30 covers for 30 years
As TulsaPeople celebrates three decades, we follow up with some individuals who have been spotlighted on the cover of the magazine.
Tulsa’s former four-term mayor is considered the standard for the city’s top elected official
by Leslie Smiley
The story: LaFortune was recognized for the impact his public service and philanthropy made on Tulsa. After serving three terms as city commissioner and four terms as mayor, LaFortune retired from politics in 1978 to spend time with his family and focus on his private business and civic affairs.
Since 1988: At 89, LaFortune has given up golf but goes sailing on Grand Lake with his son, and walks up to a mile every chance he gets.
On weekdays, he manages his family’s trusts and foundations and does volunteer work. He serves on the boards of the Bank of Oklahoma, the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa’s Performing Arts Center and, his greatest pride, the Library Trust Program. In 2013, LaFortune spearheaded the fund drive for the Central Library renovations. He raised $30 million in private gifts in one year; public funds added $25 million more.
His legacy of public service continues. This month his grandson, G.T. Bynum, will become mayor of Tulsa.
Entrepreneurial spirit moves Tulsan to write book about ‘growing up colored’
by Keith Skrzypczak
The story: Taulbert had just released his first book, “Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored,” based on his experiences growing up in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta during the era of legal segregation. He discussed becoming an author, businessman and community volunteer.
Since 1989: Taulbert’s memoir became a national bestseller. The book was later made into a feature film and grossed $3.3 million.
His second book, “The Last Train North,” earned him a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and he has now written 14 books.
His company serves national and international clients. He also is the president and CEO of the Freemount Corp. and the African Bean Co., which produces Roots Java Coffee.
He and his wife, Barbara, lost their 7-year-old daughter, Anne Kathryn, to sickle cell anemia in 1995. The couple established a fund in her honor.
Taulbert is currently writing about the demise of Farmers and Citizens Saving Bank of Palestine, Texas, a black bank that opened in 1900.
Roman Jasinski Jr.
Tulsa Ballet Theatre’s new artistic director brings special artistry, vision to city’s ‘very fine jewel’
by Nancy Hermann
The story: Jasinski had recently become artistic director of Tulsa Ballet Theatre, founded by his parents, Roman Jasinski Sr. and Moscelyne Larkin-Jasinski.
He looked forward to settling Tulsa Ballet Theatre into its new facility at 4512 S. Peoria Ave.
Since 1991: Under Jasinski’s direction, the Tulsa Ballet was named among the top 25 international dance companies of 1992 by the New York Times. He left the company in 1995.
Jasinski served as a Tulsa Reserve police officer for 18 years. He has consulted for the Osage Ballet since 2011 and had a small role as a dance instructor in the 2014 independent film “Fancy Dancer.”
Jasinski teaches ballet at Oral Roberts University, where he was hired in 2008 to develop its dance program. He also teaches Pilates in Tulsa and is a personal trainer who specializes in the static contraction method of strength training.
He sold the Jasinski Dance Academy to his ex-wife, Lyn, in 2014, but is proud of his family’s history with the school, which has changed names and locations several times since his grandmother opened it in Miami, Oklahoma, in 1920. “It is probably the oldest dance school in America,” Jasinski says.
Nov. 4, 1992
Son of a vocal music teacher, Sinfonia founder/director enjoyed professional stints at Disneyland, the White House
by Missy Kruse
The story: Epperley was artistic director and conductor for Oklahoma Sinfonia, a group of 80 Oklahoma musicians he founded to make orchestral music more accessible. It later became the Signature Symphony at TCC. His background ranged from being a Disney composer, arranger and coordinator to associate bandmaster for the U.S. Army Band.
Since 1992: He retired from Signature Symphony in 2012. He completed a 30-year stint directing music for the United Methodist Church of Christ and has conducted a series of American “Pops” concerts in Poland over the past 12 years.
In 2012, he founded the seven-member Tulsa vocal jazz ensemble Sheridan Road. He plays bass for the group, which performs regularly locally.
