2019 Great Graduates to be honored during homecoming week
Every fall, the Broken Arrow High School Alumni Association selects a group of “Great Graduates” who exhibit strong leadership skills and remain dedicated to service within their community, bringing honor to their alma mater through personal and professional accomplishments.
This year, joining the ranks of Broken Arrow’s Great Graduates are Debra Wimpee, Class of 1990; David Beverly, Class of 1964; Ken Collins, Class of 1967; and Russell Gale, Class of 1974.
Each will be recognized during homecoming week.
“It’s so wonderful to witness Broken Arrow graduates go on to do great things in the community and beyond,” Broken Arrow Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Janet Dunlop said. “There is no better time than homecoming week to recognize and celebrate the successes of our alumni.”
The Broken Arrow High School Alumni Association was revived in 1999, starting the tradition of the Great Graduates. Nominations are solicited throughout the Broken Arrow community for alumni who have modeled a selfless life of achievement and service to others for at least 20 years.
The Broken Arrow Alumni Association is pleased to introduce the following Great Graduates:
Debra Wimpee – Class of 1990
Just about everything Debra Wimpee touches comes up roses – especially an award-winning downtown redevelopment project that’s near and dear to her heart.
This year’s Great Graduate from the Class of 1990 moved to BA in the sixth grade. She and her husband, Glenne, graduated from BAHS together and their three children have followed in their parents’ footsteps.
In 2009 Wimpee launched what was destined to become a diverse business resume when she opened a boutique store on Main Street. That experience, she says, opened her eyes to the potential of what then was a struggling area and kindled within her a flame that made it virtually impossible not to take a hand in rebuilding The Rose District.
During the four years she owned and operated her store, Wimpee got involved in the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce and served on that organization’s board of directors. She continues to serve as an advisory board member of the BA Salvation Army. She created “Turn BA Pink,” a cancer awareness program designed as a tribute to her late mother-in-law, Ruth Wimpee. That undertaking was followed by a dazzling array of highly successful special events, including the ShamRock Rose Festival, Street Eats on Main, Summer Solstice, Cinco de la Rosa, Holiday Pop Up Shops, and Red, White and Brew.
Many people don’t realize Wimpee has a management company through which she oversees two commercial real estate enterprises. What is well known is her election to the City Council in 2017, and her use of that platform to expand on an earlier venture called BA Buzz to spotlight all the good things she believes people need to know about Broken Arrow.
In recognition of her multitude of accomplishments, Wimpee received a Tulsa 40 Under 40 award and was named Retailer of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. A Rotarian and active member of The Church at Battle Creek, she has also been named a Paul Harris Fellow, received a Community Organization Best of Broken Arrow award and was honored with a Beacon Award for philanthropy and volunteerism.
City Manager Michael Spurgeon calls her “Broken Arrow’s best cheerleader” because of her devotion and tireless efforts on behalf of the city.
David Beverly – Class of 1964
It is fitting that the late W. David Beverly be honored as a Great Graduate from the Class of 1964 in the same year that the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon – an event he played a big part in helping make possible.
Trent Mills, senior systems engineer for NASA, told the BAHS selection committee he worked with Beverly for more than 10 years at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in the area of flight and hardware electronics reliability testing. He specifically called attention to the esteem his colleague earned for his technical knowledge and support of the manned space program.
Mills also told of their love of motorcycling and his friend’s tireless efforts to boost this shared passion. Beverly was instrumental in bringing some 400 enthusiasts together across the space center and led an organization dubbed Space Riders (now renamed Dave’s Space Riders in his memory). To benefit fellow cyclists, he developed a database of riders, distributed a weekly news brief, organized plan rides, shared safety and technical tips, and mustered considerable rider support for charitable organizations across the Gulf Coast area.
Mills wrote, “Dave left a vibrant legacy and was honored in many ways, including a motorcycle patch flown to the International Space Station that now hangs in the safety and reliability laboratory that was named after him.”
