News from Voices of Oklahoma…

John Brooks Walton

John Brooks Walton’s career as an architect, artist, and author gave him a unique view of Tulsa’s residential history. John was eighty-seven when he died last Saturday October 22, 2016. In his life interview he talks about restoring many properties including the Skelly mansion (a home he also lived in), the Mayo mansion, Southern Hills Country Club, and more than one haunted house. Listen to John’s interview here:

Bobby Vee

Bobby Vee was seventy-three when he died Monday, October 24, 2016, but he was only fifteen years old when he took the stage in Moorhead, Minnesota, following the tragic death of Buddy Holly in a plane crash. Since that day, Bobby’s career produced thirty-eight top 100 hits from 1959 to 1970. In Chapter 9 of his Voices of Oklahoma interview, Tommy Allsup tells the coin flip story which kept him alive on that fateful day February 3, 1959.  Bob Dylan played for a brief time in Bobby Vee’s band, The Shadows. Thanks to our friend Larry Gauper of Fargo, North Dakota, you can hear Bobby Vee talk about the “day the music died.”  Listen to Chapter 9 here:

Doug Campbell

Doug Campbell has touched the lives of numerous people through his career as an interior designer and many of his clients have become his friends. Despite fighting a daily battle against ALS, he still manages to use his talents and continues work on various projects. Doug faces a debilitating disease, but stays positive by choosing to be happy every day. Listen to his unusual and impressive story at

Nobel Prize Winner-Bob Dylan

The most famous drop-out at the University of Minnesota, Bob Dylan, was awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize in literature this week. Although Dylan is primarily a musician, much of his song writing reads like poetry with a focus on story-telling and anti-war themes. Dylan gives credit to his high school English teach in Hibbing, Minnesota “for helping to spark his creative pursuits,” but he was also inspired by other artists, including Woody Guthrie. Woody’s daughter, Nora, talks about that special bond in Chapter 17 of her Voices of Oklahoma interview. Listen here to learn more about the relationship between these two legendary folk musicians.

Arnold Palmer

Famed golfer Arnold Palmer, who passed away on September 25, 2016, was well known on the world’s best courses. As golf shop manager at Tulsa Southern Hills Country Club, George Matson got to know Arnie and remembers him as a very friendly gentleman. Listen to chapter 8 of George’s interview for his personal recollections. 

Click to listen to George’s recollection of Arnold.

Contributing to OK State Education

Voices of Oklahoma is proud to announce we are officially a part of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s website. You’ll find us listed as a resource in the Social Studies section under Oklahoma History/Culture ( In addition to the resource listing, we have also been added to the Oklahoma Council for Social Studies Facebook page and been cited in several newsletters. 

VOk founder, John Erling, has been asked to make a presentation to the Oklahoma Council for the Social Studies Conference in October (

Special thanks to Brenda Chapman, director of Social Studies Education, for making this learning tool accessible to educators across the state. 

Olympian Bart Conner

As we enjoy the Summer  Olympics in Rio, we are reminded of our nation’s most accomplished male gymnast, the only American to win gold at every level of competition. Bart Conner talks about the moment he knew he wanted to be a gymnast and about his wife Nadia Comaneci.

Listen to Bart’s story here.

This oral history should be shared with every young athlete you know.  Bart is a great example of hard work, leading to a high level of success.


Vice President–Voices of Oklahoma

Since it is presidential convention time again, Voices of Oklahoma looks back to the 1968 Democratic convention when twice elected to the U.S. Senate from Oklahoma, Fred Harris was considered to be the vice-presidential running mate with candidate for president Hubert Humphrey.

Listen to the drama of that selection here in Chapter 20.

The entire oral history of Fred Harris is fascinating listening as he talks about his time in Washington D.C..

Share with your friends.  

Robert L. Parker–Voices of Oklahoma

Robert “Bob” Parker was an international oil and gas leader who brought western drilling techniques to Russia and China. He purchased Parker Drilling from his father in 1954 and took the company public in 1969. You can listen to Bob tell his story on Voices of Oklahoma here. Bob was 92 when he died July 9, 2016.

Listen to Rev. Wishard and Wanda Lemons talk about working for Bob Parker in Chapter 8 here.

 Share these oral histories with friends.


Bob LaFortune–Voices of Oklahoma

Tulsa Mayor- elect G.T. Bynum says he will seek advice from his grandfather Robert LaFortune. In his oral history for Voices of Oklahoma, you can learn of the challenges Mr. LaFortune faced when he was mayor of Tulsa.

The former mayor talks about his entry into public service here in Chapter 5. Listen and share with your friends.