Thanks for reading Sooner Magazine. If you share your email address with us, we’ll let you know when our next issue is published.


Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Forgot your password? Send a reset.

A publication of the University of Oklahoma Foundation

Your Letters

Photo Courtesy OU Western History Collections

Play on, Mildred

OU Professor Emeritus David W. Levy recently heard from an alum that his column on famed organ professor Mildred Andrews Boggess in the fall 2021 issue of Sooner Magazine … shall we say … struck a chord?

Prof. Levy:

It took almost a full year for approval, but Mildred Andrews Boggess is finally listed as a notable person on the Hominy, Okla., Wikipedia page.  I was inspired to create a page for her after reading your article in Sooner Magazine in fall 2021 and added her to the Hominy page today.

One less minor "injustice" in the world.

Tyler Gump

’06 ba hist.


Dear Tyler Gump: 

I was flabbergasted, floored, astonished by your email.  I look back on a long career of writing, but cannot recall anyone ever taking an actual, concrete action because of something I scribbled. What made you do it?    


David Levy

Prof. Levy:

I guess I did it for the same reason Forrest Gump started running - because I felt like it!  Just kidding. I had never created a Wiki article from scratch and felt like this was as good a time as any to try. And I was inspired after reading your books, The University of Oklahoma: A History, Volumes I and II, during the pandemic.

Best of luck with Vol. 3.

Tyler Gump

’06, ba hist.

Photo Courtesy OU Western History Collections

Memories of Thomas Carey

Dear Editor:

It has been a long time since we were attached to OU, but I still enjoy Sooner Magazine. Thank you.

This issue, I found to be terrific. Every article drew my attention and started memories.

I’m sending my reaction [below] to the article about Thomas Carey; dates are as close as I can remember. He was marvelous.

Thanks for writing articles that keep us informed and entertained.


Joye R. Swain

In 1969, I was looking for summer activities to occupy my children. Somewhere I spotted an announcement of a program where children would be taught to perform an opera. The man organizing this program was in the OU School of Music and an actual opera singer. He was Black, and perhaps because of his race, he performed more outside the United States than on American stages. Children who took part in this summer program would learn to handle all aspects of producing an opera: to sing, to construct sets, to make costumes, to handle lights and sound, makeup, etc.

 The result would consist of a performance of an opera.

 It sounded great. I signed up my seven children for this program. I jotted the date in my datebook ... and immediately forgot about it while I got busy with other things.

A couple of weeks later, I received a notice that children interested in participating in the first OU Children's Opera Camp should appear. As I listened to the other parents and children on the appointed day, I realized they were talking about having taken private singing lessons and practicing every day.

My body shook as the realization hit me: These families have been training for their tryouts. We had done nothing. I felt like a fool. I turned to my children and said, “I didn't think about this, but I bet you are supposed to have a song prepared for the tryout tomorrow.”

We had an additional problem – my children had all been adopted from other countries. They were just learning English, as well as American songs.

I asked each child to sing one song they knew all the way through. One sang “Happy Birthday.” My son Jefferson sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

I felt my children had no chance. I just hoped no one would make too much fun of them.

The next day, we showed up and each child sang. I was shocked a few days later when I got a notice that all were selected to take part in the summer camp.

Thomas Carey called me in to his office. He told me he had a policy that if one child was selected to participate, all children in that family would be selected. He did not want any child to feel he or she was inferior to his brothers and sisters.

The first Opera Camp was a tremendous success. All the children loved it and they learned how to work together to put on a complicated performance.

Later, Mr. Carey gave Jefferson private voice lessons. Jefferson was a rough, unpolished boy adopted off the streets of Brazil, but he could sing.

One day, Mr. Carey told me he spent half his lessons teaching Jefferson voice, and half teaching him how to be a man.

Thomas Carey changed Jefferson's life. A few years later, Thomas Carey died of cancer. We were never able to find a replacement for him.

Jefferson is not an opera singer. However, he is a fine man, and he loves music. I could never have raised such a magnificent man without his contact with Thomas Carey.

(Joye R. Swain, OU ’65, co-wrote Film Scriptwriting: A Practical Manual with her late husband, well-known OU professional writing professor, authorand 1954 alum Dwight V. Swain.)


I wanted to send a note thanking you for the wonderful article on Thomas Carey. He would have told everyone not to fuss over the article (but secretly been very pleased by it, and probably would have read it several times over).

My family has been texting and e-mailing the article to one another, and it’s been wonderful reliving memories that this prompted us to discuss.

Thomas Carey married my grandmother, Carol Renner, but he had been in my life as a close family friend for my entire life. He became an official part of the family instead of the friend who came to family events. He asked that I call him Opa. He was a big part of my childhood, and I miss him dearly.

It’s truly wonderful seeing his memories and accomplishments being honored still by a community that meant so much to him. Thanks again.

Moriah Renner Baber

Waukee, Iowa

Photo Courtesy Karen Thrailkill

Serenading Coach Thrailkill


I really enjoyed the article in Sooner Magazine on Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band Director Gene Thrailkill. I was a coach on the football team in 1983 when we beat the OSU Aggies.

I remember every Friday, sitting in the stadium and listening to the Pride practice. It was usually right after the team’s practice, and Gene would have the Pride serenade us with “Boomer Sooner” as the team left the field.

Great memories of a great man!

Boomer Sooner,

Chuck Lester

’80 bs ed.

Orchard Park, N.Y.

Editor’s Note: Chuck Lester served on the OU Sooners coaching staff from 1977 to 1979 and again from 1982 to 1983 before joining the NFL staffs of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, where he became the longest-tenured coach in the team’s history at 23 years.

Dear Editor:

Thank you to Sooner Magazine from Coach’s whole family for the outstanding article in the spring issue.  A person cannot read it without understanding what he brought to each of the band programs he led.  The lives we led during 62 years were, we felt, God-given and we always knew we were blessed.  Oklahoma was extremely good to us. 

Karen Thrailkill

Norman, Okla.

Next Story