Class of 2017

The 2017Oklahoma Hall of Fame Honorees will be formally inducted at the 90th Annual Oklahoma Hall of Fame Banquet & Induction Ceremony on Thursday, November, 16 in Oklahoma City.

Being inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame is the highest honor an Oklahoman can receive from the state. Since the Oklahoma Hall of Fame’s inception in 1927, 683 accomplished individuals have received this commendation. The names of the Hall of Fame members, as well as busts and portraits of these individuals, can be seen at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum. In addition, the inductees are recognized on granite monuments in the Heritage Plaza at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds.

Visit our archives to view all Oklahoma Fall of Fame members.

Press Release

Oklahoma Hall of Fame Names 2017 Honorees

OKLAHOMA CITY – The 90th class of outstanding Oklahomans have been selected for induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. These accomplished Oklahomans will join the 683 individuals who have been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame since 1928. The Honorees were officially announced at a luncheon on May 18, hosted by the Oklahoma Hall of Fame at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum. New inductees were presented to a roomful of past Oklahoma Hall of Fame Honorees.

“It’s incredibly inspirational to be surrounded by such an accomplished group of people who have literally created our history,” said Shannon L. Rich, president and CEO of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and Gaylord-Pickens Museum. “The Oklahoma Hall of Fame announcement luncheon gives past inductees the first opportunity to congratulate the new class.”

The 2017 Oklahoma Hall of Fame Honorees are: Justice Tom Colbert, Sapulpa; Congressman Tom Cole, Moore; Bob Funk, Piedmont; Shannon Miller, Edmond; Phil Parduhn, Edmond; Hal Smith, Ardmore; and Carrie Underwood, Checotah. Those individuals who will be honored posthumously are Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, Chickasha; and Sequoyah, the Cherokee Nation I.T. The 2017 Class will be formally inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame on Thursday, November 16, in Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma Hall of Fame was founded in 1927 with the purpose of honoring Oklahomans in their lifetime with the state’s highest honor and educating Oklahoma’s youth on our rich history. The Gaylord-Pickens Museum, home of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, was opened in 2007 with the intent of giving the public access to the stories of these and other notable Oklahomans.

“Being inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame is the single-highest honor an individual can receive from our state,” Rich said. “The recognition of our state’s greatest asset – our people – is the foundation upon which our organization was created.”

Along with being honored at the formal induction ceremony, the 2017 Honorees will be recognized in November with the unveiling of their portraits at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum, home of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. In addition, their biographies, photos and fun facts will be accessible through interactive exhibits.

The 90th Oklahoma Hall of Fame Banquet & Induction Ceremony will be held on Thursday, November 16, at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. In celebration of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame’s 90th induction ceremony, past inductees Vince Gill and Kristin Chenoweth will return home to serve as emcees.

For more information about the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Banquet & Induction Ceremony or making a nomination to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, contact Madison Nash, director of Honoree Relations, at 405.523.3203 or mn@oklahomahof.com. Tickets and table sponsorships for the event will go on sale August 25. For more information about the Oklahoma Hall of Fame or Gaylord-Pickens Museum, call 405.235.4458 or visit OklahomaHoF.com.

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Hal Smith | Ardmore

An Ardmore native, Hal Smith began his career in the restaurant industry while attending the University of Oklahoma and working at the Across the Street Restaurant. As a working partner in Crosstimbers Restaurants, he opened and managed units in Norman, Oklahoma, and Amarillo, Texas in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1973, he joined Steak & Ale Restaurant Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pillsbury, as a manager trainee before being named president and COO and ultimately chairman and CEO and vice president of Pillsbury. His next ventures included executive leadership roles for Chili’s, Chi Chi’s Mexican Restaurants, and Haagen Daz, among others.

In 1992, he ventured out on his own and founded Hal Smith Restaurants, a restaurant management company headquartered in Norman. Since that time the company has developed both multi-unit and single-unit concepts, including Charleston’s Restaurant, Red Rock Canyon Grill, Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, Krispy Kreme, Ted’s Café Escondido, Louie’s Bar & Grill, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, The Garage, Upper Crust, Pub W, and The Legacy Grill. Today Hal Smith Restaurants operates more than 60 restaurants in seven states and employs more than 6,000 employees.

With his wife Sandy, Smith founded the Norman Youth Foundation to support youth-oriented charities in Oklahoma. Those benefiting include Center for Children and Families, Ally’s House, Coaches for Cancer, WIN Foundation, JD McCarty Center, Thunderbird Clubhouse, and the Bootstrap Program, among countless others.

