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GCTC Employees To Be Inducted Into Hall Of Fame Tuesday


November 29, 2018

JoAnn Howell

A Gordon Cooper Technology Center Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set for 6:30 pm Tuesday, Dec. 4, to honor three local people for their outstanding contribution to the mission of GCTC.

The honorees are longtime administrative assistant/treasurer Kellie Lee, adult education advocate JoAnn Howell, and veteran safety instructor Mark Ruiz.

Kellie Lee

Diligent, reliable, competent and always behind the scenes, Kellie Lee had a tremendous, positive impact on Gordon Cooper Technology Center.

During her 26 years working at GCTC, Lee served as a secretary, registrar, administrative assistant, human resources coordinator, treasurer, and school board minute clerk.

"I always loved the school, even during bad times," she said. "This school is good for our area people and communities."

In 2005, Marty Lewis was named GCTC superintendent and Kellie continued in the administrative assistant role. It took a short time to adapt to a different work style, but the office ran efficiently and smoothly over the next decade.

"During the years Kellie Lee worked at Gordon Cooper Technology Center she was a mainstay and very important part of the stability and sound reputation the school enjoys today," Lewis said.

Lee took on more and more responsibility over the years. She continued her education by completing all levels of the Oklahoma Center for Business Management training. In addition to administrative assistant tasks, she served as school treasurer, human resources coordinator, and school board minute clerk.

Kellie and her husband, Ken, have two children and five grandchildren. Their daughter, April, and her husband, Lance, have two sons, Easton and Ty and a daughter, Hattie. Their son David and his wife Stephanie have a daughter, Rowan, and son Henry.

JoAnn Howell

Each experience in life prepared JoAnn Howell to succeed in the next new challenge.

Her 40 years of experience in the workforce included owning a retail business, working in the medical field, and working in education with students ranging from preschool to senior citizens.

She graduated from Seminole High School and went on to attend classes at Seminole Junior College. She met and married Floyd Howell and they both worked at the local hospital. Floyd was a lab and X-ray tech and JoAnn worked in the medical office.

Later they moved to Prague and JoAnn opened the Clothes Closet retail business on the main street in Prague. When the opportunity presented itself, Joann sold the business and accepted the challenge of running a state-funded community education program at Prague Public Schools. She worked hard and built a very successful community education program that served people of all ages. She was active in the Prague community during that time. JoAnn was named Citizen of the Year by the Prague Chamber of Commerce and she was honored by Beta Sigma Phi. She helped with the Kolache Festival for years organizing publicity and the queen pageant.

When funding ran out for the Prague community education program, Joann applied for and landed an adult education coordinator position at Gordon Cooper.

As Adult Education Coordinator, JoAnn was in charge of Certified Nurse Aide and Emergency Medical Technician classes. She saw that there was a need in this area for more training and she drew on her past experience in the medical field to write an application for a state Paramedic program. Rusty Gilpin was hired to be the first instructor, and went on to become the school's allied health programs coordinator.

Mark Ruiz

Almost everyone in this area knows and admires Mark Ruiz.

Mark's boundless energy and optimism guided by a humble, servant heart have touched generations of students. At age 83, he is as busy as ever teaching and serving.

For decades, Mark taught swimming safety, boating safety, and life-saving CPR to thousands of students. He taught at St. Gregory's, Gordon Cooper Technology Center, Oklahoma Baptist University, Faith 7, and Seminole State College.

"I love making people safer. Every time my heart is broken by a news story about a child drowning my determination is renewed to teach more swimming and life-saving classes," he said.

Mark later came to Oklahoma and started ninth grade at St. Gregory's in 1950. After graduation, he went on to study for the priesthood with 14 other young men at St. Gregory's College. He earned an associate degree and later served as a brother alongside the priests at St. Gregory's for 19 years. St. Gregory's built a pool in 1965 and Mark attended aquatic school preparing him to teach water safety and first aid.

Mark left the monastery in 1975 and met and married his wife, Betty. He went on to earn a bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma where he studied elementary education, foreign languages, and music. He enjoyed a full career as a teacher at South Rock Creek School. During that time he received the Kate Frank Meritorious Service Award, annually presented to the Oklahoma educator who renders significant service in the area of human relations.

Mark's long relationship with Gordon Cooper Technology Center probably started when one of the children of founding GCTC Superintendent John Bruton took a swimming class.

"I guess Dr. Bruton was impressed enough to ask me to teach some CPR and First Aid classes at the Vo-Tech. I've been teaching at Gordon Cooper more than 30 years and I'm so grateful that I can continue to teach," he said. "The people at Gordon Cooper have always treated me so well."

Kelli Lee

He was presented the Mr. Camp Fire Award by Shawnee Camp Fire, Inc. in 1969; the Shawnee Kiwanis Man of the Year Award and Shawnee Jaycees' Distinguished Service Award in 1970; plus Shawnee Elks Lodge Distinguished Citizenship Award in 1971.

He served on the board of directors of both American Red Cross and Camp Fire in this county, four years as a United Fund director and three years on the Salvation Army board. He taught first aid courses to personnel of Shawnee, Tecumseh and Pink Fire Departments. Mark was associated with scuba diving courses given Shawnee Rescue Squad firefighters and was an aquatics merit badge and merit beads examiner for county Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls.


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