This past month, Oklahoma lost a very special woman. Donna McSpadden was known to many in her hometown of Chelsea and nearby in Claremore as Clem McSpadden’s spouse. She was that and so much more. We became acquainted even before I was born. My late mother, Janna Boren, was pregnant while my father and Clem were challenging each other in the Governor’s race of 1974. Donna had her son Bart in tow at many campaign events and she and my mother became friends. As someone who has been through many tough campaigns, the fact that they were friends during a rough and tumble election says a lot about the two of them.
Fast forward to 2004 when I ran for Congress the first time. Donna was one of the first to volunteer to help. She was beloved in Rogers County and beyond. She and Clem spoke for me and opened their home to our family. After the election, Donna pulled me into all sorts of causes. She even worked with the famous singer Carole King on an issue before Congress. Donna though mainly lobbied me to help her on multiple Rogers County initiatives.
Donna was active with the Chelsea High School seniors and hosted the students for dinner at her house each spring. I had the special privilege of speaking at one of these dinners and could see what a special relationship Donna had with her hometown and all that lived there. In addition to her work with students, Donna participated in many programs that helped senior citizens and others in need. She was a member of the Chelsea Women’s Delphian Review Club, worked on projects like the Chelsea City Library and, of course, she worked to keep Clem’s legacy alive.
She was no shrinking violet. She was strong as horseradish, but with a heart of gold. She loved and cared for the less fortunate and would do anything to help someone. I lost my mother in 1998 to cancer and Donna helped me by sharing stories and insights about her. She lost her beloved son Bart in 2014. I know that she, Clem and Bart are reunited in heaven together. We should all remember the example of dignity, character and empathy that she shared with all of us.