Welcome back. Like many other writers at this time of year I am still on the road doing book signings and hitting all the Christmas parties that I can. This week I thought a few profiles of the well-known and just plain interesting folks I’ve run into along the way might appeal to you readers. I’ll start with a man who was Oklahoma’s only four term governor and who was also the only person to win all seventy-seven counties in the process. The first to recognize how important the film industry could be for Oklahoma, he pushed for incentives to encourage movie producers to come to our state. This man also appointed the first woman to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, boosted new highway construction, improved the Oklahoma prison system and promoted the arts. He expedited construction of Arrowhead and Fountainhead lodges at Lake Eufaula and following his terms as governor he became the President of the University of Central Oklahoma. By now most of you know I’m speaking about George Nigh. I’ve known George for several years and Sunday night I got the chance to visit with the ninety-three-year-old legend. He said he had a lot of friends in Bartlesville and to tell everyone hello, especially former State Representative A.C. Holden. Back in the day he and A.C. both played a big role in expanding highway 75 into Kansas.
I also spoke by phone to A.C. who is living happily in Texas with his wife Ann at their son’s home. He wishes all of his old friends here a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. At the same Christmas party where I saw George, I ran into former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and his wife Cathy who also have close connections to A.C, and Bartlesville. This Tulsa guy has held more positions in government than I can count including positions with the FBI, the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing. He was a U.S. Attorney General and as Governor he was responsible for the largest tax cut in Oklahoma History. He was also Governor on April 19, 1995 when the Murrah Building was blown up and he and Cathy led the recovery efforts following the bombing. Frank, Cathy and I first met at this Christmas party I’m talking about in Yukon, Oklahoma five years ago after he read my book about the Mullendore murder. They both send greetings to their friends in Bartlesville as well.
You Garth Brooks fans may know of Ty England and he is also a regular at this party. I am happy to say that Ty and I are friends and he is about as down to earth as it gets. He told me he’s back playing guitar with Garth at stadiums around the world and he’d just flown in from Canada to get here.
Five-time World Champion Saddle Bronc rider Billy Etbauer had come to the party from Las Vegas where the PRCA was wrapping up and I got a chance to visit with him about Tyler Milligan, a local boy who made the finals this year in tie-down calf roping. His dad Steve who was also a rodeo champ lives in Bartlesville and when Tyler is not on the rodeo circuit he trains in Stephenville, Texas which is the home of more world rodeo champions than any other place in the world. Doctors, lawyers, bankers, cops and even a few T.V. celebrities all attended the party.
Every day working people were there too and it’s always the same, when you get there every year you get a big hello and a warm handshake from the boss and when you leave you get a nice gift to remember the evening by. Well, where was I this time you may be asking. Sorry, I’m out of space so that will just have to wait till next week.
Merry Christmas and till next time I’ll see ya down the road….