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March 31, 1998

Let me interrupt the series on Perryís movie theatres to offer a few words about the death of Bill Haynes, a leader in so many of our communityís finest civic efforts. Bill was a personal friend of mine but aside from that he was a key player in nearly every worthwhile project that has been undertaken in this city in recent years.

One of the most visible results of his organizational and leadership skills is the heroic Hopes and Dreams statue on the east lawn of the Noble county courthouse park. When Perry was gearing up for the centennial celebration of the Cherokee Strip land run in 1993, Bill accepted the job of raising around $250,000 to underwrite the entire cost of this marvelous piece of art. Thatís a quarter of a million dollars, all from popular subscriptions. No grants, no endowments. Just gifts from folk like you and me, and he succeeded admirably.

Bill would be the first to point out that he didnít do the job alone. He put together a committee and lined up solicitors to call on prospective donors. That is where his skills as a leader were of enormous help. He could persuade people to join in the project without resorting to unseemly cajolery. He knew where to look to find the right people for each task.

Bill was one of the negotiators with Bill Bennett, the sculptor who grew up in Perry and who designed this masterpiece. From the artistís concept to the final work, Bill Haynes was deeply involved. He found an Oklahoma firm to cast the bronze from a clay model. He located an Oklahoma source for the massive granite base and launched a separate program to raise funds for a memorial brick plaza surrounding the statue and the main walkway leading up to it.

The statue was unveiled at high noon on September 16, 1993, the exact moment of the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Cherokee Outlet. It was a dramatic moment and Bill was justifiably pleased with the public reception of this focal point of Perryís greatest celebration.

Perry was Billís adopted hometown. He came here originally nearly 60 years ago from Lindsay with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Haynes Sr., his sister, Dorothy June, and a younger brother, Richard. Another brother, James Allen, arrived later, on Pearl Harbor Sunday, December 7, 1941. Billís father was the local Stillwater Milling Co. representative and the family moved to Stillwater before Bill graduated from high school, but he always considered this his hometown. After a stint of Air Force service during World War II, Bill returned to Stillwater and earned a degree from Oklahoma A.&M. (OSU), then began a career in business, primarily with an oil company, located mostly in the Atlantic coastal states. During this time he met and married Beverly, one of the belles of Fort Smith, Arkansas. In the 1960s he returned to Perry with Beverly to join the marketing team at the Charles Machine Works, Inc., and it truly felt like coming home. He retired from the Ditch Witch company a few years ago as sales manager, but there was no letdown in his energetic leadership. Bill headed the Republican party in this county for several years and was a leader in the establishment of the Perry Development Coalition. He served on the Perry Memorial Hospital advisory board and was a faithful member of Christ Lutheran church. In all of these roles, and in others too numerous to recount, Bill was a working member and not just the occupant of one of the seats.

His passing poses a challenge for those of us who remain behind. Who will step up to replace people like Bill Haynes? His death robs us of a decent man, one who adequately meets the definition of a pillar of the community. Heíll be sorely missed because Perry can ill afford to lose folk like Bill Haynes. He would vigorously dispute this, but the Hopes and Dreams statue in the courthouse park could also serve as his theme and an appropriate memorial tribute to the quality of civic leadership he brought to this community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Beverly and to their son, Rusty, and family, who now make their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and to the other members of Billís family.