P.E.O. celebrates 150 years!

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise


The seven original founders of P.E.O.

Recently, I noticed a billboard in Bartlesville announcing P.E.O. is celebrating 150 years in existence. This billboard became the catalyst for my interview with a member of P.E.O.

With the blessing of its President Dixie Squires, I met with Kathy Triebel, a chapter CH member, and past president.

Triebel, met me at the Bartlesville Community Center’s Lyon Gallery, where an exhibit about the organization’s history is now on display through Tuesday.

Triebel, a certified archivist retired from Phillips Petroleum, guided me through the exhibit. As she did, the organization’s mission and legacy became clear.

P.E.O. stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization. At its foundation, it is a Christian-based sisterhood. However, P.E.O. also reaches outside its membership with a higher purpose — to help women achieve their academic goals.

P.E.O.’s tagline is “for women, by women, about women,” and the organization provides educational assistance to elevate women, Triebel said.

Started in 1869 by seven young women, ages 17-21, who were students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, P.E.O. has become a major philanthropic organization — helping more than 105,000 women with $321 million in educational assistance.

The statistics for their four types of scholarships/grants demonstrate their commitment to that goal.

• P.E.O. Star Scholarships are for exceptional high school senior women to attend accredited post-secondary education institutions in the U.S. or Canada. P.E.O. has awarded $8.5 million in Star Scholarships.

• P.E.O. Scholar Awards provide merit-based awards for women in the U.S. and Canada who are pursuing doctoral-level degrees at accredited colleges and universities. They have awarded $24.5 million in these scholarships.

• P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education provides need-based grants to women in the U.S. and Canada whose education has been interrupted and who need to return to school to support themselves and/or their families. P.E.O. has given $55.3 million in these grants.

• P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship provides scholarships for women who are international students pursuing graduate study in the U.S. and Canada. They have provided $37.9 million in these scholarships.

And, P.E.O. has made $195.4 million in low-interest educational loans to women for higher education.

Triebel said P.E.O. also provides funds for trade schools.

P.E.O. also owns Cottey College, a women’s college in Nevada, Mo., which operates debt free, Triebel said. According to their printed material, Cottey College is a nationally ranked, fully accredited, independent liberal arts/sciences college for women offering baccalaureate and associate degrees in a variety of majors.

“Cottey College is a member of the intercollegiate athletes, second in lowest student debt, and second in best value by the U.S. News and World Report, and No. 6 as a top women’s college.”

One of the things Triebel said she hears from the women they help are expressions of appreciation for, not just the funds provided, but also the emotional support.

Triebel shared about a Tri-County Tech student chapter CH had helped in 2018.

At exam time “everyone wrote a card and gave a gift. They gave final exam tips to remember — tidbits of help when studying or words of encouragement.”

Some of the gifts given were — a stethoscope, scrubs, gas cards, homemade cookies and snacks.

“The great thing about P.E.O. is that age doesn’t matter,” Triebel said.

They recognize that through a divorce or the death of a spouse, women find themselves needing to increase their skills to better provide for themselves and their families, she explained.

As part of the exhibit in the Lyon Gallery each Bartlesville chapter has a table set up along the wall describing their chapter. The adjoining wall contains life-size cutouts of the seven original founders of P.E.O.

“The portraits were done many years ago by Jean Threlkeld, a member of the CH chapter,” Triebel said.

“They ended up in an estate sale. Someone saw them and bought them. Louise Reich of chapter ED repaired and touched them up. We added the skirts for the exhibit,” she said. “We’ve been asked to bring them to the state convention.”

The seven women who founded P.E.O. were fortunate enough to attend college, but they saw the need to lift up other women by providing needed educational funds, Triebel said.

Part of their legacy is that today P.E.O. has 6,000 chapters and some 230,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.

In Oklahoma P.E.O. has 180 chapters and some 6,600 members. Bartlesville has five chapters, each with 35-45 members on average. The chapters are named using the alphabet in the order they are formed. In Bartlesville the chapters are — AW, CH, DW, ED and FT.

In chapter CH “we have two members, Sandra Waldo and Margaret Boesiger, who have been members for 62 years. I’m sure the other chapters would say the same thing. The women who’ve been members 50-plus years are honored with a luncheon at the state convention every year,” Triebel said.

As for how they find women to help, “we go to college fairs at high schools. A lot of it is word of mouth,” she said.

They also inquire at Jane Phillips Medical Center to discover employees who want to pursue higher education in health fields. And, they seek out teachers pursuing higher degrees, she said.

Each chapter has a committee that plans fundraisers. For example, one Bartlesville chapter will soon have a murder mystery fundraiser, she said.

Within each chapter, as expressions of sisterhood, the members reach out when one of them is dealing with a health issue, loses a spouse or has another need. New members are recruited by other members, she said.

The members meet once a month at one another’s houses and have a program and a meeting. In addition, they have social events, such as day trips and meetings at which they bring their husbands or significant others.

“Last year we had a hay ride and cookout,” she said.

One fun program Triebel had was when she and another member dressed as outlaws with water guns and bandanas over their faces and “held up” the others — having them weigh their purses and pay money based on the purses’ weights — as a fundraiser. Then, they had the members give them all of their loose purse change.

“We weighed the purses before we had them give us the change,” she said with laughter.

State Sen. Julie Daniels is the member of chapter CH. She maintains the chapter’s historical archive. Triebel said Daniels had shared that on the chapter’s second anniversary, the members met for lunch. Someone baked a cake and put a dime in it. That year it was a marble cake held the special dime, and whoever got it was supposed to have had good luck.

This is a tradition chapter CH has continued.

“I still have that same dime,” Triebel said. “It’s a 1924 dime 87 years later.”

If you are a woman needing a scholarship or grant, email me at the EE at rmckee@examiner-enterprise.com, and I’ll pass the information along to the members.

Childhood Memories

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise
One evening when I was in Tulsa with my friends Mark and Linda Simms, they took me to Coney Island — a family-owned restaurant established in 1926. They said the restaurant had special significance for Mark Simms. We agreed that one day he would tell me the story, and I would write about it. On Oct. 19, I arranged to meet him to hear about the important part the Coney Island Restaurant and its staff had played in his childhood.

