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Monday, June 8, 2015

The Helen C. Hicks Memorial Room in Wesley (1985)

"Do You Know", class newspaper/church newspaper (9/29/89)

The Helen C. Hicks Memorial Room in Wesley?  1985 - ?

Helen C. Hicks was born in 1904 and reared in El Reno, Oklahoma.  From 1926 until her resignation on June 30, 1967, Miss Hicks was employed by the Oklahoma City Schools as an elementary teacher, an elementary principal, and a consultant for the textbook division and the audio-visual center.  She was an avid traveler and while on a world tour she became ill in Nepal in November 1974, and died at Kathmandu, Nepal, on November 30, 1974.  At that time, Nepal would not permit embalming, and Miss Hicks’ body was cremated and the ashes were shipped to Oklahoma City in a beautiful metal urn.  A memorial service was held for Miss Hicks at Wesley and her ashes in the urn were buried next to her father in the family plot in El Reno.

Miss Hicks was an active member of Wesley, serving on the administrative board at the time of her death; and was an alumnus of Oklahoma City University.  She bequeathed $5,000 to Wesley and $10,000 to O.C.U., which sums were distributed in January, 1976.

In her will, Miss Hicks gave no instructions or limitations as to the use of the money bequeathed, but Rev. James C. Curry, Jr., the pastor of Wesley at that time, and the administrative board of Wesley decided to use Wesley’s $5,000 gift from Helen C. Hicks for a history room for Wesley.  A room where instruments, documents, papers and memorabilia pertaining to the history and records of Wesley could be kept, stored and made available to persons interested in the history of Wesley.

The finance committee of Wesley opened a savings account under the name of Helen Hicks Savings Account using the $5,000 gift from Miss Hicks.  Ruth M. Symsor, a member of Wesley, died Feb.21, 1977, and she bequeathed 1/10 of the residue of her estate to Wesley, which sum of $4,102.96 was paid to Wesley on October 4, 1977.  A part of the money from the Symsor estate and other donations were added to the Helen Hicks Savings Account, and the account had a balance of $5,916.56 n October 16, 1979.

Rev. Robert L. Allen was appointed as pastor of Wesley in July, 1981, and within a few months of his appointment, probably early in 1982, he proposed to the administrative board and the records and history committee of Wesley that the money in the Helen Hick Savings Account had been set aside to prepare and maintain a history room for Wesley, and that the money should be used for that purpose. First question: Where in the church buildings should the room be located? After many false starts and stops and conflicting suggestions, it was decided that room 106, along the west wall of the basement in the educational wing should be the history room.  At that time (1982), the room was being used for storage only, and was immediately available for the history room.

The administrative board set aside $7,200, including the monies in the Hicks History Room account, to finish, decorate, and furnish the history room.  Monies were used to purchase materials and furniture and fixtures in the room. The history room (1989) is approximately 33 feet by 15 feet, and has been furnished and finished by adding beautifully finished oak paneling for the walls; oak shelves and storage cabinets which cover the west wall; a 10 foot conference table in the center of the room; eight comfortable upholstered chairs around the conference table; two comfortable upholstered wing chairs with a table and lamp as a group; and attractive carpeting for the entire room. A large, well lighted trophy cabinet with glass doors was moved from another room in the church and placed along the south wall of the history room.

The conference table was donated by Mr. Troy Wesnedge.  Most or all of the carpentry work on the history room, except for shelves and storage cabinets along the west wall, was done by Mr. Thomas O. Cartmill, free of cost or charge to the church.

Mr. Cartmill had retired after 35 years as a carpenter, was a member of Wesley, and had been an active member of the Builders Class since 1947.  An article about Mr. Cartmill and his volunteer services for Wesley was published in the Wesley paper for October 26, 1984.

The members of the records and history committee of Wesley’s administrative board in 1984 and 1985 were: Doris McKown, Chair, Ida George, Frances Boatright, Rev. Robert Allen, pastor.  After the history room had been completed and was ready for occupancy and use, the committee decided the history room should be called “Helen C. Hicks Memorial Room”, and arranged an open house to introduce the room and its contents to the members and friends of Wesley, and to encourage its use.  The open house was announced in the Wesley Church papers for April 26, 1985, between early church and Sunday School, and after late church (11:00 a.m.).  It has been reported that the attendance at the open house was not huge, but was large enough to reflect curiosity and some real interest.  The committee prepared and placed on prominent display in the room a beautiful metal plaque on a finished wood base with the following inscription: “In Loving Memory of Helen C. Hicks whose Thoughtful Gift Helped Make the Historical Room Possible at Wesley United Methodist Church” (no date shown).

Marion R. Baker, September 28, 1989

Note:  Subsequently the historic collections moved to another room and a history display room was set up near the entrance into the sanctuary and choir area on the south side of the church.  Historic records were moved to the basement near the kitchen.  Dates for all these moves unknown. In 2014, the Committee on History and Records and the Church Library Ministry entered into a collaborative partnership for the purposes of indexing, organizing and preserving the historic collections of the church. A new History Room was constructed in the old chapel through donated funds.

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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.

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1401 NW 25th
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