There was a time John Little knew every blade of grass, every gopher hole, every bump and stump on the 10 acres of rolling hillside Will Rogers bought to someday be his retirement home.
Little went to work at Will Rogers Memorial Museum 34 years ago keeping up with the grounds of the Claremore Museum, opened in 1938, three years after Will’s death in an Alaska plane crash. At the same time he was doing lawn maintenance at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch.
When the bells across Will Rogers Boulevard at Rogers State University tolled 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, Little left the place he had spent most of his working career.
He left knowing every crook and cranny of the Museum’s interior from the mechanical to maintenance and audio-visual.
The Museum’s video showing was limited when Little joined the staff, but soon his audio-visual talents were put to use.
Time changes everything and Little was able to help the Museum move into a new dimension installing videos throughout the Museum. At the same time he was creating video and audio tapes from existing recordings.
In addition to the videos that play regularly in the large Theatre in the Museum, a different one of 16 of Will’s movies plays daily in the small theatre on a rotating basis.
During the latter years of his career at the Museum, Little took on additional maintenance duty and expanded his audio-visual work. He has been involved in helping create new exhibit space, including the new and renovated galleries and work on the Children’s Museum.
Although he is retiring, he is going into another dimension. He will expand his part-time work in Custom Video Transfer and Blue Planet Productions. His wife, Pat, who works for Level 3 in Tulsa, is able to work from home and they will share an office.
“I don’t know how that’s going to work,” Little said laughing. He is accustomed to taking over the office space at night after he has finished his Museum duties.
For the first time, they can plan trips to their favorite vacation spot in Hawaii around their personal work schedules and spend more time with extended family.