“It started when mom took me to the Coney Island, and we stopped there and we ate. There was a long line, and we had to wait. … I used to watch people come in … they had kind of school-like benches.”

These were simpler times, when children were free to explore. As a child, Simms, remembering the location of the Coney Island he had visited with his mom, decided to venture there one his own one day.

“I was real young and I’d ride the bus downtown. When I got downtown, I’d walk to Coney Island,” Simms said. “I must have been in grade school. I don’t remember the exact age. Anyway, I knew all the bus routes around Tulsa, and I knew how to transfer. All the bus drivers knew me. It was real easy to get down there and get home because I knew the bus routes.

“Well, one day I ran out of money and I didn’t have enough money to buy lunch. So, I asked the owner, ‘could I work to get me a coney,’ and he looked at me and he said, ‘yeah, you can.’ He said, ‘if you’ll sweep the floors, mop, clean the desk and clean the bathroom, I’ll give you free chips, pop and a coney — as much as you want.’ At that time, that was a big deal for me.

“Anyway, this went on for a while. … and I got real familiar with him and his workers. If he was off, they would still give [lunch] to me.

“It got toward fall. I swept, mopped, and I went to get my coney and I couldn’t swallow. … So, I started crying. The owner came out and said, ‘what’s wrong, and he looked at me and felt my neck and said, ‘I think you have the mumps.’
“So, he called my mom, and they rushed me to Hillcrest. Of course, I did have the mumps, but I was still crying because I’d worked and didn’t get my coney,” he said with a laugh.

“The owner kept saying, don’t worry about it, you can still come over and get your coney. But that didn’t soothe me. I was still cryin’ cause I couldn’t eat my coney,” Simms said laughing.

“Time went by and I came in several times, and he served me a coney without working. Finally, I got to where I could work again and continue my coneys.
“I never did know his name … I just called him the Greek. He had those real thick eye glasses. He didn’t remember my name either. He’d say, ‘was the little Indian boy through yet?’ I knew him as the Greek, and he knew me as the little Indian boy. At that time we didn’t know each other’s name.

His daughter, Georgia Tsilekas, confirmed in a phone interview that her father who founded Coney Island, had worn thick eye glasses and his name was Christ Economou.

“Finally, we moved away from Suburban Acres,” Simms said.

He grew up and didn’t have much time to think of Tulsa and the Coney Island. He attended college, served in the Army and started a business in Bartlesville.
Years later on a day trip to Tulsa, Simms and his wife passed by the restaurant. It was open and so they went in.

“Everything was pretty much the same. I was going through the line, and there was a real pretty Greek girl. I told her the story and she said, ‘I’m the granddaughter.’ … While I was talking to her, her mother walked up and said, ‘I’m the daughter.’ As I’m going through the line she said, ‘he doesn’t have to pay for it.’ So, she gave me a free pop, chips and coney. She said, ‘I was a little girl, but I remembered something like that.’

“Later it closed and they opened in another location. … They had the old pictures on the wall. I couldn’t remember their names, but I recognized them. Linda took a picture of me out front.

“We still go to the new loctation, but my fondest memories are from the original little location downtown. That was my first job,” Simms said.

The family still owns Coney Island at the northwest corner of Archer and Main in the Brady District of Tulsa, and they still have the same school-style seating.

“My dad bought them used in 1926. They were restaurant chairs from the east,” Tsilekas explained.

Economou originally had 26 restaurants. Once established, he would sell each of them to an immigrant and move to another town until he arrived in Tulsa and decided to put down roots, she said.

“He had stores from Pennsylvania to Nebraska to Dallas. His cousin said, ‘I’ve heard Tulsa is a nice town. As soon as he got off the train and looked around, he said, ‘that’s the place where I want to be.

“He went back to Greece in 1929 and married my mom and brought her back,” Tsilekas said.

The Economous had three children — Georgia Tsilekas, Pope Kingsley, who owns the Coney Islander in Owasso, and James Economou, who owns the Coney Island in the Brady District — managed by his daughter-in-law, Vicki Economou.

Grandma Pawhuska

By Roseanne McKee

Republished with permission of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise


Virgie Elizabeth Steward, also known as Grandma Pawhuska

Hominy resident Carl Blue’s family is full of interesting characters and in this column, I’ll introduce you to several of them. The first is Virgie Elizabeth Stewart, Blue’s grandmother, who lived in the historic blacksmith’s house in Pawhuska where the Chamber of Commerce is now located.

Known to many as Grandma Pawhuska, Stewart, who was four foot eight inches tall, was an avid gardener with a gift for hospitality. She entertained many guests, starting in the 1930s, including outlaws who gathered in a secret room, located off Stewart’s bedroom under the steps, to drink and play cards, Blue said.

Stewart, who was born in about 1898, acquired the blacksmith’s house in the early 1930s, which needed some restoration at the time, Blue said. Stewart completed the needed repairs and lived there for many years.

Blue is proud of his family’s connection to the historic blacksmith’s house, one of the first built in Pawhuska.

“The Indians built it for their blacksmith,” Blue said.

A single mother of three, Stewart worked hard at a canvas tent factory and Dr. Pepper bottling company, Blue said.

To feed her family and bring in extra income, “grandma planted five acres of garden by herself. One year she grew a 110-pound white and black squash in the fork of an old cottonwood tree. She was in the paper for this with pictures of us lowering it out of the tree. We had to use two ropes to get it out of the tree,” he explained. Stewart continued gardening until her death at the age of 104.

“Back then, the grocery stores bought all of her vegetables. She was blessed with a green thumb, but she also used a lot of the natural herbs [she grew] for healing. Peach tree bark in one direction scraped and boiled makes you puke, but scraped in the other direction and boiled cures diarrhea,” Blue said.

“Grandma had so many varieties of plants. We’d pick handfuls of grapes. She grew green seedless, purple Concord and did everything by hand,” Blue said with pride. “We found the old root cellar five steps out the back door to the right … back in the early 1900s, people had to use a root cellar.