In 2013, Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis asked Epperley to oversee the design and construction of the school’s new $60 million performing arts center.
Epperley maintains his 40-year hobby of motorcycle riding and “I attend as many Signature Symphony concerts as possible,” he says. “Music will always be a part of my life.”
Jan. 7, 1993
Noted artist is an arts leader and advocate for helping AIDS victims
by Missy Kruse
The story: The Claremore-born watercolorist known as P.S. Gordon had recently been named chairman of the Tulsa Arts Commission, a two-year position that he remained in for 13 years. He also was co-chairing the upcoming Candlelight Tour of Homes, a fundraiser for St. Joseph’s Hospice and RAIN, the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network.
Since 1993: Gordon has continually exhibited at prominent galleries around the country and in notable museum shows and competitions. For the past 20 years, he has focused largely on oil painting. His still lifes, flowers and portraits can be found in collections throughout the United States.
He lived in New York City from 2002-2012, when he returned to Tulsa to be near friends. He remains involved in local causes, including the fights against Alzheimer’s disease and HIV/AIDS.
In 2016, he received Living Arts of Tulsa’s inaugural Living Legend Artist Award. It honors artists who have pushed the art world forward, furthered the reputation of Tulsa as an artistic city and contributed to the encouragement and inspiration of other artists in the community.
Gordon’s daughter and four grandchildren live in Philadelphia, but he sees them often. Accompanied by his “studio guard dogs,” Rochester and Logan, he paints daily from approximately 9:30 a.m.-11 p.m. and says the art never loses its magic. “I can’t paint enough,” Gordon says. “I’ve known since I was a child that it’s what I was supposed to do.”
Hot shot: New York Knicks player John Starks heats up the court
by David Harper
The story: After starting his NBA career with the Golden State Warriors in 1988, Tulsa native Starks was in his third season with the New York Knicks. The feature detailed his energy on the basketball court, including one of the most famous plays in the Knicks’ history: his dunk in the final minute of New York’s win over Chicago in game two of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals on May 25, 1993.
Since 1993: Starks played with the New York Knicks from 1990-1998. He was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 1992-1993, became an NBA All-Star in 1994 and was awarded the League’s Sixth Man of the Year in 1996-1997.
Starks returned to the Golden State Warriors from 1998-2000. He also played briefly for the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz before finishing his career in 2002.
In 1994 he established the John Starks Foundation to help New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Tulsa students attend college.
Now in his 13th season as the Knicks’ alumni relations and fan development advisor, the
Stamford, Connecticut, resident is focused on expanding the team’s alumni relations, community relations and fan development programs.
Starks and his wife, Jacqueline, have three children, ages 16-29. He is a partner for the NBA-licensed Zipway brand of sports, medical and adaptive apparel as well as a spokesperson and partner for sports performance training equipment company Total Body Board. He also is a motivational speaker who comes back to
Tulsa as often as he can for family and community functions.
Awesome Aubyn: Tulsa fundraiser proves caring still counts
by Missy Kruse
The story: Howe was heralded for her extensive volunteerism and impressive fundraising expertise for myriad local causes and nonprofits ranging from the Mental Health Association to the Tulsa Ballet. In the first 10 years Howe lived in Tulsa, she chaired at least 11 events and served on 12 civic boards, focusing mostly on the arts and health care.
Since 1994: Howe and her husband, Bob, left Tulsa nearly 20 years ago and retired to the Midwest. They have homes in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Beaver Creek, Colorado.
In 2009, Howe served as president of the alumni association at the University of Texas in Houston — her alma mater — but her fundraising efforts have slowed down since leaving Tulsa. “In Tulsa I had time to meet people,” she says. “You really have to know people in order to fundraise.”
Despite having multiple sclerosis, her health is strong, and she enjoys working regularly in the yard. She and Bob have traveled all over the world, and Aubyn still takes trips with her travel group of Tulsa friends once or twice per year.
