Seven distinguished Oklahomans will be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame this year.
They are real estate investor and philanthropist Michael D. Case, meteorologist Gary A. England, John D. Groendyke, Timothy C. Headington, Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Russell M. Perry and Reggie N. Whitten.
The honorees were announced at a luncheon on Thursday and will join 655 other notables who have been inducted since 1928. Many past inductees were at the luncheon to congratulate the new class.
A formal induction ceremony will be in November.
The Oklahoma Heritage Association was founded in 1927 with the purpose of establishing the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and the Gaylord-Pickens Museum was opened in 2007 with the intent of honoring these and other accomplished Oklahomans.
“Being inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame is the single-highest honor an individual can receive from our state,” said Shannon L. Rich, president of the Oklahoma Heritage Association and Gaylord-Pickens Museum, in a news release.
Portraits of each member of this year's class will be added to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Gallery at the museum. Their biographies, photos and more will be accessible through touch-screen computers.
Michael D. Case, Tulsa
Case got his start in real estate in 1969 when he went to work for a Tulsa property developer. During his 14 years with the company, he worked his way up from the lowest position to executive president, operating all real estate owned by the business.
In 1983, he founded Case & Associates with four employees and no owned property. Today, his company has almost 1,000 employees and controls more than 30,000 apartment units, numerous office buildings and shopping centers valued at more than $2.5 billion.
His philanthropy is well known with support to more than 30 nonprofits, including The University of Tulsa, Oral Roberts University, United Way and Domestic Violence Intervention Services. His donations also have been catalytic for several projects, including the Case Tennis Center, Case Athletic Complex, and the Pat Case Dining Hall at TU, along with the Case Community Center in Sand Springs and the soon-to-be Case Tennis Center at LaFortune Park.
Gary A. England, Seiling
Meteorologist Gary England continues daily to serve his viewers in the interest of weather safety.
He has been recognized with the highest awards for his coverage of severe weather events, including Emmy, Society of Professional Journalists, Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters and the OAPB Associated Press Broadcast awards, in addition to the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for best in the nation in Breaking News/Weather Coverage.
England, a University of Oklahoma graduate in Mathematics and Meteorology, is internationally recognized for pioneering innovations in weather technology and systems that are now common tools in the world of severe weather, including commercial Doppler radar, the storm time of arrival system, corner screen warning maps, cellular still picture/video transmission, and the precursor to weather radio known as W.A.R.N.
He has appeared in more than 50 national and international severe weather programs. His career includes forensic meteorology as an expert witness in lawsuits involving weather; hurricane forecasting; civil engineering; and oceanographic/climatic studies including the North Sea Ekofisk development and an offshore nuclear generating plant. England was air quality and meteorology discipline manager for the Environmental Impact Study for the OGE power plant near Perry. He is also an author and public speaker.
John D. Groendyke, Enid
John Groendyke is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Groendyke Transport, Inc., the fifth-largest motor carrier of bulk commodities serving the continental United States, Canada, and Mexico. Groendyke graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, where he attended high school and junior college. He holds a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State University and a law degree from OU.
He served as a captain in the U.S. Army and, after a two-year tour of duty, returned to Enid to join the family trucking operation founded by his father, H.C. Groendyke in 1932.
Groendyke serves on the OG&E Energy Board of Directors, the board of Wentworth Military Academy Foundation, and the board of National Tank Truck Carriers. He presently is serving his sixth term as a commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. He is a trustee and the current chairman for the Oklahoma Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and is a member of the board of directors of the Grand National Quail Foundation and Grand National Quail Club.
When he is not trucking, his energies are in wildlife conservation, farming and ranching, real estate and collecting and showing antique automobiles.
Timothy C. Headington, Oklahoma City
Although born in Dallas, Timothy Headington, his parents and two younger siblings moved to Oklahoma City when he was 5. He attended Oklahoma City schools and OU, where he lettered in tennis and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree. Headington earned graduate degrees in theology and psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and completed his psychology internship at Los Angeles County Hospital.
Inspired by his father and uncle, both geologists, Headington formed an oil and gas company in Oklahoma City in 1978. Currently based in Dallas, Headington Resources is primarily involved in oil and gas exploration and is active in several of the major basins in the United States. The company also has significant investments in real state, hotel development and private equity.
Headington is the co-founder of the Headington Institute, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide psychological and physical care for caregivers worldwide and to promote the physical hardiness, emotional resilience and spiritual vitality of humanitarian relief and development personnel.
Headington continues to be an active supporter of his alma mater. He has been a major contributor to the Headington Tennis Center and Headington Hall at OU.
Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Oklahoma City
Chief U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange was nominated by President Clinton, recommended by Senator David Boren, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as U.S. Attorney and U.S. District Judge, respectively. A career public servant, she is the first black woman elected to the Oklahoma Senate; first woman U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma; and first black federal judge in the Tenth Circuit.
Miles-LaGrange graduated from Vassar College, cum laude, and Howard University Law School, serving as an editor of The Howard Law Journal, and received a certificate from Ghana University, West Africa.
She served as a federal judicial law clerk; federal and state prosecutor for the U.S. Justice Department, prosecuting Nazi war criminals and sex crimes for the Oklahoma County district attorney; and was a congressional intern for U.S. House Speaker Carl Albert. Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed her to the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on International Judicial Relations.
She continues to volunteer her talents and diplomacy in international judicial systems including Rwanda, China, Brazil and Sudan. The Oklahoma and federal bar associations and the Journal Record recognized her for her post genocide work in Rwanda.
She enjoys hosting judicial exchanges for the State Department and Library of Congress' Open World Program.
Russell M. Perry, Oklahoma City
A graduate of Oklahoma City's Douglass High School and Maryland State College, Russell Perry is president of Perry Publishing & Broadcasting, publisher and editor of The Black Chronicle, and the previous co-owner and editor of The Black Dispatch. After purchasing its first radio station in 1993, the company continued to make acquisitions and today owns 20 stations in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Georgia, and purchased a radio and television tower company. The company is the largest privately-owned communications company in the state and the largest black-owned independent broadcasting company in the nation.
Perry served as Oklahoma's Secretary of Commerce during the Keating administration, as well as a member of the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority, Oklahoma Industrial Finance Authority and Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. Perry serves on the State Fair of Oklahoma board and the National Board of Radio & Television, is the majority principal of the First Security Bank & Trust Co. and has served on the Small Business Bank Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and on the Board of Trustees of Oklahoma City University.
His honors include induction into the Oklahoma Afro-American, the Oklahoma Journalism, the American Urban Radio Network Broadcasters and the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters halls of fame.
Reggie N. Whitten, Seminole
Reggie Whitten grew up in Seminole and was the first member of his family to earn a college degree, from OU in 1977, followed by a law degree in 1980. He practices law in Oklahoma City and is a partner in the Whitten Burrage Law Firm. He is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, which limits membership to the top 1 percent of state attorneys.
Whitten spends much of his time traveling to schools all over the state recounting the story of his eldest son's death in 2002 due to an addiction to prescription drugs. He is the co-founder of FATE, Fighting Addiction Through Education, and, along with his longtime friend Jim Priest, authored a book about his son's story called “What's Your Fate.”
Whitten is co-founder of Professionals for Africa, a nonprofit organization in which professionals of all occupations lend support to the less fortunate in Africa.
In partnership with the Sam Noble Museum of National History, Whitten co-founded Explorology and Native Explorers, education programs that make science exciting for young people. Thus far, nearly 50,000 Oklahoma youths have been through the program.
CONTRIBUTING: LINDA MILLER, FOR THE OKLAHOMAN