“Back in the late 1960s, the house caught on fire and, [Stewart’s son], Uncle Bill about burned to death, but he got out and saved the house. Inside was all natural with natural gas lights and the old electrical cloth-coated wires with insulators on it,” he explained. In those days, the house had a natural gas stove with oven, a refrigerator and a wood-burning stove, he said.
“Up the stairs at the top there was a room filled with books from the 1920s in there. Also upstairs was Uncle Bill’s bedroom. … When he came back from California, he lived [on the property] until his death in 1991.” After the fire, “he lived in an old Air stream camper in the back yard.”

Across the alley was the carriage house where the wagons were and the blacksmith worked on the wagons and carriages.

While his grandmother was still alive in 1992, Blue’s mother sold the home and auctioned everything. The city of Pawhuska bought the home and modernized it, removing the gas light fixtures and closing off the secret room in the process, Blue said with a note of sadness. The kitchen became an office and Uncle Bill’s bedroom upstairs became a conference room.

Since Stewart was not from Pawhuska, I wondered about her life before she arrived here. Blue filled in some of the gaps.

“She was raised by her grandparents, who were an Indian medicine man and woman. She was raised in the Kiamichi Mountains in southeast Oklahoma. She told me years ago that the last year of the sign in on the Cherokee rolls they had a flood … and they couldn’t get there. The last day of the sign in there were hers and a couple of other families that didn’t get to sign in. Her dad’s name was Ed Tice. Her mom died at her birth, but her father walked away,” Blue said.
“We’ve found information about her being in Rock Spring, Wyoming, in the early 1900s … and her three kids. We also found that she was in Canada in the 1930s and 40s census. It shows her at El Reno, Okla., and other parts, but she came to Pawhuska in the early 1900s by horse and buggy, or wagons, with the three kids — Augusta, William and Virginia.” Later, Betty Jo, Carl Blue’s mother, came along.

“Some say grandma was married to a Stewart out of Stewart, Okla., and that’s how she acquired the blacksmith’s house,” Blue said.

Blue’s uncle Bill, William Emanuel Stewart, who lived the second part of his life in Pawhuska at the blacksmith’s house, had worked as a movie actor in Hollywood. “He was Humphrey Bogart’s stand in until he got into drinking and divorced,” Blue explained.

Blue mentioned another interesting ancestor, his great grandfather, George Washington Blue, who served as a U.S. Marshall. He was killed at the corner of Price and Main in Hominy in 1932 by bootleggers, Blue said.

“He had arrested some bootleggers and busted their still. Two to three days later, they ran him over in a Model T Ford,” Blue said.

Carl’s own father, also named George Washington Blue, had been a boxer, who was the 1941 Golden Gloves Champion, Blue said.

Carl Blue, who is an electrician in Hominy has served in the National Guard and in the Army Reserves. He is active in the American Legion post in Hominy. Blue is married to Vivian Blue, and they have a son named Lewis Blue.

His wife’s great grandfather was Bill Doolin, who became a member of the Dalton Gang of outlaws in the 1890s, but that’s a story for another day!


Carl Blue

Godwin Fey Speaks about the journey that led him to his position as Pawhuska Hospital Administrator

(L-R) Carol Crews, Rotarian of the Day, Eddy Red Eagle, Jr., Rotary Club President, Godwin Fey, Pawhuska Hospital Administrator, Cindy Tillman, Director of Outpatient Services, Cohesive Healthcare

By: Roseanne McKee

Godwin Fey was the guest speaker at the Pawhuska Rotary Club recently where he spoke about the journey that led him his present position as Pawhuska Hospital’s Administrator. He was asked to speak by Carol Crews, who was Rotarian of the Day.

Fey, who hails from the country of Cameroon in the Western part of the African continent, grew up the son of a school principal and the youngest of six children.
He connects with rural Oklahoma in part because of his own rural upbringing.

“I spent a lot of time with my grandmother on the farm and learned to cook and to farm,” Fey explained.

When he was young, he sold oranges grown on the farm, and brought the money home and put some of that toward his tuition.

Fey came to the U.S. on an education visa in 2003 to attend Hillsdale Freeway Baptist College in Moore on a soccer scholarship.

After two years, he transferred to Oklahoma State University, where he earned an associate’s degree. Thereafter, he began working two jobs as a certified nursing assistant to pay for the balance of his undergraduate education at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Fey moved to Shawnee, Okla., which he felt represented America.

While living in Shawnee, Fey earned his Master’s degree in Business Administration, met and married his wife, and the two began exploring what he described as his “American Dream” to open a business selling uniforms.

His wife, who is also a nurse, now runs that business, which continues to grow and prosper.

He became a U.S. citizen recently and is very grateful for what the United States offers.

“If people were to leave for one year, they would appreciate their citizenship,” Fey told Rotarians.

In 2016, Fey accepted a position at Cohesive Healthcare, a management and consulting company based in Edmond, Okla. They placed him in a position at Pawhuska Hospital as the Administrator.

Since taking the position as hospital administrator, he’s had to make some tough, yet fair decisions, he said.

“We’ve been very blessed and we feel like we’re making an impact,” he said. “Last year we invested $150,000 in new hospital beds. We’ve changed the flooring and had central heat and air installed.”

“The hospital staff is like a family. I’ve never been somewhere that people work together so well. One thing I’m very proud of is the quality of employees we have. We pay competitive wages at Pawhuska Hospital — comparable to what is paid in Tulsa and Oklahoma City,” he added.

In all he does, Fey draws from the base of moral and ethical support that he was taught as a child and tries to “not miss the opportunity to learn and to teach.”

The Life of Sally Carroll, a Tribute

By: Roseanne McKee

March 22, 2017

Sally Carroll, who owned and managed Sally’s Sandwich Shop at 614 S. Kihekah Ave. for 65 years, died last week at the age of 100. Over the years, I’ve spent many hours talking to Sally Carroll about her amazing life, these conversations are the basis for this tribute.
“Sometimes when you think about it, it’s like a fairytale,” Sally said. “I was two years old when we came to Pawhuska. I’ve never lived anywhere else.”

Born in 1916, she moved to Pawhuska in 1918. Her mother Luz Elias told her father Felipe Elias that because the Osage had the same skin color as them, they’d be more accepted. Her father, who had a good job doing construction for Williams Brothers out of Tulsa, agreed.

Her parents settled in Pawhuska with their ten children and rented a home on the east side of town. They brought their wood stove with them and slept on mats on the floor Sally said. She went to public school for a year.

