Historical Society honors 2022 heroes and legends

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A small-town English teacher now in her 67th year of inspiring students; a former fighter pilot who has become a leading businessman and a candidate for statewide elected office; a rodeo entertainer with a gift for storytelling; a former champion barrel racer and horse trainer; and an actor known for his wit and devotion to the understanding of traditional Native American ways; the Osage County Historical Society last week added the names and stories of these five to its catalogue of exemplary lives.

The Historical Society aims to add five names each year to the ranks of its Heroes and Legends. It missed a year in 2021 due to the scourge that is COVID-19, but resumed its task Mag 5 of bringing attention to local high achievers.

Wilma Logue has been teaching school in Barnsdall U.S.A. since Dwight Eisenhower was president and she’s still at it. Nona Roach, an Avant grandmother who had not been born when Logue began teaching, introduced Logue to the Heroes and Legends audience in the Ag Building at the Osage County Fairgrounds.

Now at a point in her life when most folks would be begging to retire, Logue said three things have kept her working in the classroom — her love of books and learning, her creative spirit, and the fact that she still likes to go to school.

”I have a creative spirit in me that just won’t stop. That creative spirit has kept me alive,” Logue said. She explained that she has experienced success as a teacher by creating opportunities for students to invest their own creative energies. Thinking of a group of potentially disruptive adolescent boys, Logue observed: “I didn’t make angels out of those 30 boys, but I made believers out of them.”

After Gentner Drummond graduated from high school in 1981 in Hominy, he went on to become an accomplished student at Oklahoma State University (he was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship) and a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. Today, he has a law firm and numerous other business interests and is a candidate for state Attorney General.

The anecdote he shared with the Heroes and Legends audience included colorful details from an incident during his military service, but the point of the story was that values Drummond learned as a boy in Osage County prepared him to be willing to spare the life of another pilot while under the pressure of air combat over Iraq.

”Those core values were established right here in this county,” Drummond said. “It is the core, it is the backbone of what makes America great.”

John Payne, a rodeo performer from Shidler known as “the one-armed bandit,” explained how he overcame the loss of an arm and the financial hardships of attempting to be a rancher, to become a successful rodeo performer and pass along his skills to succeeding generations of his family.

Payne particularly credited the grit and devotion of his parents for instilling in him a refusal to walk away from a duty owed to others.

“I come from good stock, I come from good country, so why the heck would I fail?” Payne said. “They never quit when the chips were down.”

Charla Hartness Allen grew up on a small farm near Pawhuska and began riding horses when she was 5 years old. She began competing when she was 7 or 8. She grew up to become a two-time world champion barrel racer (in 1987 and 1990). The horse she rode when winning those championships was “Pedro,” and he was a three-time barrel racing Horse of the Year. She personally trained and prepared “Pedro” for the role he played, and she recalled the great excitement that he experienced when competing.

Hartness Allen became nationally recognized as an outstanding female athlete, and she voiced gratitude May 5for her parents’ support for her riding career.

”My mother’s not here today; she’s in my soul,” Hartness Allen said. “I’ve been blessed.”

The fifth honoree May 5 was the late Larry Sellers, of Pawhuska, who gained notoriety as a stuntman and actor. He played roles in movies and on television programs. He is perhaps best remembered for his role as “Cloud Dancing” on the television series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”

Sellers was of Osage and Cherokee ancestry, and was an adopted member of the Lakota people. He was a student and proponent of traditional Native American cultural practices.

Sellers passed away suddenly in late 2021 at the age of 72. His daughter, Son Wi Sellers, accepted the award from the county Historical Society on Sellers’s behalf.

Photo cutline: From left, Son Wi Sellers, Charla Hartness Allen, Wilma Logue, John Payne and Gentner Drummond accept Osage County Heroes and Legends Awards on Thursday night, May 5 from the county Historical Society. Son Wi Sellers accepted the award on behalf of her late father, actor and stunt performer Larry Sellers. The award presentation banquet took place at the Ag Building at the Osage County Fairgrounds.