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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wesley's "Mr. History" : Dr. N.L. George

Dr. Norvil L. GEORGE – Norvil L. George (N.L. George) was a “school man, a capable and experienced writer and a faithful and loyal member of Wesley Methodist Church.”[1]  George  was born in Manchester and moved to Oklahoma City in 1941 becoming Business Manager of Oklahoma City Schools and in 1948 he became Assistant Superintendent of the Oklahoma City Schools. He had previously served as superintendent for Geary and Duncan schools.   
He attended the University of Oklahoma, Peabody University and received his doctorate  from Columbia University in 1948.  He wrote numerous articles for school publications, became a nationally recognized expert in his specialized field of schools and grounds. A 43 year member of the Rotarians, he wrote a history of the Rotary Club in Oklahoma.
He retired from the Oklahoma City Schools in 1968 and died suddenly of a heart attack on February 14, 1979. Norvil, his wife Ida and daughter Elaine joined Wesley and became active in the affairs of the church.  George served as Sunday School teacher, chair of the Administrative Board, member of the Board of Trustees and the Perpetual Trust Fund Board, and chair of the History and Policy Committee.

In this latter role he spearheaded the 1976 history of the church contained in a 40 page book, "The Dynamic History of a Forceful Church."

[1] Dr. Norvil L. George. Obituaries and Memorials file. Wesley UMC Archives.  His obituary appeared in the Oklahoman on February 15, 1979.  Marion R. Baker described him in a eulogy of September 27, 1990 that may have been intended for a church history column of the church newsletter.  It was encapsulated in plastic with a copy of the newspaper obituary.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rev. George Zentz

Rev. and Mrs. George H. Zentz (Ethel G.), Wesley Pastor 1929-1932

LtoR: Rev/Mrs Zentz, Myron/Grace Gibbens, Willa/Everette Gibbens

The Gibbens family, also of Wesley M.E. in OKC, went fishing each summer and on this occasion took the pastor and his wife along.  The Zentz' enjoyed going to Minnesota, according to text on the back of the photos, the Gibbens clan called him a "wonderful man."  He and his wife were killed a few years later in an auto accident.  They transferred to Kansas and died in Minnesota in 1937.

She entry on the Zentz family here.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Baby Boom

This post-war photo of the nursery common area reveals the overcrowded conditions caused by the great growth experienced by Wesley and illustrates what was meant by the term "The Baby Boom" in American society.  This image was taken as the church moved into a building program to add an new educational wing to the church in the early 1950's.

Wesley Sports - 1952

1952 Baseball team of Wesley UMC
First row:  Don Smith, Allen Hamlin, Jim Lamb, Fred ?  , Tom McGee, John Woodson
Second Row: Bob Spears, Gary Goode, Jim Rice, Albert Crabtree, Earl Kitchen, Ronnie Goode

A Trio of Church Women: Paul, Rhodes, Hilborne

Wesley Women:   Left to Right: Charter Member, Mrs. A.G. Paul (Anna Belle) b. 1877. She was married to Albert George Paul (b.1871) who was a real estate salesman in Oklahoma City. ; Lydia Wilhelmina Wahl Rhoades (1889-1980), whose parents had been L.G. and Sophia Classen Wahl ; Mrs. Parker Hilborne or a Mrs. Wier

Dedication of Education Wing 1953

A rare photo showing the parsonage that became Hadduck Hall before being torn down.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Church Dinners

Two undated photos showing Wesley members enjoying a meal and fellowship:


Select Biographies: Gene Lorey, Music Director (1960-1969)

Gene M. LOREY was a native of Oklahoma City, Ok but a resident of Fort Worth, Tx., when he died Dec. 18, 1995.  He had attended OCU, sang baritone in their choir, was active in the music and arts world and had a recital at Wesley in August of 1963 with Pat Crigler serving as accompanist (Oklahoman, August 20, 1963:7).   In 1968, he was listed in a news article as the minister of music at Wesley ("2 Soloists Will Sing", Oklahoman (Nov.3, 1968:30). He and his wife entertained various community and church groups (i.e, the Sorelle Club) with their musical talents.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Very Early Photo of Women at Wesley (ca.1910-1918)

It is unclear when this photo was taken, the reserve shows it was intended to be used as a photo post card.  These were commonly used to mail friends a photo and could be added by the photographer and sometimes post sale by the person.

The location may be the 2nd sanctuary building, known as the "Sheep Shed" due to its more prosaic construction to house a growing congregation, at NW 25th and Douglas.  This is based on the 'lift up' windows seen in the wall behind the women.  The general dress of the women fits into styles seen from the date of the founding in 1910 until the first World War.

