulsa’s largest nonprofits for the homeless.

The BeHeard Movement, Evan’s 501c3, launched in 2020, but that’s not even the best part.

Wait for it… Evan is only 28 years old.

While many young men his age are partying and livin’ their best life, Evan began pulling a shower trailer for the homeless all over the streets of Tulsa.

The BeHeard Movement not only facilitates and runs the shower trailer, but also has a mobile barber shop and a laundry trailer.

How does a young man of just 28, become the President and Founder of one the largest nonprofits in Tulsa? It started with empathy, and ends with a drive to make sure our friends on the streets are heard.

Beginning with a seemingly normal childhood, Evan experienced the hardships that can often come with the divorce of the two people he loved most. As he struggled to find normalcy in a life that was no longer the way it started, he moved from place to place, and from couch to couch.

Evan credits his grandmother and many of his teachers for helping him get through this tumultuous season.

“ You know I had these teachers, and they helped me so much. They let me sleep in class, they brought me food, they listened. They let me be heard.”

Evan emerged from his childhood, a young man with a drive and determination to help those that are most overlooked in our society.

Evan credits God for giving him a heart for the homeless, and as far as his fleet of outreach trailers?

Yeah, also God.

In 2020, Evan was given a donation of $50,000 from Transformation Church in Tulsa Oklahoma, to buy his first shower trailer.

“I figured if tacos can be on wheels, why can’t showers?”

He then sold his personal car, the one he had just paid off, to buy a large truck in order to pull the shower trailer. Promptly after, World Outreach Church in Tulsa paid off that brand new $30,000 truck, before the first payment was even due.

In 2021 when Evan wanted to add a barbershop to his outreach, he applied for a grant from The United Way Innovation. Shortly after BeHeard was providing haircuts as well as showers for our friends on the streets.

The final trailer in Evan’s outreach is a laundry trailer. Much like we notice here in Bartlesville, at our homeless outreach B the Light, many of the items we provide for the homeless end up getting thrown away once they’re dirty, wet and covered with mildew from being outdoors for so long.

In 2022, Evan traveled to Vous Church in Miami to share his vision, and to share a testimony of The BeHeard Movement. The next day he received an email from a family that had heard his message.

“ What can we do? How can we help?”

Within two weeks this family sent Evan $90,000 in order to purchase the laundry trailer, equipped with charging stations for phones.

Evan Dougoud, President and Founder of The BeHeard Movement, is a shining example of what using his hands to show God’s love really looks like. His long-term goal is to expand his outreach not only nationally, but globally.

And I have no doubt that he’ll do just that.

Many of our homeless neighbors exist under the impression that nobody cares, and that they don’t matter. I’m thankful for people like Evan Dougoud, to remind them they do.

Evan Dougoud

Neekamp’s Service

...100 Years Strong!

Joseph and Ruby Bergdoll Neekamp were partners in life and business. After WWI service, Joe attended the Cincinnati College of Embalming in connection with the Veterans Bureau of Vocational Training. The couple arrived in Bartlesville in 1922 and were quickly employed at the Earley Undertaking Company on East Third Street. Mrs. Neekamp served as the Lady Attendant and brought a nurturing side to the business.

The stately home at 800 S. Dewey in Bartlesville was once the residence of the Clevenger family and Dr. McAdoo before J.B. Kerrick established the Berentz & Kerrick Funeral Home at that location in 1920. Unfortunately, Kerrick filed for bankruptcy and Joe and Ruby Neekamp purchased the home and undertaking business at public auction early 1924.

In July 1924, the Neekamp Funeral Home opened at 800 S. Dewey with Ruby Neekamp and her mother Mrs. Frank Bergdoll as Ladies in Attendance. Services included 24hour ambulance service with a sanitary ambulance draped in blue linens and separate funeral coach for funerals only. The Neekamps attached a small white flag to each car in their funeral processions to eliminate traffic confusion and wave for safe passage to the cemetery.

In 1928, the Neekamps also purchased the home at 812 S. Dewey while performing renovations of the 800 S. Dewey home…adding two slumber rooms and three display rooms plus a 200-seat chapel and family room. Renovations were complete July 1928 and the doors opened wide for leisurely visitation.

