View Full Version : When JFK Visited Oklahoma City

05-13-2006, 03:35 PM
President Kennedy visited Oklahoma City in January of 1963 along with Vice-President and Lady Bird Johnson. They attended the funeral of the powerful U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, Robert S. Kerr. I was reading somewhere that the funeral was at the Episcopal Church downtown. However, there is a photo, and from what little you can see of the church as the President was leaving - it's clearly not St. Paul's Episcopal. So, it being Saturday and with nothing to do, I set out to found out where this picture was taken.

I traveled around downtown looking at all the churches and I think I found it.
It's the side (south) entrance of the First Baptist Church.
Here are color and black & white photos. Compare with above.
My picture is a little closer than the older pic (and the railing has been added) but notice:

1. The bricks line up perfectly.
2. The steps are the same style of concrete.
3. The top part of the brick (the white part) there is a small anomaly in the stone....a little mark of some kind where the stone has chipped...It is in both pictures in the same spot.
4. The only way out of the side entrance is to walk out facing the east and then turn immediately to the south. Notice that the Secret Service agent is looking - south.

Everybody agree this is the spot?

I know, it doesn't matter - but I thought it was kinda fun playing detective, and I just knew the building in that picture was not St. Paul's.

Doug Loudenback
05-13-2006, 04:43 PM
Sharp sleuthing, writerranger! Looks to be so. Confirmation might be to know what denomination that RS Kerr was kin to. I don't know. Of course, an old obit would probably say.

05-14-2006, 08:30 AM
We're halfway there:
He was definitely a Baptist

This is from the political graveyard website:

Robert Samuel Kerr (1896-1963) also known as Robert S. Kerr of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Okla. Born near Ada, Pontotoc County, Okla., September 11, 1896. Democrat. Served in the U.S. Army during World War I; lawyer; state court judge in Oklahoma, 1931; member of Democratic National Committee from Oklahoma, 1940-48; Governor of Oklahoma, 1943-47; delegate to Democratic National Convention from Oklahoma, 1944, 1956; U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, 1949-63; died in office 1963. Baptist. Member, American Legion; Forty and Eight; Freemasons. Died in Washington, D.C., January 1, 1963. Original interment at Rose Hill Cemetery, Oklahoma City, Okla.; reinterment at a private or family graveyard, Pontotoc County, Okla.

05-14-2006, 09:23 AM
My sister as a teacher has free access to the Daily OK
archives, we need to lobby Newsok that 9.00 per day is
not reasonable in the age of free internet....
I had her email me the article and it confirms that
it was First Baptist and even says the door he walked out of.
He also went to the burial at Rose Hill....
OK, now, the "REAL" Sleuthwork would be to track down the
1963 Lincoln owned by Fred Jones with the removable rear top
that he was riding in with Tulsa plates....(in those days,
they didn't bring the president's motorcade with him.....on
short visits....


05-14-2006, 12:08 PM

Wow....good work! It does indeed say, "a side door on the south side of the church." So, that's it! Thank you for going to the trouble of having your sister look it up and email you the article. I always use the online Oklahoman Archive that the library makes available to anyone with a free library card (sign on to MARS, it's under 'databases', select 'newspapers' and then 'Newsbank - Daily Oklahoman '). The only problem with that particular archive is that it is limited to searches from 1981-present. So, this was great for your sister to have that access and find this.

Way to go! :congrats:

Oh, on the car......I'll leave my Columbo skills back at First Baptist. That would be a chore!

UPDATE: I just discovered that the library now allows access to the regular Oklahoman Archives under 'databases' - 'newspapers' - 'Oklahoman Electronic Archives' ---- it's the exact same thing you have to pay for at the Oklahoman website. If you have a library card, just sign in here:

Doug Loudenback
05-14-2006, 12:32 PM
Great tip! I've got a library card but wasn't aware of this service! Yea!

05-14-2006, 01:35 PM

I'm rather quite jealous that you actually had a Saturday with nothing to do. Haven't had a day like than in over 12 1/2 years. Won't have a day like that for at least another 12 1/2 years!

05-14-2006, 03:36 PM
Maybe if you drove a little faster you can get your errands done and have some more free time!

