OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Their resumes are among the best: former Governor George Nigh, noted author John Dwyer, historian Bob Blackburn, bankers like Bruce Benbrook, representatives of charitable causes – you name it.

Each of the people whose portraits on display on the Capitol Rotunda have achieved great success on their own, but publisher Don Swift wanted to honor them for something more selfless.

The group of 55 Oklahomans over the age of 55 is gathered on the 4th floor because they inspired others coming up behind them.

“Are these heroes to another generation?” we ask.

“That’s right,” answers Swift. “For 12 years now, I’ve been honoring people under the age of 30.”

So in an effort to unite generations he asked many of his younger awardees in the NextGen Under 30 program to nominate someone who mentored or inspired them.

Swift says, “They were always telling me about these people so I just let them vote on 55 inspiring Oklahomans they admire.

Jones PR founder and director Brenda Barwick takes her 55 Over 55 Inspiring Oklahomans award as more of an affirmation she’s done something right than just about anything else.

So does long-time marketing executive Linda Haneborg.

“Setting a path and following it,” she states, “But also following others as well.”

Cathy Costello, an advocate for mental health issues, doesn’t mind making the list at all, even though it does something to reveal her age.

She insists passing along her ideas and causes is what marks success in the first place.

“This isn’t just about me,” she explains. “It’s about making sure everyone knows they can have a voice.”

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If time permits, Don Swift can proudly introduce everyone on this list.

Many of them are his friends.

If there is one thing all of them have in common, whether they list their occupation and educator or not, they’re all teachers who took the time to pass along what they knew to someone else.

Swift says, “Connecting that older group to the younger group.”

Portraits of ’55 over 55 Inspiring Oklahomans’ will be on display in the capitol’s 4th floor rotunda through January 26th.

A reception honoring all of them is scheduled for January 21, 2023 from 1-4pm.

Find more information about the award, including how to nominate someone for the 2023 awardees, on the 55 over 55 website.

Great State is sponsored by WEOKIE Credit Union