Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Will Rogers Fly-in - Oologah Oklahoma!

Different Rogers is honored at Fly-In site

By ALTHEA PETERSON World Staff Writer 8/18/2008Last Modified: 8/18/2008 2:08 PM

Slide show: Watch a slide show and listen to audio of the Will Rogers Fly-in.

Slide show: Watch a video of the Will Rogers Wiley Post Fly-in.


A marker is placed to remember Clem Rogers, who owned the farm where his famous son was born.

OOLOGAH — When Doris "Coke" Lane Meyer looks back at her family history each year, she always wants to set the record straight about Rogers County:

"It was named after Will's father, Clem, not after Will Rogers himself."

Clem Rogers' son Will may be the star of the annual Will Rogers-Wiley Post Fly-In at the Will Rogers Birthplace near Oologah, but the main honor of the day went to his father. Clement Vann Rogers received a stone memorial marker at the site Sunday.

Will Rogers' grandniece, Lane Meyer, 88, attended the celebration and gave some background on the Rogers clan. Clem Rogers was a Cherokee representative on the commission to write the Oklahoma Constitution, making the marker, sponsored by the Oklahoma Centennial Commission, a perfect fit.

"So many people have been confused and think our county was named for Will, but it was his dad," she said. "This monument means a lot to have it here to help people realize that this was the home place and for people to realize why we're Rogers County."

Rep. Tad Jones, R-Claremore, said the marker's cost was coming out of Rogers County's $50,000 allotment for the centennial.

Although the centennial year ended eight months ago, the marker's unveiling was timed specifically for this Will Rogers-Wiley Post Fly-In weekend, he said.

"To be able to do it on this day in honor of the Fly-In was just great," he said.

Steve Gragert, the director of the Will Rogers Memorial Museums, noted that the Fly-In's site wouldn't even exist if it weren't for Clem Rogers.

"He's the one who built the house and made it all possible for us to have Will," Gragert said. "Well, maybe not all possible. Half possible."

However, it couldn't be a Fly-In without the usual planes taking to the skies before and after the ceremony, which honors the contributions to aviation by both Wiley Post and Will Rogers. This tradition draws audiences young and old, said Andy Hogan, the memorial commission's historian.

"At the memorial, we have a mission to collect, to preserve and to share the life, the humor and the wisdom of Will Rogers for all generations," he said. "Everybody in Oklahoma owns this, and we want to keep it current."

Shane Whisler, a Rogers County native who lives in Dallas, said it was a great event to share with his daughters.

"I love Rogers County because it formed who I am and especially the legacy and character of Will Rogers," said Whisler, 41.

"He wasn't just a great American. He was a great human."

Althea Peterson 581-8361