Grace, style, panache: Tulsa’s ‘movie star’ Peggy Helmerich
by Missy Kruse
The story: Along with overviewing her film career, the story spotlighted her charitable contributions to Tulsa, most notably her push to endow the Tulsa Library Trust. The article was published in advance of the trust’s 10th anniversary of the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award.
Since 1995: At age 88, Helmerich remains involved in the yearlong planning of her namesake Author Award gala, now in its 31st year. American poet Billy Collins will receive the 2016 award Dec. 2.
In 2015, Helmerich saw the completion of a new $1.6 million Peggy Helmerich Horticultural Center at the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens — a vision she shared with late husband Walt.
An involved mother and grandmother, Helmerich hosts lunch for her family nearly every Sunday after church.
And, “I decided to memorize the Psalms as I can,” she says. “I find it is easier to memorize in the King James Version. Maybe that’s because I had to learn Shakespeare in drama school at Northwestern University.”
Putting the University of Tulsa into the top 50
by Missy Kruse
The story: Lawless was president of Texas Tech University when he took the helm at TU. There, he took on challenges that included declining enrollment and turmoil among the administration, faculty and students.
Since 1996: Under Lawless’ leadership, TU achieved rankings in the “Top 100” national universities and “Top 50” private universities listed in the U.S. News and World Report. He established the Vision of Excellence plan and the Presidential Scholarship program, which improved TU’s academic stature, increased faculty salaries and raised student quality.
Lawless and wife, Marcy, moved to Lubbock, Texas, five years after his retirement from TU in 2009. He remains busy with Texas Tech and its Honors College, to which he and Marcy still donate funds. He also assists the Association of Governing Boards Search in identifying candidates for university and college leadership positions. He and Marcy also enjoy spending time with family and watching their grandsons participate in school sports.
Lawless is active in the First Christian Church of Lubbock Outreach Ministry, the Salvation Army and Meals on Wheels.
Barry Hinson and Bill Self
A new era in basketball in Tulsa
by Al Jerkens
The story: Close friends Hinson and Self met in 1984, when Self was a senior on the Oklahoma State basketball team; Hinson was an assistant basketball coach at Stillwater High School. The two carpooled to a basketball camp; it was that trip that sparked a lifelong friendship.
In 1993, Self was named head coach at Oral Roberts University. His first hire was Hinson. In 1997, the University of Tulsa needed a head coach. TU hired Self, and Hinson was promoted at ORU, prompting the two to become friendly rivals.
Since 1997: Self stayed at Tulsa until 2000, coaching the team to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1999 and 2000. Illinois hired him, but eventually his “dream job” was offered at the University of Kansas. He has led the Jayhawks to multiple NCAA tournament appearances. Last season, KU won its 12th consecutive regular season Big 12 title and made it to the Elite Eight.
Hinson left ORU in 1999 to become head coach at Southwest Missouri State University (now known as Missouri State University). In 2012, he became head coach at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where in 2016 he led the Salukis to one of their greatest regular seasons in the past 10 years.
“I talk with Barry about once every couple weeks,” Self says. “He still, unfortunately, drives me nuts because he’s the most positive person I think I’ve ever been around, and nobody can be that happy or positive all the time.”
But, respect and friendship remain at the heart of the relationship. “With the exception of my parents, Bill has been the most impactful in my professional career, and my family owes him so much,” Hinson says.
Sharon King Davis, Steve Turnbo and Susan Savage
Sharon King Davis handles the details for one special birthday party
by Barrett Waller
The story: In January 1997, TulsaPeople kicked off the city’s centennial with a story highlighting the individuals working behind the scenes. King Davis served as chairwoman of the Tulsa Centennial Steering Committee, coordinating numerous volunteers and leading the way through four major celebratory events.
Savage was mayor during the centennial events and championed King Davis’ efforts in the story. “Sharon is the driving force behind the celebration, and the one helping to pull a myriad of people’s talents together,” she said.
