Former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters leads Knights of Columbus in JFK honors to Anoatubby

The 2014 John F. Kennedy Community Service Award Reception and Dinner afforded a relaxed and elegant opportunity to highlight the work of a sports facility that serves thousands of state youth, and to honor two of our state’s best-known philanthropists and leaders.

Former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters welcomed the throng of donors to the annual event, which honors the memory of the late President Kennedy in praise of the ethic of community service.

One of the state’s best-known business leaders, Tom Love introduced and presented the 2014 JFK Award to Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby.

Anoatubby said he appreciated the honor coming his way from a group such as the Knights of Columbus, and for the benefit of the center.

City booster and acclaimed events coordinator Lee Allen Smith delivered a heart-felt tribute to Vince Gill for remembering his Oklahoma roots as he rose to international acclaim for his smash hits and concert tour successes.

Gill, after receiving his JFK award from Smith, said he was honored to share the stage and this year’s JFK honors with Anoatubby, praising the Native American leader for his service to both the tribe and the Sooner State. 

He visited the Santa Fe Family Life Center the day of the JFK dinner, and told the crowd he marveled at the kindness of the staff and the happiness of the young people with whom he interacted.

As he often does, Gill spoke of the pride he has in coming from Oklahoma City. He thanked the Knights of Columbus for their charitable work. Accompanying Gill was his wife, contemporary Christian music superstar Amy Grant.

Attending the dinner were several past JFK Award recipients, including Turpen, former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and Gov. George Nigh. Immediate Past Governor Brad Henry also joined in support of the gala.

The event benefited the work of the Santa Fe Family Life Center, a mission of the Knights of Columbus, Council No. 1038. The group provides access to athetic competition for many inner-city youth. The largest charitable based multi-sports facility in Oklahoma, according to event organizers the center supports “more than 20 not-for-profit organizations with sports and recreational opportunities. It is home to Access Sports and other youth basketball programs, including Wayman’s Lightning Youth Basketball league (managing more than 250 youth basketball teams).”

Oklahoma City Charge, the largest volleyball club in the state, is based at the center. Santa Fe Family Life Center serves more than 10,000 children annually.

Mike Turpen, a past JFK award winner, served as master of ceremonies for the gala, held Tuesday (October 28) at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club. Rev. John R. Metzinger, rector at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, delivered the invocation and benediction for the evening.

Sponsors of the event included Chesapeake Energy, Love’s Country Stores, Frontier State Bank and the Knights of Columbus. Joining as co-sponsors were Larry Jordan Jefferson, Manda & Mark Ruffin,, Access Sports, American Energy Sponsors, BancFirst, Calvert Law Firm, Foxborough Energy, Kennedy Consulting Team, Kaiser Family Foundation, Bob Lemon, Josef & Becky McGuigan, Hal Smith Restaurant Group, Walters Power International, AT&T, The Oliver Foundation, John Semtner, Susan & Mike Turpen, Cindy & Jim David, Dan Fiorini, Barbara and Greg Main, James Pickel, Dr. Kersey Winfrey and John Yoeckel.
Editor’s note: Photographs with this story by Emily Lang or Charlie Price.