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Justice Tom Colbert | Sapulpa

After graduating from Sapulpa High School, Colbert went on to earn degrees from Eastern Oklahoma State College and Kentucky State University before serving in the United States Army and its Criminal Investigation Division. While at KSU, Colbert was named All-Conference in track and field for the long jump and triple jump and All-American in track and field for the long jump. Following an honorable discharge, he resumed his formal education and earned a masters of education degree at Eastern Kentucky University. He taught middle school students in inner-city Chicago and served as a recreation specialist for a local boys’ club.

Returning home to Oklahoma, he earned his juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma before accepting the position of Assistant Dean at Marquette University Law School. He served as an Assistant District Attorney for Oklahoma County before entering private practice. During this time he also served as an attorney for the Department of Human Services.

In 2000, Colbert was appointed to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals, serving as Chief Judge in 2004 and followed by an appointment to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Justice Colbert made history as the first African-American on both the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals and the Supreme Court. He made history again, in 2013, when he became the first African-American to serve as Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

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Congressman Tom Cole | Moore

Tom Cole was elected to Congress in 2002 and is currently serving in his eighth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Identified by TIME Magazine as "one of the sharpest minds in the House," he is an advocate for a strong national defense, a strong proponent for biomedical research, an advocate for taxpayers and small businesses, and a leader on issues dealing with Native Americans and tribal governments.

Cole has a significant background of service to his home state of Oklahoma. Before Congress, he served as State Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, District Director to former Congressman Mickey Edwards, and a member of the Oklahoma State Senate. He also served as Oklahoma's Secretary of State under governor Frank Keating.

Cole is widely regarded as one of the GOP's top political strategists. He served as executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 1992 cycle. He also served as chief of staff of the Republican National Committee. In the 2008 cycle, Cole served as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Tom Cole is a fifth-generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of The Chickasaw Nation. He and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore.

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Bob Funk | Piedmont

In 1983, Bob Funk founded Express Employment Professionals, establishing the company’s international headquarters in Oklahoma City. As CEO and chairman of the board, Funk leads the company with more than $3 billion in sales, 770 franchises, and employs more than 510,000 people annually in the United States, Canada, and South Africa.

Born in Duvall, Washington, Funk graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a BA and MA and completed his graduate studies in theology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Seattle Pacific University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Southern Nazarene University.

Inducted into the International Franchise Association Hall of Fame, Funk was named Most Admired CEO by The Journal Record and Man of the Year by Impact OKC Magazine. Funk served as chairman of the Chairmen of The Federal Reserve and chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, serving the Tenth District, in 2006 and 2007.

The success of the staffing business has afforded Funk the opportunity to enjoy his hobbies: Express Ranches and world champion Express Clydesdales. Funk has lived in Oklahoma for more than 50 years and is passionate about giving back to the business, agricultural, and non-profit communities, not only financially, but through service on a number of boards, including serving as chairman of the OKC Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Oklahoma Youth Expo and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. He currently sits on the boards of the American Staffing Association, the FFA, and several banks.

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Shannon Miller | Edmond

From Edmond, Shannon Miller is a gymnastics icon with seven Olympic medals! And, she is the only female athlete to be inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame . . . twice. Once as an individual and once as part of a team.

She has won an astounding 59 International and 49 National competition medals, more than half being Gold. She is the first U.S. gymnast to win two World All-Around titles. Her tally of five medals—two Silver and three Bronze—at the 1992 Olympics was the most medals won by a U.S. athlete in any sport.

At the ’96 Olympic Games, she led the “Magnificent Seven” to the U.S. Women’s first ever Team Gold, and for the first time for any American gymnast, she captured Gold on the balance beam.

After retiring from Olympic competition and receiving undergraduate degrees from the University of Houston and a law degree from Boston College, Miller launched her company Shannon Miller Lifestyle, devoted to helping women make their health a priority. In 2011, she was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. After having the tumor successfully removed and an aggressive chemotherapy regimen, today she remains cancer free.

Miller currently resides in Florida with her husband, John Falconetti, and her two amazing children, Rocco and Sterling.

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Phil Parduhn | Edmond

Chairman of Pelco Products, Inc. in Edmond and Pelco Structural, LLC in Claremore, Parduhn holds degrees from both Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. An industrial engineer by trade, his career started in innovation as co-founder of VePed Traffic Controls and Trafco Constructors with his brother-in-law in 1961. There Parduhn focused his attention on the manufacturing and distribution of traffic-related products. VePed led to the successful launch of Pelco Products, Inc. in 1985, also a manufacturer of traffic-related products. In 2005, Parduhn launched Pelco Structural, LLC, which focuses on steel infrastructure for the utility, traffic, lighting, distribution, and communication industries.

