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Seven inducted into Oklahoma Hall of Fame

Seven leaders in business, medicine, law, sports and philanthropy were enshrined in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on Thursday.
by Ken Raymond Modified: November 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm •  Published: November 16, 2012
/articleid/3728986/1/pictures/1885466">Photo - Stan Clark <strong></strong>
Stan Clark

“Her legacy to us was an example of caring, compassion, philanthropy and a lifelong love of learning,” Everest said at the induction banquet. “She lived quietly and privately, even as she paved the way for women in journalism. Her giving, in many cases anonymously, made a difference in countless lives in Oklahoma and the nation and continues today through her foundations.”

Those are the Inasmuch Foundation, which strives to lessen suffering and enrich quality of life, and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism, which “builds ethics, skills and opportunities needed to advance principled, probing news and information,” the release states. Giving from both foundations has exceeded $150 million.

“Edith was truly the smartest person I have ever known, a remarkable person and a visionary,” Ross said in his banquet remarks. “Inducting her into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame is a fitting tribute to honor her legacy.”

Tom L. Ward, Edmond

Ward, a Shattuck native, has been chairman and CEO of SandRidge Energy since June 2006. Before then, he was president, chief operating officer and a director of Chesapeake Energy Corp., which he co-founded with Aubrey McClendon.

His tremendous success hasn't come with a lot of recognition, he said, making him even more grateful to be included in the state Hall of Fame.

“I haven't received that many awards in my life,” he said, “so there's nothing to compare this to.”

Ward, 53, graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1981 with a business administration degree in the field of petroleum land management, a release states. He is a member of the group that owns the Oklahoma City Thunder and is on the boards of Anderson University in Anderson, Ind., and The First Tee.

He also is a member of the Economic Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Board of Visitors for the OU Health Sciences Center, Department of Medicine.

In 2006, Ward and son Trent founded White Fields, Inc., a home for severely abused and neglected boys. He has provided scholarships to Oklahoma colleges and universities to give more students access to higher education and to encourage them to build their lives and careers in Oklahoma.

Hance Dilbeck, senior pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church, presented Ward at the induction ceremony. Ward said he regards Dilbeck as his mentor.

“I'm thankful for being chosen,” Ward said, “and humbled by the experience.”

Suzanne Warren, Tulsa

Like Edith Gaylord, Warren is the fifth person in her family to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The Greenwich, Conn., native joins mother-in-law Natalie O. Warren, father-in-law William K. Warren Sr., brother-in-law G.T. Blankenship and husband William K. Warren Jr. in the hall.

“For me, being a non-native Oklahoman … this is a particular honor,” she said, “and I've come to admire the people of Oklahoma. I had no knowledge of this state until I married and moved here. The Tulsans who have been admitted into the Hall of Fame are people I particularly admire.”

Warren, 63, attended Rider College and the University of Connecticut and graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor and master's degree in education, a release states. She was hired by the Palm Beach County School System in Florida and worked as a resource teacher and director in federally funded programs for disadvantaged and low-income students. She also taught adult education courses.

These days Warren is active in Tulsa's arts and social service organizations. She is a director/trustee of the Children's Hospital Foundation at Saint Francis and the Mental Health Association Advisory Board. In the past, she served as director of Cascia Hall Preparatory School, Monte Cassino School, Ronald McDonald House, Tulsa Opera and the Tulsa Philharmonic, the release notes.

She was honorary chair of the Red Ribbon 10 Year celebration, which provides home health care for AIDS patients, and helped launch the Painted Pony Ball, an annual fundraiser for the Children's Hospital at Saint Francis.

She was introduced by Judy Kishner, whom Warren described as a friend “who works to try to end homelessness in Tulsa.”

“I'm really, really thrilled and surprised” to be inducted, Warren said. “I have gone to so many of the Hall of Fame inductions. I've lived here for 32 years, and I always enjoyed seeing the people who have such diverse talents and backgrounds. I never really considered that I would enter that group.”

Lee R. West, Oklahoma City

West, who will turn 83 on Nov. 26, is one of the state's most accomplished jurists.

“I still go to work every day in my office,” said West, a former chief judge of the Western District of Oklahoma. “I go home a little earlier and come in a little later, but I'm still working.”

A Clayton native, West graduated from the OU College of Law and was admitted to the state bar in 1956. He was in private practice until 1961, when he joined the OU law faculty teaching torts, damages, evidence, trial practice and workmen's compensation.

From 1962-63, he was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Law teaching at Harvard Law School, where he received an LLM degree, a release states. He returned to private practice in 1963 and served as labor arbitrator for the National Mediation Board.

Oklahoma Gov. Henry Bellmon appointed him District Judge for the 22nd Judicial District and a Special Justice of the state Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals. President Richard Nixon then appointed West a member of the Civil Aeronautics Board in Washington, D.C.; President Jimmy Carter made him acting chairman of the board.

West later returned to private practice only to be appointed to the federal bench, where he became chief judge of the Western District. He took senior status in 1994 and continues to hear active cases at district and circuit levels; he's still a settlement judge, too.

He is the subject of a 2002 biography, “Law and Laughter, the Life of Lee West,” by Bob Burke and U.S. District Judge David L. Russell.

“They did an excellent job of editing out most of my shortcomings and disguising them as strengths,” West said.

Russell, a longtime colleague, presented West at the induction ceremony.

“At my age, it's very significant,” West said. “I could not be more pleased or delighted at being so honored by the Oklahoma Heritage Association and being inducted into the Hall of Fame.”

Dr. Ronald White, Oklahoma City

White graduated from Seminole High School and earned his medical degrees at OU, a release states. After completing his residency, he served in the U.S. Navy in Da Nang, Vietnam, and at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

White completed a fellowship in cardiology at the OU Health Sciences Center and went into private practice as a diagnostic and interventional cardiologist. He was among the first to receive balloon angioplasty training in Switzerland and was the first to perform the procedure in Oklahoma.

He co-founded the American Society of Cardiovascular Interventionalists and the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, the release notes. He founded Oklahoma Cardiovascular Associates, the state's largest cardiovascular physicians' group; it has clinics in more than 40 cities.

He served two terms on the OU Board of Regents and was chairman three years. He is starting his second term as a State Regent for Higher Education. He was on the board of Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., was a member of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and was a trustee for the OU Foundation, Oklahoma Zoological Society and Westminster Day School.

Currently he is a board member for the Oklahoma Heritage Association, the OU College of Health Advisory Board and the Jasmine Moran Children's Museum.

He was presented by Glen D. Johnson, CEO of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education.

by Ken Raymond
Book Editor
Ken Raymond is the book editor. He joined The Oklahoman in 1999. He has won dozens of state, regional and national writing awards. Three times he has been named the state's "overall best" writer by the Society of Professional Journalists. In...
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