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May 21, 2005

Not too many people is this rather tightly knit community really knew Russ Sadler of Oklahoma City, who died the other day, but he was married to a pretty local girl and he was an important Perry figure in many ways. For example, did you realize that he had a great deal to do with the success of those wonderful Ditch Witch machines? Probably not, unless you were part of the underground construction industry, but he took a shot at one of the first things the Perry-based company did when it introduced its own type of marketing. He was the proprietor, and therefore a trail blazer, of the single focus market that practically guaranteed the success of those orange-colored machines. He operated an Oklahoma City-based business, the Sooner Equipment Company, but with the local company's urging, changed that name to "Ditch Witch of Oklahoma," and thus became the first dealership to rely on Ditch Witch products to earn a living for himself. The change was immediate, and successful.

His widow is the former Dorotha Doyle of Perry. She is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Bud Doyle, who operated a produce company in Perry for many years. Dorotha was active with her husband in the Ditch Witch of Oklahoma dealership. Russ retired in 1976. John Bridwell, formerly a regional manager at Ditch Witch, and his son, Gary, now own the Oklahoma dealership. Russ has been a docent at the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center for many years. Russ and Dorotha were married in 1942. Later, while they were living in Tucson, AZ, my sister's daughter, Sydney Jean Wade, was a baby sitter for the Sadlers, who lived near the Wade home in Tucson. Sydney and her husband, Vince, now teach at an American school in China. You should also know that Russ was a brother of J.D. Sadler, a former marketing executive at the Charles Machine Works, where Ditch Witch equipment is made. These little bits of information are just to round out the story bit

I think you get the picture from all this. Russ was a good man, a leader in everything he undertook, and the folks at Ditch Witch are going to miss his frequent trips to the factory here in Perry. Russ was one of us. Condolences to his family and his many friends.