A historic preservationist, a humanitarian, a protector of the Chickasaw language and a spiritual leader make up the 2015 class of the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame.
Induction ceremonies originally scheduled May 7 at Riverwind Showplace Theatre in Norman, have been postponed due to threat of severe weather. Ceremonies will be rescheduled to a later date.
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby will take part in the ceremony inducting the new class of honorees.
Thelma Ross, Tuttle; Homer Paul, Oklahoma City; Rose Shields-Jefferson, Ada; and the late Rev. Jefferson Davis “Sonny” Frazier will be honored and recognized during the ceremony.
“As we induct these worthy individuals into the hall of fame we pay tribute to the indomitable spirit they have displayed throughout their lives. While each of these individuals is unique, they share an uncommon passion for life that enabled each of them to do great things,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “These men and women remind us that true success is measured by the positive impact we have on others.”
Thelma “Chincie” Ross has dedicated her life to serving the people of her community and enriching the lives of both community members and Chickasaw citizens.
Volunteering for years as the self-appointed guardian and caretaker of the Silver City Cemetery, the 97-year-old Chickasaw citizen has protected a place of substantial historical value to both the Chickasaw Nation and the state.
The cemetery, located near Mrs. Ross’ hometown of Tuttle, Oklahoma, is the burial site of the city’s namesake, James Harley Tuttle and several of his family members.
For several years, Mrs. Ross and her husband Richard “Dick” Ross dutifully kept the cemetery mowed and clean, in addition to preservation of cemetery records.
The Rosses didn’t limit their volunteerism to one cemetery; they also dedicated time and attention to the Fairview Cemetery, using their own funds to make improvements such as lighting and to aid in the comfort of those who have loved ones buried there.
Born Sept. 9, 1917, near Tuttle, Thelma was given the nickname “Chincie” by her father, Turner Cochran. It is a Native American word for “beautiful flower.”
Athletic and intelligent, she earned a scholarship to Central State University, Edmond, now known as the University of Central Oklahoma. But an injury suffered on the basketball court plagued her. After a lengthy convalescence, the scholarship was withdrawn.
Thelma transferred to her mother’s alma mater, Haskell Institute, where she studied business.
Upon graduation, she worked in varied positions with several tribes including the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Choctaw and Chickasaw. She also worked with American citizens of Japanese descent during the post Pearl Harbor era.
She later moved to Arizona and helped process paperwork for Navajo tribesmen who would serve as famed Code Talkers during World War II. Code Talkers stymied enemy code-breakers by speaking their own code in their native language.
While living in Arizona, she met Richard “Dick” Ross. They married in 1947. When he was honorably discharged, they spent a short time in Ohio before relocating to Tuttle. He, too, made huge contributions to Tuttle and is remembered fondly. In 2005, he died.
A vital member of the Tuttle community, Mrs. Ross served as the town’s first librarian, historian, and voter registrar and contributed to countless city projects.
Mrs. Ross continues to enrich the lives of Tuttle citizens. Mr. and Mrs. Ross were honored by the Tuttle Chamber of Commerce as Citizens of the Year. Active members of the Tuttle Christian Church, they worked tirelessly on a multitude of projects benefiting the small community they called home.
In 2009, Mrs. Ross was honored during the Tuttle High School 100th anniversary by serving as a parade marshal. She was honored again in 2013 by local citizens and elected officials when they formally dedicated the Thelma “Chincie” Ross Meeting Room at Tuttle’s new city hall.
She is also the subject of a portrait by famed Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen, who created a two-volume series featuring Chickasaw elders.
Mrs. Ross has been an active member of the Chickasaw Nation northern Pontotoc tribal council for many years.
Even though she is closing in on the century mark, she tries to assist whenever needed. Her laughter and spirit continue to spread joy and as she shares the lessons of the tribal ways from many years ago.
Homer Paul has devoted his life to community and economic development, and now provides upcoming generations with ample opportunities to follow the path he forged.
