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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

Visionary men, women lead the way You are holding in your hands Outlook 2011, our annual progress edition that catches up on all the projects, plans and forward-thinking ventures coming out of our state. This year, we take a look at the visionary men and women behind these projects. Editors came up with the idea about showcasing Oklahoma visionaries more than a year ago. Almost from the very beginning we compared these visionaries to great artists — those who can “see” more than others and create iconic images that stay with all who’ve viewed them. So, we decided to ask five famous Oklahomans to help us pay homage to these artists. Chef Kurt Fleischfresser, Olympians Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci, Dr. Jordan Tang and former First Lady and educator Kim Henry quickly agreed to take part. We believe the images are riveting, and hope you agree. We call this a progress edition because that’s what it takes to make a package like this. ... Progress. And vision. It is vision that we focus on this year in Outlook 2011. The vision it takes to make things happen in Oklahoma, and the visionaries it takes to have those

Yvette Walker Outlook Editor It takes vision to make things happen in Oklahoma, like fresh, locally grown produce, the future of medicine, city planning and focusing on healthy minds and bodies. PHOTOS FROM THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

dreams. It takes vision to build the Devon Energy tower, a 50-story realized reverie that will be the tallest in the state. It takes vision to help turn Oklahoma City into a diner’s delight. It takes vision to find a compound that might finally treat Alzheimer’s disease. It takes vision to lead and educate our youth. And, it takes vision to build a business that focuses on keeping our youth healthy — especially in Oklahoma, a state that has been on “unhealthy lists” for decades. A premiere digital experience: Reading Outlook in print always is a great way to spend a Sunday morning or afternoon. And as always, you can go to www.NewsOK.com/

outlook/11 to read our sections online. But this year, Outlook goes digital in a new way. We’ve created a special edition of Outlook for the iPad with story packages, photos and video built the way only the iPad can deliver. Check it out on iTunes. Some don’t-miss reading: Four veteran newsmen and women discuss what it takes to be a visionary in one of four areas: sports, business, health and education. Sports Columnist Berry Tramel, Business Editor Clytie Bunyan, former Oklahoman executive editor and health advocate Sue Hale and Ed Kelley, the editor of this newspaper, use their considerable experience in journalism and years in this state to determine what Oklahoma has and what it lacks to guar-

STAFF CREDITS Yvette Walker Outlook Editor Todd Pendleton Art Director, cover photo illustrations Moran Elwell, Felicia Murray and Jennifer Wilcox Designers Douglas Hoke Photo Editor, cover photos

Contributing Editors Clytie Bunyan, Business Editor Kathryn McNutt, Assistant Local Desk Editor Matthew Price, Features Editor Ryan Sharp, Assistant Sports Editor Gene Triplett, Entertainment Editor Nick Trougakos, Assistant Local Desk Editor

antee a bright and shiny future. Where’s the fun? If you’re an Outlook reader, you know we have to have a little trivia every year.

Don Gammill doesn’t disappoint, with littleknown facts that might surprise you. Vivid photography and video: Our photo and

video staff has done it again, shooting powerful images that tell the story. I hope you enjoy reading and experiencing Outlook 2011 — either in print or on the iPad. YVETTE WALKER, OUTLOOK EDITOR


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

KEITH AND HEATHER PAUL | RESTAURATEURS

Couple break ‘chains’ with urban core dining BY DAVE CATHEY Staff Writer dcathey@opubco.com

In just a few short years, Keith and Heather Paul have become leading names in Oklahoma City’s local restaurant scene and specialize in operating eateries in the urban core. The couple married in 1997 after meeting as sales representatives at Ben E. Keith Foods. It was during their tenure there that they got to visit restaurants throughout the city. “We were in and out of kitchens of some of best restaurants in Oklahoma City,” Keith Paul said. “Heather had a background in restaurants — her mom was a minority owner with the Painted Desert (now home to the Pauls’ Iron Starr BBQ). We saw things done wrong and correctly. And we learned a lot from the distribution side.” In 2000, the pair got their chance to pursue their dream of owning a restaurant and bought Cheevers at NW 23 and Hudson. Heather left Ben E. Keith to work full time at the restaurant while Keith kept his day job and then worked nights and weekends at Cheevers. Three years passed before Keith Paul was convinced that Cheevers was on the right track and it was safe for him to quit his “day job.” The pair now owns Cheevers, Iron Starr BBQ and Red Prime Steakhouse, and they operate the Republic Gastropub in Classen Curve. Keith Paul talks about passion for food and the business: Q: What was your favorite meal as a kid? Did you ever get to help in the kitchen? A: I helped my grandmother a ton. I always liked her yeast rolls with chicken fried steak and my grandfather’s molasses and salt rub steaks, and this was from his own cattle ranch. Q: Did you always want to enter the culinary arts or were there other career options? A: I never really thought about entering the culinary arts. I first wanted to be a football coach, and then I got interested in sales in general. Cheevers was really the first restaurant I was employed at. Q: How difficult was it to start up restaurants in a city populated by dozens of national and regional chains? A: It’s very difficult. It’s something we weren’t thinking of going in. Our love for historic buildings superseded the actual logic we should have had. Oklahoma City is full of chain restaurants. It’s difficult to get into people’s dining rotation, and it’s difficult to change their dining habits. Q: What makes your restaurants different from others? A: I think it’s our attention to detail and willingness to go one step beyond for the customer. Our secret has been our staff; we take a vested interest in our employees, their personal lives and their future. It all starts there. Q: What’s the secret to coming up with a successful new recipe? A: Experimentation — and you just need to keep it simple. Don’t get too far out of your comfort zone. And write the recipe down. That’s the most important thing of all. Q: What are your favorite local restaurants, ones not affiliated with you, Heather or Good Egg Dining Group? A: Cafe Antigua, and I enjoy La Baguette for lunch, and Tacos San Pedro and Bunny’s Onion Burgers.

Keith Paul, owner of the Good Egg Dining Group, is shown in this file photo at his Red Prime Steak restaurant in downtown Oklahoma City. PHOTO BY PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

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KURT FLEISCHFRESSER | EXECUTIVE CHEF AND PARTNER IN THE WESTERN CONCEPTS RESTAURANT GROUP

Chef blazes Oklahoma’s culinary trail BY DAVE CATHEY Food Editor dcathey@opubco.com

The outlook of Oklahoma’s culinary frontier has never appeared more promising, due in no small part to the innovative efforts of chef Kurt Fleischfresser, whose career has been a succession of accolades and accomplishments revolving around impeccable foods with more than a little help from his friends. The Yukon High School graduate found his calling while studying toward another at Oklahoma State University. The one-time engineering major fell in love with life on the line at an early age. Today, that passion is the foundation for his dogged pursuit of establishing an Oklahoma cuisine worthy of national attention. “I’m always looking forward,” he said. “Can’t be stagnant.” Fleischfresser, 51, reaches backward and forward — classic technique and oldworld sensibility juxtaposed with a fast-changing world. He was a disciple of farm-to-table principles long before green became the color of the sustainability movement and locavore entered the lexicon. “Kurt’s vision of using locally sourced products and food has resonated through the next generation of chefs in this market,” said Ryan Parrott, Iguana Mexican Grill’s chef. “He was buying and sourcing local, long before it was cool or hip. He had the vision to source from our neighbors first, then look for outside sources later, long before it was cool. In fact, he may have made it cool — at least for this area.” In more than 20 years in the Oklahoma hospitality industry, Fleischfresser has cultivated a cooking community based on those principles. He has opened more than 20 restaurant concepts in his career and consulted on many others. He currently is executive chef and partner with Carl Milam in the Western Concepts Restaurant Group, which includes Sushi Neko, Mushashi’s, The Tasting Room, Will’s Coffee Shop, The Lobby Bar and his 25-year-old standard-bearing restaurant, The Coach House. The future of Oklahoma City’s place in the world of food is on the rise thanks to his influence, which has paved the way for ambitious concepts such as Ludivine. There, chefs Jonathon Stranger and Russ Johnson churn out an ever-evolving menu based on available local bounty. Fleischfresser’s son, Kyle, is the bartender at Ludivine and also is devoted to seasonal, fresh ingredients to concoct libations in the spirit of alchemy. “The thing that strikes me about Kurt is his generosity with his knowledge and techniques,” Cattle-

ON THE COVER

ONLINE

KURT FLEISCHFRESSER AS THE MAN OF INDUSTRY IN NORMAN ROCKWELL’S ‘THE SPIRIT OF KANSAS CITY’ The painting may be called the “Spirit of Kansas City,” but the can-do attitude of the featured man of industry could very well be Oklahoma City. Fleischfresser, who celebrated two milestones last year (he turned 50 and his Coach House restaurant turned 25) has laid the path for OKC to be the foodie city that it is now becoming. He has founded and operated stellar restaurants, and is one of the movers and shakers behind the farm-tomarket movement in getting natural foods to diners’ plates. While the character in the painting wore khakis and a white button-down, Fleischfresser came to the studio with his “uniform” — white chef’s jacket and an apron. The atmosphere jovial, Fleischfresser said he liked the original artwork, and enjoyed posing like the character ... even down to his hand posing. The skillet of food was not in the original shot, and was added later during the photo illustration process.

men’s co-owner David Egan said. “Kurt is always quick to share a recipe or technique because his only goal is to improve the customer’s experience within the local culinary community.”

Small beginnings To stand tall among his peers, Fleischfresser had to begin small as a chef’s apprentice at chef Bernard Cretier’s Le Vichyssois in Lakemoor, Ill. His instructor learned his craft under the legendary Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France. The methods were as ancient as the techniques. “I just kept volumes of little notebooks of recipes,” Fleischfresser said. From Illinois, Fleischfresser took jobs at The French Room at The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas; Enjolie at The Mandalay Four Seasons in Los Colinas, Texas; Vincent’s on Camelback in Phoenix; and La Cham-

Kurt Fleischfresser rolls up his sleeves recently at The Tasting Room in Oklahoma City. PHOTO BY JOHN CLANTON, THE OKLAHOMAN

pagne at the Registry Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., before life called and beckoned him home to raise a family. Convinced Oklahoma was the best place to do that, Fleischfresser found work at the Skirvin Hotel but eventually landed at The Coach House for then-owner Chris Lower. Within six months of joining Lower, the two partnered to open The Metro to rave reviews and enormous response. Soon, Restaurant Resources Group provided the seeds to allow the Western Avenue corridor to grow into the restaurant row it is today. “We traveled around the country to research new restaurant ideas,” said Lower, who said those trips are some of his fondest memories. “We went to San Francisco to research Mexican restaurants and to Houston to look at steakhouses. We went to Los Angeles to study museum

restaurants. We went to Phoenix to get ideas at Pierre Fauvet’s bakery.” From these travels they planted the seeds for The Iguana Lounge, Portobello’s, The Deep Fork Grill, Ground Floor Cafe and Earl’s Rib Palace, to name a few. When the Oklahoma City Museum of Art was thinking of opening a restaurant in its new building, Lower and Fleischfresser gave it the Restaurant Resources Group treatment. When Fleischfresser was negotiating the use of No-Name Ranch beef, the sticking point was owner Bruce Buechner’s practice of only selling the entire steer. “He told me he had no use for ground beef,” Buechner said. “I told him he needed to open a burger joint.” Welcome Irma’s Burger

Shack, which the two are still partners in after dissolving the Restaurant Resources Group in 2004 — with Lower keeping The Metro, and Fleischfresser keeping The Coach House. Most of their other concepts were sold and continue to flourish.

Next-generation chefs To maintain a level of quality at the various concepts, Fleischfresser knew he needed to give back what he’d gotten from Cretier. So, he established an apprenticeship program at The Coach House, which is now in its second decade. In 2007, it became the first culinary apprenticeship program in Oklahoma registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. The program has yielded about 30 graduates from the 2½-year program.

For video of Kurt Fleischfresser at a wine and beef pairing, go to NewsOK. com and search for “Fleischfresser.”

Robert Black, executive chef for the Good Egg Dining Group, said he chose Fleischfresser’s program over the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. “Starting out as a young, aspiring chef-to-be, I had gotten accepted into and planned on going to CIA at Hyde Park to get my training to be a chef. I got a job at The Metro Wine Bar and Bistro as a way to save up some money before I went to school. That’s where I met Kurt; within six months, he had convinced me to go through his apprenticeship program instead of the formal schooling. I look back now on that decision as being a defining moment in my life. How things would have been different, I don’t know, but I’m positive that I made the right choice.” One of the early graduates of the program was chef Chad Willis, formerly of The Metro and now of Saturn Grill. “The program is limitless learning,” Willis said. “Before you can start making great dishes, you have to learn to cook first, and that’s what Kurt teaches you. It’s all about technique and how you apply them together.” Joseph Royer, who owns the two Saturn Grill restaurants, is also a Coach House graduate. “Kurt embodies a spirit that the parameters are far. Don’t be afraid to stretch them. But pay attention to the details.”


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

BIG TRUCK TACOS | CALLY JOHNSON, KATHRYN MATHIS AND CHRIS LOWER

Respecting the past, looking to future Dave Cathey dcathey@ opubco.com

FOOD DUDE SERVED TO YOU BY:

THE

CULINARY KITCHEN WHERE HIGH PERFORMANCE APPLIANCES MEET HIGH STYLE

7302 NORTH WESTERN AVENUE, OKC

The folks who brought you Big Truck Tacos want you to know they did not invent the taco truck. They want to be sure you know they didn’t even own the first one in town. All they wanted to do was drive mobile kitchens into the 21st century. “We have tremendous respect for the trucks that were here before us,” said Cally Johnson, chef and co-owner of Big Truck. “We love to drive down to the south side for tacos at 3 a.m. We feel like we’re honoring what they’ve been doing.” Some of the earliest editions of The Oklahoman describe chili and tamale wagons roaming the prestatehood Oklahoma byways. Taco trucks and wagons have crowded the streets, parking lots and corners of south Oklahoma City for years. Without them, Big Truck Tacos wouldn’t have celebrated its first birthday in July. But what Big Truck has that none of its local mobile predecessors had is social media.

First and foremost Big Truck Tacos, which specializes in gourmet taqueria fare, isn’t the first and far from the last restaurant to use Web-based social media tools to help connect with customers. But Big Truck intended social media to be a major part of the business model. When classically trained chefs Johnson and Kathryn Mathis teamed with The Metro Wine Bar and Bistro owner Chris Lower, their concept was modeled after the Kogi truck sensation in Los Angeles. Purveyors of Koreanstyle tacos there use Twit-

Kathryn Mathis and Cally Johnson look at one of the food vending trucks for Big Truck Tacos in Oklahoma City in this September photo. PHOTO BY PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

from what we thought it would be as you could imagine.”

Market shift

Chris Lower

ter the way ice cream trucks use polyphonic show tunes. Imagine if the Pied Piper could take requests. But when asked whether their success is following the plans they’d set for themselves, Lower — a longtime restaurateur with interests also in CoolGreens and Irma’s Burger Shack and whose fingerprints are on some of the city’s most recognizable brands — was succinct. “Not at all,” he said with a laugh as crowds for lunch began to gather in the tiny headquarters before the breakfast crowd could thin. “It’s been about as far

Johnson, Mathis and Lower thought Twitter and Facebook would make the truck roll, but Johnson said social media has been more about making friends. Johnson operates on Twitter and Facebook. She refers to Twitter as “the mosh pit,” whereas Facebook is more like having your own suite at the same show. “I’m just a little more comfortable on Facebook,” she said. On weekends, Twitter and Facebook are used to announce stops as initially intended. During the day, the sites are used to describe specials, show photos and unveil Big Truck’s daily Fifth Amendment taco ingredients, but it’s mostly used to say “hey.” And it’s this part of the medium that’s been the biggest success. The proof was in the roughly 1,000 devotees who showed up at Big

Truck on a broiling Sunday afternoon to engage in, among other things, a jalapeno-eating contest at Big Truck’s headquarters, 530 NW 23, to celebrate its first year of business. Friends don’t let friends go on jalapeno binges on 100degree days. But love is blind, and love is, in a Sublime-sung sense, what they’ve got. Despite the usually reliable philosophy of the Beatles, the owners found love isn’t all you need. They found also necessary were extended hours, patio expansion, a second truck, more kitchen space and a gift shop. Big Truck recently leased additional space for a second prep kitchen that will be fronted by a new gift shop full of flying discs, T-shirts, sunglasses, bottle-openers and even laptop sleeves. The overwhelming popularity of the brand as a whole has meant far more private bookings than anticipated, making those late-night, tweet-driven trips less crucial to the operation.

“We’re booked for corporate events pretty much daily,” Lower said. “It’s not unusual to have both trucks at private bookings at the same time.” Not only can businesses book the truck for a lunchtime stop, but so, too, can event-promoters and party-throwers. And that switch in the model didn’t end with just Big Truck Tacos. A funny thing happened to Big Truck Tacos owners Johnson, Mathis and Lower on their way to opening a gourmet taqueria with a mobile kitchen: The world took notice. And now they’ve got $10,000 and a date with Food Network’s “Great Food Truck Race” to show for it.

To the future Of course, the world is a much smaller place than it was 15 years ago. With Facebook and Twitter to bind us, you can fall in love without ever meeting face-to-face. And that’s just what happened to Big Truck —

the 12,000-plus Facebook friends and 4,000-plus Twitter followers helped vote them into this spot at the end of the rainbow. I can’t think of a more ironic representation of Oklahoma City. These two unlikely women — Johnson from Cali, Mathis from Guymon — and Lower, who has spent his career developing the city’s most important spots for fine dining. Two classically trained chefs and a high-end restaurateur who decided that tacos were the answer. (Hey, I’ve been saying that since I was 5.) Big Truck Tacos is in an old hamburger stand that’s housed many concepts, including a doughnut shop. And now they’re going to be on the big stage, and the viewing audience outside of our region will likely doubt the legitimacy of a truck from Okie City. If their competitors take them for granted, the last thing they’re likely to see is the taillights of the BTTmobile.


