Welcome back. First off this week I have news of a new writer for the Bartlesville Magazine who will be introduced when the magazine comes out this week. I’ll leave his identity a mystery but this is a man in his late sixties who went to school locally and has traveled many miles around the country from coast to coast, border to border, living in several locations along the way. He has written for several newspapers and magazines, published two books and has been the ghost writer for several other projects. The new column will be called “Through My Eyes” and it will be the featured article in the magazine. I’ve read the column and without giving too much away I can tell you that Don Doty, Walter Allison, John F. Kane, Art Gorman and a café called Kenny’s are all mentioned. If those names don’t get your interest I will simply say that they are all part of Bartlesville’s history. Check it out this month. As for me, when the news got back to me that my book Footprints in the Dew made Oklahoma’s Best Seller List again I decided to stay on the book signing circuit a bit longer. First up is a big trade show at the Oklahoma City fairgrounds. If you haven’t travelled there lately, you would find that things are changing with several new buildings under construction while older ones are coming down. From there it’s a return to Tulsa where the Tulsa Flea Market is celebrating 48 years at the fairgrounds. On to sports. Last Saturday with bad weather in the area I cancelled a book signing in Pawhuska choosing instead to attend a Golden Eagles basketball game on the campus of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. The game was held in the Mabee Center on the campus and if you haven’t been there before here’s a little history on the building. The center opened in 1972 and has 10,575 permanent seats all of which offer clear sightlines for games and concerts. Over the years the Mabee Center has hosted a wide range of events including NCAA and NAIA championships, the Miss Oklahoma pageant and concerts by Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks and the Blue Man Group among many others. As it turned out there were lots of people who wanted to watch a good game that night. The Eagles played the North Dakota Fighting Hawks and a good game it was as ORU won decisively. Basketball season is going full steam so if you’re looking to get out and have some fun check out a local high school or college game. I can guarantee from personal experience you will enjoy yourself. You rodeo fans will be excited to learn that the International Professional Rodeo Association is moving their finals competition to the world famous Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Designed specifically for rodeo competition, the arena was recently renovated to install state of the art lighting, sound and video systems along with new seating. The arena offers R.V. hookups for visitors and contestants as well as free parking for event attendees. This is the 50th anniversary of the International Finals Rodeo which will be held this weekend and I’ll be there. Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….

A Christmas Story

Welcome back. Continuing from last week’s column, what kind of person can draw two past Oklahoma governors, George Nigh and Frank Keating to a Christmas party at his house, along with Garth Brook’s guitarist Ty England, champion bronc rider Billy Etbauer and a dozen more well-known folks? Well, as I promised to tell you last week, they all came to see a man whose home is now in Yukon, Oklahoma but his story doesn’t start in Oklahoma though but rather in a small town called Duvall just outside of Seattle, Oregon.

The date was May 14, 1940 and the occasion was the birth of a baby boy but life started out rough. With a father who milked cows for a living and a mother who suffered a crippling nervous breakdown soon after his birth, the boy was raised mostly by his sister who was only four years older. Religion always played a big role in the boy’s early years but in 1949 after attending a revival meeting led by Christian crusader Billy Graham his faith became central in his life. An athlete in school, the boy exceled in several sports as well as academics, eventually graduating from Pacific University in Seattle in 1962. He went on to the University of Edenborough in Scotland which had the world’s foremost seminary. While he was studying there he also worked part-time and traveled through much of Europe, making many new friends whom he is still close to sixty years later. After graduation the boy, who was now a young man, moved back home to Duvall where he started working and got married but he had bigger dreams. First of all, he wanted to serve god, then he wanted to help other people and have his own herd of cows. All of this would come to him but not without hard work.

He got the perfect job to help other people at Acme Personnel and from sun up to way past sundown he worked finding employment for people who needed it. In 1968 Acme offered him a job in Oklahoma which he took. By now Acme was the largest job placement company in the country but financial trouble was brewing for the firm. With good credit, a proven work ethic and he would say god’s help, the young man bought Acme Personnel and turned it into Express Employment Professionals. It was a big gamble and for several years during the early 1980s it looked like the new company might not make it. There was also another problem because this full-grown man could not restrain himself when it came to giving to others. By the 1990s he had his own ranch and as was his way, became particularly interested in helping young people get involved in farming and ranching donating millions in scholarships over the years but he supported many other endeavors as well. From the arts to feeding the hungry, he was willing to chair any worthwhile event or organization that benefited others.

Meanwhile his stature in the business community continued to grow and along the way he was invited to become a director and then chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. Yes, the boy who had wanted to help others had achieved all he dreamed of and even today as he has gotten older, he still wants to assist those in need. Friends his work in life has not gone unnoticed and last Sunday was a tribute by his friends who came from near and far to wish this man, Yukon, Oklahoma’s own Bob Funk, a Merry Christmas. Now you know the rest of this Christmas story and if you want to learn more about Mr. Funk check out the Express Employment Professionals website.

You can also make a visit to the Copan Café and out in the back pasture are some of Bob’s prize-winning cattle that café owners John and Donna Chaney bought from Bob’s Express Ranches. Next week a story about a rancher from Bartlesville and how he made his way into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Till then have a happy New Year and I’ll see ya down the road…