When she was seven, the Catholic Priest visited and suggested that Sally and her sister attend the Catholic School. At the time six nuns lived there and taught at the school.

“They were very nice. The nuns taught three grades in one room. We went to church at 7 a.m. and school at 8 a.m.,” Sally said.

The arrangement was that Sally would work in the kitchen preparing meals for the nuns to pay her school tuition. There was no school lunch program, so her cooking was for the nuns, she explained. One of her sisters cleaned rooms for the nuns.

She learned to tell time working in the church kitchen. “There was a clock I looked at, and I knew when to put the pies in the oven,” Sally said.

When she was ten, the priest found her family a home nearby on Woodward Street. “That was the beginning of a better life for me,” Sally said. “I got babysitting jobs and began making money to help the family. At the age of 12, a restaurant on West Main St. called Lazo’s hired Sally. “I delivered sandwiches. Mrs. Lazo took me in and showed me a lot of things…. She was a big influence on my life.”

Mrs. Lazo married and her husband decided they would sell watermelon. Sally was put in charge. She had to keep track of the slices and the money and she liked the responsibility. However, Sally’s mother did not like the arrangement because the watermelon was sold outside at night.

One day when the cook didn’t show up, Sally jumped at the opportunity to fill in for him.

“That’s when I knew what I wanted to do – I wanted to cook! I made the bacon, the eggs, the T-bones. I love doin’ this…. It’s just like breathin’,” she said with a smile.

Sally made $5 per week. Her mother gave her $2 back, which she used to buy clothing with money to spare.

When Sally graduated from the eighth grade, she had to decide whether to go on to high school or begin working to help her family.

“My family didn’t have a lot, so I decided to go to work,” Sally said. She worked full time for Lazo’s, which was known as a chili parlor, making $18 per week.

Mrs. Lazo helped Sally’s father, Felipe, also known as Phillip, get a job with the WPA. As a result, her family was able to “buy a house on Twelfth Street for $500 that people said was haunted, but it wasn’t,” Sally said. “We paid part of it up front and paid the rest out.”

In 1943 George James asked her to come and work for him for $2 more a week at The Post Office Sandwich Shop. She didn’t say yes right away, but was eventually persuaded because at Lazo’s she was doing more and more without additional compensation, while Mr. Lazo sat in the back and Mrs. Lazo didn’t come in at all, she said. Sally was 27 at the time.

“At the time, there were businesses up and down the street. The Post Office Sandwich Shop was a beer joint more than anything,” she said. There were dances a few doors down at Whiting Dance Hall, which brought in live bands regularly. Many of the entertainers were African American. Due to segregation, Sally explained that a special section in the back of the shop was designated specially for the band members, who came to eat after their performances were over for the evening – glad for a place that welcomed them. After desegregation, the back room became a place where regulars who didn’t want to sit at the lunch counter would go for table seating. They had to go behind the counter and through the first small kitchen to get there, so only locals who were familiar would do so. The bigger kitchen was beyond this small dining room and had the larger stove, oven and shelves for food storage.

At 30, Sally married and had her two children, Andrea and David. After ten years of marriage, things were not working and she divorced. Sally lived in a cottage behind her parents’ house on Twelfth Street, and she and her children had meals in the main house with the family, she said.

When I went through my divorce, I’d visit her often after the lunch crowd had left and the café was empty. She’d be making pies for the next day and we’d talk. I always appreciated her wisdom.

Sally said, “After my divorce things started to change for me.”

Her employer, George James, died in 1949, and left the building and business to a nephew who lived in Greece. “He didn’t want it and Mr. A.S. Sands was in charge of the estate.”

Mr. Sands and Sally made an arrangement that would change her life. Sands rented the building to Sally for a year starting in Feb. 1949 with the understanding that she see how much money she could save toward the purchase that year.

In Jan. 1950, Sally had $5,000 in her bank account at Osage Federal Bank, and Sands agreed to sell it to her for that amount. The sales price included the building and contents at 614 Kihekah, the building just north of it and a garage behind it.
(Fish frying in Sally’s kitchen for Friday’s plate special.)

She changed the name to Sally’s Sandwich Shop, but always referred to it as “the café” and continued to sell beer until 1970, when a clothing store owner across the street, Mrs. Lennis Wright, suggested she stop selling alcohol.

“She’s the one who talked me into switching to food. I had been working until 2 a.m. when I sold the last beer, but then I’d stay until they drank it – sometimes 3 a.m. So I began on Saturdays making barbecue ribs and fried chicken and it just took off like wild fire.”

Based on this success, Sally expanded to weekdays, and decided to have a daily plate special with entrees such as: tamales, meatloaf, ribs and fish.

In 2010, when I worked at the Pawhuska Journal-Capital, her specials were just $5.45 tax included and were offered Tuesday – Friday. Breakfast, burgers from the grill and chili were available every day. The chili idea happened one day when a customer wanted tamales before they were done. The customer was insistent, so Sally served them the tamale sauce with crackers, which became her own special chili.

The things the café became known for continued to evolve over time. For example, the pies that Sally is so well known for, she only began making when her daughter was in high school. She regularly sold out of chocolate, banana, coconut meringue, apple, pecan, and cherry cream pies, which were on shelves behind the counter above the cash register.

Speaking of the pie crusts, she said, “I don’t measure anything. I just throw it together. I couldn’t tell them how I do it – I just feel.”

Sally’s was closed Sat., Sun. & Mon. However, the locals knew she was there on Saturdays preparing for the next week and they’d often ask her to fix them breakfast, which she graciously did.

She confided to me that one customer would bring her an egg from his farm that he’d pull from his pocket and give to her cook and serve at no cost; he’d just buy a cup of coffee to go with it! She never complained – just found it amusing.

The café had such a community feeling that local customers would get themselves a second cup of coffee from the ancient coffee urn behind the counter, or go behind the counter and get themselves a bottle of soda from the case where she kept glass bottles of Coke, IBC cream soda, Strawberry, Orange and Grape Crush. The vintage bottle cap remover was attached to the counter nearby.

The pay phone on the café wall, eventually the only one left in Pawhuska, would ring with takeout orders. A pad and paper were nearby so that customers could answer, take the order and hand it to Sally. This inclusive, informal way of doing business, conveyed the warmth and acceptance that Sally always had for her customers.

