97 minutes | May 15, 2023
Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear
Geoffrey Standing Bear is the Principal Chief of the Osage Nation. He is the great-grandson of Osage Principal Chief Fred Lookout.Before his election, Chief Standing Bear practiced law for 34 years. He concentrated on federal Indian law receiving national recognition by Best Lawyers in America, Oklahoma Super Lawyers, and a listing with Chambers and Partners. He served as Assistant Principal Chief of the Osage Tribe from 1990 through 1994 and was a Member of the Osage Nation Congress from 2010 to 2014. While a practicing lawyer, he was involved in the first Indian gaming cases in Oklahoma, representing the Muscogee Creek Nation, Seneca-Cayuga Tribe, and several other tribes. He also was General Counsel to the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association.The book Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann has focused attention on the Osage Nation. In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured cars and lived in mansions. Then one by one, the Osage began to be killed.As a young man, Chief Standing Bear heard his family talk about the Osage wealth and the fear of being killed.In his oral history interview, Chief Standing Bear talks about the filming of Killers of the Flower Moon.
87 minutes | May 3, 2023
While Joe Williams is primarily known in Tulsa as an oilman, his friends and family speak of him as a bird hunter and conservationist, and then an astute businessman and oilman. It is Williams’ work on behalf of the country’s largest preserved tract of native tallgrass prairie that is his lasting legacy. He is given credit for making it happen, thus the preserve was renamed the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in 2015. He is past chairman of both the Oklahoma Board of Trustees and the National Board of Governors for The Nature Conservancy.In 1959, Joe Williams never intended to get involved in the family-owned Williams Brothers pipeline construction business. He had other plans. Fate stepped in, however, and he spent thirty-five years with the multibillion-dollar company, the last fifteen as chairman and chief executive officer. When he retired in 1994, the Williams Cos. was a more focused, greatly expanded, and significantly more profitable enterprise than when he assumed the chairmanship in 1979. Joe is a former fellow and trustee of the Yale Corporation and member of the Yale Institute of Biosphere Studies. He has received honorary degrees from Yale University, the University of Tulsa, and Phillips University. He is a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In 1988, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
36 minutes | Apr 10, 2023
April 10th, 2010 the oral history website Voices of Oklahoma was launched. We began collecting stories in 2009. So, on this, our 14th anniversary, we would like to share the history of Voices of Oklahoma as we relate some of our experiences in collecting over 270 oral histories of Oklahomans. We will talk about how the concept originated, the many places we have visited for these recordings, and what we have learned: that teachers make a difference, that the gifts of talented artists are apparent at a very early age, and there are defining moments in all our lives — some more dramatic than others. We also want to give credit to those behind the scenes who have made this project successful. Our website is being used as a resource for education and research, providing primary source material for historians, scholars, and educators.Thank you for taking time to listen to the history of Voices of Oklahoma.
57 minutes | Apr 5, 2023
Bob McCormack was one of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s premier photographers. A native of Pompey, New York (just a few miles east of Syracuse), Bob’s family moved to Lathrop, Missouri, while Bob was still a child. Bob came to Tulsa during the great depression. He spent his first night in Tracy Park. The next morning he went to the Tulsa World, where Eugene Lorton hired him immediately and sent him to Claremore because Will Rogers’ plane had crashed, killing Rogers and Wiley Post. Celebrities, it so happened, were always McCormack’s favorite subjects. When movie theaters were still showplaces, a number of movie stars came through Tulsa for premieres and promotional tours. McCormack met them at the train station and backstage. He took a job at Douglas Aircraft as its chief photographer. Four years later, he opened a studio of his own. His work has appeared in national publications such as “Life,” “Collier’s,” “Sports Afield,” “National Geographic,” and many others. He covered the opening of Philbrook Museum in 1939 for the Associated Press. Bob McCormack died April 4, 2003. Bob’s son John became a very accomplished photographer and tells the story of his father on the oral history website VoicesOfOklahoma.com.
