Firm Foundation on the Farm Distinguished Alumni
They say you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.
So on a farm in rural Oklahoma county, Jane (Williams 68) Winton has a few Texas stars posted in charming nooks and on sturdy fences to remind her of her beloved Lone Star State.
But Oklahoma is where the grandchildren are, so that’s where she is. That her alma mater is close by is certainly Oklahoma Christian’s gain.
Jane and her husband, Lon Winton (69), are this year’s Distinguished Alumni award winners, though they say they do NOT know why.
Glory-seeking is definitely not how they roll, which is why it is so special to see them honored for their steadfast and enthusiastic love for our alma mater.
Quiet support for students, tireless work on the Board of Trustees by Lon, and Jane’s relentless talking up of all things new and exciting on campus are some of the reasons we’ll honor them.
Lon grew up in Oklahoma City and went to high school with Randy Heath (69), but had no intention of having anything to do with Oklahoma Christian … though Lon’s mother, Syble Winton, was a member of Stepping Stones (now the Oklahoma Christian Women’s Association) and would have liked nothing more.
Lon shrugged off a full scholarship to the University of Oklahoma because he would have had to pursue a degree related to the petroleum industry.
That’s an interesting irony to Lon’s story since he went on to a highly successful career in the energy industry as an IT expert.
As he describes it, helped show him that God’s plan for his life was so much better than his own.
After heading to Oklahoma State University on an academic scholarship, Heath sent him a letter about Oklahoma Christian’s new scholarship baseball program. So in January 1966, he transferred and joined Coach Max Dobson’s baseball team.
It didn’t take long for Jane to notice him.
“He was coming down the stairs wearing white chinos and a buttoned-down short-sleeve shirt. He was with a girl and I remember thinking ‘bless her heart’ because I am going to date him,” Jane said.
It helped that her last name was Williams, his was Winton, and the class was seated alphabetically.
“I don’t know what took me so long,” Lon said. But he finally asked her for a date at the end of that semester. They were engaged by the end of the summer, 46 years ago.
Lon served in the military and both of them were teachers before he was lured to the energy industry.
They raised their children, Jennifer (92) and Matthew (96), mostly in Texas.
After high school, both kids crossed the Red River to come to Oklahoma Christian.
“We said to them that our money is going to OC, you might as well follow it,” Jane said. “I didn’t care if they married, but the percentage is high that you will find a mate at college. And they both married wonderfully Christian spiritual mates. I love them. Then they proceeded to give me seven grandchildren!”
"Lon and Jane are great examples for all of us who know them."
Jennifer married John Edmunson (91), and Matthew married Jennifer Allcorn (97). They all settled in Central Oklahoma while Lon and Jane remained in Texas.
One Mother’s Day, Jane asked God to move her and Lon to Oklahoma to be close to the children and grandchildren. Three weeks later, Lon got an unexpected offer from Chesapeake Energy … and they moved to Oklahoma City that July.
A few years ago, they all moved out to the farm – living close (but not too close) to each other, they said.
One of the grandchildren, Vivian Edmunson, now is a sophomore in OC’s Honors Program, leading the way for her siblings and cousins to follow.
Lon retired after a successful career as an executive at Chesapeake, and later was lured out of retirement by former colleague Tom Ward to work at Sandridge Energy.
At then-president Mike O’Neal’s request, he joined OC’s Board of Trustees in 2005.
“Mike O’Neal is such a Godly man and OC is well-positioned for the future. With new president John deSteiguer, we have had a wonderful transition,” Lon said. “This administration truly loves the kids and helps them aspire to be better Christians, better adults and grounded in their professions.”
Their friends and family will agree that Lon and Jane caught that vision themselves and have spent their lives exemplifying it.
“Lon and Jane would have been successful individuals in life because of their Christian faith,” said Heath, who has served Oklahoma Christian for four decades as our track and field coach. “However, because they met at OCC and married, they became a very successful Christian couple that had an outstanding family, an outstanding professional career, and has served our country, Oklahoma Christian, and the Church of Christ in an excellent way. They are great examples for all of us who know them.”
View more stories from the Fall 2013 issue of Vision magazine.