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  • Gerome Riley

    4 JUN 2024 · Born near Chelsea, Oklahoma, Gerome Riley attended a rural all-black school through the Eighth grade. And because of segregation he had to choose between going to Claremore, Nowata, or Vinita for high school. He selected Claremore Lincoln and became a member of Claremore’s only boys’ basketball state championship team in 1952. Gerome was a member of the Claremore Clowns, a local baseball team of all-Black players who played teams in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas. The Clowns were considered a semi-pro team. The end of school segregation in the early 1960s meant the end of the Claremore Clowns. Riley worked 37 years for Phillips Oil Company. He started out as a porter at the Will Rogers Turnpike station at the Claremore gate and became the station’s final manager. He retired in 1995. Gerome became a student of Black history, and as a living part of that history, he contributed his knowledge to the Claremore Museum of History.
    1h 31m 40s
  • Pat Gordon

    28 MAY 2024 · Growing up in an artistic household, Patrick S. Gordon took his first painting lessons from his mother, Janelle Gordon, a locally recognized still life painter. He began his formal studies under the tutelage of the widely regarded watercolorist Glenn Godsey, at the University of Tulsa. Patrick received his BFA from the University of Tulsa in 1974, where he also completed extensive graduate work in watercolor. Born in 1953 in Claremore, Oklahoma, Patrick gained national attention with a series of solo exhibitions, beginning in 1982, at the Fischbach Gallery in New York City and Joseph Gierek Fine Art in his then-adopted hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Since then, he has continually exhibited at numerous, prominent galleries around the country, been featured in notable museum shows and competitions, and his works can be found in important private, corporate, and museum collections throughout the United States. Print editions of Patrick’s work are widely popular with collectors throughout the world.
    1h 44m 44s
  • Dr. Don Nelson

    1 MAY 2024 · Dr. Don G. Nelson specialized in Internal Medicine and pulmonology for 60 years. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1965. Don became affiliated in Oklahoma with multiple hospitals including Hillcrest Hospital South, St. Francis Hospital, and the Veteran Affairs Hospital in Muskogee. He was born in Moline, Illinois, where he graduated Moline High School and then the University of Illinois.  In 1973 he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was first associated with Springer Clinic. In addition to his medical career, Dr. Nelson became a triathlete and participated in three hundred Triathlons. His first triathlon was the first Hillcrest Ultimate Challenge. He was one of the pioneers of the sport in the Tulsa area and traveled to many countries while competing in World Championship events. Listen to Dr. Don Nelson talk about his love for the medical profession, his triathlon experience, and his advice for everyone, regardless of their age, to exercise for good health on the oral history website and podcast VoicesOfOklahoma.com.
    1h 59m 29s
  • John and Ingeborg

    26 APR 2024 · In celebration of Voices of Oklahoma's 15th anniversary, founder John Erling shares this oral history example: a recording of his father, John Arnt Frette telling the story about how his father emigrated from Norway and built (and re-built) their family home. Though John Erling regrets not recording his mother's voice, it's thanks to this recording that he remembers his father's voice and this brief story of his family's history.
    3m 17s
  • Jim East

    25 APR 2024 · James Gray East grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma and, while attending Oklahoma State University started, an underground newspaper which led to employment with the Daily Oklahoman. Realizing he was interested in crime reporting, he moved to Binghamton, New York to report on the Mafia for a Gannett-owned newspaper.   Moving back to Oklahoma, Jim worked for his hometown newspaper, The Muskogee Phoenix, and then was hired by the Tulsa Tribune where he became an editorial writer.  When the Tribune closed in 1992, Jim became Chief of Staff for ten years for Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage. Then he began a career in the car rental business with Vanguard Car Rental company, later moving on to the Hertz Car rental company, becoming VP of Government Relations. Jim was deeply involved in the Tulsa community serving on many boards including the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority and CAP-Community Action Project of Tulsa County.  Jim was 69 when he died in Japan on April 16th, 2024. His oral history interview was recorded on February 6th, 2024.
    2h 4m 37s
  • Richard Chapman

    22 APR 2024 · Richard Chapman was the head track coach and history teacher at the year-old Memorial High School in 1963. In 1965, “Coach.” as he became known, was hired as head football coach at Edison High School, where, in his second season, he led his team to win the District Championship title.  Coach was named Tulsa Tribune Coach of the Year in 1966. He coached and taught at Edison for seven years before returning to Memorial High School as head tennis coach.He retired for a year in 1986, before being hired to coordinate the in-house program at Nathan Hale High School, a position he held for several years before retiring completely. In 1988, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaches Hall of Fame and also was inducted into both the Edison High School and Memorial High School Coaches Halls of Fame, as well as the Oklahoma Track Coaches Hall of Fame. Richard Chapman was 91 when he died May 21, 2020.
    1h 38m 28s
  • Leona Mitchell