Turnbo served as chairman of the kickoff celebration on Jan. 18, 1997, which began with the relighting of the Council Oak ceremonial fire by the Creek Nation and encompassed nine birthday parties throughout the city.
Since 1997: King Davis also was behind 2007’s “Tulsarama,” which included raising the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Time Capsule. “It was the most unique, worldwide and exciting event that I have ever worked on,” she says. “It’s probably the one thing that people stop me and want to talk about.”
King Davis still works with her family’s real estate business, King Investments, and continues her involvement in numerous local boards.
“Sharon and Steve remain close colleagues and friends,” says Savage, who is CEO of
Morton Comprehensive Health Services.
Turnbo remains active at Schnake Turnbo Frank, a Tulsa public relations firm where he is chairman emeritus.
Tulsans in Tinsel Town
by John Hamill, Gretchen Mullen, Rhonda Davis, Jadell Forman and Barrett Waller
The story: It’s tough to get a break in Hollywood, but in 1999, TulsaPeople spoke with two dozen Tulsans who courted its success and won. Sartain, well known for his role in the late-night, local program “Mazeppa,” had already appeared in the long-running TV show “Hee-Haw” and several movies, including “Mississippi Burning,” “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “The Buddy Holly Story.”
The cover featured an image of Sartain from the soon-to-be-released movie “Existo,” in which he played a drag queen.
Since 1999: Though “Existo” was not released nationally, Sartain kept busy in the early 2000s. He appeared in “The All New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy,” “The Round and Round” and “Elizabethtown.” He has performed several voiceovers for various animated roles and commercials. But now, he has left behind that part of his life. “I am not acting anymore,” he says. “If you aren’t in Hollywood, you really aren’t a contender for roles.” His first passion remains his family, closely followed by painting.
People and their pets
by Pat Kroblin
The story: KRMG commentator Erling was featured with Remington, his Alaskan Malamute, for a “celebrity” sidebar to the cover story. Life as a broadcaster can be hard, but Erling said having animals in his life was an easy decision. “No matter what I’ve said, no matter what I’ve done, they are the most accepting spirits in the world,” he said.
Since 2001: Erling retired from KRMG in 2006, then managed the Tulsa office for Ackerman McQueen until 2009. That same year, he began working on “Voices of Oklahoma,” an oral history project for which Erling has interviewed greats such as Wilma Mankiller, David Boren, Reuben Gant and Wanda Jackson.
Remington was with Erling 11 years, followed by Bergen, a Golden Retriever, for 12. Now, Erling has a 1-year-old Golden Retriever named Ingrid, along with a Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy named Beth.
Mayor Bill LaFortune
by Missy Kruse
The story: Tulsa’s new mayor had just begun his term and laid out his goal to develop a “business-friendly” city government. He also touted a regional development plan for Tulsa.
“We have to think outside the box, we have to think outside the city limits,” he said. “A shared regional vision certainly would have Tulsa at the centerpiece as the economic engine behind the regional vision.”
Since 2002: LaFortune’s Mayor’s Vision Summit helped city, county and area communities devise Vision 2025, a Tulsa County sales tax designed to grow economic and community infrastructure for future generations.
Among his favorite mayoral moments was signing Amiens, France, as a sister city, “particularly because it was negotiated primarily by my fifth-grade son (a French immersion student at Eisenhower) with Amiens’ mayor,” LaFortune says.
After leaving office in 2006, he returned to practicing law. He now serves as a Tulsa County judge.
Kathy Taylor and Susan Savage
‘Secs’ in the city
by Missy Kruse
The story: Taylor and Savage joined Gov. Brad Henry’s cabinet in 2003 as secretary of commerce and tourism and secretary of state, respectively. Savage had been mayor of Tulsa for 10 years; Taylor was an attorney, businesswoman and community volunteer.