One piece of advice she gave me that I treasure was this: “I don’t ask if somebody likes what I cooked. If they like it, they’ll tell me. If you ask, they’ll feel that they have to say they like it.”

Over the years, she had a close relationship with the reporters at the Pawhuska Journal-Capital. Illustrations by one of the more talented ones hung behind the counter – pencil-drawn caricatures of the reporters and more noteworthy customers – including the one who’d bring the egg from home.

When I came into her café for the first time and introduced myself as the new reporter at the P-JC in 2010, she greeted me by saying, “Where you been! I’ve been waitin’ for you!” Naturally, we became instant friends. She thought of all the P-JC reporters that way. She sold the P-JC newspaper in the café as a show of her support. Sally’s was always the place to catch up on the latest local goings on, so it’s no coincidence that astute reporters gathered there.

After she divorced, she went on for a time running her café and raising her children on her own. Then one day, she realized that her son didn’t know how to fish or hunt and she started feeling that David needed a father figure.

She began to take more notice of Bill Carroll, who drove a taxi. He was retired from 13 years in the Army, and had a taxi service in Pawhuska. He lived at the Whiting Apartments across the street. Sally never learned to drive, so Bill Carroll began transporting her to and from the café, but he would never charge her.

“He decided to marry me before I even knew he existed,” Sally said.

She accepted his proposal and they moved into a house in Pawhuska where they raised Andrea and David.

Bill became a regular part of the café. “People said he was gruff, couldn’t take a joke, but he was strictly Army. He was good to me and my family … We were talking about celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary when he died,” she said.

She shared a dream she’d had of her late husband. Sally said she was in the café and Bill was on a ladder reaching down to her and he said, “come up here with me”. She tried to reach out to him but couldn’t grab his hand. “I still miss him,” she told me wistfully.

After Bill’s death, Sally shifted her focus to her children and extended family. “I have a daughter and a son. They rule my life. I have time for breakfast on Sundays. I try to cook something they both like.” This routine continued until she closed the café in August 2014 after a fall on her front cement steps at home. She recovered, but her family urged her to retire. “I didn’t even realize I was 98! I decided it was time,” she said.

I had sometimes taken her home at the end of her work day, so I knew where she lived. After she closed the café, she said I could stop by for visits. I would bring her flowers or six-packs of Coke classic, which was her favorite soda, and we would catch up.

Reflecting on her life, she told me, “To me it’s been a good life. We started out poor. My folks were in a new country and a new town. But look, we all got a good education. I credit the Catholic school and church,” she said. Sally was pleased that Andrea and David had been college educated and had found successful careers.

“The only life I know is this. I mean this town, this school, this church, this place …. I don’t dream often, but when I do, I’ dream I’m here.”

One afternoon after she said that, I visited her at the café while she was making pie crusts. I asked her, “Do you think that when you go to heaven, you’ll have the café?”

I don’t recall her answer, but she seemed to like the idea.

“Well, when I get there, I’m gonna come lookin’ for you,” I said.

She smiled and continued rolling out dough for the next day’s pies.

Tallgrass Praire Preserve announces Renaming to Honor Joseph Williams

TallgrassPrairieRenamingPhotoPress Release by Tallgrass Prairie Communications Director Katie Hawk

PAWHUSKA, OK – More than a quarter century ago, through the leadership of Joseph H. Williams, the dream of many Oklahomans to see a significant piece of the iconic tallgrass prairie in Osage County permanently conserved finally became a reality. Known as the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, The Nature Conservancy renamed the preserve in honor of Mr. Williams today at a dedication ceremony.

“We owe Joe a debt of gratitude for having the courage to forge ahead to make the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve a reality and a legacy for future generations to enjoy,” said Mike Fuhr, State Director of The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma. “It is his daring that we are honoring. And what an appropriate way to do so – honoring Joe by renaming the preserve in which he played such an important role in creating. This wonderful place will now be forever known as the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.”

Mr. Williams’ efforts began because he was an avid bird hunter but found game populations were being depleted by changes in rural land use. In the late 1980s, he and other hunters began to explore ways to conserve these native habitats.

“During this time we approached The Nature Conservancy for help,” said Joeseph H. Williams, former chairman of both the Oklahoma Board of Trustees and National Board of Governors for The Nature Conservancy. “They urged me to gather a group of prominent citizens from all across the state to become a Board of Trustees for a new Oklahoma chapter of The Nature Conservancy.”

The effort took an entire organization and a group of visionary Oklahomans to do what others had been unable to do. Chief among them was Mr. Williams who galvanized this amazing group at a time when the local economy was anything but favorable to finding millions of dollars in donations, even for a project that would create a long overdue prairie preserve for the world to embrace.

It was a short but consequential meeting in an airplane hangar in Oklahoma City where the Oklahoma trustees through Mr. Williams’ urging and leadership made the decision that forever changed the world of prairie conservation, a decision that asked us all to think bigger than we had in the past.

“The Conservancy recognized how vital a large expanse of tallgrass prairie under its protection would be as a symbol to others trying to establish conservation of scale sufficient to make a difference,” said Williams.

The initial Oklahoma Board of Trustees led a $15 million campaign and pulled together public sentiment for the project from all over the state and nation.

Today the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve – now at 40,000 acres – is the largest protected remnant of tallgrass prairie in the world and home to 2,500 free-range bison.

“We thank Joe for his hard work to create something so special. The ideas, inspiration and collaboration that the preserve has exported over the decades is living proof of his legacy,” said Fuhr.

In retirement, Mr. Williams lives in South Carolina, remains an avid outdoorsman and naturalist, and continues to support numerous conservation projects in Oklahoma and the Carolinas.

See You at the Pole event in Pawhuska to be held Sept. 23

See You at the Pole event, 2014.

Youth Band, The Pit Crew, performing at See You at the Pole event, 2014.

By: Roseanne McKee

This year’s See You at the Pole event in Pawhuska will take place on Sept. 23 at 7:30 a.m. at the high school flag pole, and will continue that evening at 6:30 at Pawhuska First Baptist Church, located at 302 E. 6th, Pawhuska, OK.

