The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

January 8, 2013

Pillar of the Plains selection set for Thursday

ENID, Okla. — Five community volunteers will be honored Thursday at the annual Pillar of the Plains ceremony.

One then will be named Pillar of the Plains, an award created by the Enid News & Eagle and its partners to recognize members of the community who have excelled in their civic contributions. The public reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Convention Hall.

The five nominees are Gary Kirtley, Martie Oyler, Dr. David Russell, and Larry and Rick Simpson.

Kirtley spent nearly 50 years of his life in education as a teacher, principal and district administrator. Since his 2003 retirement as assistant superintendent of Enid Public Schools, Kirtley has been summoned back several times for short-term assignments.

Kirtley got his first teaching job in 1959, at Clinton. In the 1960s, he taught at Perry. Then, he was a principal at Arkansas City, Kan.

EPS called him to be principal at Emerson Junior High School. He then became the district’s director of federal programs. From there, he became assistant superintendent.

He was elected to Enid Public School Foundation Hall of Fame in 2010.

Kirtley also has been a dedicated community volunteer, particularly in areas connected to education. He’s been a member of Enid Metropolitan Area Service Commission, Youth and Family Services board, Northern Oklahoma College/Northwestern Oklahoma State University advisory committee, Hospice Circle of Love board and many other volunteer endeavors.

Oyler is regional manager of Oklahoma Natural Gas and has been involved in many activities. She has helped a number of Enid organizations in the last quarter-century.

Oyler has been a longtime supporter of education. As a member of the 2010 bond issue committee, she helped develop the plan for the $99 million bond issue, the largest in Enid Public Schools history.

The bond issue paid for construction of two new elementary schools and funded renovations at all other school sites.

She also has served on the United Way of Enid and Northwest Oklahoma board, Gateway Enid Advisory Committee and was a founding member of the Juliette Low Leadership Society to assist Girl Scouts.

In 1996, she became the first chairwoman of the Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce.

Russell has served the medical community for more than four decades, including more than 30 years in Enid. He continues to serve in leadership positions for the medical profession, civic organizations, educational foundations and his church.

He is treasurer of Garfield County Medical Society and continues to serve in leadership positions with Oklahoma State Medical Association. Russell served as president of OSMA in the 2006-2007 term.

Russell also works to promote both the medical profession and his alma mater through OSU Medical Cowboys.

The Simpson brothers co-own Simpson’s Old Time Museum. As well as acting as historians with an encyclopedic knowledge of Western and cowboy lore, the two are accomplished filmmakers with their production company, Skeleton Creek Productions.

They are members of Garfield County Crime Stoppers board of directors and are dedicated to making the yearly Cherokee Strip Days celebration and activities held each year a success.

Previous Pillars of the Plains are Bert Mackie, Lee Thompson, Janet Cordell, Lew Ward, Dr. Charles Ogle, Becky Cummings, Dr. Jerry Blankenship, April Danahy and Doug Frantz.

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