Since 2003: Taylor stepped down as secretary of commerce to run for Tulsa mayor in 2006. One of her most notable successes at the city’s helm was helping raise funds for ONEOK Field, but she says, “Any achievement during my term in office was a team effort.”
After serving as mayor from 2006-2009, Taylor returned to Henry’s cabinet as chief of education strategy and innovation and spent a semester at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government as a fellow. She continues the work of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, which she started with husband Bill Lobeck in 1997. A U.S. Navy ship she sponsors, the USS Tulsa, will be christened in early 2017.
Savage served as secretary of state for eight years, then taught for three years at the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, where she created an international leadership development program. She remains chairwoman of the college’s board of visitors.
Today Savage is CEO of Morton Comprehensive Health Services, where she confronts the challenges of Oklahomans’ access to health care.
The son of Route 66
by Connie Cronley
The story: In June 2004, Tulsa hosted the International Route 66 Festival. Wallis served as its honorary co-chair. He had just finished voice work on the yet-to-be-released “Cars.” Vision 2025, which was passed by Tulsa voters in 2003, earmarked $15 million for enhancement of the city’s stretch of Route 66.
Since 2004: The festival helped introduce the Route 66 Experience, an upcoming interpretive center located along the historic highway and the Arkansas River.
Following the success of “Cars,” Wallis lent his talents to its sequels and “Cars Land,” a 12-acre park next to Disneyland.
Several years ago while riding the Harley-Davidson photographed with him for our cover, Wallis was severely injured during a collision with an RV. After weeks in the hospital, five surgeries and months of rehab, Wallis recovered. His Harley was restored and purchased by Larry Wofford, who plans to donate it for a display at the Route 66 Experience.
Wallis’ 19th and 20th books will be published in 2017.
‘It’s only hair’
by Connie Cronley
The story: In 2003, KOTV’s “Six in the Morning” co-host was diagnosed with breast cancer. Taylor discussed her successful treatment, perseverance through its challenges — such as losing her hair — and how she fought breast cancer with humor and perspective.
Since 2004: “Every day is still a gift,” Taylor says. Thirteen years after her initial diagnosis, she remains steadfast in her routine of monthly breast self exams, annual mammograms and an annual precautionary breast MRI. At Oklahoma Cancer Specialists and Research Institute, she “pays it forward” by listening to and encouraging patients currently undergoing cancer treatment.
Green Country residents continue to see her as anchor of the News on 6 morning show. Among other community involvement, Taylor serves on the Komen Tulsa Board of Directors and leads a team for the annual Komen Race for the Cure.
S.E. Hinton, novelist: The modest but acclaimed Tulsa author discusses her first book for adult readers
by Jeff Van Hanken
The story: Best known for her first novel, “The Outsiders,” Hinton had recently released her first adult novel, “Hawke’s Harbor.” She discussed the success of “The Outsiders” and its resulting 1983 movie, directed by Academy Award-winner Francis Ford Coppola and filmed largely in Tulsa. Three more of Hinton’s books were turned into films: “Rumble Fish,” “Tex” and “That Was Then, This is Now.”
Since 2004: Hinton published a collection of 14 short stories about two cousins, Mike and Terry, in 2007 called “Some of Tim’s Stories.”
She is fiercely private, but The Tulsa Voice interviewed her in July 2016 about the making of “The Outsiders.” “I am very happy the books are famous,” she said. “I never have wanted to be famous myself. When I wake up in the morning I think, ‘Is the coffee ready?’ not, ‘Wow, I’m S.E. Hinton.’”
Musician Danny O’Connor, who is renovating the house in the film, reports that Hinton donated items for the project, which will eventually become “The Outsiders” Museum.
Focusing on the forgotten
by Kayte Spillman
The story: While on assignment in 2004 in Sadr City, Iraq, the World Picture News photojournalist was ambushed, kidnapped and held hostage by insurgents for three days. The Booker T. Washington High School graduate’s earlier work took him to Africa to document the malaria epidemic and the effects of HIV. In Cuba, he documented the lives and treatment of transsexual prostitutes. He also spent three years researching and photographing the lives of prisoners in America’s penal system.
