March 28, 1996
The 70th anniversary observance of the Perry Lions club, as described in this newspaper recently, was noted with interest by former cityan Gertrude Hartung Norman Lockett, now of Houston. Many of you will remember her from the days she taught school here some 40 years ago. I'm indebted to Mrs. Lockett's daughter, Margaret Norman Froebel, also of Houston, for relaying some pertinent information.
Margaret graduated from Perry high school in 1954 and entered Oklahoma A.&M. College, now OSU, that fall. She also was a clerk at Kraemer's Store and was listed among their employees in the Northwest Corner feature on that business the other day.
A clipping from The Perry Daily Journal of June 19,1958, shows that Mrs. Lockett's father, John Adam Hartung, was the first Noble county resident to donate his eyes to the newly organized Oklahoma Lions eye bank. Mr. Hartung died at the age of 75 on June 18 that year. Two unidentified patients received corneal transplants two days later at University hospital in Oklahoma City. Mr. Hartung s eyes were taken from Perry to the hospital by the Oklahoma highway patrol in relays. Trooper Bob Justus delivered them from Perry to Edmond and another patrol officer took them on to University hospital.
Mr. Hartung provided for this procedure in his living will at a time when the Oklahoma eye bank was brand new. The Perry Lions club, with Bill Parker and A. J. Bontrager providing the chief impetus, steered the project until it was formally adopted by the state Lions organization.
Mr. Hartung died at his home, 722 Birch street, at the age of 75. He had been a resident of Noble county since 1907 and farmed near Morrison before moving to Perry. He left two daughters, including Mrs. Lockett; two sons, including Clarence Hartung of Morrison; a brother, Ed Hartung of Perry; a sister; and 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Of those adult survivors, only Mrs. Lockett is still living. Of the younger survivors, there are now 15 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.
Margaret, one of the surviving grandchildren, writes this footnote: "At the time of his death, the family of John Hartung was comforted to know that a part of him lived on and brought sight to two individuals. I don't remember the source of my information, but I was led to believe that one of the corneas was used to restore the failing eyesight of Carlos Calderon. He was an engineering student from South America, who was also a cartoonist for the Oklahoma A.&M. College magazine when I attended there in 1957. Do you have any way of determining whether or not this is true?"
Perhaps another reader can answer that question. I have no information on it, but it would provide still another interesting aspect to this story. Since Mr. Hartung's death, other Noble countyans have willed their eyes to the Lions eye bank and countless numbers of sight-impaired individuals -- including some of our neighbors right here in this county -- have been the beneficiaries. The Perry Lions club is proud of its role in establishing this humanitarian project, and rightfully so.
It was good to hear from Margaret with news of herself and her mother. I hope they'll find a reason to return here for a visit one of these days.