The Woodward News


March 30, 2014

Rea recalls a career in history

Retirement for some people can begin a transition fraught with a little spell of depression and even grief over the loss of one’s job, which many use to define themselves.

But none of that applies to Oklahoma Historian and Fort Supply Historical Site Curator Bob Rea. He said he isn't going to get a chance to miss the place.

“I guess I will be going from head employee to head volunteer,” he said. “There is a lot to try and learn here for the new guy, so I will be on call to help.”

This week was Rea’s last after nearly 23 years working as first the site supervisor at Fort Supply and later as the Oklahoma Military Sites Director. He ends his tenure with the state as the Historical Site Department Director. He will be replaced by recent hire Shayne House of Woodward.

Rea is happy and excited about his retirement or, “I wouldn't have put in for it otherwise,” he said.

Rea plans to return to his art, a possibly little known aspect of the man, who paints and draws primarily early western scenes.

“I was an on-again-off-again artist through my life and I was invited to show my art at a couple places," he said. "And so I am planning on getting back to focusing on that."

Rea’s rise to the status of a respected historian followed an improbable path.

It was unlikely that the 1967 Northwest Classen High School graduate from Oklahoma City would end up in Northwest Oklahoma at all, let alone as the holder of such detailed knowledge of the history here.

His arrival here was kismet. A combination of things - his double art and history major at then named Central State College and a romance, which blossomed with Woodward native Brenda Blasdel.

This was the woman who would bring him from Oklahoma City and whom he married and later with whom he carried on a ranching tradition as the two began managing some of the family ranch. His wife continues to teach art for Woodward Public Schools, Rea said.

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