Scholarship endowed in honor of Harrisons' commitment to community

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Scholarship endowed in honor of Harrisons' commitment to community

Northwestern Foundation/Alumni Release

November 12, 2008

Dick and Thamazin Harrison chose to make a commitment -- a commitment to the youth of northwest Oklahoma. They will continue to inspire and touch many more generations through their scholarship, the Dick and Thamazin Harrison Scholarship, recently established through the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Foundation.

This scholarship will be available to anyone who seeks the benefits of higher education at Northwestern. The only stipulations are the student must be continuing their education and have at least a 3.0 GPA. This scholarship is meant to help any student, regardless of major or home town, and can be applied to any educational expense. The sole purpose of this scholarship is to offer relief in any way possible.

 Skeeter Bird with Dick and Thamazin Harrison
The Dick and Thamazin Harrison Scholarship at Northwestern Oklahoma State University is discussed by (from left) Skeeter Bird, CEO, Northwestern Foundation; Dick Harrison and Thamazin Harrison.
 Dick and Thamazin Harrison getting their blood pressure checked at the Northwestern Fair Booth.
Dick and Thamazin Harrison enjoy themselves at the Woods County Fair.

The Harrison’s daughter and son-in-law, Kelli and Brock Schnebel, have endowed the scholarship in honor of her parents.

This scholarship is extremely fitting for a couple who values the importance of an education. And even though neither Dick nor Thamazin have degrees, they have taken classes at Northwestern and have raised their family to understand that education is the backbone to a successful future.

“We hope that we can contribute to make a long lasting scholarship at Northwestern,” Thamazin said. “The university gave so much to our kids, and they couldn’t have gotten a better education elsewhere, I don’t care what you tell me.”

For many years the Harrisons have given of themselves not only to Northwestern but to the community of Alva. In 1972, they became charter members of Act I and continue today to make sure the community has a chance to enjoy the arts.

“A group of us got together at Herb and Gerree Smith’s house and decided we should do this; we thought it would be a lot of fun,” Thamazin said.

Over the last 36 years, Act I has gone from performing in Herod Hall, to the old library in Jesse Dunn (now the museum), to its current home on the square. The first play performed was “Harvey,” and the most popular over the years has been “Forever Plaid.”
The men of “Forever Plaid,” Todd Holder, Randy Mitchel, Bill Marshall and Darrell Kline, have packed houses in Alva, Enid and Woodward and have had numerous calls from all across the state of Oklahoma to perform. This is a testament to Dick and Thamazin’s drive to not just put on plays but to put on only the best.

Every year they direct three productions, two featuring adult actors and one children’s play. This year the “Christmas Schooner” will be playing from Nov. 20-22.

Another joy of the Harrisons is the Order of the Rainbow for Girls, a Masonic youth organization, which they have been actively helping with since the 60’s. Dick has been the Rainbow Dad since 1966, and Thamazin has been the Rainbow Mom since 1970.

Always giving whatever time they could to the kids has not changed to this day. Three days a week they read to and mentor the students at Lincoln and Longfellow elementary schools.

Along with mentoring, they try very hard not to miss any Ranger athletic event. Dick is a huge Ranger fan. Since he was a young boy at Alva High School he has watched Ranger sports. He has seen the greats, from Mike Hargrove to Tommy Griffin to Stewart Arthurs, and current greats such as Patrick Crayton. It is not just the Rangers he likes so much, it is also the Lady Rangers. He doesn’t miss a soccer game and loves talking to the girls.

“We have so much fun at those ball games,” Dick said.

The Harrison’s have been exceptional givers, whether it is money or, most of all, their time. They were a part of the Northwestern Foundation Century Club and are current members of the Millennium Club and President’s Association.

“Giving back is what it’s all about,” Thamazin said. “We enjoy it very much, and we can give more time than we can money.”
They had hoped to establish this scholarship after they had passed, but their family thought otherwise.

“Dick and Thamar have done so much for Alva and Northwestern that we thought we should get this going so they could see it happen,” Schnebel said. “From Rainbow to Act I and everything else, they deserve to see it become a reality.”

Dick and Thamazin have lived a life full of accomplishment and service. They epitomize the northwest Oklahoma ideals of hard work and life-long learning that have built Northwestern and its community into a driving force now and in the future.

“We are grateful to the Harrisons for their support of our students,” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, president of Northwestern. “The Harrisons have done much to improve the quality of life in Alva and now they will positively impact the lives of some deserving students.”

Note: Unfortunately, Dick Harrison passed away a couple of days before this story was finished. The family chose to publish the story as written. Please join the Foundation and University in remorse for the loss of a wonderful citizen of our region. Please also consider the celebration of a life well spent and a legacy created. Dick Harrison, we will miss you.
Skeeter Bird
CEO, Northwestern Foundation