Montfort Angevine moved to Dewey in 1924 and was an insurance agent. He and Joe Neekamp partnered in the Angevine-Neekamp Funeral Home, opening at 318 Eighth Street in Dewey from December 1928 until closing in June 1930.

In November 1948, the Neekamps announced the formal opening of their beautiful Colonial Chapel, constructed on the north side of the funeral home, replacing the awning covered walkway along 8th Street.

The 700-block of S. Dewey was once lined with homes,

including 710 which was Barbara’s Hair Fashions and 720 Conaster School of Ballet. During 1978, the east side of the block was cleared and the new Neekamp Funeral Home was built, opening at 710 S. Dewey Ave. in 1979. The east side of the 800-block, shared with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, was later cleared of homes, including the original Neekamp Funeral Home, which became the St. Luke’s parking lot.

Joe first joined the American Legion as a member of the Camp Hospital Post #121 of Paris, France; then to Post #35 at Oklahoma City during 1920-21; and then he and Ruby became members of the James H. Teel Post in Bartlesville. They were both highly active American Legion members until resigning February 1954, when the couple retired and moved to Mission, Kansas. At that time, Jack Keeley incorporated the business as the Keeley-Neekamp Funeral Service, Inc. through 1967. Alan Graham Sr. became Neekamp’s Funeral Home owner from 1968-2002; James Starr, 2003; David Luginbuel, 2004-2018; Michael Soper, 2019 to present.

Joe passed away in 1976, Ruby followed in 1985, and they rest as mausoleum partners in Mount Moriah Cemetery at Kansas City, Missouri. The Neekamp legacy began a century ago and continues as the Arnold Moore & Neekamp Funeral Home, 710 S. Dewey Ave. Lives well served!

Digging Daily Dirt: A Gardening Story

I’ve always wanted to be a famous writer, not prolific like John Grisham, but rather famously obscure, like J.D. Salinger, only with less baggage and regrets. Being famous seems like a lot of trouble. Fortunately, like most people, I’m famously not famous, not unlike another writer, Flora Macdonald Mayor, who wrote The Rector’s Daughter 100 years ago. Mayor writes about familiar settings with a gentle satire. She writes of the climate, “Still, being damp, it was bound to have certain charms; the trunks were mossy, and the walls moldy.” And this description of the family’s drawing-room, furnished and appointed like “a kind of temple dedicated to boredom.”

It is this quotidian boredom that fascinates me, since we live in a time and culture that celebrates anything but. Which brings me to the strange idea of daily watching a garden grow. Karen and I have taken to sitting each morning in the upper garden as we like to call it. We are surrounded by crimson lilies and yellow petunias, purple coneflowers and orange marigolds, chives and thyme and basil and mint, along with peppers, tomatoes and elegant garlic scapes.

My favorites are the daisies. Like shy wallflowers carrying veiled secrets at a boisterous dance, the daisies stand rigid and upright in the center of Karen’s garden. The promise of beauty is hidden for now by miniature domes, the protective sepals enclosing the delicate petals. But the grip is loosening and the petals are peeking out through the gaps. It is a slow and graceful dance that we enjoy each morning.

I sit rocking on the porch, looking east at a grove of trees just beyond the pond, awaiting sunrise like a faithful rooster, surrounded by the succulent and aromatic and graceful. We drink our coffee, holding our mugs like old friends that we don’t want to let go of, as the sun dutifully rises over the great canopy

of the Hackberry tree.

Karen dead-heads her annuals, “her babies”, as she calls them. “I wonder what it feels like to retire,” I say out loud. How bored will I be? So I retire in tiny moments, here in the morning garden with Karen, assessing our day which we will stack up onto the cordwood of our accumulated memories when the sun sets this evening. The day is upon us and restlessly, we are dead-heading our lives of its detritus so joy will flower into another day. This then is the gift of the morning that reveals itself to us when we are quiet and still and paying attention. The gift of habit, of mindlessly deadheading flowers and the repetition of inside jokes, and the summation of the prior days events, is our place of habitual connection. This may not seem romantic, but it is nonetheless, as beautiful as the morning chorus of the warblers and finches floating across the treetops.

