Skiatook’s Reyckert among 5 legends

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com
Chester W. “Chet” Reyckert of Skiatook poses with a Sasquatch statue on the lot at Skiatook Statuary, which has been in business since 1967.

SKIATOOK — Chester W. “Chet” Reyckert has just the thing to make your neighbors slow down and take a look at your flower garden — a Sasquatch statue. He makes and sells them at his business on State Highway 20.

Reyckert, the kindly and outspoken owner of Skiatook Statuary, which has been in business since 1967, is his town’s representative among the 2019 “Heroes and Legends” honorees chosen by the Osage County Historical Society. A year ago, the Historical Society chose Abraham “Bus” Bayouth, who passed away in 2010, as Skiatook’s representative for that round of inductions.

Reyckert’s family has a history of civic leadership in Skiatook. His father, Chester J. Reyckert, who passed away in 1993, started Red Cross swimming instruction for area kids in the 1950s. Jeannie Reyckert, Chester W.’s wife, became part of that effort and taught Skiatook children to swim for more than a half-century.

Chet Reyckert is also known for his love of adventure. He has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and is known as a lover of Stearman aircraft. There’s a photo of him out there on the Web, standing with the late musician Roy Clark in front of an aircraft.

Chet initially tried the Kilimanjaro climb at age 69 and didn’t make it all the way. The mountain, located in Tanzania, is more than 19,000 feet high. He had to give up after a little more than 16,000 feet because of exhaustion and acute mountain sickness, caused by the effects of high altitude.

“It just killed me that I didn’t make it,” he says, and so he planned meticulously to go back the next year. That time he made the summit, but he recalls that altitude had its effects again. He hallucinated seeing a pickup truck at the top of the mountain.

“I wanted to get to that pickup,” he recalls with a chuckle.

“Oh, man, yeah,” he exclaimed when asked if he still flies. “Adrenaline is the fountain of youth.”

Reyckert is one of five “Heroes and Legends” honorees this year. Others include artist Cha’ Tullis of Hominy, whose murals adorn buildings in that town and whose sculpted metal Native American figures are an unforgettable sight on a nearby hilltop.

Mabelle Kennedy, who passed away in 1981, is another of the five honorees for 2019. Kennedy is a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. She was inducted in 1965. President Harry Truman appointed Kennedy the Assistant Treasurer of the United States, and she was an important member of Pawhuska’s business community.

Banker and civic leader Milton Labadie and Pawhuska attorney W. Robert Wilson are also among the 2019 honorees.

The annual fundraiser dinner and auction is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the Ag Building of the Osage County Fairgrounds. Call the Osage County Historical Museum at 918-287-9119 for tickets or see a member of the board of directors. Tickets are $35 each and $250 for tables of six seats each. Tickets are only sold in advance.

Members of the board of directors include — Alan Brown, Jerry Butterbaugh, Frederick Drummond, Diana Garrett, Garrett Hartness, Greg Hembree, Jimmie Ratliff II and Shirley Roberts.

This is the fourth year for “Heroes and Legends.” Hartness said there had previously been an annual membership dinner and there were special speakers, but the county Historical Society was looking for a more meaningful way to bring people together. Honorees or their representatives receive a medal upon induction, he said.