Monthly Archives: January 2015

Outside The Wake

Buying a boat without a name leaves a family of five perplexed.  We had owned it for 7 months before it became clear just what her name would be.  It had made many turns around Okmulgee Lake, pulling kids and adults on water skis, wakeboards and tubes.  We had all suggested many names, both common and obscure.  Nothing seemed to fit.  But on a warm afternoon as another kid managed to get up on a wakeboard, Rob turned and began to holler “get outside the wake”.  When said child let go of the rope and he circled the boat back around, he began to explain…….”right behind the boat is the wake.  It’s rough and it looks scary to go over the wave and get outside the wake.  But once you do, the water is smooth and that’s when you really can have some fun.  Suck it up, get over the wake and I guarantee you’re going to love this so much more”.  On the next pass, the grin that spread across that face, once the wake was jumped, was the confirmation to know that our boat had just been named……..Outside The Wake.

outside the wake 1

So the next week when Rob ordered the vinyl letters for the boat, he ordered a couple of smaller versions that he put on the back windows of our car.  Outside the Wake had become so much more that just a name for a boat, but a mantra our family quickly embraced as a guideline for life.  It’s been 5 years but I still get asked often to explain about what that stands for on the back window of my Flex and I always enjoy sharing the story with those who inquire.

Nineteen years ago, with a 2 year old and a pregnant wife, Rob left a job in banking to set out on his own and buy an insurance agency.  It was a decision that wasn’t made lightly or without a lot of thought and sleepless nights.  But it was a chance we took and made work.  A few years later we merged our small independent agency with Fansher, Stone & Milroy, a local independent agency that had been serving Okmulgee since 1928.  In 2001, we partnered with First National Bank and moved the operations of Fansher, Stone & Hess to the main bank location.

reglazing 2

Today, with a nearly 21 year old, an 18 & 11 year old and most definitely NOT a pregnant wife, Rob is hanging up his insurance hat and stepping Outside The Wake to follow his passion; practical preservation, construction and property management.






He and The Mac are in the middle of the wake right now. While the roof is on and the window repair is nearly complete, there is much left to do. The next few months will encompass many changes as her electrical, plumbing and climate control systems will be overhauled.  But her captain will be right there with her, steering her though the rough waters until she can get “outside the wake” where it is smooth.




One thing for certain, that I bet his insurance family and customers can attest to, is that Rob will do what it takes to get “outside the wake”.  From reviewing policies, working claims and offering advice on coverage, he has touched the lives of many people.  He’s enjoyed working and establishing friendships with others in the industry throughout the state.  Rob knows his insurance but also knows that now is the time to follow his passion.









I’ve never been so proud of him.  His accomplishments are many but as he follows his passion and restores this grand old girl, I know he will thrive and shine.

We flippin' Okmulgee








And I’m the lucky girl that still gets to be right by his side.


226 Days

lighted hallway

On a warm summer evening, over 80 people gathered together on hallowed ground in the center of town with a common desire; Hope.

There were business people, retirees, bankers, lawyers and teachers there.  There were many who had lived in this place for a lifetime,  together with new comers.  There were city leaders, Muscogee Nation leaders, Education leaders gathered together.

As I stood at the top of the stairs greeting guests and directing them to the food and tables, I saw faces I’d know for a lifetime.  I made new acquaintances.  I had butterflies in my stomach wondering what the evening would hold.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the connection that would be made in that very room, on that very night that was going to change my hometown forever.

You see, 226 days ago, a fire started in the Historic District of Downtown Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

We are no strangers to fire.  In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, we lost blocks of historic old buildings to the ravages of fire.  Treasures that were once grand and strong were reduced to rubble.  The only thing that remains are the photographs, memories and stories of time spent within the walls.  Fire is devastating and a constant fear of those who love historic old buildings.

But this was a fire of another sort, one like we had never experienced before and that would smolder and burn through the entire community.  The fire of hope.

226 days ago was the day #okmulgeerising began.