55 minutes | Mar 16, 2023
For those who remember the television show “Shindig!” but may have forgotten the host, this story will remind you of the very talented Jimmy O’Neill, who was from Enid, Oklahoma. He started his radio career at 16 in Enid, then on to WKY Oklahoma City and KQV Pittsburgh before making his Los Angeles debut at the brand-new KRLA in 1960. The station had just adopted a top-40 format. At the age of 20, Jimmy O’Neill had the most popular program in his time slot, making him the youngest person ever to have a No. 1 show.Jimmy was 24 when he hosted “Shindig!” which was on ABC television from September 1964 to January 1966 and for a time ran twice a week. Besides the Beatles, among its list of superstars, “Shindig!” featured the Who, the Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, the Beach Boys, and the Righteous Brothers. Jimmy was also the owner of Pandora’s Box, an influential Sunset Strip music venue in West Hollywood, California.Jimmy eventually left Los Angeles for KOB in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then WOW, Omaha, Nebraska, where John Erling worked with him at WOW and KOIL.Jimmy was 73 when he died January 11th, 2013. For Jimmy’s story, John interviewed Jimmy’s former wife Eve O’Neil, whose brother was actor Troy Donahue.If you search the web for Jimmy O’Neill, you’ll find examples of his extraordinary work. Listen to the Jimmy O’Neill story on the oral history website and podcast VoicesofOklahoma.com.
63 minutes | Mar 7, 2023
James C. Leake
James C. Leake was a Television pioneer along with his wife Marjory Griffin Lake and brother-in-law John “J.T.” Griffin. In the 1940s, they applied to the FCC for licenses to put television stations in Little Rock, Arkansas (KATV), Tulsa, Oklahoma (KTUL) and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (KWTV). They put these three stations on the air in nine months. What you are about to hear is James Leake describing the process from application time, their competition, money issues, to building studios, and to when they went on the air, December 1953.It was February 3, 1998, when Mr. Leake recorded this oral history account of Oklahoma and Arkansas television. He was 83 years old when he talked for an hour without an interviewer or notes as he recalled in interesting detail the many challenges they faced in constructing these stations “put on by folks who had never seen it.” We are grateful to Nancy and Richard Sevenoaks (daughter and son-in-law) of Jimmy Leake for providing this recording. James C. Leake was 86 when he died July 3, 2001.
95 minutes | Feb 27, 2023
Ernestine Dillard of Bixby, Oklahoma is perhaps best remembered for her April 23, 1995 performance when she electrified 11,000 mourners and a national television audience with her “God Bless America” vocal arrangement. The medley closed the Oklahoma City Memorial Service honoring the victims of the Murrah Building bombing. In 1994, Ernestine Dillard ended a 33-year career as a registered nurse—the last two years with the Tulsa County Health Department—to pursue music full time. That same year Dillard won the “American Traditions” competition at Savannah Onstage, an annual music festival in Georgia City. Her performance career since then has included concert appearances at the American Cathedral in Paris; Geneva, Switzerland; the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; Philadelphia’s “Let Freedom Ring” celebration featuring General Colin Powell; the Turner Broadcasting Trumpet Awards during 1996 and 1997 programs in Atlanta, Georgia; and many other prestigious events. Ernestine Dillard received further awards and honors because of her community service and work with children. Ernestine died February 16th, 2023.
30 minutes | Feb 23, 2023
J. Paul Getty
A Man’s Perspective on Business and Life was a film prepared for the employees of Getty Oil Company and Skelly Oil Company shortly before J. Paul Getty’s death on June 6, 1976, at age 83. James C. Leake and journalist Bob Gregory produced a 10-part series on Oklahoma oil men, which aired on KTUL Tulsa and KWTV Oklahoma City. Harold Stuart, son-in-law of William “Bill” Skelly and former owner of KVOO Television and Radio, set up a series of interviews for Leake and Gregory which included J. Paul Getty. The announcer in this audio presentation, taken from the film, was the interviewer Bob Gregory. It is believed to be Mr. Getty’s last interview, which was conducted at his estate in Sutton Place, England, where he died. At that time, Mr. Getty was known as one of the wealthiest men in the world. A Man’s Perspective on Business and Life was donated to Voices of Oklahoma by Nancy Leake Sevenoaks and her husband Richard. J. Paul Getty talks about coming to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, moving to Tulsa, and his fondness for William Skelly. Getty credits his father for his business success and shares his experience in the oil business on the oral history website VoicesOfOklahoma.com.
