Sailors, Tom & Ruth Ann (Brown Sailors)

Tom and Ruth Ann Brown-Sailors
Family members from left to right are Nancy and Kelly Killam, Ruth Ann, Tom, Greg and Brooke Kadet. Children from left to right are: Katie, Emilie, and Matt Killam, Anna and Jake Kadet.

Fifty years in a few short paragraphs? If this gets long, remember there are two of us. Here goes!

Yes, Tom and I are still in Enid, and I might add, by choice. I was born in Enid and Tom moved to Enid from OKC in the eighth grade. We were acquainted during high school but never had a class together. After graduation, I attended Christian College for Women in Columbia, MO my freshman year and then transferred to O.S.U., where I graduated with a BS in Art Education in 1961 and Masters in Elementary Education in 1963. Tom attended O.U. with Don Pierce, Steve Meese and Dan Duggan. He then transferred to O.S.U. with Don Pierce, where Don began his sophomore year when we had a Humanities class together, along with Bill Humphries. He “claims” that Bill pushed him down the stairs and when he looked up he found me helping to pick him and his books up from the floor. He graduated with a BS degree in Business Administration with a major in Economics in 1962.

We were married in Aug. of 1961 and stayed in Enid, where I began my teaching career in a little one room school house west of town, teaching the first four grades and Tom finished his degree at the end of the first semester at OSU. He then took a position as a land man with Humble Oil Co. In August of 1962, we decided the corporate life wasn’t for us and decided to go back to O.S.U. to work on our Master’s degrees. In 1963, Tom accepted a position as Enid’s assistant City Manager, and I taught 3rd grade at Hayes Elem. Tom quickly developed a passion for municipal government and public service in general and more specifically, in Enid. I continued to teach until Nancy was born in 1967, then became a stay at home Mom for the next 18 years. Katherine, “Brooke” was born in 1974, and was named after my favorite teacher and mentor at EHS, Katherine Bales. (If you did not have Miss Bales back then, she was quite a lady….took every kid who had been kicked out of everything else or couldn’t pass anything else…and worked with them to keep them in school. She greatly influenced my career choice and my teaching style.) We thought Enid was the perfect place to raise our family. During these years, I did a lot of charity work through the Junior Welfare League and volunteered on various boards in need. I was busy with the girls’ school activities, car pools, dancing lessons, sports, etc. I loved every minute of those years, which seemed to pass too quickly.

I’m very proud of Tom’s achievements, and since this reunion is a “celebration of our roots” in Enid, you might be interested in things he did to improve our city. In 1969, he was appointed City Manager of Enid at age 29, the youngest city manager in the USA. He was fortunate to work with many community leaders and employees and with their assistance completed many needed projects. City hall was moved from Convention hall to a new municipal office complex, new police, fire, public works, waterworks and airport facilities were constructed and additional parks were acquired and expanded. Major comprehensive planning was undertaken, municipal boundaries expanded and significant growth in the mid 1960’s to early 1980’s was effectively managed with new sub-division and zoning tools. During this time and with the support of many, he was recognized professionally on numerous occasions for contributions to our city and state. He was selected Oklahoma’s outstanding person at age 34, was a distinguished guest at the Air War College and recipient of the International City Management’s Innovation in Management Award on several occasions.

In 1980 with a mid-life crisis at hand and a young family to support, Tom resigned his position with the City to buy his family’s distribution business, which he managed until its sale in 2004. He also formed a consultant firm focused on and providing a variety of services to municipal governments. He managed public trust authorities, assisting in public financings. In Enid this consisted of public utility and safety projects, Enid’s Meadolake Psychiatric Hospital, a dual diagnosed facility at Enid’s Northern Okla. Resource Center (formerly the Enid State School). He also served as a consultant to downtown Enid, Inc. in the 80’s and assisted in the development of design projects for down town streetscape and storefronts together with the planning, funding and development of the Cherokee Strip Conference Center in downtown Enid. During this time he served as board chairman of a national banking corporation and President of the Valley Investment Corp., the general partner in the management of Moto Photo’s of Kansas.

Enid experienced considerable growth between the late 70’s and the mid 80’s and its population grew by 11,000 to a total of approximately 67,600. (In 1957 the population of Enid was about 38,000.) However, with the oil bust of the late 80’s our population fell by almost 11,000. In 1991, he became President of Enid Development Coalition, which was formed to promote economic growth. He was challenged but filled over 500,000 sq. ft. of vacant warehouse and manufacturing space with firms, creating some 1,800 new jobs and $44 million in annual payroll and benefits. He has also served our university community as chairman for fund raising campaigns, has chaired the Enid Higher Education Foundation and assisted in funding the acquisition of State supported higher education. He served as Vice-Chairman of the Enid Tri-State Music Festival, Co-Chairman of the Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce Economic Development team, and Director of the United Way. He still cherishes his years with the City of Enid as the highlight of his career.

Well, Nancy went off to OSU, Brooke was in Jr. High, and I went back to teaching. I taught 5 years at Monroe and then moved back to EHS for 10 years where I taught studio Art, Art History, was yearbook Sponsor, and also served as Dept. Head and Art Supervisor for the Enid Public School system. (Just call me Katherine Bales!) Loved teaching….loved the kids! I was able to leave a few things for posterity…spent 6 years researching and making the May Fete panels (in the name of the Class of 1957) that hang next to the library in the main hall of EHS. Was also the chairman of “The Vision Seeker” project, acquiring and setting the monument that signifies the image of the Plainsman. The student body honored me with two awards, which mean more to me than if I had won the Nobel Peace prize. One of these, “Pride of the Plainsman”, was awarded to me and my late good friend, Bobby Atkinson, on the same day, which made it even more special. His award recognized him for working with children through sports and mine through education.

Tom is semi-retired and serves as Chairman and CEO of the National Business Association (NBA, a group of business owner based in Dallas. With NBA, he is involved in public policy work on behalf of the association in Dallas and Washington DC. He continues to do municipal consulting, but on a more limited basis. He is currently assisting in the development of several capital funding projects for Enid. He serves our church on its administrative board and is a member of Rotary. I retired from teaching in the year 2000 thinking I would have time to paint, etc. While I have joined a bridge group and serve as a board member of the EHS Alumni Association, my painting goes neglected, as I stay extremely busy with family and grandchildren. Nancy married an Enid man, Kelly Killam, and they live here with their three children, Katie (15), Matt (11), and Emilie (8). Kelly works with computers at Vance AFB and Nancy teaches Pre-K at Taft. We stay busy at the kid’s ball games, dance recitals, etc. and have lots of sleep overs at our home and good times in our pool. We are indoctrinating them early by taking them to OSU football and basketball games. Brooke also graduated from OSU, taught in Tulsa 2 years, and then married a Yankee man from Rhode Island, Greg Kadet. He is with UBS and in their 7 years of marriage have lived in Denver, Chicago, St. Louis and now Tampa. We have enjoyed exploring and getting better acquainted with these cities. They have two little cuties, Jake (5) and Anna (almost 3). We try to visit often and hope they will get back to the mid west area soon.

Tom and I have enjoyed working on the reunion committee during the years, and are looking forward to seeing everyone again in October. Fifty years…WOW! I always thought people who had 50 year reunions were OLD! I don’t think of us as that now. Maybe our bodies are slower but our spirits are still young. Joan, Karen, Carolyn, Jody…think we could still lead “Let er Rip”?

Tom and Ruth Ann (Brown) Sailors