After its inception in Texas in 1990, the See You at the Pole event grew and just a year later, “on Sept. 11, 1991, at 7 a.m., it was estimated that over one million youth praying around their flag poles all over the country,” said Pawhuska First Baptist Church Pastor Jeff Laughlin.

Pastor Laughlin, spoke about the interdenominational event at a recent Pawhuska Kiwanis Club meeting.

When he was being interviewed for his current position as Senior Pastor, he said he noticed a poster at the church for the See You at the Pole event.

After a few years in his position, Pastor Laughlin was asked to lead the annual event in Pawhuska and he accepted.

One of the first things that he and the other organizers did was to take a fresh look at the event and its effectiveness.

Pastor Laughlin: “We’d been putting on this huge event for this region and we asked ourselves is that really making a difference in the lives of our youth here in Pawhuska? And the answer really had to come down to was, ‘no, it’s really not making a difference to our youth here.’”

At the time, the event had an annual budget of about $4,000, and youth from Ponca City, Cleveland, Bartlesville and Kansas were invited.

After entering into prayer and discussion, the organizers decided to shift the reach of the event from regional to local.

“We began to rethink the way we were doing this,” Pastor Laughlin said.

At that time, “there was probably a thousand dollars spent just in mailers sent out,” Pastor Laughlin said. “We’re operating on a total budget of that amount now and having a greater impact on our [Pawhuska] kids,” Pastor Laughlin said.

This year’s event has a budget of approximately one thousand dollars, funded with donations from the Ministerial Alliance, the Baptist Convention and Kiwanis,” said Pastor Ken Woodhams.

The evening event speakers do not normally ask for a certain amount of money, but they will be given an honorarium, Laughlin said, and the speaker’s lodging at the Wah-zha-zhi House in Pawhuska will also be provided.
This year’s event with the theme of unity will begin at the school flag pole at 7 a.m. and will be entirely led by youth.

Then that evening, events will continue at the Pawhuska First Baptist Church. A youth praise band from Eastern Heights Baptist Church in Bartlesville, The Pit Crew, will perform and the speaker will be Michael Bartley, the director of the Wesleyan Foundation at Oklahoma State University.

Pawhuska First United Methodist Church will provide the doughnuts and beverages for the morning prayer meeting at the flag pole, he said. Calvary Baptist Church will provide the food for the evening meal.

This year’s event will be funded with about a thousand dollars, including funds from the Ministerial Alliance, the Baptist Convention and Kiwanis,” said Pastor Ken Woodhams.

As a direct result of last year’s event, a bible study for teens in Pawhuska was started, which is still meeting a year later.

“At the flagpole, the students will be praying specifically for students, teachers and our community,” Laughlin said.

Laughlin said that he believes this scaled-back approach to the event, has yielded better results for less money.

Students from seventh through twelfth grade will pray at the flagpole on the morning of Sept. 23.

“Then they’ll issue invitations to their friends to come back that night at our fellowship hall [at Pawhuska First Baptist Church] they’ll have the hotdog meal and then go across the street to our worship center for the music and the speaker.

Pastor Woodhams said, “I’ve been enthused to see Mr. Sindelar, [Pawhuska High School Principal and Football Coach] talk about the re-establishment of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), which was also a big part of See You at the Pole.”

Pastor Laughlin said, “It is a neat thing that it started with such a small group and spread so quickly and has been sustained over the years. It gives our youth an opportunity to express and share their faith in a way that they don’t normally get to do at school and the freedom to get to do that is an amazing thing too.”

“We had some churches from Burbank and Bartlesville last year and they’ll continue to be a part of that, so we are still having a regional impact.”

Pastor Laughlin said, “We’re going to the youth groups in our churches and asking for a couple of volunteers from each church to see if they’d like to read or pray…We’ll be there just to watch them and to offer them support.”

To learn more about the event, visit the Pawhuska First Baptist Church website: http://www.PawhuskaFBC.org.

Donations can be made to the Ministerial Alliance, with ‘See You at the Pole’ on the memo line. The address of Ministerial Alliance is P. O. Box 91, Pawhuska, OK 74056. Donations are tax deductible.

New Art Gallery Opens in Pawhuska

By: Roseanne McKee
IMG_1892 (2)BruceCarter
Bruce Carter, owner of the Tallgrass Art Gallery at 521 Kihekah Ave. spoke to the Kiwanis Club recently about his new gallery, the path he travelled to become an artist and what led him to choose Pawhuska.

“When I was in high school I took art. I was really fortunate that my high school had a residential artist supplied by the state arts council come to our school for six months and totally changed the future that I would take in life. I was going to be a welder.”

Despite his plans to become a welder, Carter decided to take a six-month detour to take silversmithing classes at Northern Oklahoma College.

“At that point welding looked real big and silversmithing looked real small,” he said.

Nonetheless, Carter decided to pursue silversmithing as an art form.
“I’m a self-taught artist. In the art world that’s called someone from outside the academic background. I am a traditional silversmith, which means I use no mechanical tools. I do everything by hand. I’m also a traditional engraver, which means I carve all of the old cowboy patterns and things you see on work before early 1900.

“The gallery, I’d like to say it was planned, but it wasn’t. I had moved to Pawhuska and I decided I’m going to go back to silversmithing, which I had quit for 13 years.”

“I wanted to get back into the arts. I have always loved Pawhuska. I’ve driven through here. I’ve stopped here, I have visited Pawhuska. I was at a point in my life when I decided, I want to do what I really want to do and do it someplace that I really want to do it at. Hence, my move to Pawhuska,” Carter said.

Initially, he was just looking for a ten by ten space in which to do his silver work.

“The gallery kind of took shape after talking to lots of people in town…There’s a big push in Pawhuska to make it a center for the arts, to encourage the arts, to encourage artists, to encourage galleries.

We don’t sit on a major highway. We’re not a great place for industry … but we’re a great tourism destination. The number one reason people come to a destination is shopping, number two is history. Pawhuska has history.

Once he decided to move forward, he obtained building space at 521 Kihekah Ave. in Pawhuska, next door to Osage Outfitters and across the street from Ree Drummond’s building at the corner of Main St. and Kihekah.

“Three weeks later, [in July] we opened with 11 nationally known artists. That’s unheard of.
“Artists in this area were ready for a gallery. They believed in Pawhuska … and they were ready to come in and make that work. They also share my vision.

