Keynote Speaker Dr. Bob Blackburn highlights the importance of overcoming challenges and seizing opportunities for Oklahomans during the Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Monday at the Woodward Conference Center. (Photo by Sarah Nishimuta)

After initial acknowledgments, Woodward Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon kicked off with an introduction of Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s new Dean Dr. Jonathan Thomason on Monday at the Woodward Conference Center.

“We’re really looking forward to putting down some deep roots here,” Thomason said. “I love Oklahoma because we kind of have a we're just going to take care of it attitude.”

The keynote speaker this month was Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Dr. Bob Blackburn.

“Of the municipal supported museums in the State of Oklahoma,” Blackburn said. “You’ve got best of all of them that are supported by a city.”

Blackburn’s message went through the history of Love’s Country Stores, going all the way back to a Scottish merchant in the 1760s trading with the Chickasaw Nation, bringing the family through the Revolutionary War, marrying into the Chickasaw Nation, and being transferred west.

“And this second generation learned to deal with the challenges and seizing opportunities,” Blackburn said. “One branch of the Love family would settle along the Red River.”

During the Civil War, the family joined the Chickasaw Nation in fighting for the South.

“More death and destruction, property and lives, in Indian Territory during the Civil War per capita than the state of Virginia,” Blackburn stressed.

The family moved to south of the Canadian River. They took advantage of the building of the railroad by contracting to sell beef to the Texas crew as they worked north to meet in Purcell, where the family established several businesses.

Bringing the family through the Great Depression and into the present day, Blackburn consistently talked about how they dealt with challenges and seized opportunities along the way.

“We historians understand these changes. We can help you, the community, through education, through our own associations of public service and giving back to the community through organizations, such as the Oklahoma Historical Society,” Blackburn said. “And help each of you as individual business people to connect the dots. To understand what has happened. What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? How can we put together a plan to burst through the next challenge and the challenge after?”

According to Blackburn, history is as relevant today as science in math.

“We need historians to provide the facts,” Blackburn said. “We have got to be willing to step up and say no. Here are the facts. Here is the history.”

Acknowledging the problems in this country, Blackburn said we need to work together. Not to divide. Not to create fear and hatred.

“We can get through this together,” Blackburn said. “We've all got to be aware that we are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors, the pioneers who built this community.”

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