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A publication of the University of Oklahoma Foundation

Your Letters

Elliott-High Eagle remembered

Regarding ‘The Eagle That Flies Highest,’ [Sooner Magazine, Summer 2021] I was ‘Study Hall Counselor’ in Vance House in 1963. (Page 14, second from the right on the front row.) I knew Jerry Chris Elliott was a talented student, but I’m blown away with his accomplishments. I guess I did a good job but, best I remember, I never had to check to see if he was studying!  

 Ray M. ‘Skip’ Branson                                                                             ’68 bs, pharm                                                                                     Austin, Texas 

More on Cortez Ewing

I read with interest the tribute to the late Cortez A.M. Ewing by Professor David W. Levy, who has completed two magisterial volumes on the history of the University of Oklahoma.  As a student at the University in 1959, I knew Professor Ewing and often visited him in his book-lined office.  Even today, more than 60 years later, I have a photograph of him on the walls of my law office.  I have described him as “reserved openness.”  He was a powerful intellect, reticent in his comments, but open to assist any student.

When I came to OU my freshman year, I had the good fortune of meeting H.V. Thornton, Ph.D., the director of the Bureau of Government Research; Professors John Leek and Joseph Pray of the Government Department; and Professors Edward Everett Dale, Herbert Ellison, Percy Buchanan (who was a passenger on the last commercial flight out of Shanghai before the Communists took over in 1949), Max Moorhead, John Ezell, and Edwin McReynolds, all of the History Department.  Ezell later became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

I considered myself fortunate because this was the golden period of the University coming into its own in the Government and History Departments and an emerging national reputation. The lectures were solid, the scholarship exhaustive, and the concern and interest in students among the faculty clear.  Who could forget Dr. Thornton’s discourses on the county commissioner system and the malapportioned legislature, or Herbert Ellison’s lecture on the “Polish October” in his Eastern Europe class, or Professor Pray’s lecture on the Southern Republican mountaineers who supported the Union, Dale’s presentation on the range cattle industry, or Ezell’s lecture on the impact of river traffic on the settlement of the West.

When I entered the law school there was prickly Pickley; Joe Rarick and Leo Whinery; stolid, solid Frank Elkouri; and George Frazier, the “reasonable man”; Elbridge “D Minus” Phelps; and the Happy Valley Oil Lease from Dean Eugene Kuntz.

As I was leaving for Denver in late 1996, having been appointed as Tim McVeigh’s lead counsel in the Oklahoma City bombing case, one Saturday morning I received a letter wishing me well and expressing confidence in me and appreciation for undertaking the challenge.  It was signed by every member of the law faculty who had taught me as law student a quarter of a century before, a kind, thoughtful and gracious gesture.

To paraphrase John P. Marquand in H.M. Pulham, Esq.

“I wish I might go back there again.  When autumn comes, even now, if I am in the country, I seem to be close to the University.  I still have all the indefinable sensations which mark the beginning of a new year.  I think of the fresh pages of the new books and of the cheers at Owen Field and the red and yellow of the maples and I see my professors younger then.  I wish I were back where there was someone like Drs. Thornton or Pray or Elkouri or Kuntz to tell me what to do, someone who knew absolutely what was right and what was wrong, someone who had an answer to everything.  There was always an answer at the University and a good answer.  No matter what the world was like, you could still play the game.  I wish to God that I were back.”

These are the indelible impressions these men and women, and others of their kind, left on me. They enlarged my spirit and the purpose for which I live.

  Stephen Jones                                                                                                                                                     ’66 jd                                                                                                                                                               Enid, Okla.