    12 APR 2024 · The tenth of fifteen children, Leona Mitchell began her musical journey by singing in her father's church choir. She received a scholarship from Oklahoma City University in 1971, earning a bachelor's degree in music. Leona debuted with the San Francisco Spring Opera Theater in 1972, and on December 15th, 1975, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Micaela in Bizet's Carmen, the same role she had sung at her San Francisco debut. This marked the beginning of her many performances in opera houses all over the world, including Geneva, Paris, Madrid, and Sydney. Mitchell performed for eighteen consecutive seasons at the Metropolitan. Well-known for her performances in operas by Puccini and Verdi, she also sang Bess with the Cleveland Orchestra in the London Records recording of the George Gershwin classic Porgy and Bess. Mitchell has received numerous awards, including induction into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2004. In Leona’s oral history interview, you will hear her talk about a special teacher in her life, and about singing with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti on the oral history website and podcast VoicesOfOklahoma.com.
    1h 24m
  • Robert J. LaFortune

    2 APR 2024 · Tulsa civic leader and oilman Robert LaFortune was born at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, January 24, 1927. In 1920, his father Joseph Aloysius LaFortune and his mother Gertrude Leona Tremel LaFortune, had moved to Tulsa from South Bend, Indiana. Joseph LaFortune worked for Warren Petroleum Company for approximately 30 years, retiring as executive vice president. Before and after retirement, he maintained a significant community presence and funded the development of LaFortune Park in Tulsa. Among his many gifts to the University of Notre Dame, he donated funds to renovate the Science Hall into the school’s first student center. Robert (Bob) LaFortune served as Tulsa’s commissioner of streets and public property (1964–70) and as mayor (1970–78). As commissioner, he participated in the development of the Port of Catoosa through purchasing land for the port and working with engineers on its design. As mayor, he played a significant role in developing Tulsa’s freeway system and securing public-private funding for construction of the city’s Performing Arts Center. Among his service to many executive boards, LaFortune has been a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America.  He was a 1982 recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America. Robert LaFortune and his wife Jeanne Morse LaFortune, a native Tulsan, raised six children, Suzanne Bynum, Kathleen Phoenix, Annette Murray, Robert J. LaFortune, Jr., John M. LaFortune, and Phillip T. LaFortune.
    1h 3m 2s
  • Cyrus Avery - Oklahoma Leaders

    1 APR 2024 · Cyrus Stevens Avery was a businessperson, oilman, and highway commissioner. He created the U.S. Route 66 while being a member of the federal board appointed to create the Federal Highway System, then pushed for the establishment of the U.S. Highway 66 Association to pave and promote the highway. As such, he is known as the "Father of Route 66". And by the way, Cyrus chose the numbers 66 for the famous highway. He was 57 when the book Oklahoma Leaders was published in 1928.
    19m 41s
  • Ray Bingham

    26 MAR 2024 · Ray Bingham was an agent, producer, and manager for some of country music’s biggest stars. Music has made Ray’s world go around since he was nine and started listening to western swing bands at local ballrooms. Music was popular entertainment in Claremore, and where Patty Page, Tommy Alsup and Stone Horse started out. His life story is the history of country music from Oklahoma roots to far beyond. Bingham has been the man behind the scenes promoting and booking top talent for more than four decades, including Garth Brooks’ first gig and his mother Colleen Carroll for years before him, the Tulsa Playboys, Peggy Rains, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, Alan Jackson, and Tim McGraw.  A deep love of music and friendship with two men – Billy Parker and Red Steagall – eventually led him to start Ray Bingham Productions. Listen to Ray tell you stories about Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Ray Stevens, Patsy Cline and more on the Oral History Website and podcast VoicesofOklahoma.com
    1h 30m 53s

Voices of Oklahoma.com is dedicated to the preservation of the oral history of Oklahoma. Voices and stories of famous Oklahomans and ordinary citizens are captured forever in their own words....

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Voices of Oklahoma.com is dedicated to the preservation of the oral history of Oklahoma. Voices and stories of famous Oklahomans and ordinary citizens are captured forever in their own words. Oil and gas, ranching, politics, education and more are all visited in these far-ranging interviews. Students researching any of these areas can listen to first-person accounts of the way life was and draw from knowledge that may guide and shape their future. In addition to students, any visitor will feel close to history as they listen to these personal reflections.
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