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

Sports visionaries laid the foundation for Oklahoma’s vibrant athletic successes Berry Tramel btramel@ opubco.com

COMMENTARY Vision built Oklahoma. Seeing what others could not see. Focusing not on what was, but what could be. Embracing possibility. From tribal members forced to flee their homeland who built societies in a foreign land, to pioneers who refused to accept the notion that this was the great American desert, Oklahoma went from literally no man’s land to statehood in a matter of decades. Sports, same way. The games we enjoy, the championships we remember, the status with America’s mightiest cities, all came about after certain people looked at a largely vacant canvas and imagined how things could be. Like Lloyd Noble. The University of Oklahoma regent famously suggested in 1945 that a powerful football team might pay dividends throughout the state. OU made a commitment to football, and you know the rest. Sooner football is a national brand that today is an economic, cultural and psychological force in Oklahoma. Like Perry Maxwell, who designed golf courses all across Oklahoma in the first half of the 20th century, two of which, Oklahoma City’s Twin Hills and Tulsa’s Southern Hills, have brought major championships to the state. Tiger Woods was the latest major champ at Southern Hills, with the 2007 PGA. Like Thurman Medley, head of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce’s sports and recre-

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook dunks during the April 8 game between the Thunder and the Denver Nuggets at the Oklahoma City Arena. PHOTO BY SARAH PHIPPS, THE OKLAHOMAN

ation committee, who in 1957 spearheaded efforts to form the All Sports Association. We have had NCAA and Big 12 championship events in basketball, baseball, wrestling and softball, in many ways becoming a college sports mecca, because of the vision of the still-strong All Sports Association. Like the many who helped bring the NBA

Hornets here in September 2005, when Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans. Oklahoma City literally went from nowhere on the professional basketball radar to NBA success story in two months. Now the Thunder thrives on the court and at the box office, and while some cities wait for decades and still wait today to achieve major league sta-

tus, Oklahoma City’s rise was meteoric. Less than 13 years after the MAPS vote of 1992 that spawned the building of the Ford Center, the likes of Dwight Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were playing ball in downtown Oklahoma City. Mayors like Ron Norick and Kirk Humphreys and Mick Cornett have kept that sports vision burning, and we see it still in

operation today, with the thriving boat district on the Oklahoma River that is bringing world-class rowers to Oklahoma City. Business leaders like Clay Bennett, who in the 1990s tried to bring a National Hockey League franchise to town, was rebuffed, and instead stood ready to help the Hornets. Bennett and business partners Aubrey Mc-

Clendon, Tom Ward and G. Jeffrey Records eventually bought the Seattle SuperSonics and moved them to Oklahoma City. These visionaries saw what could be, and Oklahoma sports fans have reaped the benefits. Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@ opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40 to 5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at NewsOK.com/berrytramel.


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

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During lockout, ex-Sooners help women, kids in Africa AT A GLANCE NFL players who traveled to Africa with the Oklahoma City-based Pros for Africa I Baltimore Ravens wideout Mark Clayton I Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson I Cincinnati Bengals safety Roy Williams I Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy I Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald I Defensive tackle Tommie Harris I Minnesota Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie I Dallas Cowboys wideout Roy Williams I San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis I Miami Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis I Tennessee Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan

Pros For Africa Advisory Board Member and NFL player Adrian Peterson hands supplies to orphan children in Gulu, Uganda during the Pros for Africa 2011 mission. BY JAKE TROTTER Staff Writer jtrotter@opubco.com

While many pro football players spent the first few days of the NFL lockout stressing about their future, a small group of former Sooner players were back in Africa. The nonprofit group Pros for Africa — based in Oklahoma City and cofounded by former OU stars such as Tommie Harris, Mark Clayton, Adrian Peterson and Roy Williams — is geared toward helping women and children suffering from the impacts of poverty, war and natural disasters by providing food, water, shoes, clothing and medicine. Other co-founders of Pros for Africa are Reggie Whitten, Bill Horn, Jay Mitchel, Jared Mitchel. This time, the team, which included doctors, dentists, audiologist and several other volunteers, visited Uganda and Rwanda for two weeks. “Why wouldn’t you want to do this? This trip makes an impact. We’re helping a lot of people,” said Williams, who, along with Gerald McCoy, flew out of Oklahoma City. Meeting them in Africa were a host of NFL players, including Peterson, Clayton and Harris, as well as several non-OU alums like Vernon Davis, of the San Francisco 49ers, Santonio Holmes, of the New York

Cayci Parker, 22, a University of Oklahoma student, returned recently from a trip to Uganda. She was there for three months with Pros For Africa. PHOTOS PROVIDED

Jets, Roy Williams, of the Dallas Cowboys and Larry Fitzgerald, of the Arizona Cardinals. In Uganda, the players spent part of their time working with Sister Rosemary Nyirmube, who runs a facility that houses hundreds of displaced women and girls abandoned by their villages because of unintended pregnancies stemming from

sexual assault. In Rwanda, the group provided a deaf soccer team with hearing aids thanks to the Starkey Hearing Foundation. “Last year, I couldn’t go because I was getting drafted,” said McCoy, who traveled outside the United States for the first time. “When I found out they were going back, I knew I wanted to go.”

ONLINE For video on Pros for Africa and more stories on the organization, go to NewsOK.com and search for “Pros for Africa.”


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DAVE SMITH | MTM RECOGNITION

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

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SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

Big name trophies from world of sports Vision took company

to NCAA, bowl games BY JENNI CARLSON Staff Writer jcarlson@opubco.com

MTM Recognition’s Dave Smith

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

Dave Smith hates when people talk about his garage. He shouldn’t. His trophy business got its start there, and while MTM Recognition has changed a bunch since then, you don’t truly appreciate just how far it has come unless you start with the garage and those early days. A business that made $16,000 in its first year now has annual revenues of nearly $100 million. A company that consisted of a single building on Southeast 29th Street now has a 20-acre campus of workshops and warehouses. Credit Smith’s vision. “We’ve invested in innovative technology, the physical plant, machinery and, of course, our people,” he said. “People are the game changer.” Smith, a former high school basketball coach, started the company with some of his nearest and dearest friends.

They used their connections in the sports world to quickly have a hand in all sorts of sporting events in the region. That caught the attention of Josten’s. Best known for its class rings, it wanted to buy out Smith. He agonized over what to do. But when he walked through his facility and looked at the people — he knew their names, their families, their stories — he realized what he had to do. He kept the company. But Smith wasn’t about to let Josten’s interest go to waste. He suggested an alliance — Josten’s would sell the goods, MTM would produce them. The partnership, which began in 1982 and continues to this day, helped further establish MTM’s foothold. It added contracts with college conferences, bowl games and NASCAR. It started doing the World Series MVP and the Jim Thorpe Award. Then, it landed the granddaddy — the NCAA. MTM applied for the NCAA contract twice before scoring it in 2007. Eventually, the

NCAA saw that the company could do everything for it. Redesign the trophy. Produce it. Ship it. That has always been part of Smith’s strategy, being a one-stop shop for customers. Now from the company’s expansive campus in Del City, it produces everything from the big trophies that are hoisted overhead by champions to the miniature replicas that are given to every member of every championship team at every level. “When you see the award lifted in the air in victory, that’s a memorable moment,” Smith said. “At the same time, it has become part of the branding of the organization.” Who knows what’s next for MTM Recognition? From those early days, Smith has never put any limitations on what his company or his people could do. “Our vision has remained the same over the years,” he said. “We’re very committed to the industry and continue to be innovative as the industry leader.”

Before Midwest Trophy became MTM Recognition, the company’s biggest accounts came from bowling leagues and softball tournaments. Now, it makes some of the most recognizable trophies in sports. Here’s a look at a few:

BCS National Championship Game trophy

World Series MVP trophy

Jim Thorpe Award

NCAA trophies for all sports, all divisions

Big 12 Conference championship trophies for all sports

Orange Bowl trophy

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THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

SAM PRESTI | GENERAL MANAGER OF THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

Thunder manager succeeds in attracting right kind of talent BY DARNELL MAYBERRY

that will someday soon compete for numerous championships.

Staff Writer dmayberry@opubco.com

The success Sam Presti has had in stockpiling talent has been nothing short of spectacular. But it just might be his second-greatest achievement as general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder. While transforming the franchise from a pushover to a potential perennial contender over the last three seasons, Presti has purposely acquired highcharacter players. The focus hasn’t just been on bringing in talent, it’s been on bringing in the right talent — mature, civicminded players with community pride who will represent the state with class both on and off the court. That vision was present from the start. Presti never wavered from it when the Thunder was a 23-win outfit. And he has no plans on shifting gears now that his club is a 50-win squad. “With this being just our third year of existence in Oklahoma City, our focus is deeper than building a team,” Presti said. “It is on building a franchise, one that is sustainable and capable of endurance through the cycles of professional sports and be-

No quick fixes

Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti talks about player trades at a news conference in February in Oklahoma City. PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

comes ingrained in our community. “To help establish this, we work to add people who we feel fit our organizational values and those of the community that supports us. No one is perfect. We all have our own challenges. But we do try to

look for people who are reliable and consistent, teammates with enough self-awareness to recognize and overcome their own agendas and in turn are capable of embracing sacrifice and accountability.” Presti knew early on

that, without that approach, all of his wheeling and dealing for top talent could fall on deaf ears in the Oklahoma City market. But that’s not to say what Presti has achieved in his assembly of the Thunder’s roster hasn’t been

plenty impressive. With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, James Harden and a host of role players who fit the puzzle perfectly, the Thunder has evolved into a team many consider the best young nucleus in the league, one

Presti’s ability to build a roster that can sustain success has been as critical to the Oklahoma City franchise as the talent itself. By wisely budgeting when he took the job four years ago — and avoiding rash decisions on quick fixes when things got tough — Presti has kept the Thunder’s payroll clear of exorbitant contracts that handicap franchises. It’s a significant structure in today’s economic climate that will allow Oklahoma City to compete with the NBA’s traditional powers for the foreseeable future despite playing in one of the league’s smallest markets. “Sam is as thorough as a general manager as I’ve ever been around,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He understands the dynamic of team very well. He understands chemistry and important pieces that make teams work. … He does his homework as well as anybody. He’s methodical, he’s patient and he understands what we need. And he’s willing to search for those answers every day.”

AT A GLANCE SAM PRESTI’S BEST PERSONNEL MOVES The five best roster moves Thunder general manager Sam Presti has made:

PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN

I Drafting Russell Westbrook: Kevin Durant was the no-brainer No. 2 selection behind Greg Oden in 2007. But when Westbrook was taken with the fourth-overall selection in 2008, his selection was met with skepticism. Two and a half seasons later, Westbrook blossomed into an All-Star and a top five NBA point guard.

AP PHOTO

I Sign-and-trade Rashard Lewis: Presti was putting his imprint on today’s roster when the franchise was in Seattle back in 2007. Rather than losing Lewis outright in free agency, Presti orchestrated a sign-and-trade with Orlando that landed the then Sonics a $9.5 million trade exception and a future secondround pick. Through a series of subsequent moves, those assets turned into Serge Ibaka, Cole Aldrich and Byron Mullens.

PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN

I Trading for and signing Kendrick Perkins: For two and a half years, analysts said the Thunder needed a big man. Feb. 24, 2011, will go down as the day OKC got one. The Thunder acquired Perkins and guard Nate Robinson from Boston in exchange for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and a future first-round pick. Four days later, Presti inked Perkins to a four-year contract extension that ensured the big man will be a cornerstone for the foreseeable future.

PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN

I Trading for Eric Maynor: One of the best examples of Presti’s penchant for opportunistic maneuvers. Early in the 2009-10 season, Presti capitalized on a cost-cutting Utah franchise and found a reliable backup point guard.

PHOTO BY SARAH PHIPPS, THE OKLAHOMAN

I Signing of Nick Collison/ Thabo Sefolosha: Every championship team has reliable role players. The Thunder locked up two of theirs in midseason each of the last two years. And by all accounts, the contract extensions for glue guys Collison and Sefolosha, which combined cost OKC a relatively cheap $24.8 million through the 2014-15 season, are the types of deals that complete the puzzle for championship caliber teams. DARNELL MAYBERRY, SPORTS WRITER


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HOLLY SHELTON | MANAGER OF SPORTS BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

Drawing athletes, events to OKC BY MIKE BALDWIN Staff Writer mbaldwin@opubco.com

If it involves sports and Oklahoma City, there’s a good chance Holly Shelton has had a hand in the process. Manager of Sports Business Development at the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Shelton assists the All Sports Association with high profile events like Big 12 and NCAA basketball tournaments. But Shelton’s primary job is to bring regional and national sporting events to Oklahoma City each year. One highlight event this year is the USA Wakeboard Championships that will be held June 24-26 downtown on the Oklahoma River. National titles will be determined in wakeboarding, wake surf and cable wakeboarding. “It’s really cool we’re getting all three,” Shelton said. “Most of the time it’s held on lakes outside of city but this can be held near downtown. “Oklahoma State has a really good wakeboard program as a club program. They’re usually ranked really high. We’d love to bid on the NCAA wakeboard championships some year.” Another big event is Oklahoma City will host the USA men’s and women’s national wrestling trials June 9-11. Winners will represent the country at the world championships later this year in Istanbul. “It’s the premier event for U.S. wrestling,” Shelton said. “It will determine which men and women will represent our country at the world championships later this year in Istanbul. In an Olympic year it would determine the Olympic wrestlers.” Shelton tries to attract anything sports-related that generates hotel business. On Aug. 22, Oklahoma City will host a Kids Iron Man event at Lake Hefner in partnership with the local YMCA. “Maybe a local soccer club wants to bid on a U.S. youth soccer tournament,” Shelton said. “We help with the whole bid process. We help them put a bid book together, collect hotel rates and collect local attractions, things to do in Oklahoma City, even help them find resources in the community.” “We filter everything through Wimgo.com and it goes through our site. We can help groups if they need to put out news releases. If it’s a volunteer organization, we have event sponsorship dollars we can help them with.” Shelton works with both youth and adult organizations. “An example is the North OKC soccer club has hosted the Red Earth Invitational for several years in April,” Shelton said. “We bring about 6,000 people to Oklahoma City. Some are local but they come from Texas, Arkansas and Kansas and we help them with hotels.” Sports groups interested in hosting regional or national events can go to the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitor Bureau’s website: www.okccvb.org.

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KATIE TAYLOR-RIVERS | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE WES WELKER FOUNDATION TALKS FOOTBALL, CHARITY

Receiver ‘goes deep’ to share his love of sports with children BY JOHN ROHDE

Holly Shelton

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

Staff Writer jrohde@opubco.com

Katie Taylor-Rivers is embarrassed to admit she didn’t initially know who Wes Welker was. Worse yet, she had often rooted against the New England Patriots. “I know. That’s horrible for me to say,” Taylor-Rivers said with her omnipresent good cheer. Taylor-Rivers then did some research on the AllPro wide receiver and potential NFL Hall of Famer someday. “I Googled him and immediately went, ‘Oh, wow,’ ” said Taylor-Rivers, who serves as executive director of the Wes Welker Foundation, which targets at-risk youths in Oklahoma City and aims to provide a level playing field by funding three main aspects — sports camps; grants to school and youth organizations; coach and leadership development. Before she had familiarized herself with the foundation’s namesake, Taylor-Rivers already knew she was in the right place. “They really sold me on what they wanted to do,”

Katie Taylor-Rivers poses with Wes Welker. She is the Wes Welker Foundation executive director. PHOTO PROVIDED

Taylor-Rivers said. “They didn’t have any staff and everyone was just volunteering. It was just a perfect fit. I got to do something I love and something I believe in. It’s really taken off these last two years.” Taylor-Rivers is married to Paul Rivers, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s director of minor league operations & basketball technology. The couple relocated from Seattle when

the NBA franchise moved here in 2008. Though Welker never experienced hardship growing up in Nichols Hills or as a standout athlete at Heritage Hall, he decided to start the foundation in 2006 alongside sister-in-law, Sarah, and brother, Lee. Wes Welker frequently donates his own money and knows exactly how the funding is distributed.

“We don’t just write a check and say, ‘Go get what you need,’ ” TaylorRivers said. “We build relationships with all these organizations and coaches and make sure they get what they need. We make sure everything is accounted for.” Though the foundation originally was built with a football camp, TaylorRivers said there are no bounds. “We want to make sure people know this isn’t just about football. It’s about all sports, especially in this economic climate, because sports often are the first activities to get cut,” Taylor-Rivers said. “For some of these kids, going to school might be the only meal they get for the day.” Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha held a basketball camp last December and there are plans to add summer camps. Several other Thunder players, including Nick Collison and Kevin Durant, also have helped the cause. The Wes Welker Foundation so far has centered its efforts in Oklahoma City, but Taylor-Rivers said there are plans to also hold an event in Boston.

During a trip there last December, Taylor-Rivers got a firsthand look at the Elvis treatment fans gave Welker during a CelticsThunder game. “He’s like really famous up there,” Taylor-Rivers said. “I told him, ‘This is ridiculous. I can’t go anywhere with you in public.’ ” Welker’s modesty is reflected in the fact his program originally was known as the 83 Foundation, after Welker’s jersey number. “That’s Wes,” TaylorRivers said. “He didn’t want his name out there. He didn’t want this to be about him. I told him, ‘I can appreciate that, but we need your name out there.’ Wes has just been great. If I need anything, I call him and he’s right there. He is so humble. It’s refreshing.” The foundation’s biggest fundraiser is its annual Cleats & Cocktails event, which was held March 26 at the Oklahoma History Center. For more information, go to www.weswelker foundation.org. JOHN ROHDE: 475-3099. JOHN ROHDE CAN BE HEARD MONDAY-FRIDAY FROM 6 TO 7 P.M. ON THE SPORTS ANIMAL NETWORK, INCLUDING AM-640 AND FM-98.1.


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

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ZAC LOGSDON | FOUNDER OF OLD HAT CREATIVE

Old Hat Creative founder Zac Logsdon sits in his office in Norman.

PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN

Making an impact on the world of sports BY SCOTT WRIGHT Staff Writer swright@opubco.com

NORMAN — Maybe you didn’t realize it at the time, but you’ve probably seen some of the work done by Zac Logsdon’s company, Old Hat Creative. Maybe it was something as simple as the “Get Loud” sign that flashes on the scoreboard at Oklahoma City Thunder games, or the artwork promoting the recent Bedlam softball games at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Maybe you happened to be in New York when Logsdon’s 17-story billboard promoting Syracuse University athletics was hanging in Times Square. Logsdon’s company is only 7 years old, but it made a quick national impact in the graphic design world of sports. The company handles a variety of Internet, print and in-arena promotional

products for sports teams all across the country. Stanford, Florida State, the Milwaukee Bucks, Gonzaga, South Dakota State, Syracuse and dozens more. “We bill ourselves as a full-service creative agency,” Logsdon said. “Anything that can be done to help market your sports organization, we’ll do it. We can do iPhone apps, Web sites, print collateral, video production, intro videos.”

How it all began Logsdon, 34, is a Guthrie native and University of Oklahoma graduate. He was working as a graphic designer in the OU athletic department when he began to see the potential for his business idea. “I saw a hole in the market,” he said. “There was nobody out there that was offering really highquality design work specifically for the collegiate

sports marketplace. “You could go to your local print shop and have their $5-an-hour graphic designer put something together and the quality was really low, or you could go to an ad agency that would charge you way more than you could afford. “So I landed somewhere in the middle.” Through a friend, he picked up some work at the University of Michigan, and also did some for OU. “When you start a business in sports with Oklahoma and Michigan as your two clients, things kind of snowball from there,” Logsdon said. “That was seven years ago. We had one employee. Now we have around 60 universities and pro sports teams we’ve done work with, and 22 people on our staff.” Logsdon admits the company’s most notable project was that 17-story

There’s plenty of interesting OKC trivia to pursue BY DON GAMMILL Communities Editor bgammill@opubco.com

A visitor asks for information about Oklahoma City. What would you provide? You could talk about sports or entertainment. You might describe the fine museums and cultural centers. And don’t forget the restaurants. Maybe you would talk about historic areas, or those that have been revitalized. But don’t forget the tidbits, the simple, trivial pieces of information that make nuggets for conversation. For instance: I In addition to cabs, buses and limousines, you can ride a water taxi, a boat on a river, a trolley, a horse-drawn carriage, a bicycle, a motorcycle, a Segway, or a pedicab. I Downtown Oklahoma City has 40,343 theater seats. I More than 52,000 people are employed in the downtown area. I There are more than 20,000 public parking spaces downtown, including more than 1,300 at parking meters on the street. This is in the city where parking meters were

Construction of the skywalk between Oklahoma Tower and the City Center east garage at Park and Harveyis seen in this 2009 photo. Downtown Oklahoma City has more than one mile of skywalks and “hidden” tunnels connecting 33 businesses. PHOTO BY DAVID MCDANIEL, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

invented. I The aforementioned water taxi operates on the Bricktown Canal, which is 1.6 miles round-trip. I The Segway twowheeled, self-balancing electric vehicles are available for rental in Bricktown, along the Oklahoma River. I The Devon Boathouse along the river is a reality, but Boathouse Row eventually also will have those for the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma. There also is the Chesapeake Finish Line Tower, another beautiful structure.

I Connecting Regatta Park and the Bricktown Canal is a high priority. Moving pedestrians and river cruise boat traffic under the new Interstate 40 will boost both the boathouse district and Bricktown. I You can get a better image of a revamped downtown through the Cityscape exhibit. The exhibit for 2010 was huge in one way. It took more than 2 million Lego bricks and elements to recreate downtown Oklahoma City. For more Oklahoma City trivia, see Pages 31S and 37S.

billboard for Syracuse. “That was neat,” Logsdon said, “to be able to see something I designed hanging in Times Square.” Logsdon says he has turned down 99 percent of the non-sports clients that have approached Old Hat. The biggest reason is that designing artwork for a bank isn’t as fun as creating All-Star posters of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Fun is at the heart of everything Old Hat does. One look at the company’s website tells you that — i.e. the link for “Random Animal Noises.” “I am not a salesman, and that was my biggest concern when I started this,” Logsdon said. “So I decided if I’m go-

ing to be successful, I have to find a different way to sell. My approach was to make people like us. Make people want to be a part of Old Hat. “There are 100 companies out there who can do what we do. What makes us unique is that we’re fun and we have a good time,”

he said. “I marketed Old Hat as a fun place to be associated with. “We’re goofy. Our business cards are trading cards. You’ve got to spend eight hours a day with these people. You might as well enjoy it while you’re here.”


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

MIKE HOLDER | OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

Oklahoma State University athletic director Mike Holder poses recently inside Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.

PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN

OSU athletic director tackled challenges of building a winning football program Boone Pickens Stadium is seen in this file photo.

BY BRANDON CHATMON Staff Writer bchatmon@opubco.com

STILLWATER — Upon taking over as athletic director at Oklahoma State University in 2005, Mike Holder wanted to take the Cowboy football program to another level. “I had no illusions about how difficult it was to compete in football,” Holder said. “I’ve been here since 1966, and I haven’t seen a lot of championship banners raised. So I knew it was an uphill struggle.” Holder immediately identified two obstacles: lack of state-of-the-art facilities and the inability to retain quality coaches. “My challenge was to try to remove all the obstacles that stood in the way of our ability to compete for championships and win championships,” Holder said. Fundraising became a high priority, and thanks to several donations including a $165 million gift from Boone Pickens, the Cowboys now have facilities that rank among the nation’s best. Raising the salaries of assistant coaches also became a priority under Holder. “(I wanted to) get and

PHOTO BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

retain good coaches,” Holder said. “A good portion of that is what you are able to pay them.” This season three assistant coaches (Todd Monken, Joe DeForest, Bill Young) each will make $400,000, making the Cowboys assistant coaching staff among the highest paid in the Big 12 Conference. A change in commitment was also in order. “There just wasn’t a commitment to championship football,” Holder said. “I don’t feel there ever was a strong commitment to football until Boone Pickens rode in on his white horse.

“There’s definitely a commitment now and a commitment to winning at the highest level; without that, it’s a just an exercise in futility, which it had been for the last five or six decades.” It’s an exercise in futility no longer. In 2010, the Cowboys shared the Big 12 South championship and won 11 games for the first time in school history. “We are enjoying unprecedented success, and the future’s never been brighter,” Holder said. “I think everyone who cares about OSU football feels like championship seasons

are just around the corner.” Since Holder took over as athletic director, OSU has become a program on the rise and is gaining increased national recognition thanks to three straight seasons of nine wins or more. Thanks to Holder’s vision, the days of dreaming about competing for championships are gone. Heading into the 2011 season, OSU is expected to compete for the Big 12 championship. “I love the fact the expectations have changed. I embrace that and all that comes with it,” Holder said.


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MIKE KNOPP | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOATHOUSE FOUNDATION

Rower’s dream for river flows into reality

Mike Knopp stands inside the boat bay at the Devon Boathouse in Oklahoma City. BY ED GODFREY Staff Writer egodfrey@opubco.com

When everyone else saw the Oklahoma River as a drainage ditch, Mike Knopp saw something much more. He envisioned a world class venue for rowing. Standing on the Lincoln Bridge in 1997 and looking over the river, Knopp had an aha moment. Olympic courses built for rowing are long, straight stretches lined with riprap that are protected by the wind. “That is essentially what we had here,” Knopp said. “This totally straight section of the river next to downtown. I could see if it had water, it could really be something.” Knopp is credited with inspiring the emergence of Boathouse Row, drawing thousands to the river, including dozens of Olympic athletes who have made Oklahoma City their home. Knopp was talking about a boathouse on the river before there was any water in it. In less than a decade, Oklahoma City has built a rowing culture that cities on the Eastern Seaboard have been building for more than a century. “Oklahoma does not have a deep, rich tradition in this sport like they do in Philadelphia and Boston, so we had opportunities to kind of think outside of the box,” Knopp said. “That helped us define our mark in the sport.”

River’s ‘bad stigma’ A 1990 Edmond Memorial graduate, Knopp moved to Oklahoma from Baltimore as a junior in high school. Rowing was popular in the Baltimore area, and Knopp wanted to try it but thought that chance ended upon moving to Oklahoma. But while attending Oklahoma State University, Knopp discovered the school had a rowing club. He joined and was introduced to the sport in a “very rugged way with the most antiquated equipment and primitive facilities.” In law school at the University of Oklahoma, Knopp discovered there once existed a rowing club on Lake Overholser in Oklahoma City. He and his wife, Tempe, helped restart the Oklahoma City Rowing Club. “Tempe and I started getting people involved in

IF YOU GO 2011 EVENTS May 7-8: Central District Youth Rowing Championships, a regional qualifier for USRowing Youth National Championships May 11: RIVERSPORT Youth League Spring Championship June 25: OKC RIVERSPORT Spring Classic Regatta featuring corporate racing July 20: Let’s Move! OKC RIVERSPORT Challenge Race (youth and adult) Aug. 11-14: USRowing Masters National Championships Sept. 29-Oct. 2: USA Rowing World Challenge; blu VIP party; Oklahoma Regatta Festival; OCU Head of the Oklahoma Regatta Oct. 27: Haunt the River at Route 66 Boathouse Nov. 9: RIVERSPORT Youth League Championships ONLINE: For the latest events, go to NewsOK.com.

the sport again,” Knopp said. “She started getting kids involved. I started getting adults involved and eventually wanted to get the colleges involved.” It was then Knopp hatched the idea for a rowing venue on the river near downtown Oklahoma City. He started attending river trust meetings and pitching the idea to city leaders. “There was such a bad stigma associated with that river back then,” Knopp said. “It was really hard for people to see. That was a challenge, raising money for a boathouse on a river that was a ditch.” Knopp helped persuade Oklahoma City University to start a rowing club. He became the team’s coach for a $1 per year. Through the Oklahoma City Rowing Club, the Knopps had started a corporate rowing program and made contacts with business leaders.

‘Modest concept’ Knopp sent proposals to Aubrey McClendon, chief executive officer for Ches-

apeake Energy, to fund a boathouse on the river. “It was a very modest concept,” Knopp said. “We didn’t have a picture at that time of a Rand Elliott building.” The first major rowing event on the river was held in connection with the Sooner State Games. City and business leaders were invited, including McClendon. “That opened up everyone’s eyes,” Knopp said of the Sooner State Games. (McClendon) is the one who actually said, ‘We need to up the ante here.’ ” McClendon brought architect Rand Elliott on board and the decision was made to build a worldclass boathouse. “That was a huge turning point,” Knopp said of the Chesapeake Boathouse. “It was really Aubrey seeing the vision at the time, seeing the boats on the water and understanding the power of the river.” Since then, OCU made rowing a varsity sport for men and women. Both the University of Central Oklahoma and OU have added rowing as varsity women’s sports. The recently built Devon Boathouse is home to OCU and the High Performance Center, a designated Olympic training site for athletes. UCO is raising funds for its own boathouse, which will include a live music venue. OU also is planning to build a boathouse on the Oklahoma River, which was home to the first night racing in the country. The OGE Night Races are part of the Head of Oklahoma Regatta, a collegiate competition in September that draws thousands to the river with its festival of music, food and the arts.

‘Pretty amazing’ More than 50 athletes have moved to Oklahoma City to train and pursue their Olympic dreams in rowing. Knopp is no longer practicing law. He is now executive director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation. Standing on the Lincoln Bridge more than a decade ago, Knopp admits he didn’t envision all of this. “In less than 10 years to go from being a ditch to having the Olympic rings on the river is pretty amazing,” he said.

PHOTO BY JOHN CLANTON, THE OKLAHOMAN


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DESMOND MASON | ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER FOR THE $130 MILLION DOWNTOWN PARK THAT IS PART OF THE MAPS 3 INITIATIVE

Mayor nets help of a new Oklahoman

Desmond Mason poses with his painting “Nicole” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in Oklahoma City in 2009.

PHOTO BY STEVE GOOCH, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

BY JOHN HELSLEY Staff Writer jhelsley@opubco.com

Desmond Mason claims obvious ties to Oklahoma. A star basketball player at Oklahoma State University. Stints in town with the NBA’s Hornets and Thunder. But Mason, an Okie? “I am,” Mason, a Waxahachie, Texas, native, said with a laugh. “I’m about to be a resident. I’m always a Texan, but I’ve traveled so much and had residences in Seattle and Portland. ... This is home for us now. We’re going to be residents of Oklahoma. “My wife’s an Oregonian, and she’s going to be an Oklahoman.”

Desmond Mason cheers during the basketball game between Oklahoma State University and Texas in January at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. PHOTO BY SARAH PHIPPS, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

A MAPS 3 player And Mason is all in on Oklahoma City, even serving on the advisory board for the $130 million downtown park that is part of the MAPS 3 initiative. Given an opportunity to serve on the board by Mayor Mick Cornett, Mason leaped like he did for the Cowboys and in the pros. “The mayor asked me if it was something I’d like to do,” Mason said. “I told him, ‘Absolutely, I would love to.’ I’ve traveled around and seen a lot of different places. I see growth here, and I want to be a part of that.” Mason, also an accomplished artist, said he sees the 70-acre park that will link the core of downtown to the Oklahoma River as a blank canvas, offering many possibilities. And he has some visions. “We lived in Portland, Oregon, and Portland has some of the most beautiful parks in the country,” Mason said. “It offers great things for the community – walking, biking, things like that. Everybody’s outside and exercising. “And we have the space to do it. There are a lot of funds that are going to go behind it. The people involved are very creative. I think I can bring some things that will really help, ideas to help make it more friendly in the downtown area, more walkable, with shopping and a lot of other things.” This is, after all, Mason’s new home. And he’s excited about all that’s going on. “When you’re looking at everything that’s going on in the state and Oklahoma City in general, the

Desmond Mason, an Oklahoma City Thunder player in this 2008 photo, gives a bag of food to families in need at the Presbyterian Urban Mission in Oklahoma City. PHOTO BY STEVE GOOCH, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

When you’re looking at everything that’s going on in the state and Oklahoma City in general, the growth, it’s impressive. ... So you look at what’s going on and the opportunity to grow this thing.” DESMOND MASON

growth, it’s impressive,” Mason said. “You’ve got Classen Curve, a lot of new businesses, the style of the businesses and the design and the architecture, the

boathouses — the rowing is so big now in Oklahoma — and everyone is so health conscious these days in Oklahoma. “So you look at what’s going on and the opportunity to grow this thing.”

On the art scene Mason’s involvement in the community extends to his artwork. He’s opened his own studio in Plaza Court at 10th and Walker Avenue in the MidTown area. His December show benefited Allied Arts and EduCare. Soon, his charitable works will extend outside the country, with a show in Mexico dedicated to helping a man who was paralyzed in an accident. “I came from a place where we didn’t have a lot,” Mason said. “Nobody around me had a lot. It was one of those neighborhood scenarios you hear about a lot, where the athletes go through bad communities. “To be blessed in having a gift that pertains to art

and to playing basketball, and to utilize that to help other people is what I’ve always been about. I want to be able to show my faith and have kids see me and know that I came from hard times and utilize art and say, ‘You know what, it’s not always about sports either. I can do something else and be successful at it,’ ” Mason said.


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

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MIKE NUNLEY | EDMOND PUBLIC SCHOOLS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR

Edmond teams, community enjoy special ties BY ROBERT PRZYBYLO Staff Writer bprzybylo@opubco.com

EDMOND — It wasn’t some grand master plan by Edmond athletic director Mike Nunley. It just sort of evolved. Edmond athletic teams had been participating in community services projects before Nunley, but Nunley realized how much the community supported Edmond. He wanted to return the favor. Nunley began requiring all athletic teams from middle school to all three high schools — Memorial, North and Santa Fe — to be part of at least one community service project. What started out as a requirement has become some of the students’ favorite moments together, Nunley said. “It’s out of control now,” Nunley said. “The community has meant so much to the athletic teams and these kids have gone above and beyond in giving back. “This is bigger than I could have ever dreamed of, and we’ve created some great relationships.” One of those is with the Edmond North softball team and their assistance in the Miracle League. The league, started in 2000, provides children and adults with special needs the opportunity to play baseball in a safe and supportive environment. North coach Rick Nordyke was quick to offer his assistance to the program because of a personal connection with Margo Price, the league’s organizer. Price’s son James, who is autistic, used to be the team manager for the Huskies baseball team when Nordyke was still coaching softball and baseball. For the last five years, North softball and baseball have helped out

Edmond Public Schools Athletic Director Mike Nunley

with the league.

Special relationship “The games mean so much to those kids, and we just want to do anything we can to help make it special,” Nordyke said. The projects have helped the teams bond together away from their sport, and it’s helped them build that relationship and friendship with each other. And Edmond athletics have never been hotter. North won the most state championships of any school last year, while the Santa Fe girls earned Edmond Public Schools’ first girls basketball championship. The Memorial boys

also won the state basketball championship. “Mike has always tried to have a high standard,” Santa Fe athletic director Barry Blagowsky said. “He sets the tone for athletics, but class and character means even more to him than athletic success.” Nunley’s approach has been there is no such thing as a minor sport. “Whatever sport it is, we’re going to put out the best possible product,” Nunley said. “We aggressively pursue everything we can. Whether it’s middle school or JV (junior varsity), we do everything we can for the kids.”

HOW THEY HELP EDMOND SCHOOLS SERVICE PROJECTS Here are some of the other service projects the Edmond schools perform: I Santa Fe boys basketball adopts a family for Thanksgiving and Christmas and provides everything for them. I Memorial basketball works with the Blue Star organization on packing items for the military. I Baseball teams have performed free clinics at Mitch Park for youth baseball. I Sequoyah basketball wraps presents at the mall for donations to the Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation. I Sequoyah football worked with Habitat for Humanity on two house projects. I Summit basketball raised funds for the Bethany Childrens’ home and the Oklahoma Blood Institute. I Sequoyah girls basketball collected blankets and quilts for the neonatal center at Integris. I Cheyenne cross country did a canned food drive for a local food shelter. I Each high school has its own fundraising week: Double Wolf Dare (Santa Fe), Swine (Memorial) and Balto (North). ROBERT PRZYBYLO, STAFF WRITER


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MUSICALS, PLAYS, DANCING AND MORE MAKE UP LINEUPS FOR 2011-2012

What season holds for arts patrons Central Oklahoma’s myriad arts organizations are hoping to entice patrons with their 2011-12 season lineups, many of which are still in the process of being finalized. For those who may be curious about what lies ahead, here’s a sneak peek at some of the season’s diverse offerings.

Sarah Coburn

Edgar Cruz

Louis Lortie

Philharmonic favorites The Oklahoma City Philharmonic welcomes back a trio of favorite guest artists who have graced the past seasons, including Louis Lortie playing Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto,” Jon Kimura Parker playing the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto and Jean-Yves Thibaudet performing Gershwin’s “Concerto in F.” Making their Philharmonic debuts next season are Oklahoma native Sarah Coburn singing a program of operatic arias, James Ehnes playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Rachel Barton Pine performing Corigliano’s chaconne from “The Red Violin.”

Cathy Rigby starring in “Peter Pan”

Showstoppers Headlining the pops season are “Mysterioso,” a program featuring quickchange artists and magicians; an ABBA tribute group and “Wicked Divas,” a collection of Broadway showstoppers featuring Julia Murney and Stephanie J. Block.

Shannon Calderon

Celebrating music Canterbury Choral Society kicks off its season with an evening of “Latin Rhythms,” featuring guitarist Edgar Cruz and flamenco dancer Shannon Calderon. Closing the season is “Experiences With Sound,” a program that celebrates music composed or performed by those with hearing loss.