Since 2004: Taggart’s assignments have allowed him to document the Russian invasion and refugee crisis in Georgia, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the famine in Niger, illegal whaling in Antarctica, the suicide bombing of Benazir Bhutto’s motorcade in Pakistan, civil war in D.R. Congo and many more world events. In early 2006, he moved to Beirut, Lebanon, and covered a number of assignments in the region.
With a wife, three children and a home in Pennsylvania, he now opts for less dangerous assignments, including photographing mountain gorillas and the rangers that protect them in the Congo, a particularly special memory.
The people’s poet
by Maridel Allinder
The story: So, how exactly does a world-famous Russian poet end up moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the early 1990s? According to this interview with University of Tulsa professor Yevtushenko, a combination of smart university recruitment and serendipity. In 2005, Yevtushenko celebrated his 12th year on the TU faculty, as well as his 72nd birthday. He also was busy preparing to perform a reading of his most famous work, “Babi Yar,” while accompanied by Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 13.”
Since 2005: Yevtushenko has taught at TU for 24 years. During his tenure there, he has completed a 1,000-page anthology of work by Russian poets, many of whom were fighting state censorship before and after the October Revolution. “I had to perform what felt like archeological digs in order to uncover these hidden treasures of the ‘secret freedom,’ little poetic gems that circulated among writers for up to 10 centuries against the state’s wishes,” says Yevtushenko of the project. He continues to split his time between America and Russia, saying that he considers both to be his home countries.
In 2015, Yevtushenko organized a 12,000-mile tour on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, performing 28 poetry readings over 40 days. “All the halls were overcrowded,” he remembers. “The final concert was in Moscow Sports Palace before the presence of 7,000 faithful admirers of poetry.”
In October 2016, the prolific writer began a new project, a daily radio reading from an unpublished, 500-page novel. And his life’s work, captured most quintessentially by “Babi Yar,” is not over. “I want words like totalitarianism, anti-semitism and fascism to be expunged from all dictionaries and all languages,” says Yevtushenko, who has continued to perform his iconic poem. “Unfortunately, however, these words still appear. Due to that, it is necessary to continue performing such pieces as a poetry of protest, and not simply share verses of love.” And he has no plans to slow down, even at 84. “Inspiration for the poet is something unexpected and unplanned. As such, I never expect to retire.”
by Steve Berg
The story: Cissel served as CEO of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, which had a new location in the works: Tulsa’s historic Union Depot. The move provided TulsaPeople the opportunity to look back at Cissel’s career on Broadway and in the music industry.
Since 2005: Cissel served as CEO until 2009 and as artistic director until 2011. Under his leadership, the Jazz Hall hosted some of the biggest names in jazz and produced the largest music clinic in Oklahoma history at the time with jazz icon Wynton Marsalis. Cissel resigned from the Jazz Hall of Fame in 2011 due to health concerns.
In April 2016, he was contemplating a move to his adopted home of New York City, but he hasn’t packed his bags yet. As president and event chairman of Booker T. Washington’s Class of 1966 high school reunion, Cissel led a team of classmates to organize a weekend of activities. He calls the 50th reunion a “once-in-a-lifetime event.”
by Jennifer Dixon
The story: The Cascia Hall grad was profiled — alongside comedian Rodney Carrington and writer Julia Wolov — as a Tulsan “making it” in the world of comedy. Hader shared his recent unpredictable rise to the comedy pantheon of “Saturday Night Live” despite “abysmal” grades, an aspiration of filmmaking, a move to Los Angeles and, finally, a fortuitous stint at Second City LA that got him noticed by fellow Oklahoman Megan Mullally.
Since 2006: “That cover picture, that person, that’s someone who’s just figuring it all out,” remembers Hader, who split sides on SNL for eight seasons. “I’m trying to figure out how to write, how to perform, understanding how to do set construction, how you work with wardrobe ... I learned all of that at ‘Saturday Night Live.’”