It was the day that a connection was made with a university leader who had a vision of how a great working partnership could be formed.  It was the day “Okmulgeeans” began to observe and look at the place they called home with a whole new set of eyes.  It was the day that barriers began to break down and conversations began.  It was the day mindsets changed from “we can’t do that” to “how can we make this work?”.

It’s been an amazing 226 days.

Day 227 is going to bring more fuel for the fire that will perpetuate it’s flame for years to come.


6 months later……

They say time flies when you are having fun. I think time also flies when you are working hard towards something you love.


Walking in the front door and seeing this still stops me dead in my tracks.  Rob is the same way.

It’s often surreal to think we are the caretakers of this beautiful old building who has stood with such grandeur on the south side of the Square for nearly 100 years.


IMG_2223It’s hard to believe that this is a photo from right inside the front door a mere 6 months ago.




It’s amazing what Rob and his work crews have accomplished in such a short period of time.


That may have come to a screeching halt yesterday when they discovered that one of her walls is a perfect “screen” for movies.  I caught them screening “The Only Oly” late in the afternoon.    They also have declared the Mac downstairs a great place to fly remote controlled helicopters and Rob is dying  to get us all roller skates.

And if he ever finds any bowling lanes on Craig’s List or Ebay, we are all going to be in trouble.

IMG_0748Here is the central command upstairs.

Rob took the vent stack that were removed when the roof was replaced and fashioned a table by putting a board on top.  We needed a place to keep the blueprints so here it is.

We also repurposed the carpet that was removed downstairs.  We now have “runners” covering the hardwood floors in the upstairs hallways.  We don’t want to damage or cause too much wear to the floors while the work is going on.


IMG_0752I used Mark’s sidewalk chalk and have marked all of the rooms, doors that will be left and permanently closed,  office suite walls to be removed to create open living spaces.




IMG_0754We’ve removed the interior doors that will be repurposed for use as bedroom, bathroom or closet doors.

We have been careful to bundle and mark the trim and door pieces so that they will be replaced in the proper location.




IMG_0747But the biggest transformation to date has to be the window rehabilitation that has been taking place over the past 6 weeks.

If you drive down Morton Avenue, you will see that all of the windows on that side of the building have been updated.  While they may appear to be new, they are all original, 98 year old windows.  They have just had an extreme makeover.



sandingAfter the windows are removed, they take a trip downstairs to the  “shoe department” which has been set up as the window rehab bench area.  Citrus paint remover is spread over the glass and all of the paint is scraped from both sides. The old weight cords are removed and thrown away. Then, the heat gun comes out to soften the putty so it can be removed.  Once it’s out, the glaziers points come out that are holding the glass in.  Carefully oh so carefully, the glass is removed and set aside.  (You’ll notice there are no pictures of me on window rehab as I was fired after I broke 3 pieces of glass). The hardware comes off and goes for a soak in a vinegar filled crock pot.  After an hour or two in the vinegar bath, a good scrub with a stiff brush and buffing with a soft cloth and the hardware looks better than new and is ready to go back into place.

Then the wood frame is scraped, sanded and repaired with bondo if needed.

ready for paintHere are several that are ready for paint.







mezzinine windowsThese are the windows that were salvaged from the back of the mezzanine.  They are tall and have 10 lights each.  I declared that I wanted to refinish these.  I think they may let me since the glass is in small sections and maybe I won’t break them.

It’s truly amazing what a few hours, a few tools, bondo, glazing and paint can do for 98 year old windows.

Here’s a glimpse of what they look like back in place today……

IMG_0767 IMG_0766










With the beginning of 2015, the countdown is on.  Our girl will be  100 years old in 2016 and our goal for upstairs renovations to be completed.  It’s amazing how far she has come in just six months.  And we can’t wait to see what her 99th year will bring.  And we are so honored to be a part of her comeback as well as the revitalization of amazing places and spaces throughout historic downtown Okmulgee.  #okmulgeerising