Seven notable Oklahomans with a long list of accomplishments joined the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on Thursday night as the 86th class of inductees.
Before Thursday night, the hall had inducted 655 individuals since it was established in 1928, a news release said. It is the highest honor Oklahomans can receive for contributions to the state.
The 2013 inductees are: Michael D. Case, Tulsa; Seiling native Gary A. England, now of Edmond; John D. Groendyke, Enid; Timothy C. Headington, Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Russell M. Perry, all of Oklahoma City; and Reggie N. Whitten, Seminole.
Honorees each selected family members, friends and colleagues to present them for induction at the ceremony, which was hosted at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Their portraits will hang in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Gallery in the Gaylord-Pickens Museum, and their biographies, photos and fun facts will be accessed through touch-screen computers in the gallery, the release noted.
The Oklahoman staff members spoke to all of the inductees in the days before the ceremony on Thursday, with the exception of Groendyke, who could not be reached for comment.
Here is more information about them:
Michael D. Case, Tulsa
Michael “Mike” Case, 63, has been in the real estate business since 1969. But he hopes he's known for what he's done to help the communities he's lived in rather than how many properties he owns or people he employs.
Case is the founder of Case & Associates, a Tulsa-based property management company that controls more than 30,000 apartment units as well as several office buildings and shopping centers.
At the University of Tulsa, Case's name can be seen on a number of buildings he's helped fund, including the Case Tennis Center, Case Athletics Complex and the Pat Case Dining Hall. Besides TU, Case supports more than 30 nonprofits in the area, including Oral Roberts University, United Way and Domestic Violence Intervention Services.
Case said he and his family have tried to be good stewards of the wealth they've accumulated, finding ways to put it to use for their communities. But he said the idea that he might be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame never entered his mind until he was notified he'd been selected.
“I said, ‘Are you kidding me? Has anybody ever turned you down when you made this call?'” he said. “I was totally shocked when they called me.”
Silas Allen, Staff Writer
Gary A. England, Edmond
Gary England, 74, a native of Seiling, graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and meteorology. He served in the U.S. Navy before joining KWTV-9 in 1972. In his 41 years as a meteorologist with the Oklahoma City television station, England has earned numerous awards along with international recognition. He has been interviewed for more than 60 weather programs and has appeared in a few movies.
“I think working with the people of Oklahoma on safety and storms through the years, trying to keep people safe, has been a high point since I started,” England said.
He said he has enjoyed speaking at schools and to a variety of groups about severe weather, a job he still handles since he retired as chief meteorologist in late August to become vice president of corporate relations and weather development for the station.
“I have done so many speeches throughout the state,” he said. “I think one year I did like 60. All that's marvelous. For me it's been a love affair for 41 years with the people of Oklahoma. I've always said the weather and the people are my passion.”
England said he's enjoying going to bed early in his new position, which he said eventually will include periodic “I'll Keep You Advised” on-air segments.
“In the weather department, we deal with death, destruction and human suffering every spring. You grow a little weary of that,” he said.
England called being inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame as possibly the highlight of his career.
“It's a fairly select group going into it,” he said. “I look at it that we have a continuing obligation to the people of Oklahoma.”
Mel Bracht, Staff Writer
Timothy C. Headington, Oklahoma City
In 1978, Timothy Headington, 63, formed oil and gas company Headington Resources in Oklahoma City and would later found the Headington Institute, a nonprofit that provides psychological and physical care for humanitarian relief workers.
Headington expressed a deep appreciation for the induction.
“It's a tremendous honor,” Headington said. “It's like I can hardly believe to be worthy of the honor. There have been so many great Oklahomans inducted into that hall.”
Headington was born in Dallas, but moved to Oklahoma when he was five and considers it his home state.
“Oklahoma was where I spent all my formative years,” Headington said. “Oklahoma to me really is home. It's where all my childhood memories are, high school memories, and college memories. I feel very fortunate to have been brought up there in Oklahoma City.”