Parduhn holds numerous patents and has been awarded the Governor’s Contribution to the State’s Excellence Award, Innovator of the Year by The Journal Record, Leadership in Public Service Award by the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission, Sam Walton Business Leader Award, Sustaining Member of the Year by the International Municipal Signal Association, Good Neighbor of the Year Award by the Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma, and the John Pinkley Lifetime Industry Member Award by Missouri Valley Institute of Transportation Engineers. Parduhn has been recognized as Edmond’s Citizen of the Year and inducted into the Edmond Hall of Fame for his commitment to community and entrepreneurial spirit.

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Carrie Underwood | Checotah

Carrie Underwood emerged from the promise of her 2005 American Idol win to become a true multi-format, multi-media superstar, spanning achievements in music, television, and film. A seven-time GRAMMY Award winner, she has amassed more than 100 major honors, sold 64-million records worldwide, and recorded 25 #1 singles, 13 of which she co-wrote, with a catalogue that has been streamed over 2.6 billion times.

The first female to be twice named the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year, Underwood was recognized by Pollstar as the top female country touring artist for each of her headlining tours in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2016. All five studio albums—Some Hearts, Carnival Ride, Play On, Blown Away, and Storyteller—are certified Platinum or multi-Platinum, and each an American Music Awards winner as Favorite Country Album and tallied an incredible 40 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.

The voice of primetime television’s #1 program, Sunday Night Football, Underwood is also a longtime co-host of the CMA Awards. The Grand Ole Opry member demonstrated her creative diversity in 2013, starring as Maria von Trapp in NBC’s holiday blockbuster, the Emmy-winning The Sound of Music Live!, whose airings attracted 44 million viewers.

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Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher | Chickasha (Posthumous)

A graduate of Langston University, she dreamed of being a lawyer. However, Langston did not have a law school and at that time state statutes prohibited blacks from attending white state universities. At the urging of the NAACP, twenty-one-year-old Fisher agreed to seek admission to the University of Oklahoma's law school and challenge Oklahoma's segregation laws.

Her application was denied. Not because of her academic credentials, but because of her race. Fisher filed a lawsuit, represented by a young Thurgood Marshall and later U.S. Supreme Court Justice. After losing at the county and state levels, she appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. The nation's highest tribunal ruled that Oklahoma must provide Fisher with the same opportunities for securing a legal education as it provided to other citizens.

Rather than admitting Fisher to OU, the Oklahoma Legislature created a Langston University School of Law in the Senate rooms of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Fisher filed a motion contending that the Langston law school did not afford the equal legal education as that of OU. Although the county and state courts upheld that the two were “equal,” after learning of Fisher’s intent to again appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court the Oklahoma Attorney General conceded and Fisher was admitted to the University of Oklahoma, more than three years after her initial application. Langston’s law school closed 12 days later.

Fisher graduated from the OU College of Law and earned a master’s degree in history. After practicing law in Chickasha, she joined the faculty at Langston University. She retired 30 years later as assistant vice president of academic affairs. In 1991, the University of Oklahoma awarded Fisher an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

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Sequoyah | The Cherokee Nation I.T. (Posthumous)

Sequoyah was born circa 1776 at the village of Tuskeegee, Tennessee. His father was Nathaniel Gist, a Virginia fur trader. His mother was Wut-teh, daughter of a Cherokee Chief. Although Sequoyah was exposed to the concept of writing early in his life, he never learned the English alphabet. He began to toy with the idea of literacy, “talking leaves”, for the Cherokee people. Unlike the white soldiers, he and the other Cherokees were not able to write letters home, read military orders, or record events as they occurred. After the war, he began in earnest to create a writing system for his fellow Cherokees.

He began by making symbols that could make words. He reduced the thousands of Cherokee thoughts to 85 symbols that represented sounds. He made a game of this new writing system and his daughter was the first that he taught how to make the symbols.

In 1821, after 12 years of working on the new language, he and his daughter introduced his syllabary to the Cherokee people. It was approved by the Tribal Council and within months, thousands of Cherokees became literate. In 1822 Sequoyah visited Cherokees in Arkansas, and in 1828 he moved with them to Oklahoma. He was active in the political life of the tribe, serving as envoy to Washington in 1828 and helping Cherokees displaced from eastern lands.

By 1825 much of the Bible and numerous hymns had been translated into Cherokee. By 1828 they were publishing the Cherokee Phoenix, the first national bi-lingual newspaper, along with religious pamphlets, educational materials, and legal documents. In recognition of his contributions, The National Cherokee Council awarded Sequoyah a Silver Medal, which he wore the rest of his life, and later an annuity of $300. His statue is one of only two Oklahomans on display in the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C. He continued to serve Cherokee people as a statesman and diplomat until his death.

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