Alumni Inducted into Alumni & Friends Hall of Fame

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On Saturday, April 27, 2019, Connors State College hosted its annual Alumni and Friends Banquet and Reunion. More than 130 alumni, friends, staff and students attended the event in the A.D. Stone Student Union on the Warner Campus.

“The reunion is a time to share memories, see new developments on campus, and to honor exceptional alumni,” said Dr. Ron Ramming, CSC President.

Each year at the banquet and reunion, extraordinary alumni are inducted into the CSC Alumni Hall of Fame. Homerlene Burney, Anthony Dillingham, Jean Martin, Billy Taylor and Dr. Kayse Shrum were the 2019 honorees. Special Recognition Awards were given to Bridget Beaver and Winnie Bowman, while Jake Walker was recognized as the 2019 CSC Faculty of the Year.

Other prominent alumni and friends also attended to support the inductees, catch up with old acquaintances, and to meet with college leaders, faculty and students. Students from the President’s Leadership Class provided tours of campus and reminded alumni of one of the most important reasons for their organization: to raise money for the Alumni and Friends Scholarship Fund. Recipients of this year’s scholarship were Alexis Cook, Karli Fuss, and Johnna Stottlemyer.

HOMERLENE BURNEY

Homerlene Burney was born in Tulsa, Okla. She lived with her parents in Catoosa, Okla., and graduated from Catoosa High School in 1956. After marriage to her high school sweetheart Harold Cagle, who graduated from CSC, she became a coach’s wife. The two moved to Warner where she began her college education and graduated in 1964. She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

Burney began her teaching career in St. Joseph, Mo., with 38 children in her classroom. Later, in Morris, Okla., she taught fifth and sixth-grade spelling and math. She made one more move to teach kindergarten at Coweta, Okla. After 25 years, Burney became a single mom. With her administrator’s encouragement, she pursued a master’s degree, which she completed in 1985. For nine years she served as an elementary principal.

Homerlene married Vernon Burney in 1983. They have 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She cherishes the years she worked with children, and owes it all to her beginnings at Connors State.

ANTHONY “TONY” DILLINGHAM

Anthony (Tony) Dillingham attended CSC in 1980-1982 where he played baseball for Coach Gary Vaught and tennis for Coach Clarence Lynch. Dillingham was a JUCO National Tournament qualifier in tennis for two years. He served on staff for Monte Madewell’s summer girls’ basketball camps for 10 years while coaching in the high school ranks.

Dillingham graduated from Haskell High School in 1980 then attended CSC where he received his associate degree in 1982. Dillingham then attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah where he received his bachelor’s in education.

After graduation from NSU, Dillingham entered the high school teaching and coaching fields with stops at Hilldale, Butler, Granite, Elgin, and Snyder. He taught biology, botany, and physical science along with coaching multiple sports, and at times serving as the athletic director.

In 1996 Dillingham completed coursework for his master’s degree in educational administration at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford and received his elementary and secondary principal’s certification, as well as his superintendent’s certification.

Dillingham served as the high school principal and athletic director at Snyder High School from 1997-2001. He then became the Jenks Public Schools Athletic Director in 2001. Dillingham has served for 17 years in that role and during that time frame also served as president of the Frontier Valley Conference for two years. He became a certified athletic administrator through the NIAAA in 2014. Dillingham currently serves the Oklahoma Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (OIAAA) as president.

Dillingham and his wife, Kelli, have both served Oklahoma public schools throughout their educational careers and are blessed to have their two daughters and two grandsons residing in the same community where they work.

JEAN MARTIN

Jean Martin’s first association with Connors State College was as a newlywed to Bill Martin, the love of her life and a baseball player for the Cowboys, in 1951.

She became a CSC student herself in 1956. After graduating, she continued her education at Northeastern State University, finishing her bachelor’s degree in 1960 and master’s in 1964. From 1960-1966 Martin was the CSC Director of Food Services. She managed the cafeteria and snack bar, as well as coordinated and directed all meals for special events, receptions, and activities on campus. In the evenings Martin was an instructor, teaching English and psychology. While there, she was a beloved mentor to many students and co-workers.

