Stephen B. Peter helped make history — a book about Rees Associates' history, actually — working for the Oklahoma City-based architecture-planning-design firm.
In fact, acting as staff liaison to Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, as Blackburn researched, wrote and published “Rees Associates: History of an Architecture Firm,” was one of the biggest highlights of Peter's time with the firm. Of course, he was never far from health care planning, an expertise he brought when he joined Rees 23 years ago.
Peter, 67, retires from Rees at the end of this month, although he will assist on projects case by case. How will he spend his time? Reading and writing more history, he said in an interview.
A: Since 1994, I have played a role in the company's ongoing staff development program by coordinating a public speaking/communications training workshop for new employees. The program is called “Speechcraft” and was developed by Toastmasters International in the 1960s.
A: My father was a physician and was, for many years, the director of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. When I returned home from military service in 1969, he suggested that I consider pursuing a position with what was then the State Health Planning Agency, a fairly new program. I was hired as an entry-level health planning assistant and soon found myself immersed in this fascinating work. Years later, in 1984, I became director of its successor agency, the Oklahoma Health Planning Commission.
A: My current project is the biographical study of three “Old West” lawmen who happened to be members of the same Texas Warden family. The primary character in “The Saga of Marshal Todd Warden” served twice as town marshal in McKinney, Texas, and as a Collin County deputy sheriff before moving to Oklahoma City in 1903, where he served on the city's police force and then became a state prohibition enforcement officer shortly after statehood. Todd Warden was my cousin's grandfather and she is the one who sparked my interest in him. The North Texas History Center, based in McKinney, has accepted the book for publication, sometime later this year.
A: First of all, Rees Associates is a great place to work. The people on the Rees team are amazingly creative, imaginative, professionally dedicated and committed to quality — both the design staff and the support folks.
Therefore, while I look forward to retirement, I also consider myself fortunate that I will be able to work, occasionally, with this great staff in the months and years ahead. I expect to continue to play a role in the company's staff development effort by coordinating more Speechcraft programs. I expect also to be occasionally involved in a variety of one-time marketing projects and, perhaps, a bit of research now and then.
• Position: Senior associate at Rees Associates Inc.
• Birth date: August 29, 1943, Okmulgee.
• Family: Wife Julie C. Peter (who also retires, this week, from the OU College of Medicine where she has been the staff assistant to the chairman, Department of Urology); two children, Chana Martin and Mike Peter; three grandchildren.
• Education: Central State College (now University of Central Oklahoma), B.A., history, 1965.
• Civic involvement: Active Toastmaster and former governor of the Oklahoma District of Toastmasters; Pawnee County Historical Society; North Texas History Center; Oklahoma Historical Society; one-time President Mayfair West Neighborhood Association and Mayfair Security Patrol; various nonprofit boards and professional association memberships over my lifetime.
• Magazines/websites: American Heritage, American History, the Chronicles of Oklahoma.