Claremore Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

The Claremore Hall of Fame inductees for 2019 have been announced by J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum Commission Chair William Higgins. “This year’s inductee’s have had a tremendous impact on thousands of lives. I want to thank the people who submitted Hall of Fame nominations and the Hall of Fame committee.”

The new inductees for the Claremore Hall of Fame are Bob Portiss and James “Jocko” Clark. They will be inducted at a gala ceremony at the Claremore Expo on June 20. The reception begins at 5:30p with the banquet at 6p and the induction ceremony at 6:45p.

The annual Claremore Hall of Fame induction ceremony is a fundraiser for the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum during their 50th anniversary celebration. Sponsorship information is available by calling the Davis Museum at 918-341-5707.

Bob Portiss joined the Tulsa Port of Catoosa staff in 1973 as Manager of Traffic and Sales and Assistant Secretary of the Facilities Authority, after serving in the United States Navy and obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from North Dakota State. The next year, he took a position managing commercial industrial properties in Arizona and New Orleans.

He returned to the Port in 1977 and two years later was promoted to Director of Marketing and Transportation, and then to Deputy Port Director. In 1984, Portiss was named Port Director.

During his career at the Port, his oversight and leadership have helped the Tulsa Port of Catoosa transform two thousand acres of pasture land to a bustling, inland port that annually handles over two million tons of waterborne commerce. Today, the Port is home to 70 industrial, manufacturing, and transportation facilities, which employ more than 4000 Oklahomans and represent over a billion and a half dollars in private investment.

Portiss was a five-term Chairman of the National Waterways Conference and served several years as the Chairman of the Inland Waterway Committee of the National Transportation Research Board and also served as a member of the National Marine Board.

For over 40 years, Portiss has been a passionate advocate for inland waterways issues at both the state and national levels, not only for the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, but all of the U.S. Navigable waterways, something Portiss refers to as the “Nation’s Fifth Seacoast.”

In 2009, he received the prestigious Bronze de Fleury Medal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Medal was established by the Corps to honor those individuals who have provided significant contributions to Army engineering.

Portiss was named Communicator of the Year in 2013, and received the Bronze Quill Award from the Tulsa chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. In 2015, he was recognized for having provided exemplary leadership in advancing transportation and leading change at the local, state, and national level.

Also in 2015, Portiss was recognized with a White House Transportation Champions of Change award for leadership and innovation in the industry, and honor he modestly said “was undeserved but very much appreciated and accepted on behalf of the people of Tulsa and Rogers Counties.”

Watching the Port’s growth physically and economically has been one of Portiss’ greatest satisfactions second only to showcasing the Port itself to people for the first time. “I love it when people come out to the Port for the first time and see everything we’re about,” he said. “In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never gotten tired of that.”

Portiss retired in 2016 and the Port Authority officially named him “Port Director Emeritus.” He is married to Lynda, who recently retired from a 30-year career with Chelsea Public Schools.

Admiral Joseph James “Jocko” Clark was born November 21, 1893, in Indian Territory. Records indicate he was born along Pryor Creek in the Cooweescoowee District. Rogers County is part of what was the pre-statehood Cooweescoowee District.

Clark attended Willie Haskell College in Vinita and Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State) prior to being appointed to the Naval Academy. He was the first Native American (Cherokee) to graduate from the US Naval Academy in 1917. He was immediately assigned as an ensign on a cruiser during World War I.

Clark served in a wide variety of military posts through the 1920s and 1930s. He was an instructor at the Naval Academy in 1923-24 and then became a naval aviator in 1925. He was instrumental in the development of naval air power.

Clark was stationed in the San Pedro-Long Beach area of Southern California in the late 1920s. This afforded Clark opportunities to visit fellow Oklahoman Will Rogers at his nearby Santa Monica ranch. Clark was invited to dinners and polo matches at the ranch. On many of his visits, he took Rear Admiral Montgomery Taylor with him. The three had hours of discussions about aviation. In 1927, Will told Taylor he would like to be catapulted in a plane off his flagship. So on December 29, 1927, Taylor invited all of Will’s family to the ship Pennsylvania to witness the flight. Before the flight, at lunch, Will asked Taylor, “Who’s going to fly me off the catapult?” Clark replied, “I am, sir.” Will then quipped, “I don’t know whether Oklahoma can afford to lose two good men at one time or not!”

Clark served on several ships and fleet bases in the 1930s and was on the carrier Yorktown when World War II began. He was then assigned as the commander of the carrier Suwanee in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of North Africa, until he was ordered to take command of the newly-commissioned Yorktown.

In January 1944, Clark was promoted to rear admiral and was assigned to the new carrier Hornet. He was involved in raids on the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, the Marianas Islands, Iwo Jima, and others. His fighting spirit earned him the nickname Patton of the Pacific.

Clark was promoted again, this time to vice admiral, as he took command of the 7th Fleet during the Korean War. He retired in 1953 with the rank of a four-star admiral.

His many awards and over 20 medals include the Navy Cross, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with Combat “V”, and a Presidential Unit citation. He was named an honorary chief of the Sioux and Cherokee Nations.

Clark was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1952. The National Aeronautic Association honored Clark in 1969 with the Elder Statesman of Aviation Award. In 1979, the guided-missile frigate USS Clark was named in his honor.

Admiral Clark died in 1971 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Portiss and Clark bring the number of Hall of Fame inductees to 23. The members of the Claremore Hall of Fame are: Dr. Keith Ballard, J.M. Davis, Maggie Culver Fry, Darnell Jones, Elizabeth Gordon, W.R. Howell, Clem McSpadden, J.B. Milam, Dr. Richard Mosier, Paul Neely, Patti Page, Andy Payne, Lynn Riggs, Ludmila and Frank Robson, Clem Rogers, Will Rogers, Stuart Roosa, Stratton Taylor, Helen Walton, and Laurey Williams.

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