More than 300 guests celebrated the induction of Dr. Keith Ballard and Ms. Maggie Culver Fry into the Claremore Hall of Fame Tuesday evening at the Claremore Conference Center. A star-studded lineup of speakers and presenters completed the ceremonies.
“We may never again see the likes of such a career” stated Senator Stratton Taylor in regards to Ballard’s accomplishments in Rogers County, Tulsa County, and across the state during the induction ceremony. Stratton later noted that in addition to his great professional strides, Ballard’s is best known as a family man dedicated to his wife, children, and grandchildren.
Taylor, a former inductee of the Claremore Hall of Fame was the longest-serving President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate. Elected as President pro tempore on a unanimous, bipartisan vote in 1995, he served eight years.
An emotional Ballard accepted the induction noting that from his perspective he is simply a representative of the wonderful educators, leaders, and citizens who’s school district’s he served.
Making a special recognition of the school board members who hired him as the Superintendent of Claremore public schools Ballard stated, “Without those who provide the opportunity for leadership there is no place for individuals to step up, lead, and make a difference.”
Many of his remarks showcased his ongoing appreciation for courageous school board leaders, educators, and administrators who invest their lives into the betterment of students.
Ballard’s public service spans more than four decades and has shaped local, state, and national public education. As an advocate for education in Oklahoma, he has led three school districts as Superintendent, the Oklahoma State School Board Association as their Executive Director, and is responsible for shaping education legislation and reform while assisting in forming the Oklahoma Education Coalition.
“Dr. Ballard is everything we desire in a public servant. It’s a mixture of head and heart; decency and excellence,” said Ken Levit, CEO George Kaiser Family Foundation in a statement.
“It’s his dedication to his craft and to the students,” noted Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett in a statement. “Keith is committed to Claremore. It’s his home and he is a reflection of that community to the outside world.”
Ballard continues to serve his community in economic development and job creation as the Vice-Chairman of the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority. In his remarks during the ceremony Ballard stated that this is an exciting season in the history of Claremore noting the progressive leadership coming from City Hall and Rogers County.
Maggie Culver Fry was honored with a posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame. Donna McSpadden, wife of the late Senator Clem McSpadden presented her induction to Culver Fry’s granddaughter Ruth Haynie.
“Maggie was a special woman dedicated to the Lord, her husband, and children. She held her kids in high regard and would put them up against anyone—and she would let you know it” said McSpadden during ceremonies.
McSpadden expounded on the wit and whimsical mind of Culver Fry sharing fond memories of how the she created inspired an a deep respect for nature, the betterment of fellow man and an attitude of awe and wonder towards God.
“Maggie was a woman of many talents. She wrote children’s stories, non-fiction, poetry. This is a mark of brilliant woman who lived a fascinating life,” said Dr. Emily Dial-Driver, Professor of Literature at Rogers State University in a statement.
Culver Fry published more than 800 articles, stories and poems many attracting national attention. Her second book of poetry, The Umbilical Cord, published in 1971 was nominated for a Pulitzer Price. Governor David Boren named Culver Fry the state’s poet laureate in 1977.
Additionally Culver Fry spent a decade in politics serving under Senator Clem McSpadden at the Oklahoma State Senate. Fry died in 1998 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Claremore
Ms. Peggy Rice served as the event’s emcee. Rice is the “First Lady” of Rogers State University and President and CEO of the Small Business Capital Corporation. She was recently selected as an honoree for the Journal Record’s Fifty Making a Difference award, which honors the influence of women in the workforce and community. Rice a member of the RCB Board of Directors, a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma Class XII, and is active in numerous civic and non-profit organizations.