Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OU Black Alumni Society to Honor Six

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OU Black Alumni Society to Honor Six

Article excerpt

Six prominent University of Oklahoma alumni -- Hannah Atkins, John Green Sr., Melvin C. Hall, Rubye Hall, Opaline D. Wadkins and U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts -- will be honored as Trail Blazers by the OU Black Alumni Society's Oklahoma City/Norman chapter at a banquet Friday.

Atkins was the first black woman elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the first woman to serve as chair of a committee. When she retired in 1991 after serving simultaneously as secretary of state and secretary of human resources, she was the highest-ranking woman in state government. Atkins holds a master's degree from OU and held various teaching positions at OU.

Green received his law degree from OU in 1957 and became the first black person to serve as an assistant county attorney of Oklahoma County.

Melvin Hall served as chairman of the OU Board of Regents in 1998- 99 at the end of a seven-year term that started with his appointment by Gov. David Walters. After an eight-year career with the Cleveland County district attorney's office and as executive director of the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, Hall joined the law firm of Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis in 1988, becoming partner four years later.

Rubye Hall was a member of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education from 1974 to 1980, the first black person appointed to that position. She was elected chairwoman in 1978. Hall had a 43- year association with Oklahoma public schools. She also the owner and CEO of Developmental Communication Associates. She earned her master's degree in English and speech from OU in 1959, and then studied speech pathology and neurology at the OU Health Sciences Center .

Wadkins, who holds a master's degree from OU in public health, came to Oklahoma in 1938 to work with the Department of Public Health. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1993.

Watts represents Oklahoma's 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. In his third term, he holds the fourth highest- ranking position in his party, Republican conference chairman. At OU, Watts was the quarterback as the Sooners won back-to-back Big Eight championships and Orange Bowl victories, and graduated in 1981 with a degree in journalism.

Proceeds from the awards ceremony will help enhance the Black Alumni Society's Scholarship Fund and the continued mission to provide recruitment, financial assistance and other support to help students graduate from OU.

The awards ceremony, set for 7:30 p.m. following a 6:30 p.m. reception, will be at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 4345 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City.

Reservations for the event are $30 per person or $240 per table, and can be made by calling 325-1710. Today is the deadline for reservations.

Helmet replicas

Chickasha Manufacturing will present four replicas of the space helmet pioneered by Oklahoma aviator Wiley Post to the State Museum of History and the Air Space Museum at 1 p.m. Thursday at the plant in Chickasha.

President and Chief Executive Officer John B. Walsh of Chickasha Manufacturing will present the helmets, which have been manufactured by the firm, said Education Curator Sherri Vance of the State Museum. Curator Stuart Howard of the Air Space Museum and Vance will receive two helmets each for their organizations. Both are located in Oklahoma City with the State Museum in the Wiley Post Historical Building at 2100 N. Lincoln Blvd. and the Air Space Museum at the Omniplex, 2100 NE 52nd St.

"These helmets will become part of an education program on the progression of helmets in aviation at the State Museum," said Vance. "We will use them to give students a hands-on experience. They are made of aluminum and will be light weight for the students."

Retired Brig. Gen. Revere Young of Oklahoma City, former commander of the 137th Air Lift Wing at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, has donated helmets for the State Museum education program, said Vance. …

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