92 minutes | Feb 21, 2023
Oklahoma native James C. Leake, Sr., grew up on the farm his grandfather homesteaded in 1891. He worked the soda counter at Rickner’s Bookstore and Restaurant in Norman while attending college at the University of Oklahoma and, as a trombone player, even took a job repairing the school’s band uniforms on a $10 sewing machine. He became president of the band in 1938 and raised money for trips, where he often slept in the baggage car to protect the group’s uniforms and instruments.In 1940 Leake married Marjory Griffin, the daughter of grocery pioneer J. T. Griffin of Muskogee. He became a salesman for Griffin Grocery Company and, during World War II, played an important role in expediting food shipments for the federal government. Upon the death of J.T. Griffin, Leake assumed part of the management responsibilities of Griffin Enterprises. With his brother-in-law John “J.T.” Griffin, Leake established TV stations in Tulsa, Little Rock, and Oklahoma City. His annual car auctions in Tulsa drew thousands of spectators from around the world.He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1979. His daughter Nancy Leake Sevenoaks tells the story of her father on VoicesOfOklahoma.com.
72 minutes | Feb 6, 2023
Mary Helen Stanley
In the late 1930s, women basically had four career choices – nurse, secretary, hairdresser, or teacher. Mary Helen Stanley decided to follow in her aunt’s footsteps to become a teacher. She began her career as a high school speech and English teacher and later joined the faculty at the University of Tulsa, where she taught speech and organized the university’s first debate team. After taking more than a decade off to get married and devote her time to being a wife, homemaker, and mother of three, Stanley was forced to re-enter the workforce when her husband, Bob Stanley, died in 1959 of lung cancer. Bob’s family-owned Stanley Funeral home in Tulsa. Mary Helen obtained her funeral service license and became a funeral director, becoming the oldest woman funeral director in Oklahoma when still working at the age of 85. Stanley co-founded Oklahoma Parents Without Partners. In the early 1970s, she started the first grief counseling class at Boston Avenue Methodist Church in Tulsa.She is a member of the Oklahoma Funeral Directors Association and was named Oklahoma Funeral Director of the Year in 2002. She was 101 at the time of this oral history recording on October 13, 2022.
68 minutes | Jan 27, 2023
Marina Metevelis answered the call to defend the United States as one of the iconic bandanna-clad Rosie the Riveters. Marina was sixteen when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941—an event that inspired her to apply for a job at the Wichita aircraft plant where the B-17 Flying Fortresses met the wings that carried them into battle. She became a Rosie the Riveter her senior year in high school. When Marina was a kid, she spent summers in Tulsa visiting her uncles. They were 32nd Degree Masons…and so were the oil barons. During those visits, she met all of the oil barons—thus her knowledge of Tulsa’s history and the tunnels in its historic downtown. She became a tour guide through those famous tunnels in 1992. Marina was also a librarian at Tulsa Community College (TCC) and later served as Director of The Heritage Center at TCC.Marina was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1924.
113 minutes | Jan 13, 2023
George Krumme was born and reared in rural Oklahoma, about five miles northeast of Okemah. His early education took place in a rural school. He finished high school at age 16 in Bristow and then attended Oklahoma A&M as a music major.World War II changed the course of his life. He left A&M to study weather forecasting at Spartan School of Aeronautics and then taught aviation cadets in Texas. Krumme enlisted in the Army Air Corps and received training in mathematics and physics at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Reassignment to the infantry led him to Europe during the Battle of the Bulge, and he was awarded a Purple Heart.After the war, he returned to Pomona to earn a bachelor’s degree and was named to Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, he returned to Bristow, joining his family as a partner in Krumme Oil Company.He moved to Tulsa in 1960 and studied on nights and weekends at The University of Tulsa to earn his master’s degree in petroleum engineering and Ph.D. in earth science.He was active in Democratic politics for half a century and served as a National Committeeman from 1976–1996.
