What do rock and roll legend Leon Russell and S. E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders, have in common? They are both members of the Tulsa Will Rogers High School Hall of Fame.
They’ll be joined by a new class of Hall of Fame inductees during long-awaited ceremonies this month. Included is David Finch class of 1971, a multi-Emmy-winning sports cinematographer who revolutionized the way sports are shown on television. Walter Stuart Yager, class of 1954, Air Force Colonel and Commander of Space Launch Squadron, oversaw missions that launched the Mars Rover, and the spacecraft that explored Jupiter and are still sending data from interstellar space. Also Frank Marcum, class of 1961, a Tulsa Public Schools teacher who was selected for the NASA Teachers in Space program, trained as an astronaut, and later became a NASA Ambassador. And Linda Barton Paul, class of 1969, concert harpist who has played with major orchestras and such artists as Frank Sinatra and the New Christi Minstrels. Linda is also an ordained minister and host for U.S. State Department Global Enterprise Programs. Also Ron Woods, class of 1957, musician and former music director at Webster High School, who founded a self-insured medical care company that helped revolutionize the way major employers provide health care in 35 states. Ron later entered a third career as a Philanthropist, establishing the Ron and Carole Woods Foundation. Linda Sellen Frazier, class of 1958, was managing editor of TU’s Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, the first learned journal devoted to women’s writing. She chaired the Oklahoma Arts Council and became an advocate for arts education, leading organizations that provide live art experiences and curriculum materials to Tulsa students.
Members of the Will Rogers High School Hall of Fame are selected by the Will Rogers High School Community Foundation and honored with a display in the hallways of the school. The new honorees were selected and scheduled for induction in spring of 2020, with people coming from across the nation to the celebration in Tulsa. However, the COVID 19 pandemic forced cancellation of the event, and then a second cancellation with the next pandemic wave. But the Foundation wouldn’t give up.
This year’s selections, Finch, Frazier, Paul, Marcum, Woods, and Yager, will be formally inducted with a ceremony that is free and open to the public in the auditorium of the beautiful art deco school at 9:15 a.m. on March 25, 2022. They’ll also be honored at a gala dinner on the evening of March 26 at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown, with tickets on sale through the Will Rogers High School Community Foundation website, www.willrogersfoundation.net
(Top Row L-R) Walter Stuart Yager, Linda Sellen Frazier, David Finch, (Bottom Row L-R) Linda Barton Paul, Frank Marcum, Ron Woods
Will Rogers College Junior High and High School is a select magnet school that allows students to take college classes and graduate with both a diploma and college credit. The Will Rogers High School Community Foundation is an all-volunteer non-profit charity funded primarily by donations. It helps provide essential and exceptional educational and extracurricular experiences for Will Rogers students, and empowers their teachers, families, and the community. According to Board Chairman Paul Thomas, “Through the Hall of Fame, the Foundation’s goal is to preserve the history of this Tulsa landmark school, and provide inspiration so today’s students can continue to participate in and add to the legacy of Will Rogers High School.”
Working with the principal, Nicolette Dennis, the Foundation has raised over 1.5 million dollars, which is used to provide academic grants and other support for academics, arts, athletics, activities and administration. The Foundation funds such necessities as classroom projects, software, student trips, and science, music, and art equipment. With such support, there’s a waiting list to enroll in Tulsa Will Rogers, and the Foundation continues to promote “Will on the Hill” as Tulsa’s school of choice.
Past Hall of Fame luminaries include NBA and NFL athletes, a Broadway actress, ground-breaking medical researchers, and educational leaders, along with State Senator and former TU Head Football Coach David Rader, and Rodger Randle, former Tulsa Mayor and President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, who currently serves as the Chairman of the Will Rogers High School Hall of Fame Committee.
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