On the stage Celebrity Attractions’ eclectic season will feature encore presentations of “Peter Pan” starring perennial favorite Cathy Rigby, and the percussive delights of “Stomp.” Making their Oklahoma City debuts are the musicals “Memphis” and “The Addams Family.” Lyric Theatre’s 2011 summer season of musicals will feature two locally-produced premieres, the Tony Award-winning “Hairspray,” a joyous look back at the 1950s, and “Ragtime,” a compelling story about early 20th century immigrants and the challenges they faced coming to America. Lyric’s Plaza season, which resumes in October, includes the premieres of “Altar Boyz,” a rafterraising celebration of the boy band craze, and “A Christmas Carol,” a musical version of Charles Dickens’ classic novel.

In the park The centerpiece of Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park’s 2011 summer season is a production of “The Seagull.” Bookending that Anton Chekhov classic are Shakespeare’s “The

Jon Kimura Parker

Lyonel Reneau, Shane McClure and Mitchell Reid appeared in last year’s performance of “The Taming of the Shrew" in Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park.

Merry Wives of Windsor” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Old and new Other theatrical enticements include Carpenter Square Theatre productions of “Gross Indecency: The Trials of Oscar Wilde” and “You’ve Got Hate Mail,” a comedy about sex, lies and laptops. The Reduxion Theatre will celebrate its first full season at its new downtown location with productions of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.” The Oklahoma City Theatre Company will offer productions of the musicals “Quilters” and “Gypsy,” along with Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a stage adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel.

An Oklahoma lead The Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre will present the Oklahoma premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical “Next to Normal,” with Oklahoma native Stacey Logan in the demanding lead role. Also planned are Alfred Uhry’s “The Last Night of Ballyhoo” and Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.”

Michelle Swink and Sean Eckart appeared last year in “The Scarlet Letter” at Carpenter Square Theatre.

Stacey Logan

Award-winners Next up at the Poteet Theatre is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel,” followed by Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and the Tony Award-winning musical “Annie.” On stage at the Jewel Box Theatre in the 2011-12 season are “Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and the world premiere of “The Broken Statue,” a fictional tale about Lydie Roberts Marland, wife of Oklahoma governor E.W. Marland. The Pollard will close its current season with “Passing Strange,” a 2008 Tony winner for best book of a musical. Subsequent productions include “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Rupert Holmes’ musical based on Dickens’ unfinished novel,

and David LindsayAbaire’s Pulitzer Prizewinning “Rabbit Hole.”

On point The Oklahoma City Ballet will celebrate its 40th anniversary season with a nice mix of old and new, from Leo Delibes’ “Coppelia” and Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird” to “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Nutcracker.” To honor its commitment to new works, the company will present Robert Mills’ “In Between Dreams” and a world premiere by Alan Hineline. As this preview suggests, there’s something to satisfy virtually every taste, from favorite musicals and celebrated concert artists to award-winning dramas, theatrical comedies and dance productions. Additional programming will be announced in the coming months. As always, programs are subject to change.

The Oklahoma City Ballet will feature old and new productions, including “The Nutcracker,” above, and “The Wizard of Oz,” below.


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SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

SCOTT BOOKER | CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF ACM@UCO AND FLAMING LIPS MANAGER

Scott Booker, CEO of the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma, and manager of the Flaming Lips, sits at the production console in one of the Bricktown classrooms of ACM@UCO. PHOTO BY STEVE GOOCH, THE OKLAHOMAN

Flaming Lips’ manager sees city as musical hub BY GENE TRIPLETT Entertainment Editor etriplett@opubco.com

Scott Booker is a man who knows how to make his dreams come true. Back in the 1980s as a college kid from Midwest City, he started working his way up from the bottom of the music business, first as a clerk and then a manager of local record stores. Then one day he sold a Led Zeppelin album to a weird young dude in a motorcycle helmet who turned out to be the leader of a wild, ragtag, psychedelic pop band from Oklahoma City that was starting to make waves in the indie-label underground. Wayne Coyne and his Flaming Lips eventually signed to Warner Bros. Records and selected their friend Booker to be their manager. Ten albums, three Grammys and the building of an international cult following later, other dreams have come true for Booker beyond the fearlessly freaky world of the Flaming Lips. He’s worked with other high-profile acts such as the late, great, Academy Award-nominated alternative singer-songwriter Elliott Smith and Mercury Prize nominees British Sea Power. In 2003, Booker cofounded World’s Fair Label Group, an Edmond

and New York-based company that ran independent and artist-owned record labels, allowing artists to self-release their own music. But he recently sold his ownership in World’s Fair to focus on another big dream — the launching and growing of the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma. “I just look at it as, these are things we want to try to do, and let’s figure out how to do it,” said Booker, 45. “I think that’s how Wayne and I have always thought about everything. ‘What do you wish would happen? Let’s make it happen.’ ” The grand opening of ACM@UCO happened in August 2009 in its renovated high-tech home on the fourth floor of the old Oklahoma Hardware building in Bricktown. And Booker became its chief executive officer. “I mean this guy is going to do for music in Oklahoma what Alan Freed did for rock ’n’ roll in Cleveland,” then-UCO President W. Roger Webb said of Booker at the time. Booker was the man most responsible for bringing the first authorized U.S. branch of Great Britain’s prestigious Academy of Contemporary Music to Oklahoma City. And its partnership with UCO made perfect sense

ONLINE To see video of Scott Booker, go to NewsOK.com and search for “Booker.”

to him, having earned an education degree from the Edmond-based university himself. “I was supposed to be a high school history teacher,” Booker said. “So I had this degree in education, and when I started working with the Lips, in the back of my head I thought, ‘Well, I’ve always got this to fall back on if this thing managing bands didn’t work.’”

A bit of luck “I would say early on in my career I was very lucky that there were people that were willing to spend time with me, ranging from people at Warner Bros. Records to the Flaming Lips’ lawyer, spend time with me explaining how the music industry worked,” Booker said. “And I think even back then I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was just a class I could take that would explain this?’ And I think that little notion has stuck in my head since the early ’90s, like this is something that needs to happen.” A few years back, Booker found himself sitting

next to one of the chancellors of the state Board of Regents at a meeting of Creative Oklahoma, the not-for-profit organization that supports creativity and innovation in commerce, culture, and education in the state. He mentioned his idea about a class dealing with the contemporary music business, and the intrigued chancellor introduced Booker to Webb, who was also interested in Booker’s brainchild. “We started having these luncheons once a month and started talking about it,” Booker said. “And I was busy, and he was busy, but the idea was that there would, somewhere along the way, be a music business class that was about contemporary music — rock ’n’ roll.” Booker’s research led him to discover the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, Surrey, England. “And I thought, wouldn’t be great to bring in a European institution like ACM and tie it to something here?” Webb agreed, and during a trip to the U.K. on other business, he took time to visit the music school. Webb liked what he saw, and as it turned out, the British school was interested in partnering with a university in the United States.

Partnership formed Upon visiting Oklahoma and UCO’s Edmond campus, ACM officials were sold on the partnership. Plans were put in motion to establish an off-campus school modeled after the institution in Britain. “We’ve taken their program the way it works,” Booker said. “There are three areas of study — performance, production and the music business. We followed their format and basically the majority of their classes.” Since its 2009 opening, the school has expanded to include the ACM@UCO Performance Lab at 323 E Sheridan as a venue for students to gain stage experience in front of live audiences. The 350-capacity club also offers music business students hands-on experience in the world of booking, producing and promoting shows, bringing in national acts. The school’s rapidly growing reputation — and Booker’s music industry contacts — have already attracted such guest lecturers as Jackson Browne, the Who’s Roger Daltrey, jazz bassist Stanley Clarke and the Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd. Up to now, the school has offered a two-year associate degree in music performance and production, but this fall, ACM@UCO will begin offering students who grad-

uate with an Associates of Applied Science degree the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Applied Technology with a focus in contemporary music. While ACM students were previously eligible to pursue bachelor’s degrees through UCO’s alreadyestablished programs, this marks the first bachelor’s degree to focus on contemporary music and is the only program of its kind in the country. “My idea and my dream, really, for the ACM@UCO is not just a school,” Booker said. “I want it to be a hub. I want it to be a place where anyone that’s from Oklahoma or living here or wants to come here, and is looking for a way to become a part of the music industry, we can be that entry point. “When you look at other cities that are musiccentric, say, Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry, it was something that drew people that were interested in music and music as a business. Austin had the ‘Austin City Limits’ TV show and it had Willie Nelson, and they did things to create something that made the city look like a music city. “I believe we can do the same thing here with ACM,” Booker said. Judging from his past record of turning wishes into realities, a lot of other people tend to believe what Booker believes.


OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

27S

BRIAN HEARN | FILM CURATOR AT THE OKLAHOMA CITY MUSEUM OF ART

John Springer, head of the University of Central Oklahoma’s film studies program, left, and Brian Hearn, Oklahoma City Museum of Art film curator, stand in front of a projection of a still frame from the movie “Metropolis,” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

Technology drives curator’s vision for museum program BY GEORGE LANG Assistant Entertainment Editor glang@opubco.com

In 1995, when Brian Hearn began his job as film curator at what was then called the Oklahoma City Art Museum, all he had at the old State Fair Park location was a converted gallery space, some old projectors, a VCR and bigscreen television setup and some metal folding chairs. To top it off, his debut event, a screening of the 1963 classic “Tom Jones,” amounted to a minor disaster. “It was a very old, worn-out print, and it had some sprocket damage to begin with,” Hearn said. “This older projector ... when it hit these bad sprockets it just started shredding the film. And the soundtrack was bad — it was pretty unfortunate. Some people walked out, and I was like, ‘Oh God — what have I gotten myself into?’ It was obvious that we had to make some technical upgrades.” These days, Hearn oversees the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s film program at the $40 million downtown facility’s stateof-the-art Noble Theater, where he can project film in virtually any format on the theater’s twin, German-made, 35 mm Kinoton projectors and a 2005 digital cinema upgrade that recently delivered a popular, Blu-ray enabled screening of “Gone With the Wind.” But technology has not changed the principle driving Hearn’s mission — it simply makes it run like clockwork.

1994 start The film program started with a 1994 endowment from Jeanne Hoffman Smith, who was inspired by a 1993 summer film series to make a $30,000 initial donation followed by a $50,000 challenge grant. Like Smith, Hearn understood that people craved access to films they could not see at the local multiplex, and they often wanted background information on the production instead of “coming attractions” and commercials.

A row of Harley-Davidson motorcycles is outside the Oklahoma City Museum of Art in 2002. Members of the Oklahoma City Harley Owners Group attended the museum’s screening of “Easy Rider” as part of the Library of Congress Film Preservation Tour. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

“I always try to remember that we are what we are — an art museum — and we view cinema as an art form and we’re celebrating that,” Hearn said. “It’s a curated program, so we try to offer a lot of diversity in terms of documentary, short films, international and independentnarrative features, and just offering a high-quality mix, as well as classics and repertory.”

More to come Hearn said there are upgrades on the horizon, designed to keep pace with emerging technology and shifts in the marketplace. These days, he often finds himself fielding questions about delivery systems for the movies: Will it be on 35 mm film or will it be dig-

ital? Some patrons love the idea of seeing a pristine, high-definition transfer of a classic, rendered in digital perfection, while some demand aesthetic purity and want to see it come off a spool. Either way, those patrons have a voice and are participating in an ongoing discussion over what they love and what they want to see at the Noble Theater. That sense of community, Hearn said, is what keeps people involved when the options for seeing films are becoming more plentiful. “I think that’s what our future is,” he said. “Deepening that relationship with the audience, growing it, getting people downtown and enjoying the Arts District — just building a film culture.”

ONLINE I For more on the Oklahoma Museum of Art film series, go to NewsOK.com. I For a list of current films, go to www.okcmoa.com/ see/film.


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SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

DON JORDAN | CO-FOUNDER AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE OKLAHOMA CITY REPERTORY THEATRE

Director discusses company’s rich history BY RICK ROGERS Fine Arts Editor rrogers@opubco.com

Successful arts organizations can sometimes have rather inauspicious beginnings. On New Year’s Day 1998, a group of former Oklahoma City University students attended a brunch and began discussing the city’s theatrical scene. Most had established careers in theater outside the state but for various reasons had recently returned to Oklahoma. With Bricktown thriving and the various MAPS projects under way, would the time be right to establish a local professional theater? After numerous planning meetings, discussions about a possible venue and countless other details, the Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre was formed. A fundraising campaign was launched in 2001, and in November 2002, City Rep kicked off its inaugural season. Nine years later, City Rep’s mission remains unchanged: “To serve Oklahoma’s diverse artistic, educational and civic needs by providing dynamic professional theater.” From the beginning, City Rep made it a practice

Don Jordan, artistic director of the Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre

to devote part of each season to plays that hadn’t previously been staged in Oklahoma. “We’ve always been about the passionate pursuit of excellence,” artistic director Don Jordan said. “There’s a certain amount of risk in doing that, but we’ve never shied away from taking on artistic challenges. The only rule we can’t break is that it must be good theater.”

Diverse mix of shows A look back through City Rep’s archives reveals a healthy mix of unusual, thought-provoking and cutting-edge theater. The company’s many Oklahoma premieres include “The Oklahoma City Pro-

The Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre filled out its 2009-10 season with a production of the comedy “A Tuna Christmas,” the second part of the Tuna trilogy by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard. PHOTO PROVIDED

ject” (Ruth Charnay’s play about the aftermath of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing), “The Laramie Project” (a riveting story about the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard) and “August: Osage County” (the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-win-

ning drama by native Oklahoman Tracy Letts). “Our philosophy from the beginning was to be a theater smorgasbord,” Jordan said. “By presenting a wide-ranging season with a broad range of styles, people can have a diversity of theatrical experiences.” As a Small Professional

Theatre (SPT, an Actors Equity term for professional theaters whose seating capacity is 349 seats or less), City Rep presents its productions in the Freede Little Theatre and the CitySpace Theatre, both in the Civic Center Music Hall. City Rep also takes pride

in its desire to collaborate with theater departments from local universities. Student actors get to work alongside professionals, a situation that is mutually beneficial. “Collaboration allows you to create a healthy and vibrant theater scene,” Jordan said. “Students need to be mentored and trained by pros, so we try to reach out and serve as many young people as possible in that way.” When one considers that 80 percent of new businesses fail, usually within the first five years, Jordan is understandably proud that the theater has ended each season in the black. As City Rep looks ahead to its 10th season and beyond, he’d like to continue building audiences and start an endowment. “The hard part in the beginning was getting people to come see our shows,” Jordan said. “With so many entertainment choices available, you have to offer people an extraordinary experience. Since we’ve succeeded for nearly a decade, we don’t look so much like a flash in the pan. We just have to keep setting that standard of excellence and do good work. It’s about taking chances.”

GROUP INAUGURATED DOWNTOWN LOCATION WITH A PRODUCTION OF SHAKESPEARE’S ‘A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM’

Curtain goes up on Reduxion Theatre’s new site FROM STAFF REPORTS

The Reduxion Theatre Company inaugurated its new downtown location in February with a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Performances were at the Broadway Theatre, 1613 N Broadway. “We are very proud that our first production in the new Broadway Theatre will be Shakespeare’s most beloved comedy,” Reduxion’s Artistic Director Tyler Woods said at the time. “Our lively take on an audience favorite is an apt welcome to our new venue and home.” This production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” also served as Reduxion’s first tour. After the main stage production closes, cast members are taking “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to several metroarea public libraries on select Saturday afternoons through April. Reduxion performed at Midwest City Library, the Downtown Library, the Ralph Ellison Library and the Village Library this spring.

Above: The Fairies make merry, as the cast of Reduxion Theatre puts on the William Shakespeare play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Edmond Library. Left: Kyle Watson, as Lysander, proposes to Claudia Fain, as Hermia, in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Sponsoring feet To promote community involvement and benefit space renovation at its new location, the Reduxion Theatre launched a donation program in December called “Sponsor a Square Foot.” “We’ve gotten a great response,” Woods said of the new program. “Every square foot sponsor, at $26 per square foot, helps to improve a performance space to benefit the growth of the arts in Oklahoma City.”

In its first two seasons in Oklahoma City, Reduxion has performed at various locations in the metro area, including Stage Center and the City Arts Center Theater at State Fair Park. Developing a new performance location exclusively for Reduxion offers the theater company more freedom in its production schedule, and bolsters the performing arts community by offering a much needed additional venue for rental to area artists.

Titania, queen of the fairies, played by Holly McNatt, speaks to the audience, as the cast of Reduxion Theatre puts on "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." PHOTOS BY PAUL HELLSTERN, THE OKLAHOMAN


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

LARRY PAYTON | PRESIDENT OF CELEBRITY ATTRACTIONS

Organization brings best of Broadway to Oklahoma

Larry Payton is the president of Celebrity Attractions. PHOTO PROVIDED

Past productions by Celebrity Attractions include “Wicked,” “On Golden Pond,” “Man of La Mancha,” “The Rock & The Rabbi” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE GRAPHIC

BY RICK ROGERS Fine Arts Editor rrogers@opubco.com

Larry Payton can readily identify with the premise of the film “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium,” a 1969 comedy about a guy who traveled to nine countries in 18 days. As president of Tulsabased Celebrity Attractions, Payton regularly visits the seven markets where he presents theatrical touring productions. Driving to each of those communities — Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Lubbock, Abilene, Little Rock and Springfield — results in a 1,400-mile round trip if one starts and ends in Tulsa. That’s about the same distance from Oklahoma City to San Francisco. Established in 1983, Celebrity Attractions was a modest operation back then, a time when Payton brought an occasional touring production to Tulsa. The Oklahoma City market was added in the early 1990s. Abilene, Celebrity’s newest market, is now in its second season. “During the early years, we went cherry picking to find shows we thought might make it,” Payton said. “It wasn’t until the late 1980s that we did full seasons. It was the whole idea of learning to crawl before you walk, and learning to walk before you run.” Oklahoma City’s early seasons reflected that eclectic approach, with opera (Verdi’s “Rigoletto”), concerts (“The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber”) and traditional musical

It’s not just about going to the theater, but the kind of experience you’re going to have once you get there. I’m most proud when people tell me ‘That was a great show’ or ‘I didn’t know much about that, but I had a great time.’ Theater is a business that I love even when things get challenging.” LARRY PAYTON

theater fare (“Oklahoma!”) being showcased. As Celebrity grew, Payton began to streamline the selection process. These days, Payton typically packs a season with a blockbuster (“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King”), a family show (“Annie,” “Peter Pan”) and an innovative or unusual offering (“Stomp,” “Blast”). During any given season, there’s a limited number of touring productions from which to choose. They have ranged from one-man shows with little scenery (“Bully,” “The Male Intellect”) to elaborate productions with large casts and complex set designs (“Miss Saigon,” “Wicked”). Others create theatrical magic through special effects (“Cats”), star appeal (“Hello, Dolly!”) or hightech production values (“The Phantom of the Opera”). While each of those productions could be considered artistic and financial successes, others have struggled to find audiences. Payton remembers when he booked the musical “Titanic” a decade ago in Tulsa. “That show sank before

it ever went on stage,” Payton said. “It was a beautiful show. It had gorgeous music and an unbelievable set. But Leonardo di Caprio killed the audience for that stage production because everybody had seen the movie. It was a very expensive lesson to learn.” Despite the up and down nature of the theater business, Celebrity Attractions has built a loyal following of 11,000 subscribers in Oklahoma City. And while such numbers are impressive, Payton says it’s the relationships he’s forged with patrons that are particularly gratifying. “It’s not just about going to the theater, but the kind of experience you’re going to have once you get there,” he said. “I’m most proud when people tell me ‘That was a great show’ or ‘I didn’t know much about that, but I had a great time.’ Theater is a business that I love even when things get challenging. You have to stay dynamic and be willing to be flexible in order to roll with the punches. If you have subscribers who believe in what you’re doing, you’ll probably keep them for the long haul.”