64 minutes | Jan 6, 2023
“The greatest game ever pitched” was an event that may best describe the baseball story of Warren Spahn. For in that game, he displayed the strength and the stamina that earned him the title of the greatest major league left-handed pitcher of all time. Warren Edward Spahn was a baseball hero and a hero on the battlefields of World War II. His 363 wins on the baseball field made him the all-time winningest left-handed hurler in the game. In 1973, Warren Spahn was admitted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. And on the battlefield he was a true hero as he was awarded the Battlefield Commission and a Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds. As a young boy, Greg Spahn observed his father in the locker room, in the dugout, and on the playing field. And it is Greg who tells his father’s story on VoicesofOklahoma.com.
94 minutes | Jan 4, 2023
Julius Pegues was the first Black varsity basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh, and went on to serve in the U.S. Air Force as a weather forecaster and later as an advisor to the Federal Aviation Administration. A star basketball at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, he was forced to matriculate to the University of Pittsburgh because University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and the University of Tulsa did not allow Black players.Julius quickly transitioned from a walk-on to a scholarship player after averaging 20 points per game in his first month. He finished as one of only 34 players in the program's history to score 1,000 career points. The NBA's St. Louis Hawks picked Pegues in the fourth round of the 1958 draft, but he had to serve in the military as he was in the Air Force ROTC at Pitt. In Tulsa, he was best known for his work to memorialize Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre and the history and culture of Black Tulsans through the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation. His efforts laid the groundwork for the Greenwood Rising History Center.Julius served on the boards of the Tulsa NAACP, Tulsa Urban League, Tulsa Comprehensive Health Services, Family and Children’s Services, Hutcherson Branch YMCA, Tulsa Housing Authority, and Tulsa Board of Education Human Relations Committee. He was a member of the City of Tulsa Economic Development Commission. Julius Pegues was 86 when he died March 29, 2022.
114 minutes | Dec 5, 2022
He’s a small-town guy who charmed the big city. He was merely a name who coached high school sports before he became the face of Oklahoma high school athletics. Through his appearances on radio and television, J.V. Haney became the state’s most significant voice of high school sports. From the late 1980s through the early 2000s, Haney promoted Oklahoma high school sports from his pulpit that was Cox cable television. Through football season, basketball season and an assortment of lesser-recognized seasons, Haney provided the passion and the commentary for television audiences statewide. In the 1970’s, Coach Haney led Tulsa’s Edison High school to three state tournament appearances during his time as head basketball coach. He later spent four years with the Webster basketball program. During his career as a high school basketball coach, he recorded 313 wins. In the 80s Haney launched his broadcasting career. Due to Haney's outstanding career, he was elected to be president of the Oklahoma Coaches Association. Haney was later inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003. JV Haney died in 2022 at the age of 89.
101 minutes | Nov 28, 2022
James Osby Goodwin was one of eight siblings who grew up next door to Tulsa’s St. Monica Catholic Church. His father purchased a 150-acre farm in the community of Alsuma at East 51st Street and South Mingo Road. Nearby railroad tracks separated whites and blacks. At 9 years old, Goodwin became an amputee when he lost his right arm in a horseback riding accident that involved a train on the Katy Railroad. Jim Goodwin is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Tulsa college of law. As a lawyer he successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for the constitutionality of local statutes regarding freedom of speech and he was co-counsel in the matter of reparation for victims of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Jim is the publisher of The Oklahoma Eagle, Oklahoma’s longest-running Black-owned newspaper. The paper is a successor to the Tulsa Star newspaper, which was burned down in the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Jim served on the Tulsa City-County Board of Health for over fifty years, and the Tulsa Health District’s East Regional Health Center was named for him in 2018.