Known as “responsibly creative” during his distinguished banking career, Mr. Paul accomplished several milestones since taking his first job at Liberty National Bank in the late 1950s.
During his 54-year career Mr. Paul led two banks to become substantial and successful financial institutions, one from startup and one from $77 million to more than $200 million in assets.
The military veteran served as president of the Oklahoma Bankers Association in 1980 and was active in the banking industry until his 2004 retirement.
Mr. Paul’s path to a successful career in the financial industry took many twists and turns which included military service, law school and an abundance of hard work and dedication.
Born in 1932 into a distinguished Chickasaw family, Mr. Paul was raised on the family farm 2 miles southwest of Pauls Valley.
The great-great-grandson of Pauls Valley founders Ala-Teecha, a full-blood Chickasaw who traveled from her ancestral home in Mississippi to Indian Territory, and her husband, Smith Paul, Mr. Paul attended Pauls Valley public schools, where he was known as an outstanding student and athlete.
Although his father died in 1949 when Homer was a junior in high school, he entered the University of Oklahoma in 1950 and continued his record of outstanding achievement.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1954, Mr. Paul joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant. He served active duty for two years, including service in Korea and Japan. A proud U.S. Marine, Mr. Paul achieved the rank of colonel.
When released from active duty in 1956, he entered the University of Oklahoma College of Law and graduated with a juris doctorate in 1959.
Mr. Paul pursued a career in banking, which began with a business development position with Liberty National Bank. His storied career included chartering the Nichols Hills Bank and buildings its assets to $90 million, to guiding the successful development of the once-troubled Citizens Security Bank in Bixby, Okla., where he retired as president.Known as a philanthropist, Mr. Paul has generously given to the University of Oklahoma, primarily to the College of Arts and Science and the College of Law.
He and his late wife, Ramona, have also given substantial sums to Oklahoma State University; including the endowment of a professorship in the Early Childhood Education field.
Mr. Paul co-founded an endowment to fund an annual scholarship award to an outstanding University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University- bound graduate of Pauls Valley High School, and is a financial supporter and contributor to many charitable organizations.
When nominated for a position on the board of Chickasaw Nation Industries in 2008, Mr. Paul readily accepted. He has been committed to the success of CNI and has made positive contributions as a board member and distinguished himself in the service of the Chickasaw Nation.
Mr. Paul has been a Rotarian for 51 years, which started in the Navy ROTC at OU. He has also served as director at Oklahoma Blood Institute, Boy Scouts of America-Oklahoma City Council board member; trustee, National Fraternity Phi Gamma Delta Educational Endowment; chair of the Oklahoma Finance Authorities and board member for the United States Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Oklahoma and has been active in numerous civic and community affairs in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa area communities.
In 2005, he was the recipient of the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award.
By his achievements and benevolent works, Mr. Paul has brought additional honor and distinction to the Paul family name and the Chickasaw Nation.
Mr. Paul is the fourth member of the Paul family to be inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame.
William G. Paul was inducted in 2003, Samuel Paul in 1999 and Judge Haskell Paul in 1994.
A fluent speaker of the Chickasaw language who grew up speaking only Chickasaw, Rose Shields-Jefferson devotes much of her life to sharing and teaching Chickasaw language, heritage and culture.
Her outgoing, effervescent, personality has allowed her to connect with people of all cultures and she can be often be found telling others of her rich Chickasaw language.
Mrs. Shields-Jefferson, a full-blood Chickasaw, serves on the Chickasaw Language Committee. She has been influential in developing “new” words in the Chickasaw Language, along with taking part in the development of the Chickasaw Nation Language app.
She believes when teaching the language, hearing and speaking Chickasaw everyday leads to gradual, yet effective, comprehension and mastery.
Mrs. Shields-Jefferson is an active member of the Chickasaw Historical Society, Chickasaw Nation Senior Center, Ada; and National Indian Council on Aging. She also serves on the Chickasaw Nation Election Commission.
Born July 25, 1944, to Minnie Allen Shields and Joseph Shields, Mrs. Shields-Jefferson is the oldest of 13 children, 8 girls and 5 boys.
