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November 9, 2001

The newly reorganized Perry American Legion post is trying to stimulate interest in Veterans Day, which used to be called Armistice Day, and at the same time earn a little money for their service projects. Veterans Day falls on Sunday (November 11), but it will be celebrated tomorrow (Saturday) with a breakfast served in the Legion hall. Buy your tickets at the door. Later that day, a Veterans Day program will be held in the courthouse park. The entire community is encouraged to attend both these events.

The size of the silent crowd that assembled the other day for a final tribute to Bill Gengler spoke volumes. The Catholic church was filled to capacity and many of the group stood along the walls throughout the service when all of the pews were filled. Bill was a relatively young man and his sudden death last week came as a shock to his family and his many friends. Bill was an active participant in affairs of the community, the cattle business, his church, fraternal organizations, and other aspects of his wide-ranging interests. His parents, the late Harry and Gertrude Gengler, helped set his course by their example as hands-on people in many worthwhile activities, including the preservation of our town’s pioneer heritage. Bill could be a leader when the occasion required, but he was a faithful foot soldier, too. He and Virginia raised an outstanding family consisting of three daughters and one son, and also including a grandchild born in Florida just six days before Bill’s untimely passing. The Genglers have been wonderful, contributing members of this community for many years, and Bill will be greatly missed. Our condolences to his family in this time of sorrow.

“Jesu and Mother Earth,” a new novel by Sharon Ervin of McAlester, was favorably reviewed in the most recent edition of the Sunday Oklahoman. That’s of special interest in Perry because Sharon lived here as a little girl. She’s the daughter of the late Francis Thetford and his first wife, Florine, who now lives in the Dallas area. In the early 1940s, Francis was managing editor of this newspaper and as such he was my mentor when I was hired as a cub reporter back in 1941. We remained good friends for many years, until his death in 1969. At the time, he was the “Dateline: Oklahoma” columnist for the Daily Oklahoman, where he had worked since 1946. Sharon’s second novel, Bodacious, will be published soon. She has written magazine articles and short stories and worked at several newspapers, including the Oklahoman. She has a journalism degree from Oklahoma University and was named the first woman sports editor of the campus newspaper. She later served as editor. Her husband, William J. Ervin, is a McAlester attorney. He and Sharon have four grown children. Her dad’s second wife, Lolly Thetford, still lives in Oklahoma City.

The Perry football Maroons have had a good regular season and tonight they play at Salina, which has a 9-1 record. (Perry has had three losses.) Because of the district realignment mandated on alternate years by the Oklahoma High School Activities Association, Perry will be moved up to the 3A level next season. We’ll be in district 3A-3, along with Berryhill, Bristow, Claremore-Sequoyah, Cleveland, Dewey, Meeker and Victory Christian. Here’s hoping Coach Dombek’s young men can do as well in 3A as they have done in 2A the past two seasons. No matter what, they will deserve our all-out support.