History of the Oklahoma County Medical Society Alliance

Researched and written by Barbara Jett and Jeary Seikel

 

The Oklahoma County Medical Society Alliance (previously known as the Auxiliary) has a long and enduring history.  You may be surprised to learn that the first State Auxiliary in the nation was formed in 1907 in Pottawatomie County.  The Women’s Auxiliary to OCMS was formed in 1925. Membership has ranged from 45 to 500 members with today’s average of around 100 dues paid members.  Dues in the 1930s were $2 annually as compared to today’s fee of $80. The organization has undergone names changes since 1925, but the mission has remained the same.

 

Here is a brief look at the activities of the Alliance over the years:

 

1925-1929

The Woman’s Auxiliary to OCMS organized with its first president, Mrs. Edward P. Allen leading the 45 founding members.  Its mission was to provide charitable and benevolent work while bringing attention to the OCMS. Meetings were held at the University Club in the Skirvin Hotel.

 

Members made clothing for patients at the newly established Children’s Hospital and sewed baby clothes for needy families.  They collected books and magazines for hospitals and adopted families of disabled soldiers by providing food, clothing and Christmas gifts.  

Health concerns of the era were Tuberculosis, syphilis and cancer.

 

1930-1939

The Auxiliary won a state trophy for “the most energetic membership” three years in a row. Members held luncheons to raise money and attended monthly Auxiliary meetings.

 

They hosted members of the Southern Medical Association Auxiliary with events held at the Biltmore Hotel and Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club.  Members were often featured on the front page of the society section of The Daily Oklahoman.

 

During the war years, Auxiliary members volunteered at the Red Cross by helping families of wounded soldiers.  They purchased war bonds valued at $1000. Also, they provided knitted items, rolled bandages, made layettes for hospitals and completed a scrapbook for Crippled Children’s Hospital.

 

The Auxiliary became politically involved when concern grew that the private practice of medicine was being challenged by legislative action.    Annual dues were $2.00 and the membership meetings were held at the YWCA. Air quality was of great concern during this decade because of “black blizzards of the Dust Bowl”.  

 

1950-1959

Auxiliary members supported civil defense by helping fund a warning system in Oklahoma City.  They worked to educate the community about the importance of the polio vaccine.

 

Due to a shortage of nurses, the Auxiliary members went to local high schools to encourage interest in medical careers.

 

They hosted style show, luncheons and teas for the wives whose husbands came to attend the Oklahoma Clinical Society.  Members wore heels, hats and gloves to the monthly meetings. Dues were raised to $2.50 and eventually $4.00. The Biltmore Hotel was a favorite meeting place with lunches costing $3.00.  With the advancement of medicine, physicians and their wives were concerned that less time was spent with patients. The wives were encouraged to help restore medicine in the hearts of the people.  Auxiliary events continued to be a staple in the society pages of The Daily Oklahoman.

 

Local member Mrs. George Garrison founded a four-year study course for medical student wives at OU to help them anticipate “life’s work” as a doctor’s wife.  WASAMA became a national organization in 1957 with 35 chapters and 5000 members on medical campuses across the country.

 

1960-1969

The Auxiliary presented a program Teen Sitters Workshop.  500 teens from local high schools participated to learn about safety in the home and how to respond to emergencies.  The program included training from local firefighters, police, FBI, doctors and nurses.

 

Projects included the Stamp Out Polio campaign and furnishing the rehab room at Central State Mental Hospital.  

 

The Auxiliary hosted teas for graduating nurses from all nursing schools and supported OMPAC.  The Auxiliary established an emergency fund.

 

1970-1979

Auxiliary continued holding baby sitter workshops and held seminars for 5th grade students to encourage participation in health careers. They collected drug samples for donation to the Indian Reservation Clinics and worked to educate the public of the threat of venereal disease.  They staffed the Safety Fair and hosted a booth for the American Heart Association at the state fair.

 

In addition, they hosted Medical Summit meetings at the state Capitol called “Ladies Day at the Legislature”, participated in Doctors’ Day activities and staffed the Decorator Showhouse.

 

Committees included Mental Health, International Health, Health Careers, Legislation, Inaugural, Yearbook and Telephone Calling Committees. Membership rose to an average of 350 members.  Events were held at Alberta’s Tea Room, Val Genes Silver Palm Room and the Gaslight Dinner Theatre. Dues were $15 and increased to $20 with part going to the state and national Auxiliaries.  All members received a telephone call prior to general meetings. The Auxiliary was incorporated in March 1971. An average membership size was around 375 with dues being increased to $30.00 and eventually $45.00.  Members were encouraged to “sponsor a spouse” by paying dues for a medical student and resident physician spouses’ dues to state and national. Meetings were held at Alberta’s Tea Room, the Marriott Hotel, Sheraton Century Center and Quail Creek and Oklahoma City Golf and Country Clubs.

 

The Auxiliary worked for several years to raise $2500 to fund a painting of a pioneer physician that was donated to the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

 

They hosted International Dinners to raise money for their projects.  The Sharing Card was started during these years. It was a Christmas card that was sent to every member of OCMS and raised money for the AMA’s Educational Research Fund that benefited medical schools.  They established the Nurses Loan Fund and offered an honorarium of $50 to an outstanding nurse in each school of nursing. Auxiliary sponsored and supported medical student and resident wives by advising and hosting membership meetings.

 

1980-1989

Projects included working with a residential program for as risk boys (Speck Home), education on child passenger safety, Christmas stocking donations to the Parents Assistance Center, sponsoring the physical fitness exhibit at the Omniplex, Girl Talk for 5th grade girls and their mothers, anti smoking campaigns and the distribution of medfile cards to physicians to assist elderly patients in keeping lists of their medications.

