April 11, 2000
A while back, I started naming some folks who had achieved a sufficient level of recognition in their lifetime to merit inclusion in a list of Noble county's "'Top Ten," if there were such a thing. It became clear right away that we had far more than just ten men and women worthy of an honor like this. So, the "Top Ten" has escalated into an open-end number and we've hardly scratched the surface. As a reminder, here are those who have been listed thus far in no particular order:
Mary Jane Barnes, Hollywood actress; Paul W. Cress, distinguished attorney and jurist; Jack VanBebber, Olympic gold medal wrestler; Danny Hodge, winner of Olympic medals, NCAA wrestling championship and Golden Gloves heavyweight championship; Bill Pricer, star of Bud Wilkinson's OU football teams, later an outstanding pro with the Baltimore Colts; Bill Krisher, Oklahoma football star, then starter with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, staff member with the FCA.
Dr. R.R. Robinson, Perry school superintendent who became president of Tonkawa University Preparation College, then president of Central State Teachers College (now the University of Central Oklahoma); David Lilienthal, a Perry son-in-law who became director of President Roosevelt's Tennessee Valley Authority; Dr. Joseph Brandt, another Perry son-in-law who was an outstanding president of Oklahoma University; William E. Jones, Noble county farm boy who graduated from West Point Military Academy and became a general in the Air Force.
Clara Bowles Pellow, a radio and concert singer in the 1930s; Patti Page, sister of Dan Fowler of Perry, is still a popular singer and is well remembered for some of her early recordings, such as "How Much Is That Doggy in the Window;" Buster Keaton, comic genius of the early movie era who honed his craft with his parents at the Grand Opera House in Perry; Lysbeth Hughes, "the singing harpist," was the daughter of Dr. F .C. Seids and she became a headliner with the Horace Heidt orchestra of the 1940s and 1950s.
Henry S. Johnston, pioneer Perry attorney, member of the Oklahoma constitutional convention, impeached governor of Oklahoma and later a member of the State Senate; Ethel L. Johnston, wife of Henry S. and a distinguished figure in her own right; Sen. Henry Bellmon, Billings farm boy who became the first Republican governor of Oklahoma since statehood, then two terms as a U.S. senator before returning to his home state and winning election to the governor's office again; Shirley Bellmon, astute businesswoman, mother of three daughters and helpmate to her husband in all of his campaigns.
Dave Matthews, Perry attorney who served in the Navy during World War II, then became a junior officer in the Oklahoma National Guard and rose to become its commanding general; Lavern Weber, an "adopted son" of Noble county who rose through the ranks of the National Guard and went on to become a lieutenant general and chief of the U.S. National Guard Bureau; Edwin G. and E.L. (Bert) Corr, twin sons of M E and Mrs. E.L. Corr of Perry who won distinction in separate fields - Edwin as a U.S. ambassador and Bert as an. educator and public school administrator in Oklahoma; Sharron Miller, nationally recognized director of network TV productions, including the celebrated Cagney and Lacey series for which she received an Emmy nomination.
By my count that's 23 names up to this date. I'd say that's a pretty impressive list for a little old county in north central Oklahoma, and we're not through yet. Stay tuned for more of our "Top Ten."