Claremore Museum of History, the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum and the Oklahoma Military Academy hosted the inaugural History Legends and Hall of Fame Induction.
Over 300 people attended the event to watch world-renowned artist Patrick (P.S.) Gordon, Oklahoma’s premier historian Dr. Bob L. Blackburn and World War I hero Lieutenant Colonel Lee F. Gilstrap be inducted into the Claremore Hall of Fame.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. Served as the Master of Ceremonies and discussed the importance of preserving history.
“The preservation of history does not happen by accident,” he said. “It does not happen automatically.
The stories of triumph, commerce, great accomplishments, arts and civics many be lost in other counties and communities, but not in Rogers County, he said.
Amy Gordon Melton introduced Patrick (P.S.) Gordon and said he has a genuine and unspeakable talent.
Gordon's art is enjoyed by millions around the world. He has received awards from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, and the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. Gordon was also inducted into the Tulsa Hall of Fame in 2013.
“I’m very honored to have been asked to do this,” he said. “I think you all might be wrong, but I’m still very pleased. So, thank you.”
Gordon said he believes the source of his artistic abilities is actually genetic. Gordon said his mother was a wonderful painter and his mother was a florist. Gordon said he’s always wanted to be a painter and treats it like a job.
“I still paint every day,” he said.
Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith introduced Dr. Bob L. Blackburn and said he has touched the lives of Oklahoman's in every county in the state.
Blackburn is described as Oklahoma's most noted historian. He has been a part of the Oklahoma Historical Society for 40 years and served as the Executive Director for 22 years. He was instrumental in the founding of the Oklahoma Historical Center Museum and Research Center and the OK Pops Museum. Blackburn has written 25 books, journal entries and screenplays.
“I’m very humbled and very pleased to be a part of this group and to say I love the Claremore community,” he said.
Blackburn said the sense of community makes everyone proud by collecting stories. Blackburn said he’s connected to Claremore professionally and personally. For 42 years, Blackburn collected memories and stories while working with the local museums. Personally, he’s spent time in Claremore like many others – whether that’s enjoying a picnic at Claremore Lake or walking along Will Rogers Boulevard.
“Those are the memories that bind us as a community” he said.
Timberlake Construction Chairman David B. Timberlake introduced Lt. Col. Lee F. Gilstrap and said he was a man who lead by example.
Gilstrap served as a bugler boy at the age of 18-years-old in World War I in Company B, 36th Division, 142 Infantry. Gilstrap was running a message when he came upon a trench with several wounded U.S. soldiers. Gilstrap not only provided aid to them, but also went into “no-mans land” to save others who were wounded and carry them to safety.
Gilstrap received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the French Croix de Guerre with Palm and the Purple Heart.
His son W. Hays Gilstrap accepted the honor on his behalf.
“On behalf of the entire Gilstrap family, we thank you,” he said.
W. Hays said although they don’t know how many men Lee saved that day, they know there are countless descendants that are alive because of Lee’s actions.
“That was a war hero,” W. Hays said.
These men joined inspirational figures like Dr. Keith Ballard, J.M. Davis, Patti Page, W.R. Howell, Elizabeth Gordon, Will Rogers, Stuart Roosa and more in the Hall of Fame. This year will be the first time Claremore Museum of History, the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum and the Oklahoma Military Academy Museum are teaming up to host the event.