Welcome back. This week I’m taking you back in time again. The year was 1997 and for Bartlesville, Oklahoma it marked one hundred years since the incorporation of the city. A year long celebration had been in the planning stages for months with three weeks of special events scheduled at specific intervals. The festivities kicked off in January with a birthday party for Bartlesville at the Community Center which included a concert and a huge cake that fed everyone! Other events throughout that week recognized the city’s founding and pioneer heritage and a replica of Jacob Bartle’s’ store was constructed in the community center parking lot.
A second week of events in the spring celebrated the role of the oil industry in the development of the city. Former President George H. Bush visited to unveil a replica of the Nellie Johnstone well and a major exhibition about the oil industry was opened inside a downtown Phillips Petroleum building. Visitors from all over the world came to Bartlesville to take part in panel discussions about the industry and its scientific contributions around the world.
Grand Finale Week in September brought entertainer Vince Gill to Custer Field for a concert after days of reenactments, music and the biggest parade the city had ever seen. The OU Marching Band, spectacular floats and dozens of other marching bands were part of the parade which was capped off by a jet plane fly-over.
Many members of the community contributed to the success of the Centennial including Scott Ambler, Dan Droege, Virgil Gaede, Ray Steiner, Jim Curd, Sr. and Bettye Williams among the hundreds of committee members and other volunteers who made all the events come together. At the beginning however there were two men in particular who had a vision for this great event celebrating the city they loved. Both successful business men now in retirement, Bill Creel and Tom Sears were the Co-Chairmen of the entire yearlong Centennial Celebration and folks if we ever decide to put up bronze statues of important community leaders these men should be the first two to be honored.
Bill had been an executive at Price Pipeline Company and I met him when I got a job on a Price Company pipeline in Texas right after high school. From the date of his retirement until his death in 2000? he focused his time and energy on projects to make Bartlesville a better place, serving on innumerable boards and committees.
Tom Sears was a Phillips man who graduated from high school in Bartlesville before going on to The University of Colorado’s School of Engineering and following that got an MBA from Harvard’s Graduate School of Business Administration. He joined Phillips in 1954 and had a distinguished career which included heading up several major divisions of the company around the country. After retirement Tom also played a leadership role in many community organizations, leading up to his co-chairmanship of the Centennial Celebration.
Yes, it’s a great story you may be saying but why bring it up now? Well, here’s the scoop. With the passing of Tom two weeks ago it puts history in a can so to speak. Over the past few years we have lost many inspiring community leaders the likes of whom I’m quite sure I won’t see again. We should never forget them and the great things they did to guarantee a great future for all of us.
A bit more current history was made in Dewey this past weekend when the Stray Cat Car Show came to town. From what my friends at the Rustic Touch told me, and after talking to the organizers, this may very well turn out to be the largest show ever. With wonderful weather, excellent food and a friendly crowd, it was all great fun.
This week is last call for Elder Care’s big party The Good, The Bad & The Barbeque at the Mullendore ranch and the staff at Elder Care is saying you don’t want to miss it!
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…..