Press Club Honors Henry Bellmon as 2006 Headliner

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HOLLAND HALL SIGNING: Holland Hall’s Grant Detwiler signed a scholarship agreement with Colorado State University, where he is slated to play tight end for the Rams. Seated from left are Susie Detwiler, Dr. Karl Detwiler, Grant and Katherine Detwiler. Standing are Kyle Detwiler, Wendy Thompson and Sarah Detwiler.

D.J. MORROW INGRAM for GTR Newspapers

The Tulsa Press Club has recognized one of Oklahoma’s most distinguished statesmen, Henry Bellmon, former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator, as its 2006 Headliner honoree.
Proceeds from the Feb. 24 dinner at the Tulsa Renaissance Hotel and Conference Center will fund a scholarship at Oklahoma State University, Bellmon’s alma mater.

The dinner’s theme, “An Oklahoma Original,” highlights Bellmon’s extraordinary life as a farmer, soldier, educator, senator and governor.

A native of Billings, Okla., Bellmon’s career in public service spans more than 40 years. After graduating from Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) in 1942, he served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was a tank platoon leader in World War II.

Following the war, he returned to farming and entered politics. He was elected to the Oklahoma legislature in 1946, and in 1963 was elected Oklahoma’s first Republican governor. Under Oklahoma law at the time, he was not able to run for a second term.

He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1968 and reelected in 1974. He did not run for a third term. In 1986, he was again elected governor of Oklahoma.

Throughout his career, Bellmon has championed education in Oklahoma specifically with the passage of HB 1017, educational reform bill, which passed during his second term as Governor. As the state’s chief executive officer, economic development and making Oklahoma an attractive place to do business was always a high priority. In recent years, he has been a professor and lecturer at Oklahoma State University. He continues to raise wheat and cattle on his farm near Billings.

Press Club President Russ Florence said no one is more deserving of the recognition than Bellmon.

“Few people in modern Oklahoma have the widespread respect and admiration that Gov. Bellmon has,” he said. “As a public servant, Gov. Bellmon took bold steps in moving our state forward. But he did so with tact and humility, without alienating anyone. That’s the mark of a true leader.”

Penny Williams, former Oklahoma state senator, and Dewey Bartlett, Jr., former Tulsa city councilor, are honorary dinner chairs.

Burns Hargis is the emcee for the evening and speakers will be Alex Adwon, Tulsa World, Wilma Mankiller and Robert Henry.
Linda Sponsler of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma is dinner chair. Sponsler, a Press Club board member, was on Bellmon’s U.S. Senate staff in Washington, D.C. during the 1970s, and headed his Tulsa office field office during the his second term in the Governor’s office.

The Headliner award, first bestowed in 1956, recognizes Tulsans and Oklahomans who have had significant positive impact on the city and state. The most recent Headliners, in 2004, were University of Oklahoma President David Boren and Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce & Tourism Kathy Taylor.

Previous honorees also include Peggy Helmerich, Henry Zarrow, Jack Zarrow, Bob LaFortune, Chester Cadieux, Ron King, Nancy Feldman, Robert E. Lorton, Roxana Lorton, W.K. Warren and Keith Bailey, among others.

The Tulsa Press Club & Benevolent Association, formally established in 1932, is an association of media professionals and business leaders. Located in the historic Atlas Life Building in downtown Tulsa, the Club hosts numerous functions for reporters and newsmakers, including the popular Page One speaker series, political gatherings and social events. The Club also hosts the Gridiron, an annual musical roast of politicians and current events.

For more information, contact the Tulsa Press Club at (918) 583-7737.

Updated 02-22-2006

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