Martin chose to move to Warner Public Schools to teach high school English. In 1976 she was selected as the Muskogee County Teacher of the Year. During her tenure at WPS, Martin obtained degrees in guidance counseling and school administration. She became a high school counselor and later an elementary and middle school principal. She was chosen as Outstanding Principal of District 17 in 1983.

Martin retired from education in 1989, but her heart for young people and her desire to serve continued. While Bill served as CSC Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach, Martin was at his side showing her devotion to the players. They lovingly called her “Nannie”. She provided many meals and boarded countless players on weekends and holidays. She and “Mr. Bill” were there for whatever the girls needed.

Martin’s connection to CSC was a family affair. Her husband Bill was not only a coach and instructor, but also he was the Dean of Students and Federal Programs Coordinator. Their daughter, Debbie, and son-in-law, James Fast, graduated from Connors. Martin has had five generations and over 45 members of her family attend CSC, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Martin has told many people, “My life would not be complete without my CSC family. Second only to my own loving family, I value my CSC experiences and people.”

BILLY TAYLOR

The son of Carl and Shirley Taylor, Billy Grant Taylor was born and raised in rural Muskogee County. Taylor graduated from Oktaha Public Schools in 1976, then worked on a dairy farm while putting himself through college at CSC, where he received his associate degree in 1978. He then attended Oklahoma State University to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education, graduating from OSU on the Dean’s Honor Roll in 1980. He was also named as an Outstanding Collegiate FFA Member in 1980.

Upon graduating from OSU, Taylor began his professional career as a county executive director trainee for the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service in Watonga, Okla. Shortly thereafter he was presented with an opportunity to return to Muskogee, where he started his lending career with Production Credit Association, a part of the Farm Credit system.

Taylor has been with Armstrong Bank for the past 30 years. He worked as a vice president and branch manager for eight years in Warner and then moved to the Muskogee location, earning the position of president and CEO of Armstrong Bank and CEO of Ironhorse Financial Group, Inc. During Taylor’s banking career, he has received degrees from the Graduate School of Banking of the South and the ABA National Commercial Lending School.

Taylor currently serves on the following boards: Muskogee Industrial Trust Authority, Oklahoma FFA Foundation, Oklahoma Life and Casualty Insurance, Republic Bank and Trust, Armstrong Bank, and Ironhorse Financial Group, Inc. He has also served on the Connors Development Foundation Board and is a past president of the Warner Chamber of Commerce.

Taylor has been married to his wife, Kristina, for 33 years. They have two children, daughter Kelsey and son-in-law Edward Martinez, and son Kyle Taylor, along with two granddaughters, Piper and Haygen Martinez.

KAYSE SHRUM

Dr. Kayse Shrum, D.O., grew up in rural Oklahoma and her passion was playing softball. Her goal was to play at the collegiate level, and she achieved that by attending Connors State College. While at CSC, she not only excelled in athletics but also as a student, which helped to develop her leadership skills. She has also been inducted into the Connors State College Athletic Hall of Fame.

President of the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Dr. Shrum is also Dean of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. She earned her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and has completed executive leadership and management training programs at Harvard University and Stanford University.

She joined the medical school faculty at OSU Center for Health Sciences in 2002 and was named dean of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2011, becoming the first female dean of a medical school in the state of Oklahoma. In 2013, she was promoted to her current position as president of OSU-CHS. Under her leadership, OSU-CHS has successfully launched rural physician pipeline programs and healthcare access initiatives to address the healthcare workforce shortage in rural Oklahoma.

Dr. Shrum is active in a variety of professional and charitable organizations where she holds numerous committee and board positions. She has been recognized for her leadership and contributions to improving health outcomes in Oklahoma. Dr. Shrum was named a finalist for The Journal Record’s 2015 Woman of the Year award. She also received the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association’s Outstanding & Distinguished Service Award in 2014 and was given the Pinnacle Award for Health in 2012 by the Tulsa Mayor’s Commission on the status of women.

For more information about the Alumni and Friends Association, the Connors Development Foundation, the rich history of Connors State College and its various halls of fame, visit www.connorsgiving.com.