129 minutes | Oct 27, 2022
Joyce Jackson was in Junior High School when she became part of the Katz Drugstore sit-in in 1958, the beginning of a movement that contributed to race relations reform in Oklahoma. Joyce was the first black woman on television in Oklahoma at KOCO 5, Oklahoma City, becoming an award-winning broadcast journalist, producer and talk show host. In 1982 she began a career in the Oklahoma Department of Justice as a public relations officer until 1997 when she left the agency to become the Communications Director for the Illinois Department of Corrections. She returned to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections as the Executive Communications Administrator in 2005. Joyce also worked as a professional model for 20 years and was the owner of a modeling/charm school. She retired from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in 2014 after 24 years of service. See more on our website: https://voicesofoklahoma.com/interviews/jackson-joyce/
117 minutes | Sep 14, 2022
Governor David Walters
David Walters was the 24th governor of Oklahoma from 1991 to 1995. Born in Canute, Oklahoma, he was a project manager for Governor David Boren and the youngest executive officer working for the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. In 1986, Walters was the Democratic nominee for governor of Oklahoma, but was defeated by Republican Henry L. Bellmon. On November 6, 1990 Walters was elected governor, carrying 75 of the state’s 77 counties. During his term, education funding increased by approximately 30 percent, and a $350 million bond issue for higher education brought construction and renovation to every state college campus. Walters did not seek re-election and was defeated in a 2002 campaign for the United States Senate. He is the CEO of Walters Power International, a global provider of local power. In this oral history interview David talks about cotton farming, Harvard, Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, and the death of his son Shaun. See more: https://voicesofoklahoma.com/interviews/walters-david/
99 minutes | Aug 29, 2022
Dr. James A. Rodgers, a neurosurgery specialist in Tulsa, Oklahoma, completed his medical school prerequisites at the University of Tulsa in 1972. He then graduated with honors from the University of Oklahoma medical school in 1976. After completing his internship and residency in neurosurgery in 1981, he opened a solo practice in Muskogee, Oklahoma, returning to Tulsa in 1989. In his solo practice, he focused on cervical and lumbar spine problems. One of the founders of Tulsa Spine and Specialty Hospital, a physician-owned hospital, Dr. Rodgers has nearly 50 years of diverse experience in neurosurgery. Beyond his medical career, he developed a strong interest in music in his youth that eventually led to owning and rehabilitating the internationally known music venue, Cain’s Ballroom. This Tulsa landmark, inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2005, is remembered for its role in the history of western swing music, and rock’n’roll. Dr. Rodgers’s advice to young people when considering a career: “Choosing a lifestyle is very important, think about how it would affect your family.” https://voicesofoklahoma.com/interviews/rodgers-jim/
93 minutes | Jul 25, 2022
Riesinger’s Jewelry was a mainstay in Utica Square for over fifty years with a heritage that dates back to the fourth floor above the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Tulsa. That was where Frank Riesinger’s father, Otto, presided for many years over a jewelry repair store repairing items sent to him by retail jewelry stores in Tulsa. Frank was home from military service when he witnessed downtown Tulsa’s celebration of V-J Day (Victory over Japan) on August 14, 1945. Following his military service, Frank used the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Tulsa, graduating with a degree in business administration in 1949. It was while he was attending TU that he had a unique encounter with Thomas Gilcrease. Frank learned the jewelry business from his father and opened Riesinger’s retail store in Utica Square in 1952, one of the first stores in one of Tulsa’s first shopping centers. He and his wife Bobbie operated Riesinger’s Jewelry until 1983. Through the years, Frank attended WW II commemorative events in France and Luxembourg, and created a V-J Day memorial event in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He was ninety-five when he recorded his oral history interview for Voices of Oklahoma. See more at: https://voicesofoklahoma.com/interviews/riesinger-frank/