Recent films such as “Trainwreck,” “Maggie’s Plan” and “The Skeleton Twins” have showcased the comedic powerhouse as much more than an Al Pacino impression or a nightclub enthusiast. Season two of his co-creation “Documentary Now!” recently premiered on IFC, and Hader’s pilot for “Barry” — a show about a low-rent hitman finding community in a group of actors — was just picked up by HBO. Hader produces and co-writes “Barry,” and will star as the titular character.
Hader is married to Maggie Carey, with whom he has three children. Though the actor’s schedule keeps him from visiting his hometown, he knows his likeness is painted in the Pearl District. “It’s just so bizarre to have a mural,” he says. “I was very flattered, slash embarrassed.”
The rise and fall of Carlton Pearson
by Kayte Spillman
The story: 2006 was a pivotal year for the controversial, charismatic Pearson, who was then undergoing a theological transformation. The influential leader of the 5,000-member Higher Dimensions church developed a belief in universal salvation, was deemed a heretic by his denomination’s leadership and lost his church. His decision garnered national media attention; his remaining congregants met temporarily at Trinity Episcopal Church. Despite the fallout, Pearson felt the worst was behind him and was excited to start a new chapter.
Since 2006: In 2008, New Dimensions merged with the congregation at All Souls Unitarian Church. Pearson spent 2009-2014 in Chicago, where he still preaches one week per month at New Dimensions Chicago, and two weeks per month at All Souls, where he is an adjunct minister.
Pearson has published two books and has a third in the works. A film adaptation of his biography, “Come Sunday,” is in development.
The first time I ...
as told to Kendall Martin
The story: Then-reigning Miss America 2006 reflected on her first pageant, reminding readers that even queens sometimes start off with a bundle of nerves and a clearance Dillard’s prom dress.
Since 2006: Berry earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma, graduating debt-free, thanks to scholarships from the Miss America Organization. In 2009, she was diagnosed with melanoma. Though surgery rendered her cancer-free, the experience made a profound impact. She joined forces with Duke Hospital and serves as a board member for the Melanoma Consortium.
Berry now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, Nathan Gooden, and four children. She stays as involved with the Miss America Organization as she can. “Tulsa will always hold a special place in my heart,” she says. “I enjoy returning every June to be a part of the Miss Oklahoma pageant, which is where it all started for me.”
Bring on summer
The story: National sports entertainer Myron Noodleman (aka Rick Hader) served as a tour guide of summer fun, hilariously illustrating several of TulsaPeople’s 97 ways to enjoy summer in T-town. What started as a shtick in 1981 to win costume contests had by then become a full-blown career for Hader, who began marketing the character as ballpark entertainment.
Since 2007: Myron has stayed busy entertaining crowds at minor league baseball games. 2016 will be his 21st consecutive season with the Lansing Lugnuts Triple-A team. He returned to teaching high school math in 2014, after a 20-year hiatus. The career perfectly fits with Myron’s baseball schedule. “I have the best summer job of any teacher,” Hader says.
He reflects on the unlikely success of his Myron Noodleman character, and how a one-time Jerry
Lewis costume became a 30-plus-year career as an entertainer. “Who ever thunk ...” he muses.
Bo Van Pelt
The story: When the professional golfer gave TulsaPeople a peek into a week of his life, he had been playing six years on the PGA Tour and three years on the Nationwide Tour. TulsaPeople readers were taken along for the ride as Van Pelt traveled to the Crowne Plaza Championship in Fort Worth, Texas.