Other past Celebrity Attractions productions have included “Movin’ Out,” “Cirque Dreams,” “The Will Rogers Follies,” “Peter Pan,” “Hairspray” and “Blast!” OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE GRAPHIC


OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

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KEN MENDENHALL | NFL PLAYER-TURNED-MINISTER

Former OU football player now known for work through Search Ministries BY BRYAN PAINTER Staff Writer bpainter@opubco.com

Former Baltimore Colts center Ken Mendenhall once said it was best that his number not be mentioned during the broadcast of a game. Because if it was, he’d probably just been called for holding. Now, the man who was a starter for the University of Oklahoma Sooners from 1967-69 and played 143 National Football League games for the Colts through the 1980 season, is known by many for his years of work through Search Ministries. Personally and spiritually, Mendenhall has chosen a life in which he allows God to use him and allows God to receive the credit. In 1987, after football and a brief career in the oil industry, Mendenhall joined Search Ministries, which can be found in 25 cities around the nation. It is a marketplace ministry primarily to business and professional people that provides answers to life and God questions. Mendenhall, who earned All-America honors while with the Sooners in 1969, held the Colts franchise record for consecutive starts with 115 games. That record lasted about 25 years until it was broken by Peyton Manning. Today, the Edmond resident continues to be consistent in ministering to fellow Oklahomans. Q: Where were you professionally and spiritually when you accepted God in your life? A: My first year in the NFL, I had been cut by four teams, and I was beginning to wonder if I should give up my dream of playing in the NFL. My fifth team was the defending Super Bowl champions. After making the roster in 1971, we began attending the team Bible study, and it was then that I made the discovery of what it means to be a new creation in Christ.

Maybe in earlier years I would have thought Godliness correlated with the spiritual impact one had on the most number of people. Today, I think a better criterion for godliness is the question of what type of husband, father, brother or friend am I.” KEN MENDENHALL

TO LEARN MORE Ken Mendenhall is pictured as a University of Oklahoma football player in 1969. OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE PHOTO

Ken Mendenhall, of Edmond, is shown at a recent event in Baltimore where he played for the thenBaltimore Colts. PHOTO PROVIDED

Q: How did you meet Larry Moody of Search Ministries? A: Larry Moody began teaching our Bible study in 1979, which was my ninth season with the Colts. Q: Has your personal definition of a godly man changed through the years? A: Maybe in earlier years I would have thought godliness correlated with the spiritual impact one had on the most number of people. Today, I think a better criterion for godliness is the question of what type of husband, father, brother or friend am I. Q: Often when we think of spiritual outreach, the corporate sector or the professional athlete sector would not be something that quickly comes to mind. What

are some of the ways you have reached out to these individuals? A: Regardless of one’s station in life there are needs that adulation or success don’t touch, therefore Christianity has relevance for everyone. We seek to create environments where spiritual issues can be discussed without trying to control the conversation or the conclusion. Q: Why is that so important, not only to the individual, but to the community led and influenced by that individual? A: To be a follower of Jesus enables one to be more effective, whatever their calling. Whether it is leading a company, being a professional athlete or a role all of us are called to, that of being a child, spouse, parent or friend.

OKLAHOMA CITY TRIVIA DID YOU KNOW? I Oklahoma City is the nation’s 30th largest city in population, but it ranks as the second largest city by area that is in full compliance of clean air standards. I Oklahoma City is about equidistant from the West and East coasts. Two of the nation’s most important interstate arteries (Interstate 35 and I-40), as well as other valuable highways, go through Oklahoma City. I Oklahoma City is spread over 608 square miles, but the highway system allows drivers to reach almost any side of the city in about 20 minutes or less. I Oklahoma City’s roadways include 130-plus miles of the federal interstate and state highway systems, with most highways and expressways four lanes or wider, centerdivided and access-controlled. I Oklahoma City is served by nine federal highways with 14 outlets. The highways are I-35, I-40, I-44, I-235, I-240, U.S. 62, U.S. 77, U.S. 270 and U.S. 277.

SkyDance Bridge

As part of the new Crosstown Expressway, an 18-story structure inspired by the flight of Oklahoma’s state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, will become a part of downtown Oklahoma City. I The SkyDance Bridge will be 30 feet wide and 440 feet long. Plans are for the pedestrian bridge to span the semidepressed section of the new 10-lane Interstate 40 and the BNSF Railway, between the existing I-40 and the Oklahoma River near Robinson Avenue, just south of downtown. I Designers said the two giant wings will frame the roadway,

Traffic travelling south on Interstate 235 merges with traffic from NW 63rd, at right, near the Interstate 44 interchange in Oklahoma City in this December photo. PHOTO BY JOHN CLANTON, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

the taller one stretching 185 feet high. A 66inch-high ornamental metal railing will span the length of bridge. I The $5 million structure is the work of architect MKEC Engineering and Butzer Design Partnership, led by Hans Butzer, who designed the Oklahoma City National Memorial, and Stan Carroll, who has been recognized for his work with architecture and metal sculpture. I The bridge is designed so that its steel panels will shimmer in sunlight by day and amid traditional lighting by night. I Funding for the bridge will come from the city of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. DON GAMMILL, COMMUNITIES EDITOR

For more Oklahoma City trivia, see Page 37S

For more information about Search Ministries, go to www.searchnational.org.


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SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

GENE BARNES | MISSION NORMAN CO-FOUNDER

Minister serves apartment dwellers BY CARLA HINTON Religion Editor chinton@opubco.com

NORMAN — Gene Barnes heard about an out-ofstate ministry that reached out to people in need in apartment complexes in places like Houston and Arlington, Texas. Barnes said at the time, he was an ordained Southern Baptist deacon with a heart for missions. When he learned that ministry-minded leaders in other states were starting outreach programs aimed at apartment residents, he saw a need for such a ministry in Norman. Easter Sunday 1998, he and his wife, Malinda, founded Mission Norman in a small apartment. “Our dream was to bring the gospel to multifamily housing,” he said. Barnes, 75, said they had a Bible study with a young man they hired to help run the organization. Then one apartment resident showed up. She stayed for a while and then left, only to return with two other people. Barnes said that’s how the small apartment Bible study grew: one or two people at a time. “Our goal was to plant Bible studies all over this area and it still is,” Barnes said. Today, Mission Norman at 2525 E Lindsey has grown into a multifaceted nonprofit nondenominational ministry that includes a food pantry, utility and rental assistance program, medical/pharmacy assistance and of course, Bible study/Bible club programs. Barnes, who attends Brookhaven Baptist Church, said in January, the organization served more than 800 Normanarea families. He said Mission Norman now leads 15

Gene Barnes, director of Mission Norman, stands in his office at 2525 E Lindsey in Norman.

Bible studies with an average weekly attendance of 188 people. He said the group’s goal has always been to reach people for Jesus. Often that means meeting their tangible needs as well as their spiritual needs. “We know that a lot of times, we have to give them physical bread before

we give them spiritual bread,” Barnes said. Though he is now a licensed Southern Baptist preacher, Barnes said he prefers to preach by serving Mission Norman than preaching in the pulpit. As a retired AT&T employee, Barnes said his retirement will be spent doing the work of the ministry because there is such a

need. He said apartment dwellers are a ripe mission field because the apartment population is often more transient, and people haven’t established a spiritual home. Also, he said many apartment residents don’t have adequate transportation and may not be able to get to weekend services at

PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN

a church. He said some of them may feel they don’t have appropriate clothes for church or perhaps they have been hurt at a church. Barnes said Mission Norman is trying to raise $3.2 million to build five fourplexes that will serve as transitional housing for families with children. He said the project also

will fund an 18,000square-foot mission center that will aid the organization as it continues to serve Norman residents through its food pantry. “This is my retirement,” Barnes said of the ministry work ahead. “I don’t work for AT&T anymore, but the Lord works me harder than AT&T. It’s all worth it.”


THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

CRAIG GROESCHEL I FOUNDER OF LIFECHURCH.TV

LifeChurch.tv’s growth exceeds founder’s hopes Craig Groeschel

I wanted to create a church that maybe a person who wasn’t raised in church could come and not feel like they had to know everything, but could come and kind of start where they were. So I think we’ve accomplished that. Do I feel like we’ve finished the work? No. I feel like we’re only starting.” CRAIG GROESCHEL

LifeChurch.tv distributes the Bible through YouVersion, an online Bible study application for the iPhone and other smartphones and mobile devices. BY CARLA HINTON Religion Editor chinton@opubco.com

During any given week, LifeChurch.tv campuses are full of people attending worship experiences. Craig Groeschel, founder of LifeChurch.tv, recently took time for an interview about his days as head of the Oklahoma based multicampus megachurch. LifeChurch.tv was founded by Groeschel, 43, in 1996 with about 27 people attending services in a rented dance studio in Edmond. Groeschel, wife Amy and their six children continue to live in Edmond, and the church has its headquarters there at Interstate 35 and Second Street. However, the church has grown to include 13 campuses throughout the metro area and Oklahoma, plus other states like New York, Texas, Tennessee and Florida. And that is not to mention the church’s online campus, which people all over the world may attend with the simple click of a button. LifeChurch.tv spokeswoman Lori Bailey said more than 30,000 people attend one of LifeChurch.tv’s 13 campuses each weekend. She said tens of thousands more attend its Church Online weekly. Here, Groeschel talks about his role as the church’s founding leader and his vision for its future: Q: Do you see yourself as a visionary? A: Growing up, I never did see myself as a visionary, but now I’m actually excited about being a visionary who has dreams to take the message of Christ through the church in a way that will reach people both today and in the future. Even in the early years of the church, I really didn’t see myself as a visionary. Q: What were your goals for LifeChurch.tv when you founded the ministry? Have you met those goals? A: When I grew up in church, I never really understood the message of the Bible. It wasn’t necessarily the church’s fault, but it just didn’t engage me. I wanted to create a church that maybe a person who wasn’t raised in church could come and not feel like they had to know everything, but could come and kind of start where they were. So I think we’ve accomplished that. Do I feel like we’ve finished the work? No. I feel like we’re only starting. Q: What have been some of the challenges you have faced as your

ministry has grown? A: There have been too many challenges to count. For me, spiritually, I’ve had to mature. I was 28 when I started, and there are things that it just takes life experiences to really gain so I had a lot of growing up to do. I think as a leader, I have so many limitations, and I’ve had to surround myself with the right people to help push through certain obstacles. We’ve faced lots of painful decisions through the years of changing things that weren’t working and trying things that didn’t necessarily work. I could write books about all the challenges we faced. Q: What have been some of the ministry rewards you have experienced over the years? A: Unquestionably, there’s nothing better than when someone says to us “My life has been changed by God through your church.” I’m thankful that we do hear that often, and that’s why we do what we do. There’s nothing more rewarding than that. Q: When you first started, did you ever imagine that Life Church.tv would include numerous campuses and thousands of members? A: Never. I never dreamed of it. Back then, we didn’t even know if it was even legal for a church to be in two different places. To my knowledge, it had never been done. I hoped to have 700 to 1,000 people meeting at one time. I would have been thrilled and thankful for that so it exceeded everything I’d hoped for. Q: Let’s talk about Life Church.tv as a leader in innovative church technology. Was that something that you envisioned? A: It’s really not. I’m not the driving technological force behind the church, but what I am is passionate about reaching people. A key phrase is that we’ll do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ. With everything going online through the apps, the phones and such, we really believe that leveraging technology to take the message of Christ around the world is essential. So we use any means possible to get the message out.

Q: What are some of the things you would like to see happen with the church in the future? A: We’re going to start a new LifeChurch.tv campus in Midwest City (in the Heritage Park Mall building) this summer, so we’re really excited about it. It should be open by July. We’re hoping to open another one in Owasso.

LIFECHURCH.TV FOUNDER

Then, we’re really passionate about giving the Bible away through YouVersion (an online and software Bible-Bible study application for iPhone and other smart phones and mobile devices). I think we’ve given away about 17 million right now, and we’re hoping to give away tens of millions more in the future.

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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

THE MOST REV. PAUL S. COAKLEY | ARCHBISHOP OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF OKLAHOMA CITY

New archbishop is off to busy start BY CARLA HINTON Religion Editor chinton@opubco.com

The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, is shown in February. PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

Parishioners in Kansas say they’ll miss Coakley Editor’s note: In this reprint, parishoners speak about the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley after his installation as archbishop in February. BY HEATHER WARLICK-MOORE Staff Writer hwarlick@opubco.com

EDMOND — Tears filled

the eyes of the Woolsoncroft family after the installation of Oklahoma City’s new archbishop, the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. The family was among the 1,200 people who attended the ceremony. “We’re crying because we’re going to miss him,” Monica Woolsoncroft said at a reception after the installation ceremony. She, her husband Gary Woolsoncroft and their daughter, Zoe, 14, drove to Edmond from Salina, Kan., where Coakley served as bishop the past six years. “He’s a very good friend of ours,” she said. The family and Coakley watched the Super Bowl together. Coakley is a “people person,” Monica Woolsoncroft said. “He’s always hugging, shaking hands. ... He loves kids, loves youth. He’s revitalized our youth program in the diocese. He can talk the talk.” Woolsoncroft said Coakley was active in community and civic projects outside the church. Coakley, 55, possesses the energy needed to tackle the goals he’s set for himself, she said. Two Edmond teens in attendance were excited about their new archbishop. Patty Stein, 18, and T.J. Krug, 17, said they were about to bounce out of their seats throughout the ceremony. “I don’t think either of us thought we were going to be able to be here because the ticket thing was such a VIP kind of thing,” Stein said. “But we found out a few weeks ago that we were going to be gift-bearers and not just have general seating, and that’s even more special.” The two brought for-

ward the bread to be blessed by the archbishop during the celebration of the Eucharist. They were chosen for the honor because they serve on the archdiocese’s youth advisory board. “I was cracking up during his sermon when he made a reference to Facebook. It’s just kind of funny; it’s not something you’re used to hearing from a bishop,” Krug said. The two said they support Coakley’s embrace of technology. “Kind of like he said, with this 21st century, the message that we have isn’t going to change, just how we’re bringing it to people, how we’re presenting it, needs to change,” Krug said. Even Catholics who are not techno-savvy agreed that Coakley’s methods could be a good change. “(Social media) is of course very popular with almost everybody now,” said Richard Shulte, with the Knights of Columbus of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province. “It’s the way we communicate now. I don’t see any problem with it. Obviously it doesn’t replace being there in person and certainly won’t take the place of being in Mass in person.” Excitement about the new archbishop was palpable during the reception. But there were many who said they were happy for Oklahoma yet sad about losing their former leader. The Rev. Jarett Konrade, the first priest ordained by Coakley, said he saw the sense of loss on the faces of the Woolsoncrofts during the installation, and tears came to his own eyes. “It’s hard to put into words the impact he had on Salina, the diocese,” said Konrade, who was appointed by Coakley as the diocese’s vocations director. From rejuvenating the youth ministry to bringing more seminarians into the diocese, Coakley’s influence was great and will be missed, Konrade said.

“It’s been a real blessing to be a part of his journey,” Konrade said. The Woolsoncrofts echoed that sentiment, saying they knew when Coakley came to Salina that he was “going places.” “Hopefully, you’ll have him for a while,” Monica Woolsoncroft said. “People just relate to him. Oklahoma City is very, very lucky and blessed to have him.”

The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley has just begun as leader of the Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Coakley was installed as the new archdiocesan archbishop in February at an elaborate ceremony at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. He became the fourth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, succeeding the Most Rev. Eusebius Beltran, who retired. Although he was not born in the Midwest, Coakley said he identifies with the region because he spent much of his growing up years in Kansas. Considering monastic life, Coakley spent some time at a French monastery after graduating from the University of Kansas. However, he decided to become a priest instead and served the Diocese of Wichita, Kan., for 21 years. Coakley served as bishop of the Diocese of Salina, Kan., before Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Oklahoma City archbishop. Oklahoma City Archdiocese has about 109 parishes and missions, representing about 108,171 people. Since his installation, Coakley has been busy. He let his voice be heard across the state when he recently joined with another Oklahoma bishop to express concern about an immigration bill making its way through the state Legislature. Coakley and the Most Rev. Edward Slattery, bishop of Tulsa, said they are troubled about a Senate bill that would allow local and state law enforcement officers to arrest a person if there is a reasonable suspicion to believe he or she is in the

Religion and faith Religion and faith can determine and inspire our deepest beliefs and values. Learn more about world faiths. KNOWIT.NEWSOK. COM/RELIGION-FAITHOKLAHOMA

The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley was installed as the fourth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City in in a tradition-rich ceremony in February at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond. Coakley is shown elevating a consecrated host as he celebrates the Mass. PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

country illegally. Coakley and Slattery said they are concerned that the bill will have an intentional or unintentional effect of instilling fear in an already vulnerable population.

Easter activities Meanwhile, the new archbishop also is busy with confirmation ceremonies throughout the archdiocese. Confirmation is one of the sacraments of initiation in the Roman Catholic Church. Coakley will preside

over his first Easter Mass as archbishop today at Our Lady’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City. Coakley plans to visit Rome in June for a ceremony in which he will receive his pallium from the pope during a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica. The pallium is a white woolen band worn over the shoulders and is bestowed upon new metropolitan archbishops. It symbolizes authority and expresses the special bond between the archbishops and the pontiff.


OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

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THE REV. ANTHONY JORDAN | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR-TREASURER OF THE BAPTIST GENERAL CONVENTION OF OKLAHOMA

Baptist leader has new dream for future BY CARLA HINTON Religion Editor chinton@opubco.com

When the Rev. Anthony Jordan became executive directortreasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma in 1996, progress meant tearing something down before building something up. Jordan, 61, envisioned an enclosed tabernacle to replace the historic outdoor tabernacle at the convention’s popular Falls Creek encampment near Davis. In his mind’s eye, he saw youths worshipping in an air-conditioned building where they could clearly see and hear every word that was said during evening worship services. The miserably hot services in the summer heat in the outdoor tabernacle would be a memory after the old structure was torn down. Though generation after generation of Southern Baptists had sang hymns and accepted God’s call to serve in the aging tabernacle, it had seen better days and The Rev. Anthony Jordan, longtime executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention its usefulness was over. of Oklahoma, sits at his desk at the convention’s headquarters in Oklahoma City. Jordan, who left his pastor’s PHOTO BY PAUL HELLSTERN, THE OKLAHOMAN post at Northwest Baptist Church to take the helm of the convention, touted a new taber- the tabernacle recently played warm feelings and reaching a new ily includes wife Polla and two grown children. nacle as progress, and he imme- host to a large women’s confer- generation, and we did.” Falls Creek easily comes to The Ponca City native said diately set out to achieve that ence, and a men’s conference is Jordan’s mind when he talks many churches continue to build scheduled to begin Friday. goal. new cabins at Falls Creek, while “Falls Creek has truly become about his vision for the future. Today, he said the 7,253-seat In his 15th year as the conven- others upgraded their facilities. tabernacle, completed in 2007, a year-round facility — it’s what tion’s leader, Jordan said the He said the convention hopes to stands as a testament to the we envisioned,” Jordan said. He said he heard the Lord’s call conference center and encamp- add more motel-like units there commitment of Oklahoma Baptists, who donated about $30 to preach while attending a Falls ment figures prominently in his as well as a new dining facility and million for the project. And Creek service in the old taber- assessment of progress for fu- an enclosed 2,000-seat amphithough the idea of taking the old nacle, but the dream of reaching ture generations. Southern Bap- theater that can be used as an autabernacle didn’t set too well out to more youths and others tists are the largest denomina- ditorium and multipurpose room. He said he also is focusing on with a small minority at the with a climate-controlled build- tion in Oklahoma, with about other priorities. 1,700 churches statewide. time, the new facility is rapidly ing overcame sentimentality. “Many people were just like Jordan said he’d like to develop “We’ve dreamed a new becoming one of the centers of Oklahoma Baptist life. In fact, me, but we had to choose between dream,” said Jordan, whose fam- strong pastoral leadership in the

state by developing ways to educate today’s pastors and equip them with good ministry skills. He said the convention has recently entered into a partnership with institutes of higher learning to help train black, American Indian and Hispanic Southern Baptist ministers. He said the convention also is partnering with Oklahoma Baptist University to help preachers continue their education and obtain graduate level degrees. Jordan said church planting continues to be key, with the convention averaging 50 church plants a year. He said probably a third of the churches are Hispanic, and the convention is now focused on planting more black churches. He said the convention includes about 200 American Indian churches, but he’d like to see more started. “Oklahoma Baptists are the most ethnically diverse in this state,” he said. Jordan said another important focus in the years ahead is retaining young people, who tended to fall away from church attendance in their 20s. “While we engage young people, keeping them in (ministry in) college and young adults has been challenging.” Other priorities include continuing to use technology for outreach and continuing mission efforts to reach people across the globe. He said Oklahoma Baptists are reaching out through international mission efforts to East Asia and Mexico. as well as domestically in Utah, Idaho, Indiana and Arizona. “Our goal as Oklahoma Baptists is to give ourselves away,” Jordan said.

THE REV. HERBERT COOPER | SENIOR PASTOR OF PEOPLE’S CHURCH IN OKLAHOMA CITY

People’s Church pastor sees huge growth as a blessing BY CARLA HINTON Staff Writer chinton@opubco.com

The visionary behind People’s Church in Oklahoma City said the Lord has blessed the ministry, resulting in growth beyond his expectations. The Rev. Herbert Cooper, senior pastor of People’s Church, 800 E Britton Road, said church leaders have focused on making all they do relevant and the result has been exponential growth. Last year, the church was named one of the fastest-growing churches in America. The church, affiliated with the Assemblies of God, was No. 4 on Outreach magazine’s 2010 list of the fastest-growing churches in the country. The church reported an increase of 1,085 people from February/March 2009 to February/March 2010. Church leaders have said about 4,000 people attend the church’s four weekend services. Researchers, led by LifeWay Research President and Outreach columnist Ed Stetzer, contacted more than 8,000 churches to gather the self-reported data used to compile the lists. The listings are based on weekend attendance averages in February and March. The 2010 “largest church” list includes churches with an attendance of more than 5,500, while the “fastestgrowing” list includes churches with attendance greater than 1,000 — a numerical gain of 250 or more and a percentage gain of at least 3 percent. Rankings for “fastest-growing churches” are determined by factoring percentage growth and numerical gain. Cooper, 35, said there are likely several reasons the ministry is drawing more people each week. “When you are living in it, you don’t really sit back and say ‘Wow!’ ” Cooper said, after the list was announced. “I’m just excited to see how the Lord has blessed us.”

FASTEST-GROWING CHURCHES These are the top five fastest-growing churches in America. The list includes church name, location, pastor’s name, growth by percent and growth by number. I 12Stone Church, Lawrenceville, Ga., Kevin Myers (30 percent, +2,226). I Experience Life Church, Lubbock, Texas, Chris Galanos (60 percent, +1,061). I The Rock Church and World Outreach Center, San Bernardino, Calif., Jim Cobrae (25 percent, +2,646). I People’s Church, Oklahoma City, Herbert Cooper (58 percent, +1,085). I Faith Church of St. Louis, Fenton, Mo., David Crank (36 percent, +1,200). SOURCE: OUTREACH MAGAZINE/LIFEWAY RESEARCH

Cooper started the church in his home in 2002 with longtime friend the Rev. Brian Rush, and spent several years holding the church’s Sunday services at the Quail Springs AMC movie theater. Rush is the church’s creative arts director. The congregation bought land at its current location on Britton Road between the Broadway Extension and Kelley Avenue and opened its new facility in spring 2006. Cooper has said moving from the theater to the new free-standing building was a catalyst for growth. In addition, people have begun to hear about the church through its many outreach activities. “I think our heart for evangelism and outreach is key,” he said.

Nontraditional approach Cooper said the church’s “out of the box” worship experiences seem to appeal to people, and this also could be a reason for the ministry’s growth. He said the church’s nontraditional approach appeals to many people, particularly youths and young adults in their 20s who are “coming in droves.” “I don’t want that to come across as if we think that traditional churches are wrong. I grew up in a traditional church, and I love traditional churches. But we are doing some-

thing different that is appealing to people.” He said one way People’s Church is nontraditional is the dramatic musical performances church leaders offer in conjunction with the Sunday messages. Cooper said church leaders are very intentional about this and have weekly creative meetings to plan these “performances with a purpose” about three to four weeks ahead of time. “We ask ourselves, ‘How do we take what God wants us to share in the message and illustrate it?’ ” he said. On one Sunday, church

The Rev. Brian Rush, People’s Church associate pastor, left, and pastor the Rev. Herbert Cooper stand outside their church in Oklahoma City. PHOTO BY STEVE GOOCH, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

members performed a dramatic routine similar to the musical theater style of “Stomp,” beating garbage cans, walking on stiltlike items and dancing as a raging fire was displayed on a big screen in the background. The routine was tied to a message about the end of the world. Rush said another recent dramatic performance involved several women attired in wedding dresses singing and dancing to a People’s Church version of Beyonce’s pop culture hit “Single Ladies.” Rush said the performance was tied to a series about Christian singles. Cooper said another time, dancers performed to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” before a message about the importance of prayer. A spoof

of old-school rapper M.C. Hammer’s “Pray” also was done for that series. “It creates excitement, and I think they (performances) are a strength.” Meanwhile, the church formerly called itself a multicultural church, and Cooper said that was by design. He said church leaders wanted to call attention to the church’s diversity. Cooper said the church doesn’t highlight that aspect of the church as much because the diversity in the staff, worship team and congregation speaks for itself. “Brian and I started the church together — a white guy and a black guy — and we said we were ’a multicultural church designed with you in mind,’ “ he

said. “Nowadays, we just live it out. We don’t make a big deal about it.”

Looking ahead Cooper said church leaders hope to open a satellite church in the south Oklahoma City metro area in the coming year. He said the church has a significant number of members from the region that includes Spencer, Moore and particularly Midwest City and Del City. Cooper said attendees at the south complex will see his Sunday messages via satellite. And in the meantime, Cooper said church leaders plan to continue their mission to reach the unchurched. “It is humbling to watch what God is doing.”


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

IMAD ENCHASSI | IMAM AND PRESIDENT OF THE ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF GREATER OKLAHOMA CITY

Muslim leader brings humor to role BY CARLA HINTON Religion Editor chinton@opubco.com

As one of the more prominent Muslim leaders in the Oklahoma City metro area, Imad Enchassi’s quick smile and endless supply of jokes often diffuses any tension over religious differences. Enchassi, the imam and president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said he learned that making people laugh humanizes him so that people learn to look beyond common Muslim stereotypes. “Comedy is part of our ‘treach’ — preach and teach,” he said. “We’ve (Muslims) been dehumanized so when I go and crack a couple of jokes, they say ‘This imam, he’s funny, he’s human.’ ” Enchassi, 46, readily brings his humor to the forefront, but his life has not always been filled with fun and jokes. Prejudice and religious bigotry have marked portions of his life, but he said he refuses to be defined by it. Enchassi grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, to a Syrian mother and Palestinian father. He said he spent his teen years in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps and was there in September 1982 when the camps were

Imad Enchassi, imam and president of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, holds a copy of the Holy Quran at Mercy School, an Islamic school opened in 2010 in Oklahoma City. PHOTO BY JOHN CLANTON, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

set upon by a group called the Lebanese Christian militiamen and hundreds of refugees were killed. Enchassi said surviving the massacre made him think long and hard about the power and destructiveness of hatred. “I knew that hatred had to stop. What hatred is so deep that would make someone cut a baby

from the womb?” he said. Enchassi said he immigrated to the United States soon after the massacre and attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth. He said he worked his way through college (he obtained a graduate degree in human resources management) with a cafeteria chain that even-

tually sent him to Oklahoma City to operate one of its restaurants. Enchassi said he joined with a relatively small contingent of Muslims to form the Islamic Society. He said a shortage of imams prompted the society’s board to ask him to fill in as the organization’s spiritual leader. He said he he’s the position of imam and society president since 2003. Enchassi said the society started in an apartment on NW 50 and Portland Avenue and met there for four years before opening the organization’s current mosque in December 1997. He said the Muslim community that attends services at the mosque, 3214 N St. Clair has grown from about 27 people to more than 1,000. Enchassi said he went back to school in Lebanon several years ago to earn a bachelor’s degree an doctorate degree in Islamic studies. He said he felt it was important to obtain more knowledge about the roots of his faith because he is now serving as spiritual guide for many Oklahoma Muslims. Enchassi said he’s proud of the fact that the society built a new building to house Mercy School, the Islamic school it founded for local Muslim youths. He said the school is part of his two-fold vision for the future.

He said first, he and other society leaders will continue working to educate Muslims, particularly young Muslims, about their faith. They want to make sure they are proud of their faith and their place in American society. “Being American and Muslim does not contradict each other — they complements each other,” Enchassi said. Second, the Muslim leader said he wants to continue educating the community-at-large about the Islamic faith. He said strong interfaith relationships in Oklahoma were developed in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 when false rumors circulated that Muslims were responsible for the tragedy. Enchassi said that interfaith awareness helped in the aftermath of the 2001terrorist attacks and he said his vision is for those relationships with people and leaders of other faiths to be strengthened. “The aim is to prepare and educate people about Islam in order to move forward in the future.” He’s writing a book about the lessons he’s learned. “There is an Islamic proverb that says ‘Anytime I debate an intelligent person, I win. Anytime I debate an ignorant person, he wins.’ ”

EDIE ROODMAN | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF JEWISH FEDERATION OF GREATER OKLAHOMA CITY

Jewish Federation’s chief loves OKC, people, her job BY CARLA HINTON Religion Editor chinton@opubco.com

It’s hard to believe Edie Roodman didn’t want to move to Oklahoma when her husband landed a job in the metro area more than two decades ago. Roodman, longtime executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, has become a fixture in the Jewish faith community and the community-at-large. The affable Roodman said she and her husband, Dr. Eli Reshef, had been living in Louisville, Ky., with their children when he received several different job offers. Reshef is a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist. Roodman said he eventually decided to take one of the offers for a position at the University of Oklahoma. “I came, every bit the loyal wife — picked up everything, the kids and came here. I honestly came kicking and screaming,” she said, smiling. These days, most people can’t imagine Roodman in any other place beside her office at the federation, 710 W Wilshire Blvd. Suite 103. That is unless she’s out and about establishing partnerships with other agencies, overseeing the federation’s varied programs or taking trips to Israel to expose other Oklahomans to the nation.

She’s in her 20th year She said she began as a volunteer at the federation, then served as interim when the organization’s director moved on to head a Jewish Federation group in another city. Before long, Roodman couldn’t see herself doing anything else but the work of the federation. “I started working, and I fell in love with the opportunities,” she said. “I realized that I really wanted this job.” Now in her 20th year as executive director, Roodman said she sings Oklahoma City’s praises all the time. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I think this is a place of opportunity for anyone new,” she said. Roodman said the federation is one of 163 such nonprofit organizations across the country that acts as a sort of mini United Way for the Jewish community. She said the

I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I think this is a place of opportunity for anyone new.” EDIE ROODMAN

federation’s mission is to bring local Jews together and instill in them a sense of pride in being Jewish. She said the organization also raises funds for Jewish programs in Israel, while raising money for programs that enhance the local community. She said she helped start a campaign to raise funds in 1991 when she became executive director. She said despite the fact that Oklahoma’s economy was struggling, people gave to the campaign, perhaps because the federation began to place emphasis on local programs rather than overseas partnerships. Roodman described herself as “green” and something of a “renegade” at the time because she was very interested in building relationships that would help serve as the core of change for the federation. She said the federation’s board was great and allowed her to forge ahead with new partnerships that served to help bring the federation to the forefront. “In a small community, we have a little bit of everything but not a lot of anything,” she said. “We really needed to work together. It’s always been a challenge.” Partnerships abounded with organizations like the Ronald McDonald House, Oklahoma City Beautiful, the Oklahoma Israel Exchange (OKIE) and the Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum. She said the organization also received grants from organizations like the Kirkpatrick Foundation, Sarkey’s Foundations and the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to help more many of its programs forward. In its 70th year, the local federation is now at a place where it has much to celebrate, she said. She said her vision for the future is to see young Jews take leadership roles in their faith communities beyond. Roodman, whose three children are grown, said she’s going to do what she can to instill a sense of

purpose and community in the younger generation. “They are the leaders of tomorrow, so I think it’s really important that the established Jewish community figure out a way to engage those young people,” she said. And Roodman said she’ll continue to pursue partnerships with other organizations and groups with like-

minded goals and values. One such avenue for annual partnership is the federation’s Yom HaShoah Holocaust remembrance service. Roodman said she is proud to say that the federation goes out of its way every year to partner with a different group so that different segments of the community can come together to honor Holocaust survivors and remember those who did not survive. She said this year’s service is set for May 15 at Edmond North High School. “I don’t see an end in sight,” she said of her continued work. “I can’t imagine how I would spend my time because this brings together the values that I love with the people that I love.”

Edie Roodman Longtime executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

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DEBBY HAMPTON | CEO OF THE UNITED WAY OF CENTRAL OKLAHOMA

United Way’s new chief learns value of volunteers BY HEATHER WARLICK MOORE Staff Writer hwarlick@opubco.com

When she was a little girl, Debby Hampton, who officially began her position as the new CEO of the United Way of Central Oklahoma on Jan. 1, wanted to try everything. “I was the little girl that wanted to do it all. Every person I met, I thought they had the best job,” Hampton said. She wanted to be a doctor, a nurse or maybe a police officer or ambulance driver. Because of a favorite teacher, she, too, wanted to be a teacher one day. She even remembers how happy the garbage collectors in her neighborhood seemed and thought maybe one day she might like to be a garbage collector. “That might be part of the reason I chose the nonprofit field. Because you know, when you start with smaller nonprofits espe-

cially, you really wear many hats,” Hampton said. “You’re the fundraiser; you’re the PR person; you’re the program director. So I did get a chance to kind of do it all, in some ways.” Born in Lubbock, Texas, and raised most of her life in Del City by an Air Force father and her mother, whom her father met after World War II in Germany, Hampton remembers summers spent visiting her mother’s family in Germany. She remembers helping her mother learn English. She remembers a somewhat idyllic childhood. But she always wanted to help others. That’s one reason she decided to get a degree in psychology: so she could work in the mental health field, as she did right out of college. For a short while she was a case worker with the chronically mentally ill at a nonprofit hospital. And so began Hampton’s career in

nonprofits. After working with the mentally ill, she spent 16 years working for the American Red Cross where she said she learned the value of a nonprofit agency’s board of directors. “During the May 3, 1999, tornado, the ability to call various leadership volunteers from the board of directors was invaluable,” Hampton said. “You just had access with your board members to unbelievable resources that you could call on.” After taking a year and a half off work to be a stayat-home mother to her two sons (“I have to be honest, that is the hardest job, ever.”), she landed the executive director position at the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. In that role, she traveled across the state visiting with many of the states 18,000plus nonprofit organizations, helping them learn to comply with regulations, budget wisely and

function successfully. Throughout her nonprofit career, she said her most valuable position was being a volunteer coordinator. “To this day, that’s my real passion. The volunteers,” she said. As CEO of The United Way of Central Oklahoma, Hampton’s short-term goal is to meet with each individual board member and agency director to learn about their goals their agencies and the United Way. “This is a very successful United Way. I learned that because the first week in January, I went to United Way Worldwide, the national United Way, and spent time with 40 other new CEOs across the nation,” Hampton said. “The more I looked at the statistics and what we’re doing here in Central Oklahoma, I realized just how incredible we are.” That success is largely due to the work of Bob

Debby Hampton The new CEO of the United Way of Central Oklahoma.

