Harold and Mary Helon Fletcher moved from Florida Christian College to Bartlesville in 1950 when a Christian college for Oklahoma was only a dream. They made a commitment that has endured for more than half a century.
For six decades, the Fletchers have demonstrated to students that the life of faith and family, and the life of intellectual openness, inquiry, learning and devotion to the arts are not mutually exclusive. Their love and commitment to family in an environment rich with music, art, theatre, travel and a healthy questioning of the status quo have set a much-emulated standard, especially for the many faculty members they have loved and mentored.
A true intellectual, Harold Fletcher has a love for learning and a respect for every aspect of life that far surpasses traditional scholarship. He sees the artistic validity in an Ozark fiddle tune as fully as a Bach cantata. He values the history of Oklahoma as much as the history of the Renaissance. He loves opera; he loves the steel bands of Trinidad. He loves everything beautiful, good and true.
At the risk of personal loss, Harold Fletcher has exemplified a life of integrity. A self-described classically-trained music teacher from West Texas, he emerged in the 1960s as a man before his time. With Mary Helon’s help and support, he was the most ardent advocate of civil rights and human rights on the Oklahoma Christian campus during that turbulent decade.
A gifted composer, pianist, conductor, teacher, historian, musicologist, theologian, philosopher, scholar, gardener and craftsman, he wears well the description ‘Renaissance Man.’ As a conductor and as a teacher of music history, literature and theory, he engendered lasting reverence, loyalty and an amazing level of hard work from his students as much so in the 90s as the 50s.
He composed the school’s alma mater and directed the university’s Chorale, and wrote and directed many of OC’s musicals. A professor emeritus, Dr. Fletcher continues to teach classes today.
Mary Helon Fletcher, an instructor in piano for many years, was known for her candor, realness in an age of artifice and enjoyment of fun, music and the stage that continually drew people to her. She simply adored students. A meal at her table, with the best of native Southern cuisine, endures as a lasting lesson in humanity and true civility.
A student from the 1970s captured the impact of Harold and Mary Helon Fletcher on the life of this university in a brief phrase. “While in their presence,” he said, “a person feels more whole.”
In 2005, Oklahoma Christian dedicated the Harold and Mary Helon Fletcher Center for Music in their honor.