Since 2007: Nine years later, Van Pelt and his wife, Carrie, live in Jenks with their children, Olivia, Trace and Crew, in 10th, eighth grade and fourth grades, respectively. The Van Pelts co-own South County, a gymnastics and cheer studio. Van Pelt still plays on the PGA Tour, although he was sidelined due to an injury in March. At press time, he was working on rehabilitation and getting back in the game — hopefully in 2017.
by Joy Jenkins
The story: Filmmaker Harjo was still reeling from the critical success of his first feature, “Four Sheets to the Wind.” He and partner Chad Burris shot the film, a coming-of-age tale, in their native Oklahoma. The film screened in the Sundance Film Festival, where it won acclaim for its universal themes and unique style. Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Harjo had already completed screenplays for “Goodnight Irene,” “Before the Beast Returns,” and was in the process of writing “Barking Water.”
Since 2007: Harjo has made two more feature films, plus a full-length documentary. The script for “Before the Beast Returns” was well received, but he hasn’t found anyone willing to fund a movie about Bigfoot. His comedy group, the 1491s, travels across North America, performing and showing their comedy videos, and they are working on a play commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Co. “The past seven years have been pretty amazing,” Harjo says. “I will come across the 2009 cover from time to time; I look so young!”
A hero’s welcome
by Joy Jenkins
The story: Maj. Dan Rooney watched from an airplane window as a 4-year-old boy faced his father’s flag-draped coffin on the tarmac. The scene inspired Folds of Honor, the nonprofit Rooney had started three years earlier to provide scholarships and support to the families of service members killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now the nonprofit’s fundraisers, Patriot Golf Days, were becoming successful. Folds of Honor had just broken ground on a new headquarters, and the Patriot Golf Club in Owasso was scheduled to open in only a few months.
Since 2009: Folds of Honor is celebrating its 10th anniversary; its headquarters and the Patriot Golf Club were completed in 2010. Rooney recently moved to Owasso. He still flies an T-38 as an aggressor pilot in the 301st Fighter Squadron and is a PGA professional.
Patriot Golf Day has more than tripled its fundraising since 2008, raising $6.4 million in 2015. Folds of Honor scholarships now range from first grade to graduate school and average $5,000 per student.
The spice of life
by Judy Allen; profile by Jane Zemel
The story: The November food feature was a multicultural guide to Tulsa. Among many Asian restaurants listed was Ri-Lê. Its eponymous owner reflected on his dramatic journey from Vietnam during the war in the 1960s and ’70s to Tulsa, to the opening — and subsequent hard-earned success — of his own restaurant.
Since 2010: “I should have retired five years ago,” Ri-Lê jokes. Luckily for his restaurant’s many fans, he has no intention of doing so. Business has remained steady at the south Tulsa institution, with many diners patronizing the restaurant for more than 30 years.
Ri-Lê returned to Vietnam in 2014 after his father died. The experience gave him a renewed sense of what’s important. “When I hug my wife, I remember that this is a moment I have now that I may not have again,” he says. But it’s also his philosophy on life that keeps him centered. “Why do we always hurry? We should enjoy every moment of life. Happiness is the way, and it can only be found in the present moment.”
Leon: A triumphant return
by Jim Edwards
The story: Russell sat down with Edwards to reflect on his move back to Tulsa in 1972. They hit all the high notes: his momentous solo career; his influence on J.J. Cale, Elton John and many more; sessions at the Church Studio; Shelter Records; his mansion in Maple Ridge. Russell had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame only months before — a long oversight finally corrected. At the time of the interview, he was slated to play 19 tour dates with Bob Dylan.
Since 2011: In 2015, a documentary about Russell shot in 1972-1974 was released after the filmmaker, Les Blank, passed away. “I thought I was gonna be the next James Dean until I saw myself on screen, and I realized I might be the next Jimmy Dean,”
Russell said of the film. Sausage aside, the film won critical acclaim.
The Church Studio was recently purchased by a woman who is planning a massive renovation, with the ultimate goal of restoring and celebrating the building’s musical legacy.
Unfortunately, Russell has had serious heart problems since July. Tour dates were canceled, and his health is still uncertain, Edwards says. Regardless, his musical and cultural influence is as strong as ever, particularly in the home of the “Tulsa Sound.”