Spinks, her predecessor of 10 years, and the forwardthinking board of directors she now works with. She, the board and agency directors have some long-term goals in sight. One goal is to look at the high rate of incarcerated women in Oklahoma. Another is the West Town, a project United Way has helped coordinate between the various agencies that work with the

homeless populations, especially the Homeless Alliance, to create a one-stop shop where the homeless can find all kinds of different services they need. “It’s wonderful,” Hampton said. Her enthusiasm for all the United Way has accomplished is infectious. But she is humble about her new position. “Obviously, I cannot take any credit for this. I started Jan. 1.”

GEORGE B. KAISER | CEO AND PRIMARY OWNER OF GBK CORP.

Billionaire Kaiser pledges his fortune to philanthropy BY DON MECOY Business Writer dmecoy@opubco.com

As Oklahoma’s wealthiest citizen, George B. Kaiser has won acclaim for his business acumen as head of an energy company, major bank and his numerous successful investments. But his infrequent public statements are most often about his philanthropic efforts. Kaiser, who grew up in Tulsa, created the George Kaiser Family Foundation as a way of attempting to break the cycle of poverty through investments in early childhood education, community health, social services and civic enhancement. Kaiser long ago pledged his fortune to philanthropy, and last year he renewed that pledge through an organization called Giving Pledge. “I had the advantage of both genetics (winning the ‘ovarian lottery’) and up-

bringing,” Kaiser wrote to Giving Pledge. “As I looked around at those who did not have these advantages, it became clear to me that I had a moral obligation to direct my resources to help right that balance.” Kaiser, 68, is president, CEO and primary owner of GBK Corp., parent of Kaiser-Francis Oil Co., which he has managed for 40 years. Kaiser is chairman of the board and majority shareholder of BOK Financial Corp., one of the largest regional commercial bank holding companies, and a major shareholder in several energy, oil and gas, mining and technology companies. Forbes magazine estimates Kaiser’s net worth at about $10 billion, which would make him the 29th wealthiest person in America.

About his projects His foundation has invested heavily in expanding the availability of highquality, very early child-

OKLAHOMA CITY TRIVIA THE DEVON ENERGY TOWER I Oklahoma City’s tallest building is the Devon Energy tower, which is still under construction. When completed, it will be 50 stories, 850 feet tall. I The tower’s reinforcing steel will weigh 19,000 tons, equal to 100 Boeing 747s. I The tower will weigh 140 million pounds. I The entire complex, including the rotunda and garden wing, will weigh 200 million pounds. I The rotunda, which will serve as the public entrance to Devon Energy Center, is 120 feet tall, spanning 25,000 square feet, and is almost as tall as the nearby Colcord Hotel. I The garden wing is 120 feet tall, spanning 450,000 square feet, and will include restaurants and retail open to the public. I Devon Park will span two acres and will include more than 150 trees. I The Devon auditorium will feature 285 seats, a large lobby and a 30-degree angled glass facade that will overlook the park. I The completed Devon Energy garage features 10 floors (expanded from five), more than 1 million square feet, a wellness center and glass storefronts built into the west facade to accommodate potential future retail.

MAPS III Oklahoma City’s bold development through the MAPS programs has produced or transformed several areas in the downtown area. But there’s more. The MAPS III plan, a $777 million venture, includes: I A 70-acre downtown park, $130 million. I A new convention center, $280 million. I Mass transit initiatives, $130 million. I Oklahoma River improvements, $60 million. I State Fair Park improvements, $60 million. I Health and wellness aquatic centers for senior citizens, $50 million. I Additional bike and pedestrian trails, $40 million. I Sidewalks, $10 million. DON GAMMILL, COMMUNITIES EDITOR

hood education for lowincome children in Tulsa County. Kaiser, a Harvard graduate, notes that research studies suggest that giving at-risk infants and toddlers exposure to such programs is the most effective way to improve their opportunity for success in school and life. The foundation also supports numerous health and human service organizations in the Tulsa area to reinforce its anti-poverty efforts, and supports projects in community health, such as the University of

Oklahoma School of Community Medicine and the Community Prenatal Project. The foundation also backs civic enhancement and beautification in Tulsa through programs such as the Arkansas River Enhancement project and the Tulsa Beautification Foundation. It also leads the National Energy Policy Institute, an initiative to develop a national energy policy focusing on alternative fuels and conservation to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

George B. Kaiser President, CEO and owner of GBK Corp.


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

JANE SUTTER | PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF OKLAHOMA COUNTY

Group’s president takes joy in new role BY HEATHER WARLICK MOORE Staff Writer hwarlick@opubco.com

When you walk through the front doors of the Boys and Girls Club at 3535 N Western Ave. during afterschool hours, you’ll be greeted by the boisterous voices of hundreds of children of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities, playing bumper pool, video games, doing homework and virtually every other activity any kid would love doing. Jane Sutter’s office, on the other hand, is serene, peaceful and quiet. That’s where the new president and chief executive of the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County spends much of her time securing funding, fulfilling the needs of the board of directors and performing all the other duties that come along with the position she’s held since Jan. 3. But all she has to do is open the door that leads

Jane Sutter is shown at The Boys and Girls Club at 3535 N Western Ave. PHOTO BY HEATHER WARLICK MOORE, THE OKLAHOMAN

from her Zen-like office to the more rowdy part of the club and “it’s like instant boost of energy,” she said. The joy she feels about her new position is as obvious as the joy on the faces of the kids who frequent the club. “They are so happy when they get here. They jump off those buses and run. I mean they almost

like run over each other to get in the building. They have big smiles on their face, and they’ll give you hugs as they walk through. Yeah. It’s just such a gift. It’s really wonderful.”

‘A second career’ Her new position at The Boys and Girls Club is in some ways similar to her

previous position as the deputy director of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments. There, she also worked with a board of directors, built relationships and planned for the future. But at ACOG, she didn’t get hugs from dozens of kids each day. “It was very meaningful

work,” she said of her former position. She was with ACOG for 30 years with various job titles. She was on the team of people who implemented the 911 system in 1989. She helped get the organization involved with The United Way. She spent countless hours mentoring and tutoring children through the organization’s volunteer programs. But after three decades, she said, she was interested in trying something different. “This is a great place to kind of have a second career and a whole new life,” she said. “I really feel like I have a whole new chance at life because it’s such a new fulfilling experience for me.” In the near future, Sutter looks forward to expanding the number of children who can attend the club after school thanks to two new 30passenger buses the club

was given from Impact Oklahoma. They’re not being driven yet because the process of getting the club’s drivers properly licensed is a time-consuming process. But soon, “you’ll see them around town. They have big smiling faces of kids on them.” The club serves about 300 kids daily during the school year. These buses, she said, should allow the club to serve up to 500 kids per day, their maximum capacity. As a long-term goal, Sutter said she hopes to expand the areas served by The Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County by possibly working with the Oklahoma City Public Schools or with the City of Oklahoma City. “There are needs all over our city and we really realize that. I think part of my mission here will be to look at how we move forward and how we meet those in other parts of the community.”

RON NORICK | ORGANIZER OF DEVON ENERGY HOLIDAY RIVER PARADE AND FORMER MAYOR OF OKLAHOMA CITY

A decorated boat floats on the Oklahoma River during the 2010 Devon Energy Holiday River Parade last December. PHOTO BY SARAH PHIPPS, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE Fireworks from the first Devon Energy Holiday River Parade and Festival in 2004 explode over the Oklahoma River as boats with holiday lights float on the water. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

Ex-mayor’s vision has kept holiday river parade afloat BY LILLIE-BETH BRINKMAN Assistant Features Editor lbrinkman@opubco.com

Each year around Christmas, thousands of people get into the holiday spirit by lining up along the Oklahoma River’s banks to watch a nighttime parade of boats. The festive atmosphere surrounding the annual Devon Energy Holiday River Parade goes back to 2004, when the event officially opened the Oklahoma River thanks to the efforts of a committee including former Mayor Ron Norick. Norick has been quietly organizing the event ever since and is more than halfway to a goal of raising $1 million to the Oklahoma River Foundation Fund to start funding improvements in the area that the city doesn’t have the money to do. “We just kind of get out there and do it,” Norick said. Each year during the parade, about 25 or 30 boats decorated with lights float by cheering crowds, and fireworks either start or end the show with downtown Oklahoma City as a backdrop. The festival atmosphere brings a lot of families to the river to kick off the city’s holiday season. “I wanted to do some-

thing kind of different,” said Norick about starting the Devon parade after being inspired by a boat parade he had seen at Grand Lake. “It was always so much fun, and I thought, ‘let’s try that on the river.’ ” The parade skipped one year — 2009 — when the boat ramps were temporarily removed to make room for Devon Boathouse construction. The 2010 parade brought in about $100,000 for the Oklahoma River Foundation Fund after a recent $10,000 grant from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation boosted those totals, organizers said. Overall, the parade has brought in about $565,000. When the foundation is fully funded, Norick envisions using the money for things like more boat landings to let people ride Oklahoma River Cruisers and stop in places like Stockyards City west of downtown and the Native American Cultural Center to the east, when it is finished. Norick enjoys seeing all the families with bundledup children filling Regatta Park and packed along the river banks to enjoy the boats. “It’s just a great kickoff for the holiday season,” Norick said. “It’s really a family event. That’s what it was intended to be.”

It’s just a great kickoff for the holiday season. It’s really a family event. That’s what it was intended to be.” RON NORICK


THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

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MICK CORNETT | OKLAHOMA CITY MAYOR

Envisioning a better Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett uses a kayaking simulator as he joined hundreds of people last June taking part in Let’s Move Day with a variety of athletic activities on the Oklahoma River and at the Chesapeake Boathouse. Watching Cornett, from left, are former Olympic athletes Nadia Comaneci and Dominique Dawes, Oklahoma City University rowing coach Mike Knopp and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

New colored concrete will mark bicycle lanes downtown as shown in this photo of Walker Avenue looking north toward Sheridan Avenue. PHOTO PROVIDED BY PROJECT 180

DOWNTOWN | MAPS 3, PROJECT 180, DEVON TOWER ALTER AREA BY BRYAN DEAN Staff Writer bdean@opubco.com

Mayor Mick Cornett said city leaders have a lot on their plates this year with MAPS 3. The plan, approved in December 2009 by voters, includes $777 million to fund projects including a 70-acre downtown park, a downtown streetcar and transit hub and a new convention center. “We are going to be extremely busy,” Cornett said. “The key is to make sure we pay attention to the details because we are making a lot of very important decisions here in the next year.” Many of the details about MAPS 3 projects will be decided in the coming months, including the route of the downtown streetcar and the location of the convention center. Complicating matters is Project 180, a separate initiative that seeks to make downtown streets more pedestrian-friendly. The street projects are ongoing even as plans for the MAPS 3 projects are unfolding. City Manager Jim Couch said the city needs to get some work done on the numerous projects before residents get restless. “It would be good to get a few streets finished downtown,” Couch said. “People have been great so far. There is a lot of inconvenience downtown. And

the people living and working and visiting have been really great as we go through this process.” Cornett said between MAPS 3, Project 180 and the construction of the Devon tower, Oklahoma City has an abundance of new construction at a time when most cities are still suffering from the effects of a national recession. “If you look at the things we are doing, the projects that are rolling out and the way the city is changing, there aren’t a lot of cities that are dreaming big right now,” Cornett said. “It’s amazing how much we’ve got in the pipeline.”

Major projects abound City officials across the nation have praised Oklahoma City’s ability to create a vision of a better city with the MAPS programs and see it through to completion. Local business leaders credit the visionary leadership of Cornett and others with making downtown a great place to live, work and play. Couch said he can’t remember a time when the city had so many major programs going on at once. “The key focus is building what we’ve been tasked to do,” he said. “You have to focus on the details because one bad misstep, and people may forget about some of the success you’ve had in the past.” Key to maintaining that success will be the citizens

advisory panel appointed to oversee the MAPS 3 projects. The 11-member group appointed by Cornett is being led by Tom McDaniel, the former president of Oklahoma City University. Cornett said his main focus in selecting the members of the committee was to get a diverse group with expertise in many areas, a goal he believes he accomplished. “I wanted a collection of people that were passionate about these projects and passionate about the city, but I was not looking for a list of city hall insiders,” Cornett said.

This model of Maps 3 was unveiled in 2009.

PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE


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OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

THE OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: MARKING 100 YEARS

Grading is underway on the Turner Turnpike west of Bristow at Catfish Creek in this 1951 photo.

THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

From dirt and mud to interstates, state celebrates a century of roads BY DAVID ZIZZO Staff Writer dzizzo@opubco.com

Dirt, gravel or mud. A century ago in Oklahoma, that was the choice of road when going for a drive. If you had a choice at all. You had worn cattle trails, old military roads and a patchwork of roads scratched out by townships and counties, if you could call frequently mudrutted paths without drainage ditches “roads.” “There were no highways really to speak of,” said Michael Dean, spokesman for the Oklahoma History Center.

A new department That also was when the new state decided things must change. In 1911, the Legislature created a state Transportation Department with meager funding of a $1annual charge on the few autos in the state. The agency would eventually help guide a boom in road building that would lead to the 12,000 miles of paved roads the state has today. The Transportation Department’s first commissioner was Col. Sidney Suggs, an Ardmore newspaper publisher and proponent of the “good roads” movement. In a speech recorded in the 1960s that Dean, a connoisseur of everything vintage, dug from the History Center’s audio archives, E.K. Gaylord, then editor and publisher of The Oklahoman, described Suggs’ method of road campaigning. “He just spent his time going around the state holding little meetings,” Gaylord said. “He had a guitar and he’d play ‘Turkey in the Straw’ and he’d get a crowd and he’d talk good roads.” Gaylord said the first hard-surface highway in the state — paved with brick — ran from Oklahoma City to Guthrie. It was later resurfaced, he said, but the brick remained underneath, “a pretty good foundation for an asphalt road.” The first road paved in Oklahoma City — also with bricks — was Main Street near the railroad tracks and Broadway, Dean’s research found. In an audio interview made in the 1970s that Dean found, Oklahoma City banker

IF YOU GO CENTENNIAL EVENTS I Automobile exhibits: The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is celebrating its centennial with numerous events, including an exhibit of vintage automobiles from collections of members of the Sooner Regional Group of the Horseless Carriage Club of America. The exhibit, on display through March 2012 at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, includes an 1899 Knox threewheeler steered with a tiller, a 1903 Oldsmobile and a 1909 wooden-body Ford Model T originally owned by an Oklahoman. I ODOT Day: Science Museum Oklahoma, 2100 NE 52, will host an ODOT Day on May 13. The event will feature road-building equipment with crew members to answer questions, hands-on activities such as bridge building and using survey equipment and a liquid nitrogen experiment with road salt. I Open houses: Open houses are planned at each of ODOT’s eight division headquarters across the state.

ONLINE I For more information, go to www.okladot. state.ok.us and click on “Celebrating 100 Years.” I To read more, go to NewsOK.com and search for “ODOT.”

Harvey P. Everest talked about what was believed to be Oklahoma City’s first “conveyance,” as automobiles were called back then. The 1903 Stanley Steamer was bought by Everest’s uncle. The contraption generated about 10 horsepower, traveling 50 miles before needing a refill of water. Seating was on top of the

Deep mud was a common problem for early roads in Oklahoma. PHOTO PROVIDED BY OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

boiler, a risk of the new technology. “You was always a little fearful the tank might explode, which they did occasionally,” Everest said. His uncle’s steamer never did, though, he said on the recording. The conveyance drew “comments and admiration from everybody. They thought it was a wonderful thing.”

Early improvements Early road proponents worked to build support for new roads along the Chisholm Trail and eastwest and north-south routes roughly along the current Interstates 40 and 35, also an “Interstate Postal highway” in southern Oklahoma following rail lines to Davis and a northwestern route to Colorado through Woodward. At one meeting in 1913, proponents suggested a holiday so 10,000 volunteers could meet along one route to work on the road for the day. Suggs in 1915 spoke against a proposal to tax “autoists” for road improvements, calling the idea a “glaring discrimination against the one citizen whose only ‘crime’ is that he has been compelled to invest in an expensive means of transportation.” The first federal funding for Oklahoma came in 1918, and it was used to build a bridge over the Canadian River near Newcastle, Transportation Department spokesman David Meuser said. By 1925, Oklahoma had 374 miles of paved roads and 621 miles of gravel roads.

Roy Turner, Oklahoma governor from 1947-1951, cuts the ribbon over a lane of the new Turner Turnpike in this 1953 photo. PHOTO PROVIDED

Cecil Walker of Western Paving Company stands with the steam roller “Ambrose” in this photo published in the Daily Oklahoman in 1933. THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE


THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

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BILL ANOATUBBY | CHICKASAW NATION GOVERNOR

20 years later, leader still works to get Indian museum completed BY CHRIS CASTEEL Washington Bureau ccasteel@opubco.com

WASHINGTON — It’s been 20 years since Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby announced the formation of a nonprofit organization to develop a worldclass American Indian museum in Oklahoma. Much has happened since then. Much still needs to happen to get the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum — under construction on a 300acre site in Oklahoma City — opened in four years. During his lengthy and extensive involvement in the project, Anoatubby has seen many ups and downs. Despite the need for a major infusion of money now, he hasn’t lost a bit of his optimism. “I just believe in the project, and I believe we’re going to get it done,” he said. “All along, sometimes when you really think you’re at your wits’ end, something happens and you go on to the next level. I’m confident and I’m hopeful that we’ll get to the next phase.”

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby and then-U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin cut the ribbon Oct. 8, 2008, during ceremonies for the first building to be completed at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. PHOTO BY STEVE GOOCH, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

State tribes unite It might be hard to pinpoint a first phase in the project — former Seminole Nation Principal Chief Kelly Haney had a vision of an Indian museum decades before a plan took form — but there were major first steps in the early 1990s. Former President George H.W. Bush signed a bill by former Oklahoma Rep. Glenn English in 1991 for a feasibility study on an Indian museum and cultural center in Oklahoma; Anoatubby testified at a hearing for the bill. In that same year, Anoatubby announced the formation of the nonprofit organization. At the time, there were two tribal groups hoping to launch a museum project, one with the backing of 29 tribes, and Anoatubby’s group, with the backing of five tribes. But when it came time to submit a formal proposal to the state, Anoatubby’s group was the only one that did, suggesting a site in Oklahoma City. If there was division at first among the state’s 39 federally recognized tribes, that’s no longer the case, Anoatubby said in a recent interview. “We’re at the point where the tribes in Oklahoma are supportive,” Anoatubby said. The mission of the museum and cultural center is to tell the stories of the Oklahoma tribes, and they have been asked for their input on the exhibits. “Their histories and heritage and culture are all taken into account,” Anoatubby said.

