Press Release for Will Rogers Hall of Fame Ceremony November 9


Eight outstanding Will Rogers High School alumni will be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame on Friday, November 9 in a ceremony in the auditorium.    This will bring to 29 the number of alumni who have been so honored.   The honorees will receive a 14 inch replica of the famous 7 foot Jo Davidson statue of Will Rogers that is featured in Claremore at the Will Rogers Memorial and the Nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C.


A reception at the school begins at 6 p.m. followed by the ceremony at 7:20 p.m.   Both events are open to the public.  The hall of fame event is sponsored by the Will Rogers High School Community Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit founded in 2010.  Tickets are $25 per person.   For reservations call Janet Shumaker Rader at 918 704-5981.


This year’s distinguished alumni represent seven different classes, seven different discipline-professions and include: Fred Sanders, (class of 1945), a space craft designer-builder; Warren G. Guntheroth, M.D., (1945) a renowned pediatric cardiologist; Donald “Babe” Chandler, (1952), a Super Bowl champion and kicking great, and Neil B. Sparks, Jr.(1954), a Vietnam helicopter rescue pilot and Navy Cross recipient.  


Also, Paul B. Davis, (1955), an acclaimed artist-illustrator who has designed scores of magazine covers; Nancy Jo (Daulton) Beier, (1956), an international opera soprano star;  Elvin Bishop, (1960), a  blues and rock and roll musician; and Dr. H. Thomas Harrison,  (1972), senior minister at Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa.


Sanders, Guntheroth and Chandler will be honored posthumously.


Sanders was with McDonnell Aircraft for 41 years, joining in St. Louis as a design  engineer after graduating from Spartan College in Tulsa  in 1947. At the time, Spartan was one of only three colleges in the nation offering a degree in aeronautical engineering. In 1957 he began work on the Mercury spacecraft and subsequently held managerial leadership positions on the Gemini and Skylab  programs.  


Sanders received the NASA Prestigious Public Service Award in 1974 and was Vice President and General Manager of the St Louis division of McDonnell-Douglas Astronautics Co. when he retired in 1988.  He died in September 2010.


Dr. Guntheroth attended Harvard University and graduated from Harvard Medical School.  When he died on September 17 he was a  professor of Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle where he had been on the faculty for 55 years.  He was the most senior in age and years of service.  He followed thousands of his patients from infancy to middle age.


 Dr. Guntheroth authored some 250 article-papers and five books.  One  book was published in five languages and dealt with his specialty – Pediatric Cardiology.     He also wrote a book on Crib Death – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and was the first American to urge parents to adopt the “back to sleep” position for infants, preventing thousands of deaths from SIDS each year.


After attending Bacone Indian College in Muskogee, Chandler graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida in 1956 where he led the nation in punting.   Subsequently, he played 9 years for the New York Giants (one championship) and three years for the Green Bay Packers (first two Super Bowl champions).


He has been recognized as one of the finest kickers in football and is already a member of the halls of fame at Florida, the Giants, the Packers and Oklahoma sports.  He retired in 1968 and continued to live in Tulsa.  Additionally he was one of the original Marlboro  Men making speaking engagements and  national commercials for several years.   Chandler died in Tulsa in August 2011. 


Sparks, a Navy aviator for more than 28 years, lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  He served five helicopter combat missions in Vietnam -  four off aircraft carriers and one in-country.  For the latter he flew attack helicopters.  Two were search and rescue and two were support missions


In July, 1967 Sparks and his crew flew within a few hundred feet of a North Vietnam training camp to rescue a downed American fighter pilot.  For displaying unprecedented valor and courage he was awarded the Navy Cross and later was honored as the most decorated member in the 50-year history of Squadron TWO.


Paul Davis’ high school memories were the great art teachers and reading comic books at the Owl Drug Store at 11th and Pittsburg.   He followed his dream – not the suggested commercial art curriculum -  and pursued a path to be an illustrator/artist.   At  age 17  he received a teacher aided scholarship to Cartoonists and Illustrator College  (name changed to School of Visual Arts) in New York City.   Thus began a lifelong career and residency in New York.


His first job was with internationally acclaimed Push Pen Studios where he gained valuable experience as an artist,  illustrator and designer, primarily for  advertisers and magazine covers.  He opened his own studio in 1963 and did significant work with Public Theater in New York.  His work has been featured in solo exhibitions in the U.S.  Europe and Japan.  He’s authored two books and in 2002, created the Tulsa Mayfest poster.  Davis’ illustrations have been in hundreds of magazines, and on album covers and book jackets.  He’s received numerous awards and medals and has been inducted into the Halls of Fame for Art Directors and the Society of Illustrators.


In Tulsa in the 1950s Jo (Daulton) Beier began her theatre work at Tulsa Little Theater, the olio portion of The Drunkard, and in numerous school productions.   The latter included the role of Bloody Mary in the first ever amateur production of South Pacific which was presented in 1956 by students of Will Rogers High.  She has had an outstanding career in opera, light opera and symphony concerts throughout the U.S. and Europe.  She was the dramatic soprano five years with the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landestheater in Germany and sang recitals and concerts in Germany, Holland, Denmark, Italy and England. 


Beier, now residing in Port Angeles, Washington, teaches voice, both privately and on the faculty of Olympic Music School, and is a popular adjudicator for the Washington State Music Teachers Association.


On the family radio in the late 1950s, Elvin Bishop would catch rhythm and blues music  at night from a Nashville station in between rock and country and western.   He earned a National Merit Scholarship in physics and chose the University of Chicago, which happened to be on the city’s south side, ground zero for much of the blues music that Elvin enjoyed and played. 


By 1963 he was a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.  His long and  varied career has included deep down gutbucket blues played in smoky South Side Chicago taverns, to raucous roadhouse R&B, to rollicking good time rock and  roll.  His  pop success was the smash hit “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”  from his 1976 LP, “Struttin’ My Stuff.”


Bishop, now living in northern California and working with Delta Groove Productions, has had a Grammy-nominated CD “The Blues Rolls On,” and a recent release “Red Dog Speaks.”    Red Dog is an affectionate name he gave to his long-time cohort, a 1959 Gibson ES-345 guitar. 


After completing high school Tom Harrison embarked on a path for the ministry with a degree from Oral Roberts University and Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky.   Beginning in 1979 he served churches in Vici/Lenora in western Oklahoma, Sallisaw and Sunny Lane Methodist in Del City.  He was appointed senior minister at Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa in 1993 at age 39.   He received his Doctor of Divinity from ORU in 1986 and an honorary doctorate from Oklahoma City University in 2001.  


Over-crowding at Asbury on Sheridan Road led Harrison to a 2004 move to the present location at 6767 South Mingo Road.  Under his 19 year leadership, Asbury, founded in 1961, has continued its growth as one of the largest churches in Methodism and has maintained its long-standing position as a leader in missions – 40 foreign missions in 19 countries and 22 local missions in the Tulsa area. 


Harrison is well known for his week-day, morning drive one-minute Perceptions talks on six FM radio stations.   The “talks with a morale message” began in 1996 and have been the source of 12 popular Perceptions books published each November containing about 100 of his favorite radio stories.  Harrison serves on a number of boards and councils including those at Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Asbury Theological Seminary.


Additional information on the Foundation and Hall of Fame event is available on Hall of Fame committee members are Janet Shumaker Rader, Judy Shumaker Garmaker, Jamie McKenzie McCullough, Tracy Pace Hull, Wes Conley, Tony Bacher, Howard Cunningham, Bob LaBass and Steve Wright.    David Rader is chairman.