It happened in May

Clyde Wooldridge
The May 10, 2010 tornado caused destruction and devastation throughout the Shawnee, Tecumseh, and Pottawatomie County areas.

100 Years ago – Four years of patient effort and toil were rewarded on the night of May 14, 1920, when 56 girls and 42 boys of Shawnee High School were presented their certificates of graduation. The Seniors, sober in their new-found dignity, were led in the procession down one aisle by Superintendent H.G. Faust and Dr. F.L. Gordon, guest speaker. Down the other aisle, they were led by Principal Charles W. Gethmann, Board President George C. Abernathy, and Rev. Chris Matheson.

75 Years ago – Counting 12 first places, Woodrow Wilson school’s well-balanced track and field contingent captured the 13th annual “Little Olympics” on Friday, May 4, 1945, at Athletic Stadium, amassing 80.5 points. Irving school, champion for the past two years, was knocked out of permanent possession of the Roesch Trophy when the Wilson boys went to work. Irving finished with 47 points, while Jefferson school finished third with 33. Bob Davies of Jefferson and Hoyt Sumpter of Franklin school tied the high jump record. Ronald Cast of Wilson was high-point man with 16 points by winning first in the 50, 75, and 100-yard dashes and running on the 440-yard relay team.

50 Years ago – A cornerstone laying ceremony took place by the Oklahoma Masonic grandmaster and Shawnee’s newly installed mayor on May 4, 1960, at the recently completed physical education building just north of Union and Highland. The program featured fraternal, school, and city officials, and was open to the public. The Masons had charge of the ceremonies and Mayor Charles Pittman was the principal speaker. Hundreds of Shawnee High School students were excused from class to attend the event.

On the night of May 10, 1960, Farrell Johnson, a rangy 6’3” package of basketball and baseball dynamite, was named as “Athlete of the Year” at the fifth annual All-Sports banquet.

10 Years ago – On the night of May 3, Frank Sims was named as the new Vice-Mayor of Shawnee, replacing Pam Stephens. He would assist Mayor Linda Peterson.

On May 7, the 78th annual Kiwanis Little Olympics took place at Jim Thorpe Stadium. In Division 1: Jefferson won the Fourth- grade title; Sequoyah took the Fifth-grade crown; and Shawnee Middle School won the Sixth grade. In Division 2: South Rock Creek was named champ of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth grades titles. In the mascot races, Ian Johnson of Will Rogers won the boys’ contest and Jade Owens of Horace Mann took the girls’ title.

The cities of Shawnee and Tecumseh were devastated on May 10, 2010, when a tornado hit the towns. It also hit many other communities in the county.

The municipal pool at Woodland Veterans Memorial Park was renamed for its season opening on May 29. It would now be called the Woodland Park Aquatics Center.

Five Years ago – At long last, the Shawnee Wolves were the 5A state golf champions. The Wolves blistered the Shawnee Country Club for two rounds on Monday, making the Tuesday, May 12, final 18 holes largely a coronation for the team title. That did not make it any less sweet on Tuesday, as the Wolves finished off Shawnee’s first golf state championship since 1934 after finishing second the past three seasons. “It feels really good,” Shawnee head coach Kelly Parsons said. “I tried to kind of compare it to when we won the state football championship back in 2003. The real battle on Tuesday was for the individual title, which came down to Braden Ricks and Garrett McDaniel. McDaniel, playing in the last group behind Ricks, took the lead just before the turn and overcame a triple bogey on the 13th hole to win the championship by one shot. “Get rid of one hole and it was one of the best days I’ve had in the last year,” McDaniel said. The link has been copied.

The Saturday, May 16, 5A state baseball championship game was a battle of newcomers versus an established dynasty. The Shawnee Wolves, a young team making its first-ever appearance in the state title game, played a near-flawless game, while Carl Albert, the three-time defending state champions, made all the mistakes as the Wolves ran away with a 10-0 win at Mustang High School on Saturday.

“I’’s unbelievable,” senior Josh Rolette said. “I can’t even explain the feeling right now. It’s everything we’ve dreamed about and worked hard for. It was a team effort all the way around, everyone did their job.”

The Wolves finished the three-game tournament by allowing just one run, with starters Eli Davis, Mitchell Stone and Tanner Sparks pitching 20 of a possible 21 innings. “I couldn’t be prouder of our three starters,” Coach Todd Boyer said. “All three of those guys did a good job of getting ahead and pitching consistently. Tanner would be a lot of guys’ number one [starter]. We’re lucky to have him as our number three.”

Rolette finished the tournament with four hits, including two home runs, driving in eight runs. The Wolves finished the season with a record of (32-5). “This one was for all the guys who came before,” Boyer said. “We’ve had a lot of guys that have built this foundation.”

One Year ago – Shawnee City Commissioners did business in front of a full house, hearing from several residents Monday night, May 6, 2019, as they addressed the annual contract review committee’s recommendations for funding certain agencies. Three of the agencies used to receiving city dollars in years past were startled to learn the money train might leave the station without them. The Historical Shawnee Alliance (HSA), the Shawnee Senior Center, and Visit Shawnee Inc. (VSI) were each denied a recommendation for the year, leaving many area residents shocked, confused or upset and concerned about the future of their programs. Mayor Richard Finley said the commission’s vote to side with the Contract Review Committee’s recommendations to not renew a contract with each of those agencies merely meant they were now going to be negotiated. He said it meant the board was supporting denial of the contracts as they were written at the time. “In my mind, this is just the beginning of negotiations,” Finley said.

Propositions 1 and 2 bond issues totaling $12,570,000 for Shawnee Public Schools failed to pass in a special election on Tuesday, May 15, with less than 600 ballots cast. “While I am disappointed in the outcome of the bond election, I am grateful to the Shawnee community for the support they have given our schools,” said Superintendent April Grace. “We at Shawnee Public Schools are committed to ensuring all our students and staff have what they need to be successful,” she added.

Clyde Wooldridge is a local historian.