STILLWATER — When Haskell Young joined the Oklahoma 4-H Program back in the 1940s, he had no idea what direction that decision would take him.
As a teenager in the mid- to late-1940s, he did what just about every other youngster in the area did and joined the Tuskahoma 4-H club. Little did he know the experiences he had as a 4-H’er would put him on a path toward a college degree, a successful career and the continuing desire to help others.
“I was born and raised in the country during the Depression, and for something to do I joined the local 4-H club,” Young said. “Our leaders were always encouraging us help others, especially older people, by cleaning their yards and such. But in the spring of 1949, my dad suggested I show a Hereford bull calf in 4-H, which he also could use as a future herd sire to improve his cattle herd.”
As Young recalls, his 4-H educator arranged a trip to purchase a Hereford bull calf from then-Oklahoma Gov. Roy J. Turner’s ranch in Ada. The $75 his parents paid for the calf, whom he named Gov., turned out to be a great investment in his future.
Young showed the calf and it became a consistent winner. At one point, he was awarded a $46 scholarship to Oklahoma A&M College, which was a turning point in his life.
“I always knew I’d go to college, but I figured I’d go to a junior college closer to home,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of money, but my parents said we’d somehow make it work, because they knew the importance of a college education. That $46 scholarship allowed me to go to school in Stillwater at Oklahoma A&M College.”
Since Stillwater was nearly 200 miles away, a visit to campus prior to attending classes was not possible, so Young said he enrolled by mail. Without any help from a college adviser, he checked business as his major because he thought he wanted to become a certified public accountant. Following his high school graduation in 1950, Young headed to Stillwater, thanks to a ride from area A&M students, since he had no vehicle of his own.
He remembers the scholarship covered his tuition expenses, and his parents helped as much as they could, but he still needed to work to help pay other expenses, including room and board and books. He took a job in the bowling alley in the Student Union on campus, cleaning the alleys and setting pins. One summer was spent working at the Green Giant Cannery in Belvidere, Illinois, near Chicago, because he could work a lot of hours and make more money than he could at home.
“This job was arranged through A&M, which is another reason I’m grateful I received that initial scholarship,” Young said. “Other summers I worked in the oil field and in construction.”
It was during this time the Korean War was going on, and Young would have to return home to sign his deferment papers in order to continue with his education. However, after 2 ½ years of college under his belt, he realized he could no longer afford to go to school.
“I’d gone home to sign my deferment papers again, but learned that if I enlisted in the military, when I got out I could receive $110 per month to continue my education,” he said. “I asked when the next group was going to basic training and found out it was the following Monday. I called my roommate in Stillwater, asked him to box up my stuff and send it to me, and I started my military career in the Army.”
Young spent two years in the service, including a tour in Germany, before returning to the United States. He picked up his college career again at Oklahoma A&M, thanks to the money he received from the G.I. Bill, and graduated 2 ½ years later with a degree in geology and a business minor.
He worked for a few years in his field, but soon figured out he was looking for “growth versus a paycheck.”
After doing some research and going on several interviews, Young was offered a position with Uarco, a national printing company in 1961.
“I knew I could always make a living while working in my field, but I really wanted something with the potential for growth and a career,” he said. “I found that at Uarco.”
He started as a member of a sales team in Oklahoma City, and throughout his 38-year career with the company, worked in Wichita, Kansas, and Houston, Texas. One of the highlights of his career while in Wichita was taking the lead in converting individual purchases to contractual agreements with Cessna Aircraft and Lear Jet Corporation, which garnered accolades from both companies, as well as his boss. His career also included assuming responsibility of planning and implementing new warehousing and product delivery services in the Houston/Gulf Coast area. He retired in 1999. He and his wife, Sandy, later moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma, and about four years ago, decided to make their home in Stillwater.
Retirement, however, did not mean Young was ready to sit on the porch in a rocking chair. Several years before retiring, he purchased his father’s 300-plus acre farm near Marietta, Oklahoma, which included a cattle operation. His objective at the time was to come up with an improved quality of beef stock. Over the years, he developed a respectable herd of Santa-Gertrudis cattle. Although he has sold off most of the herd, he still runs five head on the farm. So, while his days in the printing business are done, and ranching responsibilities have dwindled, Young never forgot where he started and the help he so generously received along the way.
Young said his upbringing, along with the skills he learned in 4-H – such as working hard, assuming responsibility and helping others – set the course for his life. And helping others has long played a key role in the lives of Young and his wife.
“My wife and I have always helped people along the way. A number of years ago, we helped a young family purchase 80 acres of land we owned. He only wanted to buy 10 acres at the time because that’s what he could afford, but I knew he needed more land to do the things he wanted to do,” he said. “We drew up an agreement for the original 10 acres, plus the other 70, which we financed for him. We also helped their children pursue degrees and now one is a dentist and the other completed a nursing degree.”
Although the Youngs do not have children of their own, they certainly have made an impact on many youth by helping them achieve their dream of higher education. The difference this couple has made in those lives is immeasurable, thanks to the generosity and loving spirit of a man who knows the value of a helping hand.