 

Special Members luncheons were held for older members, and they continued to have monthly meetings with lunch and programing.  Fun Days were held for member enjoyment at Quail Creek Country Club, money was raised through the Holiday Auction and they continued their legislative work.  They raised money for the AMA-ERF and assisted with OCMS Inaugural.

 

The Alliance raised money at the Arts Festivals, hosted garage sales, sold apples and hosted International Dinners.  The Jawbones and Sawbones basketball games provided friendly competition between the doctors and the lawyers and sets of hand carved physicians were sold.

 

Committees included AMA-ERF, Community Service, State Projects, Long Range Planning, Doctors’ Day and Legislation.

 

Members participated in Special Interest Groups that strengthened friendships.  Investment, mahjongg, bridge, crafts, gourmet, book club, art, tennis and golf groups, just to name a few.

 

1990-1999

The Auxiliary hosted the Teen Health Symposium for at risk students in the 7th grade.  A drunk driving campaign was started with the bar auxiliary and the Kids on the Block puppet show visited 4th grade classrooms.  

 

50-year physicians were honored annually with dinners and brunches.  Donations were to made to free clinics in honor of Doctors’ Day. Auxiliary members prepared meals for FBI following the Oklahoma City bombing.

 

Fundraisers included apple and poinsettia sales and the Sharing Card. The first Kitchen Tour was held on November 9, 1991 with tickets costing $6.00 in advance and $7.00 at the door.  A Patron Party was held the night before the event and a Bake Sale was offered the day of the tour. Members enjoyed Legislative desserts, Special Members’ teas and bought clothes and toys for Operation Santa Clause and Habitat for Humanity.

 

Special Interest groups promoted friendships and the Auxiliary had a record membership of 500.  An Edmond chapter of the Auxiliary was formed and they held their own meetings.

 

Sherry Strebel served as the AMA Auxiliary president in 1990-91.  Sherry was honored with many parties and publicity attention. Membership climbed to 500 and the dues were raised to $50.00.  In an effort to attract male members, the membership changed the name to the Oklahoma County Medical Society Alliance in 1991.

2000-2009

Activities and projects included Legislative Day at the Capitol. Spring Registration luncheons, Doctors’ Day events, Kitchen Tours, Special Members brunches, participation in OCMS Inaugural, Operation Santa and Legislative Desserts.

 

Domestic violence was a leading concern.  Members handed out Save the Violence Puzzles and Hands are Not for Hitting Puzzles. Stop America’s Violence Everyday (SAVE) was held in the fall.  Smoking education was shared, the collection of used cell phones that were programmed to call 911 were distributed to domestic violence victims and bedding was collected for the City Rescue Mission.  Kids on the Block puppet shows continued.

 

Special interest continued with the additions of antiques, scrapbooking, medical marriage, birthday club, bunko and Mommy and Me playtime.

 

The country clubs and the Decorator Showhouse became favorite meeting venues.  

General meetings were moved from morning to noon and a reading committee was formed, eliminating the need to have the minutes read at meetings.  The Alliance began its own website: ocmsalliance.org. A directory was printed every year, sponsored by Mercy and Deaconess hospitals. Dues increased to $60.00 and then $75.00 and physicians were allowed to join.  It was voted that divorced members could maintain their memberships until which time they remarried and email votes were accepted. The Edmond chapter closed and the Kitchen Tour moved to Sundays.
 

2011- present

The Kitchen Tour celebrated over 25 years of continued success.   Collections rose to an average of $30,00 annually with all of the money given to health related non-profits in Oklahoma County.   Grants were awarded annually to a local charity along with a current project of the OCMS. Dozens of non-profits have benefited by the tour.  Walk the Doc, Paddle for a Cure, and the Bart and Nadia Fun Day were also projects.

 

The Community Service Team was formed.  Alliance members volunteered with a different non-profits monthly in order to make a difference in the community while strengthening friendships within the group. Dozens of non-profits in the area benefited from the volunteers and money donations.  

 

In an effort to increase the size of the Board of Directors, Board Classes with three-year terms were added.  The president, president elect and ex officio positions became two-year obligations. Members who are 80 years and older were granted an honorary lifetime member status allowing membership without a dues obligation.  Members whose spouse is deceased or retired were allowed to pay dues at a reduced rate. AMA affiliation became an option for members. Meeting reminders were sent electronically and membership directories could be referred to on cell phones and through the website.  Recruitment of members remained an ongoing effort. Rick Knapp (OCMSA member) was installed as the first male member of the OSMA Alliance to serve as president. The organization maintained vibrant leadership and monthly meetings with quality programming.

 

The newsletter was sent by email and an Alliance Facebook page was developed.  The fiscal year was changed to January through December. Members enjoyed the Holiday Auctions, Special Member events, Inaugural and new member receptions.

 

Oklahoma County has provided many board members and officers to the OSMA Alliance.

Those who have served in national leadership roles from Oklahoma County are:

Mrs. W. Kelly West    SMA Auxiliary President, 1938- 39

Mrs. Joseph W. Kelso    SMA Auxiliary President, 1948-49

Mrs. Virgil R. Forester    SMA Auxiliary President, 1968-69

Sherry Strebel (Mrs. Gary)    AMA Auxiliary President, 1990-91

Barbara Jett (Mrs. Mason)    SMA Alliance President, 2009-10



 

Oklahoma County Medical Society Alliance members continue to honor the mission established in 1925 by serving the community, providing medical education and developing friendships between medical families.

©2018 Oklahoma County Medical Society ALLIANCE

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