Will Rogers Memorial Fights Merger

Will Rogers Memorial

Will Rogers Memorial Claremore Okla.

The Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma, established in 1937 by Oklahoma law “to operate and maintain” a memorial to Will Rogers, is fighting a battle to retain its individual identity in the face of a severe budget crisis in the state of Oklahoma.  Gov. Brad Henry has proposed a merger of the Will Rogers Memorial Commission with the Oklahoma Historical Society. Both institutions have rejected the idea.

Commission Chairman Jim Hartz issued a statement opposing the proposal which included a list of examples why “Will Rogers’ legacy is alive, vibrant, and thriving.”

*  7 new books known to be in press or in progress
* 4 dissertations completed in the past two years
* a new documentary scheduled for release in 2011
* a Will Rogers course of study in development at Rogers State University
* a new one-man show opening in Chicago in March
* a new 8-part children’s series running now in Oklahoma newspapers
* highlighted in a public television documentary in Ireland
* a retracing of his life through music and film now in production in New York
* a rope-spinning “Will Rogers” appearing nightly in the Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas
* frequent local and regional productions of the Tony Award-winning Will Rogers Follies
* 210 members from throughout the country in the Museums’ Friends of Will Rogers
* 21 docents and another 10 soon in training
* more than 3,750 volunteer hours contributed in the past 18 months
* 7.9 percent increase in annual attendance in 2009
Strangely enough, Hartz, who made the first presentation of the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award in 2000 to best-selling author Jeffrey Zaslow, failed to mention either this award nor the Will Rogers Writing Contest, both sponsored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
Ref: Will Rogers Writers’ Workshop Newsletter April 2010

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