“Artists believe Pawhuska is a great place for art. If you’re an artist the tallgrass is a great asset. They love the Osage Hills, they love the ranches in this area.”

Of the 14 artists now represented in the gallery, Carter said that two of them have given exclusive rights to their artwork to be sold in the gallery in Oklahoma.

“That’s huge for Pawhuska,” Carter said.
It means if you want to buy a Burneta Venosdel, you have to buy it here. Burneta is a sculptor from Tahlequah has won several national awards, Carter added.

“If you want to buy a Carolyn Mock, other than from the artist herself, you have to buy it in Pawhuska.

Describing his approach, Carter said, “[a]lthough I am the owner, we run the gallery as a co-op. All the artists get a voice in what we do. For example, if we decide to advertise, we all get a voice in what venue we think is the best for that advertising.”

The artists are also in the process of forming an art guild in Pawhuska.

“One of the things the artists have consistently told me is that they want to teach sculpture and painting. They want to teach other professionals, so we are putting together an art school for professionals…. Professional artists spend a lot of money going places learning to paint and sculpt. They stay in a town up to a week at a time, so the artists have decided that we need a school,” Carter explained.

To that end, “the Oklahoma Sculpture Society will be coming to Pawhuska Oct. 19. Burneta Venosdel will be teaching a class to professional sculptors that day on the streets of downtown Pawhuska and at Liberty Ranch, a huge draw for Pawhuska, a huge draw for tourists.
“People sometimes have a misconception that galleries bring artists. That’s not how that works. Artists bring galleries.”

Carter cited several cities known for art as examples: Eureka Springs, Fredericksburgh Tx., Santa Fe and Red River.

In addition to his own move to Pawhuska, at Carter’s suggestion, two of the artists whose work is represented in the Tallgrass Art Gallery hope to move to Pawhuska, so Pawhuska is on its way to becoming an artistic hub.
Carter is sowing into Pawhuska by his presence and by his sponsorship of events. The Tallgrass Gallery plans to change the artwork exhibited monthly, have monthly receptions and establish “Women, Wine and Art” on the third Thursday of each month.

In addition, Tallgrass Art Gallery is sponsoring a street dance on Kihekah Ave., ‘A Night in Ole Pawhuska’ on the evening of Oct. 3 after the Indian Taco Festival in Pawhuska. All donations and proceeds will benefit The Pawhuska Arts and Preservation group. There will be music by Jimmie Johnson, community art projects, artist’s demonstrations, gallery opening and the grand opening of the Tallgrass Art School.

Carter is also planning a children’s art show in December in which there will be no prizes, but children’s artwork (8.5” by 11”) will be displayed and offered for sale at $25 each with the proceeds going toward arts and preservation.

The Tallgrass Art Gallery is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and by appointment.

To learn more about the upcoming activities of Tallgrass Art Gallery visit their Facebook page, visit their website http://www.tallgrassgallery.net or call them at 580-304-8731.

For information on classes and Tallgrass Art School, visit http://www.tallgrassartschool.com, Tallgrass Art School on Facebook or call Kenyon at 918-728-0804.

Osage Ballet to Perform during Papal visit to Philadelphia

Osage Ballet Performs a scene from Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet

Osage Ballet Performs a scene from Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet

By: McKee PR Advertising & Design for the Osage Ballet

The prayer scene from Wahzhazhe an Osage Ballet, which tells the history of the Osage people through ballet, will be performed at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia at the Festival of Families on Sept. 26 at Logan Square in Philadelphia, PA, to be attended by Pope Francis.

The Osage people have a long history with the Catholic Church first documented in 1673 when the Osages met Father Jacques Marquette, who visited them on the Osage River and visited several Osage villages, said Osage Ballet Director, Randy Tinker Smith. This interaction was followed by the arrival in America of Jesuit Priests, called “black robes” by the Osages, who evangelized to and converted some Osages to Catholicism.

In fact, Pawhuska, Okla., where the Osage Nation is headquartered, has the only Catholic Church in the world with stained glass windows depicting these Jesuit Priests meeting the Osage people and evangelizing to them. Osage families commissioned the stained glass windows to be made, which were created in Germany, hidden during World War I, and then shipped to the Immaculate Conception Church in Pawhuska, where they remain today, according to Parish Priest Father Sean Donovan. These stained glass windows, depicting Osages, required permission of the Pope.

Describing her decision to create and privately raise funds to produce the Osage Ballet, Smith said, “I sought to continue the legacy of two Osage women: the late Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief, and her sister, Marjorie Tallchief. Following the path paved by them, by telling the story of the Osage people through ballet seemed natural.”

We are honored that Roman Jasinski, the son of Moscelyne Larkin, an accomplished Native American ballerina, of the Peoria and Shawnee tribes, will be one of the dancers to perform,” Smith said.

Wahzhazhe, an Osage Ballet, was first performed in Tulsa and Bartlesville, Okla. in Aug. 2012, to enthusiastic audiences. Because of the outstanding response to the Ballet, they were invited and performed at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. in March 2013.

According to their website http://www.usccb.org, the World Meeting of Families event will be held in Philadelphia from September 22 to 27 and Pope Francis will attend Sept. 26 and 27 with the following scheduled stops on Sept. 26: 10:30 a.m. — Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, located in Logan Square, in Philadelphia, 4:45 p.m. – a visit to Independence Mall, 7:30 p.m. — a visit to the Festival of Families at Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The World Meeting of Families website http://www.worldmeeting2015.org, states that the event was begun by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1992 for the purpose of “strengthening the sacred bonds of the family unit across the globe.”

The event, which takes place every three years, creates an opportunity for families from all over the world to gather, and share their thoughts, dialogue and prayers. The purpose is to foster “working together to grow as individuals and family units,” the website says. Furthermore, “families can participate in discussion groups on the Christian family’s role in the church and society, led by many distinguished speakers.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the Festival of Families, visit their website at: http://www.worldmeeting2015.org.

For information about the Osage Ballet’s performance at the festival, visit their website http://www.osageballet.com or follow the Osage Ballet on Facebook.