A 1965 graduate of Haskell Institute, she studied commercial cooking and uses those skills, along with the culinary skills her mother taught her to make her famous Pecan pies and peanut and pecan brittle. Mrs. Shields-Jefferson also spends many hours cooking for friends and family for holidays and special occasions.
She is also well-known for creating beautiful bead work, sewing and quilting. She sews for surgery patients at the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center and makes Chickasaw regalia for special events, including the Three Sisters Celebration at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.
An active member of the Mitchell Memorial Methodist Church, Mrs. Shields-Jefferson also participates in the Chickasaw Elder Choir, singing traditional hymns at events and gatherings.
Mrs. Shields-Jefferson was awarded the 2006 Chickasaw Nation Circle of Honor Silver Feather Award and named an AARP Indian Elder Honoree for the State of Oklahoma in 2013.
Rose and Marion Gene Jefferson were married July 25, 1974, and recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Together they have three daughters: Drucilla Jacob, Denise Clark and Deedra Jefferson; six grandchildren: Dustin Newport, Courtney DeCoteau, Stonie Rose Stepps, Catie Hamilton, Nikkie Stepps and Zackary Stepps; two great-grandchildren, Elijiah Edney, Jr. and Jaxon Moore.
Rev. Jefferson Davis “Sonny” Frazier
Known as a mentor, educator, counselor and spiritual leader, the late Jefferson Davis Frazier touched the lives of Oklahoma public school and Carter Seminary students; patients and families of the Chickasaw Medical Center and parishioners of Boiling Springs United Methodist Church during his life.
Born Sept. 5, 1946, in Stonewall, Okla., to Frank Frazier and Geraldine Alexander Frazier, he graduated in 1964 from Tupelo High School in Tupelo, Okla., and went on to earn an undergraduate degree in government and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from East Central University.
During his career as an educator, Rev. Frazier provided counseling in the Oklahoma public school system for more than seven years prior to working with the Chickasaw Nation education program as the program director for more than 17 years.
When he served as director of Carter Seminary in Ardmore, Rev. Frazier had a passion for Native American students who attended under his guidance. He made sure the students were being educated and also meeting their needs to ensure they fulfilled their goals.
Rev. Frazier was appointed chaplain for the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center. He was called upon many times to perform services for people, such as revivals, funerals, spiritual needs or preaching sermons. He loved his job as a chaplain and served for five years.
He also served as pastor for Boiling Springs United Methodist Church near Lula, Okla. Rev. Frazier had a deep passion for Boiling Springs UMC, because this was his boyhood church and an important part of his life.
At the church he shared his culture and heritage in a multitude of ways and was committed to keep his culture and heritage alive. He always taught his church congregation native hymns to keep the native language and songs going. Rev. Frazier served other churches as a pastoral minister for the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference in Oklahoma and Dallas.
He was well-known throughout the Chickasaw Nation and Oklahoma. He was a dedicated and distinguished man toward his ministry and family.
Rev. Frazier left a true legacy within the Chickasaw Nation through his employment and as a minister throughout the Chickasaw Nation. He died Feb. 4, 2012, at the age of 65.
About the Chickasaw Hall of Fame, RSVP information
The 2015 Chickasaw Hall of Fame ceremony will take place Thursday, May 7, at the Riverwind Showplace Theater in Norman.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the banquet will begin at 6 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Chickasaw musician/composer Zachary Garcia.
There is no charge to attend, but reservations are required for the event, which is expected to accommodate approximately 525 guests.
Reservations will be accepted beginning April 6. To make reservations contact Brielle Helm at 580-436-7258 or email email@example.com.
In 1987 the Chickasaw Nation began honoring Chickasaws who made significant contributions to Chickasaw people or the Native American community by induction into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame. Since then, many Chickasaw men and women have been nominated and inducted into this prestigious circle of honor. Induction into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Chickasaw by the Chickasaw Nation. For more information about the Chickasaw Hall of Fame, visit www.chickasaw.net/hof.