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In farming and politics alike, Henry Bellmon was ‘good neighbor’

by Bryan Painter Modified: October 1, 2009 at 6:26 am •  Published: October 1, 2009
PERRY — The 110 horsepower John Deere tractor pulling a 30-foot Great Plains drill came to a stop in some Noble County bottomland Wednesday.

The tractor’s driver, wheat farmer Bart Brorsen, was asked to describe his longtime neighbor, the late Henry Bellmon. Although their farms — Brorsen’s near Perry and Bellmon’s near Billings — were about 15 miles apart, they definitely were neighbors.

They also met up on Sundays at the First Presbyterian Church in Perry.

Bellmon was considerate of other people, said Brorsen, 77.

"Henry Bellmon tasted his words before he spit them out,” Brorsen said. "His mind was working fast, but he wanted to know where something was going to land before he threw it.”

When the conditions are right for planting wheat, as they were Wednesday, a farmer doesn’t want to stop. But once Brorsen did stop and started telling Henry Bellmon stories, it was obvious that the yield on memories was tremendous.

Bellmon died Tuesday. He was a former U.S. senator and two-time Oklahoma governor. He was 88.

‘The land helped keep him centered’
Neighbors in Noble County, as well as those across the state, knew him as one of their own.

"I don’t think he was ever comfortable in the cities or the limelight,” daughter Ann McFerron said Wednesday.

"He could be more of who he was here in the rural communities.”

Who was he, Bart?

"He was physically, a very strong person with tremendous endurance,” Brorsen said.

"He’d get up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning whether he was here on the farm or in Washington, D.C.

"I know that for a fact because I went to see him at his Senate office in Washington. I got there at 6 a.m., and he’d already been there for a while.”

He expected a solid work ethic from others, as well, Brorsen said.

Bellmon owned a bulldozer he used on his farm and used to do some custom conservation work for others, such as building terraces.

"He had a guy working for him operating the bulldozer,” Brorsen said. "One day in the 1940s, Henry stopped by to grease the bulldozer while the man was eating his lunch. Sign/View the Guest book

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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"He was a good neighbor because he was a thoughtful and good person. I could tell Henry Bellmon stories all day long."
Bart Brorsen

State honors

Former Oklahoma Gov. Henry Bellmon’s body will lie in repose at the state Capitol from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.


Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 1001 S Rankin St. in Edmond, and at 3 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 422 Eighth St. in Perry.


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