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Wanda Jo Evaige

She was born in Fredrick, OK.
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I, Wanda Jo Evaige, was born to the late Sam and Lenora Oliver-Evaige in Fredrick, Oklahoma. I am the seventh of seven children: Clarence, Lena Mae, Clyde, Lennie B., Clifford, Doris June and Wanda Jo. All of the seven children attended Boyd School in Fredrick. Our mother, Lenora, also attended the school. Three generations of the family attended the Boyd School, the only black high school in the area.

I graduated from Boyd High School in 1951. I played basketball, was a cheerleader and member of the choir and band. I made Oklahoma All-State Band. I attended Samuel Houston College in Austin, Texas, which became Huston University College after my first y ear there. I graduated from Huston University in 1955 with a bachelor degree in music.

I was hired to teach first grade at O.E. Kennedy Elementary School in Fredrick. I taught first grade in the same classroom where I had attended first grade as a student. I taught there for 12 years, and then was transferred to third grade at Prather Brown Elementary where I taught in the stateâ??s second open-space classroom. I enjoyed teaching in the open classroom. It was a wonderful experience! Our students accomplished so much. Some of the brightest minds of the Fredrick Schools came through the open classroom.

I then applied for the music teacherâ??s position at Central Grade School where I taught grades four, five and six. I had a wonderful experience teaching music. My music students sang for the Governor on Oklahomaâ??s 75th birthday in 1982. I was named 1981 Teacher of the Year for Fredrick and Tillman County. I was the first black Teacher of the Year in Fredrick and Southwest Oklahoma. I served as president of Fredrickâ??s classroom teacher organization and also served as president of the Tillman County Classroom Teachers. I served on the Legislative Commission for the Oklahoma Education Association where I lobbied at the state and national capitols.

I was elected to the Fredrick City Council in 1982 as the representative for Fredrickâ??s Ward III. I was named mayor of Fredrick in 1987 (the system that we used to elect our mayor because city council members are all elected at-large). I was the first woman elected to the Fredrick City Council and the first woman to serve as a mayor in any Southwest Oklahoma community. I am still a council member and the only woman.

In 1985 we were successful in receiving a grant to restore the O.E. Kennedy Elementary School which the Boyd Alumni and Former Students purchased from the Fredrick Public Schools to preserve the history and heritage of black education in Fredrick. The building is used by all citizens of the city of Fredrick.

I was appointed in 1988 to represent the Tillman County mayors to the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG) and in 2000-2002, I was elected president of the governing board of ASCOG. I was the first woman and first black to serve in that office. I attended the National Democratic Convention in 1988 in Atlanta, Georgia. I represented the Democratic mayors of Oklahoma at the convention and was featured in a related photo and brief article in an issue of USA Today.

I am active in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. My local membership is at St. Paul AME in Fredrick. I serve as a conference trustee of the church. I have represented the church on the State Council of Churches, USA and the National Council of Churches, USA.

I have received two appointments from Oklahoma governors. The first was from Gov. Henry Bellmon (Republican) to the Oklahoma Constitution and Revision Commission. The second appointment from Gov. David Walters (Democrat) was to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. I was appointed in 1997 to the National Judicial Commission by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson. I now serve as president of the Huston University International Alumni Association, the first out-of-state alumnus to serve in that position.

I feel that I have fulfilled my motherâ??s dream. She lived to see me teach my first year and I feel that I am what she would have been if sheâ??d had the chance. When I received Oklahomaâ??s Human Rights Award, I knew that she would have been really proud because she believed in â??serviceâ?.

My membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has a major impact on my life of being of service to all mankind. I support young girls in college in various ways, from transportation to and from college to clothing and developing motivational skills. I am a 50-year member and took on the leadership in getting the first Southwest Oklahoma chapter established in Lawton, Oklahoma in 1968. I was on the first national committee of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Connection, a political action committee. I represented the Midwestern Region. I have learned much by being involved in service.