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Press Release

August 3, 2018

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

Friends of the Oklahoma History Center Board of Directors Votes to Renew Current Officers Status

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Board of Directors of the Friends of the Oklahoma History Center has announced the results of its election to renew its current officers for the 2019 fiscal year. The three officers are Gean B. Atkinson, president; Joey Sager, vice president; and Samonia Byford, treasurer.

Friends President Gean B. Atkinson is president of Atkinson Advertising Associates and is past president of the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City. 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 alumnus. Atkinson was a decorated U.S. Marine lieutenant in Vietnam and a U.S. Navy captain in Operation 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.

“My family represents seven generations of Oklahomans. I am so privileged to be a part of the outstanding citizens who comprise Friends of the History Center and hope I can contribute even a fraction as much to our state as my ancestors did,” Atkinson said. “The lives, the precious dreams and fervent hopes of thousands of our Oklahoma ancestors are all here at the History Center—honored, protected and saved for us to enjoy and learn from and, most of all, to remember their sacrifices.”

Vice President Joey Sager has served previously as a board member of the Friends of the Oklahoma History Center. Besides providing valuable input on various History Center events, Sager played an integral part in the planning of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Gemini VI mission at the History Center. He has been involved in investor education, directing workshops and offering his expertise to his fellow financial advisors, including eight years of live radio talk shows about investing. In 2009 Barron’s magazine honored him as the Top Financial Advisor in Oklahoma. Sager also has served on leadership and ministry teams and has traveled regularly with mission teams to Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Russia, the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico. He has served on the board of directors at Integris Health, Integris Baptist Medical Center and Ethnographic Media.

Treasurer Samonia Byford 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, currently serves on the Leadership Oklahoma Board of Directors, performs in an advisory capacity with First American Art Magazine, and is a member of the Early American Glass Club.

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 group serves as an independent, nonprofit support organization to develop and secure in-kind donations, contributions, grants and other forms of support to assist the museum in achieving its mission and objectives.

The Oklahoma History Center, located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City, 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 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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