Identifies are unknown, so comments welcome.

Mrs. Ruhl Potts (Sarah Marie Paul)

It is believed this woman was Mrs. Ruhl Potts, an early dynamic force in the Women's groups of Wesley and in church life in general.  In 1928 the church built a new sanctuary at a cost of about $120,000.  At the 1947 mortgage burning, she was part of the official picture as Wallace Wood , building committee chair, C.S. McReight, charter member, Mrs. S.D. Benell, representing older members of the church and Mrs. R.J. Potts, representing the women of the church, burned the papers of the remaining $90,000 building debt. 

Based on comparisons of church records and local history records, Sara Paul's father was Albert George Paul (b.1871) who was a real estate salesman in Oklahoma City. He and his wife, Anna Belle (b.1877) had children Ruth (1902), Clyde (1904) and Sarah (1907).  Her parents were then the charter member "Paul" family listed in many documents.

She married Ruhl J. Potts on 3 September 1927 in Oklahoma City.  Ruhl was the son of Robert and Minnie Potts of Oklahoma City.


It is believed this list was put together by Mrs. Ruhl Potts around 1947 and is the most complete and detailed of any early lists found.

M. Smith, Trustee
Mr. H.B. Turner, Sunday Supt., Trustee , Nov. 10, 1910 (Nov. 12 - It is not clear which date as both are used with the 10 and the 12 overlapping, the 1947 program has a history by C.S. McCreight and identifies the date as Nov.12,1910)
Mrs.. H.B. Turner, Steward, Nov. 10, 1910 (Nov. 12 - It is not clear which date)
Edwin Stephenson, Trustee,  " "
Mr.. R.E. Bradshaw, Steward, Trustee, ""
Dr. L.B. Boggs, Class Leader, ""
A.H. Tyler, Trustee, ""
A.G. Paul, Trustee, ""
A.C. McCullough, Steward, ""
Mrs.. A. H. Tyler, Steward, Feb. 1911
Thomas Mylrea, Trustee, March 1911
Olin E. Doty, Steward, April 1911
Joseph B. Thoburn, Trustee, Aug.8, 1911
Noah B. Wickham, Trustee, Aug.9, 1911
Clifford M. Prichard, Steward, Aug. 8, 1911
Genevive Spriggs, Steward, Aug.8, 1911
L.D. Mitchell, Trustee (Pres. Epworth League), Aug. 8, 1911
H.H. Martz, Trustee, Aug.8, 1911
R.A. Lyle, Trustee, 1913
Charles Haggart, Trustee, 1913
John Embry, Trustee, 1913
L.T. Huffman, Trustee, 1913
B.F. Nihart, Trustee, 1913
John McCullough, Steward, 1913
Eugene Nida, Steward and District Steward, 1913
Mrs. R.A. Lyle, Steward,1913
A.P. Mossman, Steward, 1913
Mrs. C.F. Crane, Steward, 1913

In June of 1911, Epworth University disbanded and the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church were transferred to Wesley while members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South organized into Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church, South in 1911.

This infused Wesley with many new members, stretching the limits of their temporary and rented location on NW 32 and Military. The new group sought and found new and permanent property at NW 25 and Douglas, just west of Classen Blvd. quickly becoming a major thoroughfare in the city.

In 1915 membership was 200 and Sunday School was 150.  In 1947, the membership had grown to more than 2,500 members.

The Ladies Have It!

A file containing the worship program for the Dec. 28, 1947 church mortgage burning, clippings with photos from local newspapers and handwritten notes on the history of the church were found - in the papers of the "Women's Society of Christian Service". These latter included "Official Charter Members" and "1953 List of Wesley Members of Golden Years of Service " (with a list of their "Circle" and phone number.)
Also found was a program of the 25th Anniversary of the W.S.C.S. and the Wesleyan Service Guilds, dated January 19, 1964. There was a "Constitution and By-Laws of the W.S.C.S. in the Local Church" as well.
Also, a dedication of the Edward Hadduck Memorial Hall program from August 27, 1948.

Become a Friend of Wesley

A special "Friends of Wesley" group is made of individuals, organizations, and businesses who wish to support the historic preservation of the century old and historically significant Wesley Methodist Church (Wesley United Methodist Church) founded in 1910.

The inspiring windows dating to 1928 honored people significant to local Oklahoma City history but also to the history of Oklahoma Methodism.

The church founding and development was guided by lay people who were leaders in Oklahoma City development in real estate, banking, business, and education.

It stands as a rare remaining example of Methodist Churches in the English Gothic style and as work by a significant early architectural firm.

Donations may be sent to:

Church Treasurer
Wesley United Methodist Church
1401 NW 25th
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma