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Press Release

January 19, 2016

Contact: Steve Hawkins
Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 405-522-0754

Oklahoma History Center Elects New Officers to Friends Group

Oklahoma City, Okla. — The Friends of the Oklahoma History Center held elections to appoint new officers to the board of the Friends of the Oklahoma History Center. The three officers are Samonia Byford, treasurer; Gean B. Atkinson, vice president and Jim Waldo, president.

Samonia Byford, treasurer, is a longtime supporter and board member of the Friends of the Oklahoma History Center, having served as president and treasurer during previous terms. Byford also served as a board member for the Oklahoma Historical Society. Her academic pursuits began in Oklahoma City, graduating from Bishop McGuinness High School. Byford then attended Marlboro College in Vermont, and graduated from Oklahoma City University with degrees in History and Spanish. Byford has volunteered her time as president of the Lincoln Terrace Neighborhood Association, in an advisory capacity with First American Art Magazine and with the Early American Glass Club.

Gean B. Atkinson, vice president, is currently president of Atkinson Advertising Associates and is past president of Club 29 and of the Committee of One Hundred. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in Journalism and Radio and Television from the University of Central Oklahoma, and was named the Outstanding Journalism Graduate Student and later a Distinguished Alumni. Atkinson was a decorated Marine lieutenant in Vietnam and Navy Captain in Desert Shield/Storm. He was president of the Navy League of Oklahoma City and a charter member of the Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Oklahoma. He serves on the Service Academy Selection Committee for Senator James Lankford. Atkinson is a past member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and is presently a Commissioner for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. He was previously a commissioner for the Capitol Preservation Commission. Atkinson is an inductee of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame and has authored three books. He serves on numerous Oklahoma boards, including Delta Dental of Oklahoma. He is a cofounder and chairman emeritus of Friends of the Capitol.

Jim Waldo, president, received a bachelor's degree from Duke University and received his JD from the University of Oklahoma Law School in 1974. He is a member of the Oklahoma County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Mineral Lawyers Society of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma Real Property Lawyers Association. Waldo also volunteers with Phi Delta Phi, Order of the Coif, served as managing editor of the Oklahoma Law Review from 1973 to 1974 and was a contributing editor for the Oklahoma Environmental Law Handbook.

The Oklahoma History Center is proud to have citizens such as these serving on the Friends of the Oklahoma History Center board and offer our heartiest congratulations on their elections. The mission of the Friends of the Oklahoma History Center is to provide broad based advisory, planning and financial support for the various exhibits, projects, educational programs and initiatives undertaken by the State Museum of History. The Friends serve as an independent, non-profit support organization to develop and secure in-kind donations and support, contributions, grants and other forms of support to assist the museum in achieving its mission and objectives.

The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 31 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.

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