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June 5, 1998

Russell Chapin has been a good friend since he first arrived in Perry with his brand new law degree from OU and became a partner in the office of attorney Henry Dolezal. That was after World War II, in the late 1940s. Russell, a Red Rock boy, and I were bachelors, and we whiled away a few idle hours on the local tennis courts. Then George Howard Wilson of Enid was elected to represent this district in the U.S. House of Representatives and he chose Russell to join him in Washington as his chief administrative assistant. After Rep. Wilson's tenure ended, Russell was tapped for a position in the Justice Department and his career was focused on the nation's capitol from that point until he retired a couple of years ago. He and his wife, Helen, a former congressional administrative executive herself, left the icy winters and sweltering summers of the District of Columbia and moved to Amelia Island, a sun-kissed haven off the east coast of Florida.

Russell and Helen were in Perry on a recent Sunday for a brief visit after attending the 50th anniversary reunion of his law school class at the University of Oklahoma. After attending morning services at the First Christian church, where he formerly was a member, they joined a few friends for lunch at a local restaurant. Though unplanned, the event also turned out to be a mini-reunion of some folks from this area who once lived and worked in Washington during the same time period. All were loyal members of the Oklahoma Club while living in the D.C. area. It was just by coincidence they all happened to be here on the same day. Dropping by to visit the Chapins and others at their table were Bud and Abbie Johnson, who now live in Oklahoma City but spend as much time as possible here; former Governor and U.S. Senator Henry Bellmon and his wife, Shirley, who are now happily back on their farm east of Billings; and retired Lt. Gen. and Mrs. Lavern E. Weber, who now live on their farm west of Perry. They all saw each other frequently during the years they labored for the U.S. government in Washington but all of them are now retired. A lot of stories and greetings were exchanged during their unexpected get-together that day in Perry.

Speaking of General Weber, I've been meaning to write something about him for quite a while. The Perry community is glad to have the general and his wife as permanent residents here, although the couple still have to divide their time between Oklahoma and Washington. During his tenure, General Weber was chief of the National Guard Bureau with a desk in the Pentagon and quarters at Fort Myer, usually reserved for three and four-star generals of the regular Army. At that time, General Weber was responsible for all U.S. citizen soldiers. Prior to that, in 1955, he was appointed by Governor Bellmon to serve as adjutant general of Oklahoma with the rank of major general.

General Weber began his career in the military in 1942 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He has been a teacher, coach, full-time National Guard administrator and a part-time farmer. He was appointed chief of the National Guard Bureau in 1974 by President Gerald Ford. In that position, he was promoted to the three-star grade of lieutenant general. After his tour in that office, he was named deputy commanding general of the U.S. Armed Forces Command, followed by an assignment as the military executive for the Defense Department's Reserve Forces Board.

It was good to have so many of our successful former Noble countyans together that Sunday for a brief reunion, and it is good to have General and Mrs. Weber as residents of our community.