New Warden of Dick Conner Correctional Center speaks to Pawhuska Kiwanis Club


By: Roseanne McKee

Janet Dowling, the new warden at Dick Conner Correctional Center (DCCC), was the guest speaker at the Pawhuska Kiwanis Club’s regular meeting on July 8 at Title VI on the Osage Campus.

Dowling is one of just four female wardens in Oklahoma. She has worked for the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections for 20 years, and was appointed to her current position as Warden at DCCC in Feb. 2014 by the facility’s Board.

She began her career at the Charles E. “Bill” Johnson Correctional Center in Alva, Okla., and went on to work at the James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena, Okla. as Warden before moving to eastern Oklahoma.

Dowling described the DCCC facility, located in Hominy.

“The original design capacity of the facility was 400 offenders and that capacity was reached in the spring of 1980. At that time the facility was surrounded by double chain-link fences and it cost 12.8 million dollars to construct,” Dowling said.

In 1982, shortly after a disturbance, an additional housing unit was added, she said. On June 1992 a minimum security unit was opened.

Dick Conner Correctional Center currently has seven medium security housing units and one minimum security unit, which are all behind the secure fencing.

“Six of the housing units are what you would expect to see at a medium security facility – two-man cells with bunks,” Dowling said. “The seventh unit, which currently houses sixty offenders, was intended to be temporary housing. A couple of years ago the facility was in the process of retro-fitting all of the locking mechanisms in the housing units so we needed temporary housing to move offenders out while we were fixing those cells. So we converted a classroom in our education building and added a few showers, toilets and sinks and housed sixty offenders there while we were processing that.

“Like every other temporary housing situation in the agency, that temporary housing has become permanent housing. So those men are housed in what was basically a classroom building. There are no cells in it. There are just double cots stacked together with about 3.5 to 4 ft. little walkways separating each cot, so it’s quite a congested area. It’s called open bay or open dorm housing.”

Regarding the open bay housing, Dowling said, “Obviously, not ideal in a medium security facility … you can’t separate them into cells into smaller more manageable groups, so it can be a bit of an issue — not ideal, but that’s the reality of the situation.”

On Nov. 2013, World Mission Builders completed the construction of two chapels at DCCC.

“We’re the only facility where they built two chapels at a time. It was a huge undertaking. Volunteers lived in a tent city outside the facility for a while,” Dowling explained. “It is surprising how many volunteers we have come in to assist with programs and activities.”

Currently, DCCC is operating above its rated capacity, which is the term used to describe what the facility was built to house,” Dowling said.

“Our facility is rated to house 1,196 offenders. That’s 236 minimum security offenders and 960 medium security offenders.

“In that medium security count are infirmary beds. We have nine [beds]. We have a 24-hour, mini-hospital at the institution. We have 42 segregated housing unit beds…those are the people who are either a risk to themselves or others or are at risk from other people and have to be segregated into another area.

Describing those in the segregated housing unit Dowling said: “those are people who are going to be leaving the institution to go to another institution. They’re not compatible with what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Describing the crimes for which inmates are serving, Dowling said, “our main crimes are murder, assault, robbery, rape and distribution of CDS” (distribution of a controlled, dangerous substance).

“Basically, we’ll take anybody, we just can’t have someone on death row,” she explained.

Dowling said, “On July 1 of this year, we had 1,299 offenders. We typically average around 1,300 inmates. Also, we have 17 offenders who are on ‘out-count.’”

These offenders are at another institution, such as a county jail awaiting charges or in an area hospital, but DCCC is still responsible for them.

Some offenders, who are not citizens of the U.S., may be returned to their originating country for probation.

“It was a way of reducing costs, getting them out of the state, making their originating country pay for that care,” Dowling said, but “there’s no getting out of their Oklahoma time.” If they return to Oklahoma, they are required to finish their sentence here.

“As a state, we have roughly 27,800 offenders incarcerated in institutions at this time. On top of that, we have about 26,357 doing some type of community supervision sentencing, so that is 54,000 of our citizens that we have on some form of supervision-control custody. As an agency we are at 112 percent of our rated capacity. We’re full,” Dowling said.

At DCCC, Dowling said, “from our internal information, we anticipate we will receive about 1,200 new offenders this year. That takes into consideration people coming in and people going out, but we’re going to grow by about 1,200 people. Obviously the math leads you to your own conclusions, we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions, as citizens on what we’re going to do about that.”

The DCCC payroll was 8.8 million dollars for fiscal year 2015. “This includes payroll, insurance and the entire benefits package,” she said.

Dowling explained that at DCCC there are 44 staff members, whose salaries are paid by the facility support division, such as medical, education staff and canine officers. A total of 134 employees are paid from the 8.8 million dollar payroll. That is 58 support staff and 76 security officers to oversee 1,300 offenders, which is less than fully staffed.

“Currently we have openings for: deputy warden, electrician, plumber, licensed nurse, food service specialist, two secretaries, a receptionist, material management specialist and I can hire 57 additional correction officers if they’d walk in the door. Getting them to walk in the door is the problem.”

Besides payroll, the DCCC spent 1.7 million operating budget dollars to run the facility, she said.

“About half of that is used up for utilities and food. The third largest expense is facility maintenance – just keeping the place up and running.”

Based on June information, it costs 89 cents per meal. Regarding the menu, Dowling said, “it meets the calorie requirement and it is as efficiently spent as we can possibly do it. For example, it takes 60 gallons of green beans if we are going to serve green beans at one meal.”

“Because of our staffing situation we’re on a 12-hour shift; except our 12-hour shift is five days a week, so everyone works a minimum of 60 hours a week sometimes more.

“If we had more corrections officers, we could reduce the overtime, but it’s an issue a lot of places are facing. Staffing is an issue for every business,” Dowling said.

Applicants must have a clear criminal background, be able to pass the drug screening test and have a GED or high school diploma.

“Starting salary for corrections officers is $2,214. After six months they get a raise which brings them up to about $2,300 and then after 18 mos. $2,480.”

Dowling expressed her appreciation for the DCCC staff: “One of the things that makes me so passionate about what I do is the quality of the staff that we have. These people are working difficult hours in sometimes unpleasant conditions with people who are not always crazy about you being around. They work very hard and are dedicated to what they do and are proud of their service to the state of Oklahoma. It’s tremendous to see these men and women and what they do every day.”