This is the thing they didn’t tell me on our wedding day. That when the angels stop singing, the birds keep warbling. That sitting in a garden would become one of my favorite things, like raindrops on roses, and her affections would become mine, and to some degree, mine hers. We barely knew all the grace and tact required to come to this garden of constant death and life, withering and blooming, sorrow and joy. Far from being bleak, this freshening awareness transforms the repetition of everyday love and companionship into solemn wonder.

Every day is a gift, a life shared that began with the seed of a promise to live side by side. The garden we now plant is indeed ours to enjoy, but we cultivate it also for our children and our grandchildren and the future that they look forward to. This virtuous cycle of planting and watering and tending and harvesting is an inexhaustible mystery, and one that I am thankful for every day.

Freedom Fest 2024

Annual Community Festival & Fireworks Show Set for July 4

Freedom Fest 2024 is set for Thursday, July 4, at Sooner Park. The annual event features plenty of fun and games for the entire family, and culminates with a spectacular fireworks show that begins around 9:30 p.m. The annual festival will also have plenty of food trucks on hand, as well as music and a kids parade.

Freedom Fest is brought to the community by the Kiwanis. The Kiwanis story began on January 21, 1915 in Detroit, Michigan, when it was founded on the notion of “We Trade,” and started out as a business networking opportunity for its members. That motto changed in 1920 to “We Build,” and with that, the organization changed its focus to serving the community. In 2005, our motto again changed to “serving the children of the world,” and we began focusing on the betterment of the children in our communities.

Their story is rooted in making the Bartlesville community a better place to live and enjoy life for adults and — you guessed it — children. As a club, we host various service projects throughout the year, including Freedom Fest and the Christmas parade. Their biggest project runs every weekend during the summer, and that’s Sooner Junior, which also helps fund the

scholarships they present to students in May. The Kiwanis want our community to thrive, which takes the work of several nonprofit organizations, not just Kiwanis, so they proudly help support those organizations whose missions align with that of the Kiwanis.

Make plans to spend a great Independence Day at Sooner Park and enjoy all the festivities and terrific fireworks show!

Ray Holman Local Soldier Survived Omaha Beach

Ray Holman was born April 9, 1924 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. He was raised on a farm northwest of Bartlesville. He went through the 8th grade and had to quit to work and help the family.

He got a job with the smelters in Blackwell and worked until he was drafted in 1942. He was sent to Camp Wolters, Texas for Basic Training. After Basic, he was sent to Fort George E. Meade, Maryland and had infantry training.

He was assigned to the First Infantry Division and sent to Nova Scotia and boarded a British ship. They landed in England November 1943. They began training for the invasion but not told when or where the invasion would take place. His unit went on maneuvers the first week in June 1944 and landed on the beaches in England to practice for the invasion. June 5th, they loaded on ships at Southampton and headed out and informed this was the invasion. He said as far as you could see were ships. He said it was the crack of dawn on the 6th of June and the ships arrived off Omaha Beach.

beach two days before the breakout and said he lost a lot of friends on Omaha Beach. With help from the Air Force, they had the breakout and went through the town of St. Lo, which was completely destroyed.

He was put on an LCI, Landing Craft Infantry, and headed for the beach. The battleships were shelling as they went in and he said as far as you could see on both sides were landing craft heading for the beaches. His unit was the first wave to hit Omaha Beach. As they approached the beach, the landing ramp was blown off the LCI, the mortar section and the executive was killed before they got off the ship. They had to jump over the sides of the LCI and he carried a BAR, Browning Automatic Rifle and made it to shore. He said each man carried a full pack and some drowned before they could get to the beach. Half tracks were landing and being blown up and he saw men step on land mines and fall over dead. They he saw the side of a ship blown open with mangled bodies.

As soon as he could, he hit the beach and got on his belly. Minesweepers were clearing the beach and he was told to fire on anything that looked like German. His unit was on the

They fought across France and went into Belgium and was in Brussels and the war seemed to be winding down. They were sent out toward the Belgian border with Germany to the front lines in October 1944. The Germans attacked and he was wounded by a grenade and had shrapnel in his back. He was with several others and were cut off and taken prisoner October 18, 1944. Their uniforms were taken and used by English speaking Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He was taken to a hospital and his wounds treated, then he was interrogated about how many tanks and airplane the US had. He refused to answer and put on a train and taken to Stalag 2B, the prison camp at Hammerstein, Germany. There was little food and said they ate rats and anything else they could catch.

