William Phillip Harjo, 70-year-old, longtime Seminole County resident, made his final journey Feb. 10, 2018, after a long battle with cancer.

William Phillip Harjo, 70-year-old, longtime Seminole County resident, made his final journey Feb. 10, 2018, after a long battle with cancer.

Phillip was born in Shawnee on Sept. 3, 1947, to Charley Harjo and Leta Faye Price Harjo. Phillip spent his childhood and most of his adult life in Seminole County.

Phillip attended Maud High School and continued his education at East Central University where he completed his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and a master’s degree in counseling. Later he acquired certification in all areas of science with exception of botany. Teaching and serving others has been a passion in all areas of Phillips life.

Phillip was a spiritual man who exhibited throughout his life a love for country, family and his native heritage.

Phillip married Jeanette Margrete Howell during Spring break on April Fool’s Day of 1968, in the ECU Chapel. He took great pride in his three sons. Laughingly, he’d tell others they had triplets the hard way.

He and his wife of nearly 50 years lived near Wolf and raised performance AQHA and APHA foundation bred horses. Phillip loved his horses, dogs, and all animals. He loved spending time with family, fishing, hunting, photography, watching sports, astronomy, stories, and great Harjo pizza.

A person who stepped up to challenges without hesitation Phillip has served as a mayor, president of the Seminole County OEA, chairman of the Seminole Nation tribal election board, chairman of the officer candidate honor council, state liaison for Oklahoma Territory Tellers, board member of Tejas storytelling organization, technology mentor for Shawnee Public Schools and changed more flat tires for strangers than we can count.

He spent 30 years in public education and held 16 areas of certification. As a coach, teacher, and alternative education counselor, he used stories and humor to touch lives of students. He still referred to the students he taught as one of his “kids.”

He occasionally took breaks from public education to serve the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. In 1976, as Director of Native American Programs he wrote the grant to establish the Early Childhood Program which is still active and successful today. While employed by the Indian Health Service Advisory Board he served as the Mental Health Educator for Oklahoma and Kansas. After retiring from public education, he accepted an invitation for Chief Enoch Kelly Haney to serve as his Chief of Staff. After hearing a story told by Choctaw author and storyteller Tim Tingle, Phillip said he would no longer just share personal stories to motivate students or humorous stories to entertain. He would seek out family stories and help preserve stories of his people.

Phillip and Jeanette owned a video production company specializing in equine advertisement and special events. He received a grant from the National Park Service to produce a collection of DVDs documenting and preserving the lifestyles and traditions of the Seminoles. This allowed him the honor of interviewing tribal elders and former Chiefs.

Phillip was a retired Major of the U.S. Army Reserve and veteran of Desert Shield/Storm. He received many awards and accolades while serving his country. He received special recognition for being the outstanding leader among his officer candidate class. Phillip was also awarded a medal for heroism for his selfless actions during a multi-car accident on an ice-covered bridge in Oklahoma City. Phillip served in the Oklahoma National Guard where he led a Scout platoon and was selected twice to Command Light Infantry Companies of the 1st of the 180th, 45th Infantry Division. He was also selected to serve as an instructor at Oklahoma National Guard Officer Candidate School. After transferring to the Army Reserve, he was headquarters Commander of the 95th Maneuver Training Command, a position he held when he was mobilized for Operation Desert Shield.

Although Phillip traveled throughout Oklahoma and to neighboring states to serve as keynote and motivational speaker for a variety of special events, he was currently renovating the Old Angus Barn built in 1949 with plans to be one of the resident storytellers, chief cook, bottle washer and stick horse rider.

Phillip is survived by his loving wife, Jeanette, of the home; two sons, Lance Wayne Harjo and his wife Lara of Cypress, Texas, Gary Scott Harjo and his wife, Angela of Friendswood, Texas; daughter-in-law, Jennifer Winn Harjo of Maud; two brothers, Sterling Kay Harjo and Matthew Wayne Harjo of Oklahoma City; three grandchildren, Sydney Adelle Harjo, Sarah Elizabeth Harjo and Kaiya Shae Harjo; and a host of nieces, nephews, other family, and dear friends.

Phillip was preceded in death by his eldest son, Stephen Phillip Harjo; parents Charley and Honey Harjo; and brother Terry Deon Harjo.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, at Swearingen Funeral Home Chapel in Seminole. Interment will follow at Wolf Cemetery. Fred “Sky” Shivers will officiate the service.

Casket bearers will be Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Jackie Shay Howard, Bob Rose, Roger Hyden, Dalton Presley, Lt. Colonel Gary Scott Harjo and Lance Wayne Harjo. Honorary casket bearers are Terrance Harjo, Charley Harjo, Adrian Dion Harjo, Tyler Lane, Travis Lane, Scott Cartwright and Col. (Ret.) Gregory “Bo” Austin.

The family request in lieu of flowers, donations be made to your local school districts.