Hope for financing The estimated cost of the center now tops $177 million, up from the estimated $143 million six years ago. The Native American Cultural and Educational Authority, established by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1994 to oversee the project, wants to raise about $80 million through a combination of bonds and donations. If the money becomes available this year — the Legislature would have to approve the sale of bonds — the cultural center and museum could open in 2015, said Anoatubby, the chairman of the authority. “That completes the building and gets all the exhibits open and we’re open for business,’’ he said. In 2002, Congress authorized $33 million in funding if matched by private money, but the federal government hasn’t come through with all of that

A photo taken Sept. 30 shows the white steel frame of the Hall of People at construction site of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

An aerial photo taken Oct. 1 shows the construction of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. PHOTO PROVIDED BY AMERICAN INDIAN CULTURAL CENTER AND MUSEUM

TIMELINE CULTURAL CENTER AND MUSEUM 1991 Congress approves feasibility study for American Indian museum in Oklahoma. Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby announces formation of nonprofit group to develop a world-class Indian cultural center. 1994 Oklahoma Legislature creates Native American Cultural and Educational Authority to execute plans for the cultural center and museum. 2002 Congress approves legislation authorizing $33 million in federal funds for the project (far less than that has been appropriated). 2005 Ground blessed on 300-acre site near Interstate 35 and Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City. 2007 Native American Cultural and Educational Authority approves exhibition design plans by Ralph Applebaum Associates. 2008 Visitors Center becomes first building completed on the site. 2010 Shell completed on Gallery building.

funding. U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, RMoore, a Chickasaw and a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, has secured funding for the museum in previous years. Other current and former Oklahoma members of Congress have also gotten money for it. But, with a congressional ban on earmarks in place and tight budgets, Cole said more federal funding will be very difficult to obtain. Anoatubby said the

longer the project takes to complete, the more expensive it will be, “so the sooner that we can lock in the (financing), the better.” Anoatubby still views the project as he did when he — and many others — first began the labor of love to get it built — as a way to educate people and provide an economic boost to the city and state. The story told by the museum, he said, will bridge cultural differences. “I think this binds us together,” he said.


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SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

BOB BLACKBURN | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OKLAHOMA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Bob Blackburn is the executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

PHOTO BY DAVID MCDANIEL, THE OKLAHOMAN

Man becomes face of state’s history BY KEN RAYMOND Staff Writer kraymond@opubco.com

Bob Blackburn stands at the nexus of history, looking back at events that shaped Oklahoma and ahead to a future he hopes will come true. As executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, Blackburn, 59, is uniquely positioned to examine the past. He has authored 18 books on Oklahoma history, delivered well over a thousand lectures and appeared frequently on television. He helped spearhead the effort to fund and construct the 215,000square-foot Oklahoma History Center, a worldclass museum near the state Capitol building. And he is one of the guiding forces behind the historical society’s transformation into a powerful, vital organization that pushes constantly for excellence. “Our philosophy now is: If the Smithsonian can do it, we can do it,” he said.

Bob Blackburn helped spearhead the effort to fund and construct the Oklahoma History Center near the state Capitol building. PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

Born to be a historian “I could tell I was going to be a historian even as a kid,” Blackburn said recently. His father was an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper. His mother was a local television star best known as “Ida B.” He’d grown up listening to his grandmother tell tales of the Civil War. Her father had fought on the confederate side, and her stories ignited Blackburn’s imagination, transporting him to a time long past. The Civil War also led to Blackburn’s marriage, albeit indirectly. He met his wife, former state Rep. Debbie Blackburn, in a Civil War class at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. His interest in history solidified when he entered graduate school at Oklahoma State University. He published his first history book while working on his doctorate. After graduation in 1979, he joined the historical society as editor of “The Chronicles of Oklahoma,” a state history journal that has been published since 1925. Only two people preceded him in that job. “That got me into the academic side of this operation,” he said. “I’ve been in administration since 1989 and then became executive director in 1999.” He chuckled. “I guess I’m on a 10-year plan.”

I look forward to coming to work every day. I like to be the last person to leave. I love walking through this history center when it’s empty.” BOB BLACKBURN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OKLAHOMA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Planning ahead

Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, stands inside the Oklahoma History Center. PHOTO BY DAVID MCDANIEL, THE OKLAHOMAN

In addition to his administrative and fundraising duties, Blackburn currently is working on three books. “I don’t have many wasted moments,” he said. “I had a three-day weekend (recently), and I wrote all three days. But I enjoy it. As I tell my wife and people who complain about how much I work, ‘What am I going to do? Watch TV?’ That’s not going to happen.”

Providing opportunities Blackburn said that he has received other job offers over the years, among them opportunities to return to academia. “Time after time, I’ve

decided, ‘No. I’m doing what I want to do,’ ” Blackburn said. He loves almost everything about his work, from collecting historical artifacts and watching exhibits develop to fundraising. “People think I’m perverse sometimes because I even enjoy the politics,” he said. “I work with governors and legislators. I work with county officials. I admire public servants so much ... people willing to put themselves on the line to serve a greater good.” Blackburn put himself on the line to help turn the Oklahoma History Center into reality. The museum was bundled into a package of improvement pro-

jects, including the Capitol Dome, in the late 1990s. Funding from a bond issue was insufficient, stalling construction, so Blackburn and others looked for donors. They raised an additional $12 million, which augmented funds from a second bond, Blackburn said. “I look at it as if I’m giving people the opportunity to invest in something important,” he said. “I used to go somewhere and ask someone for $5,000. ... Now I ask for millions. I’m asking them to take the bounty of life that Oklahoma has provided them and share a little of it with others.”

Blackburn has spent almost four decades championing Oklahoma’s history. Along the way, he has earned himself a place in that history — a role he occasionally considers. He hopes he is seen as a public historian. Each of his books is written for a wide audience, not a handful of academics, and his efforts have gone to making history seem as vibrant and alive to the general public as his grandmother’s stories were to him. By the time he retires, he said, he’d like to see a pop culture museum completed in Tulsa and at least five state sites or museums up to world-class standards. “We need a living history farm in Oklahoma,” he said. “We have a donor who’s already given the land. It’s very important that we have a 1907 living history farm, where things are done mainly with horses and mules, highlighting the impact of rural life on our culture.”

An estimated 70,000 students will visit the Oklahoma History Center this year, he said. To appeal to the children, the center is working on Web sites and interactive content. Researchers and a documentary crew are working on a video about the “Tulsa sound,” the musicians who’ve come out of Tulsa and influenced popular music and culture. “What I’ve got to do is use my connections to make sure we set up this next generation,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure that someone is here who sees the same opportunities to reach out, to build bridges, to keep pushing to be the best.” He’s got time to find that person. Blackburn is years away from retirement, and he’s in no hurry to leave. “I look forward to coming to work every day,” Blackburn said. “I like to be the last person to leave. I love walking through this history center when it’s empty.”


OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

43S

KARI WATKINS | OKLAHOMA CITY NATIONAL MEMORIAL & MUSEUM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

A crowd attends a 90-minute service April 19, 2010, at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum on the site where the federal building once stood in downtown Oklahoma City. PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

Our vision (at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum) is to teach the impact of violence, to share those lessons to help others understand the impact of violence. ... It’s a lesson about bullying that is relevant to today. We have figured out a way to make that story resonate.” KARI WATKINS

OKLAHOMA CITY NATIONAL MEMORIAL & MUSEUM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Kari Watkins, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum executive director, talks to the media in 2009 about the museum. PHOTO BY PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

Memorial’s lessons remain meaningful MELISSA HOWELL Staff Writer mhowell@opubco.com

This year, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum celebrated its 10th anniversary. After a decade of heightened political fervor and unrest in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, has the memorial had to change its focus? No, says Executive Director Kari Watkins. In fact, its mission is as pertinent as ever, she said. “The core mission is the same, but it has evolved,” she said. “This isn’t just about a story that is 15 years old. We want to try to take that story and make it relevant to today.”

Staying relevant One of the ways the mission has evolved is by taking the issues that were integral to the bombing of the Murrah Building and relating them to today. “Our vision is to teach the impact of violence, to share those lessons to help others understand the impact of violence,” she said. “(Timothy) McVeigh was more aggressive. (Terry) Nichols was more subservient. It’s a lesson about bullying that is relevant to

People stand in front of memorial chairs on April 19, 2007, before the start of the 12th anniversary ceremony. PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

today. We have figured out a way to make that story resonate. We have video, exhibits and programs that humanize the story.”

Experts in memorialization Its ability to share the lessons that were learned with other places that have undergone tragedy is another way the Memorial’s mission has evolved. “We don’t ever diminish

what happened. … But we’ve had to figure out ways to move forward. We are looked at now as the experts in memorialization.” Watkins said. Following tragedies, representatives from the Oklahoma City National Memorial have been sent to numerous places including New York, the Pentagon and SEE LESSONS, PAGE 44S


44S

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

Marathon participants make their way through the Oklahoma City National Memorial before the start of the eighth annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in this 2008 photo. PHOTO BY CHRIS LANDSBERGER, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

Lessons: Visitors come from 50 states, 35 countries FROM PAGE 43S

Pennsylvania after 9/11, Virginia Tech, Columbine, and most recently Tuscon. The museum also shares the Oklahoma City bombing story through partnerships with other museums, including the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark.

A timeless lesson Looking to the future, Watkins said the core lesson from the Murrah bombing is timeless. It will be as important 10 years from now as it is today. “It’s important to keep this site pristine today for future generations,” she said. “Coping and moving forward are the essence of our DNA. It’s really about fostering more understanding in the world. For instance, the political hysteria that we find ourselves in ... in neighborhoods and legislatures, if we can’t figure out how to get along with our neighbor, we’ve lost the core essence of who we are as a nation.” The first part of the mission statement reads “We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever.” Watkins wants visitors to know not only what happened April 19, 1995, but what happened in the weeks, months and years to follow. “Oklahomans look at this as a sad place,” she said, “but we’re also trying to show the tenderness of the response. It’s remarkable how we’ve recovered.” Five years after the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the outdoor symbolic memorial was dedicated during a visit by President Bill Clinton. Less than a year later, President George W. Bush dedicated the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, on Feb. 19, 2001. Visitors have come from all 50 states and from more than 35 countries. It is an affiliate of the National Park System, but it is owned, operated and maintained by the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation. The national memorial does not receive any annual operating funds from the federal, state or local government. Museum admissions, store sales, the OKC Memorial Marathon, earnings from an endowment and private fundraising allow the Memorial & Museum to be self-sustaining. Its top two priorities are remembrance and education.

New York Times Beirut Bureau Chief and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid speaks on April 7 at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN

Above: A man and a women use chalk to trace and color the outline of their hands on a large easel near the “Jesus Wept” statue across the street west of the Oklahoma City National Memorial in this photo from April 19, 2010. PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE Right: Former President Bill Clinton carries flowers as he visits the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City in this April 21, 2010, photo. Clinton was in town to receive the Reflections of Hope Award for his work in Oklahoma City after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

ONLINE THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING For ongoing coverage of the bombing, the museum and memorial, go to NewsOK.com. BOMBING.NEWSOK.COM/BOMBING/HISTORY


THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

OUTLOOK VISIONARIES | THE WAY WE LIVE

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

45S

DWIGHT SCOTT | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OKLAHOMA CITY ZOO

CEO has homecoming at OKC Zoo

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL

The crowd gets a close-up view in March of Chandra and her sister Asha, who recently gave birth, after the afternoon elephant show at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Staff Writer ccoppernoll@opubco.com

PHOTO BY PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND, THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE

When Dwight Scott took the reins of the Oklahoma City Zoo 2 ½ years ago, he described it as a homecoming. “My heart’s been here the whole time,” he said when he was hired in 2008. “It feels like coming home. ... It’s a dream come true.” The executive director and CEO worked at the Tulsa Zoo, the Kansas City Zoo and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida. But leading the Oklahoma City Zoo was the perfect job for him, he said. In a recent interview, Scott discussed his leadership style, his vision and the future of the Oklahoma City Zoo. Q: What’s in store for the Oklahoma City Zoo in the coming years? A: The future is certainly bright for the Oklahoma City Zoo. With the opening of the elephant facility, we will shift our focus to the completion of the Expedition Asia exhibit. Due to dropping revenues from the dedicated sales tax several years ago, we decided to focus solely upon the elephant portion of Expedition Asia. Additionally, we will work with the Zoological Society on a capital campaign that focuses on a new veterinary hospital. Unlike our current hospital, our new one will allow guests to enter a portion of the facility and see some behind-the-scenes veterinary care. Q: How do you as a leader shape the longterm planning at the zoo? A: This past year we developed a new zoo master plan, which lays out our new projects over the next 10 years. As the zoo director, I ensured that our planning sessions were open to all zoo employees, members of the Zoological Trust and Oklahoma Zoological Society Board members. An open process allows everyone the opportunity to contribute to the development of our institution. I believe that we have built a great master plan, one that will exceed the expectations of our guests. Q: How do you think the trajectory of the zoo has changed since you took over at director in 2008? A: When I was announced as the zoo director in 2008, the zoo was in great shape. An area that I chose to focus upon was building positive working

I’m very grateful that Oklahoma City has embraced our zoo. We have always had incredible support from citizens, going back to 1949, when the children of Oklahoma City raised pennies to buy Judy the elephant. Of course in 1990, the voters passed a dedicated sales tax for the zoo, which has enabled us to build one of the best zoos in the country.” DWIGHT SCOTT,

THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE OKLAHOMA CITY ZOO

Dwight Scott

ONLINE For the latest news on the zoo and the elephants, go to NewsOK. NEWSOK.COM/ ELEPHANTNATION

relationships in all directions. I sincerely believe that when everyone is working well together, the rate at which things are accomplished can be exponential. I also developed a committee to help focus our conservation efforts — the Conservation Action Now program — and have encouraged the development of professional leadership behaviors among staff. Another area that is important to me is customer service, so we have instituted an annual training program to remind our employees the tremendous positive impact they can have on our visitors and each other. Q: What is your leadership style? A: I’m not sure how to describe my style. As a leader, I believe in always treating everyone with respect. It doesn’t matter what your title is on my team; everyone is important. I occasionally say to staff that just because my title is executive director/ CEO that does not mean

that I always have the best ideas. I certainly rely on their experience and expertise. Q: How does the zoo fit into the community here? A: I’m very grateful that Oklahoma City has embraced our zoo. We have always had incredible support from citizens, going back to 1949, when the children of Oklahoma City raised pennies to buy Judy the elephant. Of course in 1990, the voters passed a dedicated sales tax for the zoo, which has enabled us to build one of the best zoos in the country. Fast forward to today, and Zoological Society memberships are at an all-time high of 21,000 households, which represents over 175,000 individuals. The interest and support throughout Oklahoma City motivates us to do an even better job at the zoo for our guests. Q: What are your longterm hopes for the zoo? A: First and foremost, to continue serving Oklahoma City as a great place to come with family and friends to experience beautiful animals and plants from all over the world. Beyond that, I hope to increase awareness nationally about our beautiful zoo, our great city and our conservation efforts locally and globally.


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Registered Nurse Practitioner

The White Eagle Health Center is currently seeking a Registered Nurse Practitioner. Hours will be 8am-4:30pm Monday thru Friday. If you are interested in this position you may pick up an application at 200 White Eagle Dr, Ponca City, Okla. 74601 or call (580) 765-2501 x2222 or send resume to angela.thornton@ ihs.gov

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HVAC Service Techs

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METRO TRANSIT DIESEL MECHANIC / TECHNICIAN $19.67 per hour Additional pay for current ASE certifications Metro Transit is now accepting applications for a Diesel Repairman. Applicants should have the ability to accurately diagnosis & repair diesel engines, automatic transmissions and A/C systems and must have their own tools. Schedule will include shift work. Successful applicant will be required to obtain an Oklahoma Commercial Drivers License, Class B, with a Passenger (P) endorsement within 60 days of employment. COTPA offers an excellent benefit package including health, dental, life and short-term disability insurance, tool and shoe allowance, tuition reimbursement program and shift differential pay.

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80A Pott Co, live stream, turkeys, deer, meadows, pond, $2K/acre. Owner finance 405-329-2208 Air Comfort Solutions, Heat & Air, leading provider of Commercial & Residential HVAC, is looking for qualified Journeyman Service Techs Great pay & benefits. Guraranteed 40hr/wk. Apply in person at 908 Messenger Lane, Moore. Call 405-721-3740.

Houses for rent

JIFFY LUBE MANAGERS wanted $1000.00/wk and up plus bonuses depending on experience. Call (405) 921-7515 for interview.

TECH/DRILLER Lab & Field Tech/ Driller for geotechnical engineering firm. Exp preferred but will train right candidate. Excellent benefits. Must have clean background & driving record. Apply in person @ METCO, 2025 S. Nicklas Ave, Ste 101, 681-6737.

May the sacred heart of Jesus be adored, glorified, loved and preserved throughout the world now & forever. Sacred heart of Jesus pray for us. St.Jude, Worker of miracles, pray for us. St. Jude, helper of the hopeless, pray for us. Say this prayer 9 times a day by the 8th day, your prayer will be answered. IT HAS NEVER FAILED. PUBLICATION MUST BE PROMISED. THANK YOU ST. JUDE.GC.

RETIRING

50+ years accumulation of Tubing, Rods, Pumping units, Engines-new & used parts, Well servicing equipment, New & used connections, Oil & Gas lease. 918-865-4333

KEN CARPENTER AUCTION & REALTY SALES Serving Central Oklahoma since 1986 Mustang, OK 405-620-1524 sales@kencarpenterauction.com Over 80 years combined Experience Full Auction Staff for any type of auction Real Estate Farm Equipment Construction Equipment Estates

Show Room/ Office/Warehouse. Lowest Rates in OKC Owner. 245-0356

Office Space For Rent 1, 2 & 3-Room Offices $175 & up ‘ 50th & N Lincoln area 235-8080 Furnished/Unfurnished Bills Paid » Wkly/Monthly Wes Chase Apts, Elk Horn Apts, Hillcrest 943-1818

Furnished/Unfurnished Bills Paid » Wkly/Monthly Wes Chase Apts, Elk Horn Apts, Hillcrest 943-1818

HORSE BOARDING 1st month free 324-6611, 990-8907

»»»»»»»»»»

BANKRUPTCY

»»»»» Individual Chapter 7 $700.00 + COSTS »»»» PROBATES TRUSTS FULL LEGAL SERVICES Barry Simms

850-5775 »»»»»»»»»»


48

SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 2011

THE OKLAHOMAN

NEWSOK.COM

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The Oklahoman Outlook section 1  

The Oklahoman's annual progress edition.

The Oklahoman Outlook section 1  

The Oklahoman's annual progress edition.

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