At first blush, a hearse wrapped in Rogers State University spirit colors might seem a strange sight on campus, but the vehicle was a donation from Oklahoma Military Academy alumni as an homage to one of the its most colorful legacies during the 1960s.
The new RSU spirit car was unveiled Friday, June 9, during the OMA Alumni Association Annual Reunion at RSU. The vehicle purchase and spirit decorations were paid for through private donations from OMA alumni.
In 1963, OMA cadets found and purchased a 1947 Pontiac hearse that was “the pride and joy” of the OMA cheerleaders from 1963 until 1970. Nicknamed “Mother’s Worry,” the hearse transported OMA cheerleaders to sporting events and the vehicle became an iconic symbol for the cadets.
From a story in a 2013 OMA Alumni Association newsletter: “Imagine the intimidation factor to opposing teams when the cadet corps arrived marching into the stands, with the OMA marching band playing, the color guard bearing the flags, drill team performing and the hearse entering with siren blaring, smoke blowing, cheerleaders on the running boards holding shotguns with blank ammo going off and the OMA mascot “The General” making his appearance. Never before, nor ever since, was there an entrance like this at a football game in the State of Oklahoma.”
The OMA hearse was quietly retired in 1969 as the military school began winding down operations and its transition to community college started. The legacy and story of “Mother’s Worry,” however, lived on for decades among OMA alumni.
In fall 2016, OMA alumni purchased a 1996 Cadillac hearse from a Durant funeral home and donated the vehicle to the university as a symbolic bridge between OMA traditions and school spirit at RSU, which stands on the ground where the military school operated for more than five decades.
OMA Alumni Association President Phil Goldfarb, who was an OMA cheerleader himself, said the hearse purchase was meant to bind traditions and partnerships between the two schools and help instill esprit de corps among RSU Hillcats.
While the new RSU spirit car won’t enjoy such a rambunctious use as it did in the 1960s, the vehicle is planned to be used by the university for community events and appearances, including parades and similar activities.
A special thanks goes to the OMA Alumni Association, Goldfarb, and OMA alumni Jim Elder who located the vehicle and B.G. Jones who purchased the vehicle.