Just teasing you! I couldn't resist... LOL

05-14-2006, 04:53 PM
UPDATE: I just discovered that the library now allows access to the regular Oklahoman Archives under 'databases' - 'newspapers' - 'Oklahoman Electronic Archives' ---- it's the exact same thing you have to pay for at the Oklahoman website. If you have a library card, just sign in here:

This tip has me spending hours looking at old stories. This one I found particularly delicious:

Let's Set Our Sights on Becoming Big-Time City
The Daily Oklahoman
August 25, 1989
Author: Chuck Davis
Estimated printed pages: 2

""Birds fly over the rainbow _

Why then, oh why can't I?

_ From ""Over the Rainbow,''

Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg (1898-1981),

Sung by Judy Garland in ""The Wizard of Oz.''

FIFTY years ago, on August 15, 1939, ""The Wizard of Oz,'' starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

The movie may have been a fantasy, but some of the thoughts are real.

Indeed, if birds can fly over the rainbow, why the heck can't I?

Why can't we make Oklahoma a happening place again?

Why not?

HAVE you read or heard the talk about bringing a Continental Basketball Association team to Oklahoma City?

That's a good idea _ professional sports in OKC. But why think minor leagues?

Why not put our money where our mouths are and court a National Basketball Association franchise?

Look, OU and OSU basketball have flourished so much lately _ with offense-minded coaches and sound game-winning theories _ that basketball is no longer considered a foreign sport in this state.

Heck, OU's basketball team has been more successful lately than OU's football team.

Let's go for it all. Let's actively seek an NBA team _ a major-league team. The minors are for small-minded towns. The bigs is where it's at.

Don't think we can pull it off? All it takes is the right people (with the right bucks; I can think of some already) to make the bid.

Look at Charlotte, N.C. The city is about the same size as Oklahoma City; the metro area is slightly larger. The difference? North Carolina is a hotbed of college basketball, and, as a result, interest in Charlotte's NBA team is enormous.

Sold out games. NBA attendance records the first year in existence.

It could happen in OKC. We could use the recent, successful Olympic Festival '89 as leverage.

""A man who lives, not by what he loves but what he hates, is a sick man.''

_ Archibald MacLeish,

American poet and journalist (1892-1982).

OR how about revitalizing the downtown area? That's not too much to ask for, is it?

Look at San Antonio. The downtown area has the River Walk, a string of fancy restaurants, night clubs and meeting places. It also looks like you just stepped back in time to the days of Santa Ana and the Alamo.

Look at Vancouver. Granville Island used to be a junkyard. Now, it boasts fancy restaurants and neon lights. It is the place to go in Vancouver.

Or Gastown. It could be the slum of Vancouver. But, because concerned citizens showed an interest, Gastown today is loaded with fancy restaurants, trendy shops and souvenir stores.

Look at Atlanta. They had a funky place called Underground Atlanta, with, you guessed it, night clubs, restaurants and shops. But crime moved in, and they shut down Underground Atlanta.

But the folks in Atlanta didn't give up. A major effort to kick out the criminal element was successful, and now Underground Atlanta is back in business.

Look at Dallas. The West End downtown was about as dead as a place could get a few years back. But, now, there are shops and restaurants and night clubs. And people in Dallas are proud of their downtown area again.

Look at Oklahoma City. What do we have? It's called Bricktown, and it could be revitalized just like Gastown, or the West End, or Granville Island, or the River Walk, or Underground Atlanta.

All we need is some people to get off their duffs, and say:

""Let's do it ''

""It is always too late, or too little, or both. And that is the road to disaster.''

_ David Lloyd George,

First Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor,

English statesman (1863-1945).
Section: WEEKEND
Page: 2

Copyright 1989, 1995 Oklahoma Publishing Company
Record Number: OKC1504663

05-14-2006, 05:12 PM
I'm glad people here are finding the library tip useful. I've been using the NewsBank version (1981-present, text only) for a long time, but I am really glad they've added the regular Oklahoman archives. That whole Library Database is an incredible resource - there are many databases that you would have to spend big bucks on. The magazines are great, academic journals, Oklahoma Image Archive.....In fact, the library - period - is a vastly underused resource. They do a great job.

Doug Loudenback
05-14-2006, 05:15 PM
opps! Is there a way to delete a double-post?

Doug Loudenback
05-14-2006, 05:17 PM
Nice, floater! You ought to post this at also!

05-14-2006, 06:01 PM
Wow! Dreams can come true.. what a find!

Doug Loudenback
05-14-2006, 06:56 PM
Wow! Dreams can come true.. what a find!
Yes, Karrie, but see a reply I've made to a VOR message at , having to to, of course, with The Lease!