College at Edmond
From CHRONICLES OF OKLAHOMA:
Walter Thomas McCracken, prominent pioneer. civic leader and Churchman of Oklahoma City, died at Polyclinic hospital, Oklahoma City, August 24, 1957, at the age of seventy-three years. Funeral services were conducted at the Capitol Hill Methodist Church with the Rev. Grady Ross and J. Frank Graham, former pastors, officiating. Walter McCracken was born March 23, 1884, on the Smith Paul farm near Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, the only son of J. T. McCracken and Malinda Wilson McCracken. His parents with six little daughters made the trip by covered-wagon from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and settled on the farm in February, 1884, one month before Walter's birth. His father made the run in 1889 and staked a claim southeast of Oklahoma City known as Clear Springs; he returned to his home on the Smith Paul farm for his family, leaving one of the little girls buried in the old Cemetery in Pauls Valley. Mr. McCracken was born and reared by Christian parents. His father donated an acre of ground for a church but the permanent building was never built. The acre remained virgin and while waiting for the church building, a brush arbor was erected where church services were held by the Methodist circuit riders. His father helped build the first school at Clear Springs, Oklahoma, (later called Mishak) where his son and two daughters attended school, Walter finishing the seventh grade. Ambitious and wanting to go on with his education, he enrolled in the public schools in Oklahoma. Walter was a charter member of the Jeffersonian Debating Society at Irving High School, and had the distinction of being a member of the first graduating class of old "Irving High," having completed his studies under the direct leadership
of Judge Edgar S. Vaught, then Superintendent of Oklahoma City Schools and now (1968) retired United States District Judge of Western Oklahoma. Later, after continuing his education, Mr. McCracken
was principal of public schools at Jones, Choctaw, Harrah and Moore.
On September 1, 1909, Mr. McCracken was united in marriage to Dollie May Brown, daughter of Reverend E. Brown, one of the Methodist circuit riders who had served Clear Spring, Sunny Lane
and other little Methodist churches in the Methodist Conference of Oklahoma Territory. To this union was born four children: Mildred McCracken Crossley, Oklahoma City; Wilson Walter McCracken,
Guthrie; and the twins, Lawrence McCracken, Oklahoma City and Laurene McCracken Needham, Tulsa. On November 30, 1914, Mrs. McCracken died at the birth of the twins. Mr. McCracken then gave up
his teaching in the public schools and entered into a new career. On December 24, 1916, he was united in marriage to Miss Maude Hill, who was a public school teacher. Three children blessed the union. Edmond Clarence, Thomas Creal, who died in infancy, and Donald Ray, who lives in Oklahoma City.
Mr. McCracken was Superintendent of Sunny Lane Cemetery for more than a quarter of a century. In his capacity as superintendent and presiding over burials, he really lived the philosophy of Sam Foss: "Let me live by the side of the road and be a friend to man." His church, Capitol Hill Methodist, took priority. He ably served in every capacity in the Church open to a layman, twice elected delegate from
the Oklahoma Methodist Conference to represent the State at the Methodist Jurisdictional Conference.
For many years, he was an active member of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, serving in 1933 as president. His advice and counsel were especially valuable to the group when it staged the big
89'er parade every year. He was in charge of the 89'er section of the parade, and rounded up the old timers and the old-time pieces such as surreys, chuck-wagons, buggies and the hearse. He was also the Master of Ceremonies at the Chamber's annual dinner for 89'ers, whose
ranks diminished every year. On April 23, 1968, at the 89'er Day observance by the Chamber of
Commerce, Mr. McCracken was honored for the work he had done in this community. His pastor, Dr. Alva R. Hutchinson, was chosen to pay tribute to Walter McCracken, the mutual friend of all present.
He received many words of praise and gifts at this meeting. He was also an honorary member of the Capitol Hill Junior Chamber of Commerce.
The McCrackens lived in the house at the Sunny Lane Cemetery, of which he was in charge until just a few months before his passing. During his last illness, the family moved back to their home in Capitol
Hill. He was laid to rest in Sunny Lane Cemetery in the McCracken family plot. Walter Thomas McCracken has left his host of friends with memories of a good life well spent for us and the future generations to observe and follow. Besides his widow, children and grandchildren,
he leaves three sisters, Mrs. Jessie Hogan, Mrs. Mary JaneShirley and Mrs. Frank Trosper, all of Oklahoma City.
He was known as the Will Rogers of Del City for his great humor and civic involvement.
His daughter Laurene acquired the old wagon wheel from the covered wagon his parents had used in the land rush. She made the wagon wheel into a table, which is now in the possession of Laurene's daughter, Dorothy Tarpley.
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