Longtime engineer named grand marshal

Local engineer David Rennie has been selected as this year’s grand marshal of the 89’er Day parade.

Local engineer David A. Rennie, a grandson of the Indian Territory attorney who drew up the townsite organization papers for Norman, has been selected as this year’s grand marshal of the 89’er Day parade.

This year’s parade, with the theme “Norman — History in the Making,” will begin at 10 a.m. April 18 on Main Street. The parade begins at Norman High School and moves east to Crawford Avenue.

“We try as a committee to honor individuals whose families are deeply rooted to the community,” said Bob Thompson, chair of the grand marshal committee. “David’s family is truly deeply rooted in Cleveland County and the land run and thus makes a great choice for the parade marshal.”

Rennie said he’s looking forward to riding in the surrey on April 18.

“It’s an honor that connects me to the community where I received most of my nurturing as a young man and also connects me to my heritage with my grandfather’s role in settling Norman,” said Rennie, 74. “He drafted the townsite and then he was appointed as the first U.S. Commissioner for the area.”

Rennie’s grandfather, Albert Rennie,  an attorney at White Bead and Pauls Valley, was initially hired by the local Santa Fe agent to draw up a townsite agreement paper for members of the group known as the Norman Townsite Company to sign. He was born in 1863 and died in 1948. 

Albert Rennie drew up a plat for the new townsite with all of the thoroughfares running in the cardinal directions as requested by the railroad. The agreement, according to longtime Norman historian John Womack’s book, “Norman: An early History 1820-1900,” carried no real legal bearing, but it did serve as an ethical guide for Norman’s early settlers after the land run.

 Albert Rennie, known as “Papa” to his family, made the Run of ‘89 on April 22, 1889, and claimed the East one-half of Section 27, Township 8 North, Range 2 West, for the townsite of Noble.  He named the town in honor of then Secretary of the Interior John W. Noble. 

David Rennie moved to Norman with his parents in 1950. He received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Oklahoma and also a commission in the Army.  He served in Germany, Vietnam and the U.S. before resigning his commission and beginning work for private engineering firms. He worked for the City of Norman for 10 years, first as city engineer and then later as public works director.

After attending law school in Canada, his grandfather came to Oklahoma Territory in to visit some half-brothers in Tishomingo.   

“In 1863 he came to visit his half brothers to see what the Indian Territory was all about and never came back,” David Rennie said.

 Rennie has three daughters — Rebecca, Meghan and Keely.

The 2015 parade will feature multiple narration stations along the route and increased signage within the parade which organizers say will be sequenced chronologically by decade.

More information on the parade is available at norman89er.com.

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