As a student at Broken Arrow High School, Beverly played football and was on the basketball and track teams. He was active in the Spanish Club, speech and received the Danforth Award. Following service in the U.S. Air Force – including two tours of duty in Korea – he returned to school and graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1978 with a degree in electrical engineering.
His wife, Linda Webb Beverly, told the selection committee her husband was active his entire life in a multitude of Christian activities. An active contributor, promoter and participant in a number of charitable organizations, he was especially involved in efforts to help people following the devastation of Hurricane Camille in 1969.
Many classmates agreed when she said, “his character and leadership were realized in virtually every endeavor he undertook. He lived a robust life and died a true hero.”
Ken Collins – Class of 1967
The story of why Kenneth L. Collins is this year’s Great Graduate from the Class of 1967 is best told my some of the people who sent in letters supporting his nomination. Our only regret is that available space makes it impossible to recite all the glowing comments received.
One endorser, Retired Brigadier General Thomas P. Mancino, said, “Perhaps the best example of (Ken’s) dedication to Broken Arrow, his fellow students and veterans was the relocation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial from the city park to the Military History Center. Ken spent his own time and money to complete this memorial and sought no recognition for himself.”
JeanE Bailie, executive assistant at the Center, added, “He has driven miles to help collect artifacts from veterans who live in other areas and used his carpenter skills to build shelves and display cases. He also organized the annual Vietnam Veterans Reorganization Event.”
William Scarbrough, Collins’ former boss at APAC-Central, Inc., told the committee, “Ken was undoubtedly the finest employee I ever had. He literally turned his division’s safety program around from lip service to actual verifiable improvement. I firmly believe he is responsible for saving the lives of many of our employees.”
Ray Odor, an instructor and coach at Tulsa’s Town & Country School, said Collins “worked very hard at keeping our facility in great working order so the faculty, staff and especially the students were safe. He was always quick to come fix things at a moment’s notice, even on weekends.”
Ronald A. Stover served with Collins in the U.S. Navy in Naples, Italy. During that time, he said he saw first-hand his friend’s exceptional work ethic. He wrote, “No matter what time of day or night, it seemed Ken was always there. His duties were always carried out in the most concise and conscientious manner.”
Teri Goodner-Dorshorst said since the time she was born Collins called her his little sister even though they were unrelated. “When I was six weeks old, he gave me Chicken Pox. I believe we even have matching scars,” she joked. “But as I grew up, I learned why so many people looked up to him. This man stands out for no reason other than who he is.”
Russell Gale – Class of 1974
Russell Gale has earned the unofficial title of “Mr. Versatility” during his 41-years-and-counting career with the City of Broken Arrow. It is well deserved recognition for the number and diversity of special projects this year’s Great Graduate from the Class of 1974 continues to take on.
After earning a political science degree from Oklahoma State University in 1978, Gale was selected by then City Manager Jim Whitlock to fill an open administrative assistant position. Three years later, he became the city’s first human resources director, responsible for employee recruitment and certification, administration of city-wide training programs, collective bargaining and payroll administration.
Twice, Gale demonstrated his versatility by stepping in as acting city manager to give search committees the time they needed to fill this position. Far from being simply a figurehead, he played a key role in initiating the city’s present ambulance subscription service, the LifeRide program and in developing a comprehensive plan to use retiring Vision 2015 sales tax funds to bolster operational and capital projects.
In 2016, Gale’s career took another leap forward when City Manager Michael Spurgeon selected him to serve as assistant city manager administration with oversight responsibility for the finance department, general services, human resources, city clerk and information technology.
Even though colleagues note he often goes well beyond the call of duty while doing everything possible to avoid the spotlight, his contributions to the people of Broken Arrow certainly have not gone unnoticed. During both stints as acting city manager, for example, he drew praise from the City Council, Chamber of Commerce and the Build A Better Broken Arrow Committee. In 1993, he was named Professional of the Year by the Oklahoma Public Personnel Association and in 2015 he received the BA Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Award.
City Manager Spurgeon summed up the impact Gale continues to make when he said, “His commitment to excellence represents a service to the community that has earned us numerous awards as a safe city and a great place to live.”