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January 12, 2014

Norman wins game, loses wonderful lady

NORMAN — Norman lost another of its best kept secrets. Longtime resident Sylvia Martin died recently after a brief illness. She wanted to go home to her native Wisconsin a few weeks ago. She died there at age 93.

She attended more public meetings than the current City Council members combined. Mrs. Martin was a council-watcher who kept our elected leaders honest and politely raised a flag when something didn’t pass her smell test.

We first met in the 1980s when she watched the county commissioners. She was fiercely private and a frequent letter writer, always hand-delivering them, or using the courier service of her husband, Ralph, to make sure that they were received by me. She gave her address as a post office box. I had her telephone number but was under strict orders not to give it out without her permission.

Longtime Norman attorney and former councilman Harold Heiple said Sylvia did her homework, took notes and was courteous and appreciative of getting her questions answered. She also was the only person who ever had her own chair and microphone at City Council meetings.

She had as much impact on Norman and Cleveland County governing bodies as anyone in the past few decades. Can we have a moment of silence, please, at all public meetings this week, in Sylvia’s honor?

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Chamber of Commerce Chairman Andy Sherrer waited for weeks to deliver his opening line for the membership luncheon Friday at BelMar Golf Club. Noting legendary meteorologist Gary England was in the house, Sherrer let go with a popular England line

“It’s Friday in the big town,” Sherrer said.

England responded with high praise for Norman, OU’s meteorology department and the National Weather Center, anchor tenant on the Research Campus.

“It’s the best in the land. It’s where you want to be in meteorology and other fields,” he told the chamber audience.

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