TONKAWA — Former Ponca Citian William W. (Bill) Phelps, Class of 1958, will be inducted into the Northern Oklahoma College Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame March 25. Ceremonies will take place during the NOC Alumni and Friends Reunion Dinner at NOC Tonkawa.
Phelps will be joined by fellow inductees Nevona Kegans-Bossert, Class of 1961 and longtime NOC Dean of Women, and William M. (Mike) Loftis, Class of 1974 and prominent Blackwell businessman and civic leader
The induction will take place March 25 during the Alumni and Friends Reunion Dinner at NOC Tonkawa.
The public is invited to the induction ceremony and all Alumni and Friends of the college are encouraged to attend. Deadline for reservations and payment of $20 is Monday, March 20. Reservations may be made online at www.noc.edu/alumni or by contacting Jill Green, director of alumni and community relations, firstname.lastname@example.org or 580.628.6473.
Phelps, a graduate of Ponca City High School, became an entrepreneur at an early age when as a paper boy for the Ponca City News he converted his Number 13 paper route to a monthly rather than a weekly payment system. Jobs as a teenager included working as a truck driver and a combine operator for a custom combining crew.
He commuted from Ponca City to NOC in a car pool which included his future wife, Susie, and graduated with an Associate of Science degree. Susie and he attended Oklahoma State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with a Petroleum Option. In the summer of 1959 he worked as a roustabout for Continental Oil Company and was offered a leave of absence to complete his senior year.
While working as a petroleum engineer for Conoco, he completed his Master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering at The University of Oklahoma in 1967. He then joined Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) in Dallas as an evaluation engineer in the Planning and Evaluation Department.
His work at ARCO led to his becoming a lobbyist for the company and to his eventual promotion to working for the Chairman of the Board. In an effort to obtain favorable Congressional legislation, he established the Spirit of Eagles, an organization of large independent oil producers and major oil company executives,
After retiring from ARCO, he worked for FINA Oil Company where his responsibilities included state and federal governmental lobbying activities. Upon retirement from FINA, he established a contract lobbying firm, operating it for 16 years. In addition, he set up an investors’ group. He permanently retired from the oil industry Dec. 31, 2016, after 57 years’ service.
Agreeing that education is the key to a young person’s success in life, he and his wife, have established foundations at NOC, OSU and OU from their estate.
The Phelpses are active members of Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch, a suburb of Dallas, Texas.
A graduate of Blackwell High School, Loftis earned his Associate of Science degree from Northern and his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. He is a certified insurance counselor.
He began his career as an insurance agent with Don Loftis Agency and later became president of Loftis Insurance. In 2002, he became CEO of Loftis and Wetzel Corporation. He is also president of Bainswest, Inc., the 15th largest privately held agency group in the United States, and is a past president of Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma.
For more than 30 years, Loftis has been involved in commercial real estate development and works with the Blackwell Industrial Authority to locate projects in the area creating new jobs. He helped bring the wind energy industry to Kay County and helped develop the Cowboy Wind Farm, supplying power to OSU. Also, he developed Rock Falls Wind Farm in Kay and Grant counties.
Loftis helped form the Blackwell Public School Foundation and the Blackwell Economic Authority, of which he is a trustee. He also serves as trustee for the Blackwell Industrial Authority and the Blackwell Public Trust. A past chair of the NOC Foundation, he has served as an NOCF trustee for 20 years.
He collaborated on the “Keep Blackwell Hospital Alive” campaign and served in the negotiation and transition of the hospital to remain open. The Blackwell Chamber of Commerce honored him as 2016 Outstanding Citizen of the Year.
Loftis and his wife, Kim, have six children and eight grandchildren.
Kegans graduated from Lamont High School, and before matriculating at Northern, she competed in the 1959 National Track Meet preliminary to the 1960 Olympics, running sixth against three-time gold medalist Wilma Rudolph. In college, she played basketball, marched with the Mavettes in President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade and reigned as Wesley House Homecoming Queen.
She earned her Associate of Science degree in Business at Northern and a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and a Master’s degree in Higher Education from Central State University, now University of Central Oklahoma.
Immediately after Kegans graduated from CSU in 1963, NOC employed her as an instructor for its new women’s physical education department. Over the next 40 years, she served in numerous capacities, including women’s basketball coach (1963-1973), women’s track coach (1975-1981), dean of women (1967-2003) and head of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Division (1998-2003). She founded the athletic training program at NOC and is currently establishing a scholarship for that program.
Her honors include Outstanding Basketball Coach, National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence in Teaching Award and the Oklahoma College Press Relations Association Cornerstone Award. When she was appointed Dean of Women, she was the youngest college dean in Oklahoma, and she retired as the dean with longest tenure in the state.
In 2002, Kegans married retired Conoco employee Art Bossert.
Her children with her late husband, Ray Kegans, are NOC alumni Travis Kegans and Tracy McAreavey. She has four grandchildren, Taylor and Trenton McAreavey, and Raylee and Tait Kegans.
Registration and mixer for the Alumni and Friends Reunion will take place from 4:30 to 5 p.m. March 25 in the Renfro Center lobby with dinner at 5 p.m. in the Renfro Center. After dinner, guests are invited to attend the Roustabouts Benefit Show at 7:30 p.m. in the Kinzer Performing Arts Center. Performance tickets are $7 for adults (18 and older) and $5 for students.