They were put on a train to be taken to Stuttgart to Stalag 2D. As they went through the towns, people would throw rocks and spit at them because their towns had been bombed and destroyed. At Stalag 2D, they were sent out to work on dairy farms but not given any of the milk, all they were given was Rutabaga soup. The commander of 2D had a formation and told the prisoners they would say, “Heil Hitler” every morning. One prisoner that spoke German said there was no way in hell they were going to say “Heil Hitler.”

They spent time at 2D and marched out away from the advancing Russians. They came to a town and the Americans had taken the town and they were liberated.

He was taken to Camp Lucky Strike at La Havre, France and sent home and arrived May 14, 1945 and returned to Bartlesville.

Sutton Aviation Research

Trailblazing Work for the Southern Bald Eagle

Forty years ago, the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center was established by a group of ornithologists, birders and conservation-minded businessmen. At that time, in 1984, there were no breeding bald eagle pairs in Oklahoma, and the Nation’s symbol was an endangered species. That’s when the Sutton Center began its trailblazing work of the southern bald eagle recovery with innovative strategies, which included artificial incubation of eggs and feeding eaglets with puppets from behind one-way glass so they would remain wild.

These specialized techniques were so successful, and the scale of the project so ambitious, that they contributed to the bald eagle’s official removal from the Endangered Species List in 2007. Today, there are more than 350 bald eagle pairs in the Sooner State; all of which likely trace their ancestry back to the eagles that were hatched and raised at the Center’s 40-acre property on the outskirts of Bartlesville.

Since this successful reintroduction, the Center has continued its work with the bald eagle through its Bald Eagle Survey Team consisting of volunteers across the state who monitor reported bald eagle nesting sites. The work with the BEST volunteers is just one small part of the organization’s conservation endeavors. Its education program allows for outreach to schools and other programs, such as the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma and at the Discovery Lab, by providing

lessons and activities according to Oklahoma academic standards and STEM education goals.

As for additional recovery efforts, the Center has set its current focus to the restoration of two of North America’s most endangered species, the Attwater’s prairie-chicken and the masked bobwhite quail because without this work, both birds could go extinct and be gone forever.

While the team at Sutton Center continues to pioneer large undertakings for wildlife conservation, this year it’s celebrating 40 years of successfully working toward its mission of finding cooperative conservation solutions for birds and the natural world through science and education. The Center’s leadership recognizes the unwavering support and contributions from its many supporters over the past 40 years and looks forward to its continued partnerships in advocating for wildlife conservation.

Executive Director Dr. Lena Larsson said “We are so proud of Sutton Center’s accomplishments and grateful to all of you who have supported us these 40 years. We are currently working on many exciting projects, so please continue your support and consider coming to our fundraiser Wild Brew at the Cox Business Convention Center in Tulsa 24 August!” To learn more about the Sutton Center and ways to get involved, visit

Dr. Anderson Mehrle

Offering Bartlesville Interventional Cardiology

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is more than just a medical term. AFib can be a silent disruptor affecting millions globally. Characterized by an irregular and often rapid heart rate, AFib can lead to serious complications like stroke, heart failure, and chronic fatigue. Despite its prevalence, many remain unaware of its symptoms and risks. Dr. Anderson Mehrle specializes in interventional cardiology at Ascension St. John Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville. Dr. Mehrle helps patients shed light on this common yet often misunderstood heart condition.

According to Dr. Mehrle, Atrial fibrillation is a common cardiac arrhythmia affecting one in every three to five individuals over the age of 45, and may affect 10 million people in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups.

“The overall prevalence is 2% of the population,” says Dr. Mehrle, “this electrical system disturbance happens when impulses from the tissue in the upper chambers originating outside the actual electrical system overwhelm the sinus node which is the heart’s natural pacemaker taking control of how fast and irregular heart beats.”

Dr. Mehrle explained that the symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, or just being tired. “If you have a smartwatch, that may indicate to you that your heart is irregular or may even tell you that you have atrial fibrillation,” adds Dr. Mehrle. “In the doctor’s office an EKG is helpful in diagnosing atrial fibrillation along with a physical exam feeling for a steady normal pulse or an irregular pulse.”

