10 notable Oklahomans who died in 2014
Oklahoma is full of incredible people who have done incredible things. Though we lost a lot of our own this year, here are just 10 of the notable Oklahomans who died in 2014.
No. 10 – Pendleton Woods
Pendleton Woods was a true hero. He served in the military for more than 40 years and was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame in 2002. During World War II, Woods was a prisoner of war for more than four months before he escaped.
But his life is also celebrated by a legacy of community service: He volunteered at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center for many years, started an oral history program at Oklahoma Christian in 1969 and also led Oklahoma Christian's American Citizenship Center.
He was 90.
No. 9 – Mae Young
Oklahoma native Mae Young was an entertainer her entire life, and she helped pave the way for women in the wrestling world.
She was born in Sand Springs and spent her childhood wrestling with her four brothers. Young wrestled on her high school’s amateur boys’ team and, in 1939, began her career in the WWE where she entertained fans well into the 2000s, and was considered a gruff but warm personality.
She was 90.
No. 8 – Harold Leep Sr.
Harold Leep Sr. is to Oklahoma dirt car racing what Michael Jordan was the Chicago basketball: legendary.
"He was larger than life to all of us growing up," said Shane Carson, a Yukon resident who is a fellow National Sprint Car Hall of Famer. "He changed racing everywhere he ran. He raised the bar. He was a great friend, too."
He was 81.
No. 7 – Larry Latham
Larry Latham was an award-winning animator who worked on classic television shows like “DuckTales,” “Smurfs” and “Super Friends.” He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1975 and, during the final years of his life, taught at the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee.
He was 61.
No. 6 – Richard Dermer
For our younger readers out there: You might not recognize the Dermer name, but chances are you’ve eaten his pizza.
Richard Dermer founded the famous Oklahoma chain Hideaway Pizza in 1957. A Stillwater native, Dermer liked to hire college students at Hideaway’s first location, which was near Oklahoma State University. However, he refused to hire freshmen, saying he “wanted them to be grounded in school before taking jobs.”
He was 74.
No. 5 – Billie Letts
Famous Oklahoman author Billie Letts was responsible for a number of notable titles, including bestseller “Where the Heart Is,” which was adapted for the big screen and starred Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd and Joan Cusack.
Letts also taught English and creative writing at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant.
She was 76.
No. 4 – Edmond Harjo
Edmond Harjo was one of the last surviving members of a group of American Indians who helped outsmart enemy forces during World Wars I and II by using their native languages to relay information. He was a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
"Edmond and his brothers were at Normandy. They were on Iwo Jima. They mobilized the simplest weapon -- language -- to thwart the fiercest enemy free people have ever known," House Speaker John Boehner said. "And they made a difference. After serving with honor, they did the honorable thing. They kept their service a secret. Even to those that they loved."
He was 96.
No. 3 – Bill Pogue
Okemah native Bill Pogue touched the stars during his career with NASA, which began in 1966 after he was one of 19 men selected to become astronauts. He served on support crews for multiple Apollo missions, including Apollo 11.
Pogue also piloted the final manned mission to the Skylab workshop, which lasted more than 84 days.
He was 84.
No. 2 – James Garner
James Garner is a Norman native who has been a screen actor since the 1950s, was one of the first actors to successfully tackle big- and small-screen productions and is best-known for his roles as Bret Maverick in "Maverick" and Jim Rockford in "The Rockford Files." He also starred in a little gem of a movie called "Murphy's Romance," alongside Sally Field.
Yeah, it's cool that Garner has a street named after him in Norman. And yeah it's cool that he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. But an even cooler fact about Garner's legacy is that he helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A pinnacle event in our nation's history, the March on Washington was paramount in getting both the Civil Rights and Voter's Rights Acts passed in the mid 1960s.
He was 86.
No. 1 – Lisa Miller-Baldwin
Religion Editor Carla Hinton put it best: “Lisa Miller-Baldwin was known for her big ideas and vibrant personality, and her tendency to launch into long, heartwarming stories and share a smile and Scripture with everyone she met.”
Miller-Baldwin founded the Wonderfully Made Foundation, which provides shelter for homeless women and their children, and was a Northeast High School and Langston University graduate.
When speaking of her mother, Elizabeth Miller said: "She was living in her purpose. She wasn't doing it for the glitz and glamor. She really had a heart for people.”
She was 48.
Contributing: Linda Lynn and Matt Price.