According to Dr. Mehrle, the hallmark features of atrial fibrillation include an irregular heart rhythm, most often it is faster than normal and gives the feeling of palpitations or the heart racing. AFib may happen during the day or at night. Dr. Mehrle emphasized that patients should take extra care to pay attention to any unusual heartbeat activity. “However it is also common to be unaware of atrial fibrillation other than an irregular heart rhythm found on EKG or smart watch,” Dr. Mehrle added.

If left untreated atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke and contributes to nearly 130,000 deaths each year. Appropriate recognition and treatment can reduce your risk of having a stroke and heart failure from atrial fibrillation. “So what should you do? Be aware and educate yourself,” says Dr. Mehrle, “consult with your physician if you notice an irregular heart rhythm or have symptoms of palpitations that may suggest atrial fibrillation.”

Treatments could include a daily home medication such as blood thinners like Xarelto or Eliquis to prevent a stroke.

“The next decision to make is whether to leave someone in atrial fibrillation or attempt to restore sinus rhythm,” said Dr. Mehrle. If atrial fibrillation is well tolerated the choice could be made to control the heart rate with medication like Metoprolol. “This is called a rate control strategy that leaves the patient in atrial fibrillation permanently,” stated Dr. Mehrle, “to restore sinus rhythm your physician may discuss cardioversion or an ablation.”

Cardioversion is an outpatient procedure during which you are sedated and, with an electrical shock, the atrial fibrillation stops and your natural pacemaker takes back over restoring sinus rhythm. A cardiac ablation is a procedure done by a specialist known as an electrophysiologist at a tertiary care hospital. This procedure uses heat or cold energy to create small scars on the inside of the heart to block the faulty electrical impulses known as atrial fibrillation.

“There are many medications available to control the heart rate and/or a blood thinner may be prescribed to prevent a stroke. Be sure to discuss future treatment options and actions with your doctor so you can get on the right track.”

Dr. Anderson Mehrle practices at Ascension Medical Group St. John Heart and Vascular Center Bartlesville. He received his medical degree from University of Mississippi School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Dr. Anderson P. Mehrle has expertise in treating aneurysm, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, among other conditions

His office is located at 3460 E. Frank Phillips Blvd. and can be reached at (918) 332-3600.

An Oath to the United States Flag

During the 1880s, rates of immigration to the United States increased dramatically. Around that same time, particularly following the Civil War, though tensions surrounding political loyalties persisted, there was an increase in patriotic oaths and pledges to the United States flag.

The first version of the Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1885 by Captain George Thatcher Balch. “We give our heads and hearts to God and our country; one country, one language, one flag!” Captain Balch was a proponent of teaching children, especially those of immigrants, loyalty to the United States. He also later authored a book on how to teach patriotism to children in public schools, and worked with both the government and private organizations to distribute flags to every school and classroom.

The version of the Pledge we know today was largely composed in August 1892, by a Baptist minister named Francis Bellamy. Bellamy thought Captain Balch’s original version was “too juvenile and lacking dignity”. Bellamy’s version began as part of a magazine promotion for the World’s Columbian Exposition in October 1892, to mark the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. At the time, Bellamy was manager of The Youths Companion magazine. Bellamy also helped persuade President Benjamin Harrison to institute Columbus Day as a national holiday and lobbied Congress for a national school celebration of the day. The Youths Companion magazine sent out leaflets containing part of Bellamy’s Pledge of Allegiance to schools across the country, and on October 21, 1892, over 10,000 children recited the verse simultaneously.

Bellamy’s original Pledge was intended to be quick and to the point, designed to be recited in less than fifteen seconds: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. In 1923, the Pledge was modified, in some ways to be more generalized and in others more specific: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Bellamy’s revised version is largely the same as that which

was formally adopted by Congress in 1942.

The official title, The Pledge of Allegiance, was later adopted in 1945.

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add to the Pledge the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we know today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to the alteration, considering the separation of Church and State, but the change was in fact completed. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands; one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Bellamy attached etiquette to the Pledge. The original salute, first described in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, began with a military salute, and after reciting the words “to the flag,” the right arm was extended toward the flag. During World War II, the salute too much resembled the Nazi salute, so was changed to keep the right hand over the heart throughout. Presently, Section Four of the Flag Code states: “(The Pledge) should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.”

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