Do you remember the Greedharts?
The story of a family of entrepreneurs who served Sapulpa for seven decades began on August 10, 1903, when Ray Walborn Gierhart, the patriarch of the Gierhart family, was born in El Reno, Oklahoma.
Although Ray Gierhart of Sapulpans was known as “Gabe”, many did not know that this was his nickname. In his youth he worked for a man named Gabe Yates in El Reno. His friends called him “Gabe” for his boss and the name stuck.
Gabe worked on the family farm until he was ten and then began delivering newspapers for the Daily Oklahoman and the Oklahoma City Times. During his junior year in high school, he worked as a soda idiot at a drugstore in El Reno. Disaffected with the job, he went to El Reno American, where he trained as a printer.
In the fall of 1921, with only $ 36 in his pocket, he entered the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical School, now known as Oklahoma State University. He looked for work in vain for two weeks as the upper class had taken over all jobs in the area.
One day he went to the Stillwater Democrat to “see the newspaper up and running. It was press day and it was a total pandemonium, the press wasn’t working and it was time to print. ”Gabe saw that the equipment looked like the El Reno American.
Mr. Gould, the owner of the paper, saw young Gabe and yelled, “Young man, you asked for a job here. Can you run this blanket Babcock press? “Gabe replied,” Yes, sir, I think I can. ” Gabe began removing newspapers from the press, then he cleaned the machines and made three minor adjustments. He turned on the press and ran 2,100 newspapers without a break.
Gabe’s employment with the newspaper changed someone else’s career path. The owner had two sons who worked for the newspaper, one of whom quit and pursued a calling in his hobby, art. This son was none other than Chester Gould, the creator of Dick Tracy.
Gabe’s journalistic career began in college when he was the summer editor of the El Reno Free Press and the El Reno Daily Tribune. His first extracurricular degree worked as a reporter for the weekly school newspaper Orange and Black. He also played a major role in changing the name from Orange and Black to The Daily O’Collegian, which is still the student newspaper. Gabe was later selected to be the editor of the Redskin yearbook.
Several of the yearbook’s contributors later made famous careers such as Red Stone who became president of Scripps-Howard Newspapers and Paul Miller who became president of the Gannet newspaper chain in New York.
Upon graduation, Gabe worked in the advertising department of the Blackwell Journal and Tribune. He worked at Blackwell for about three years, then moved to Bristow, and his next job was advertising manager for the Woodward Daily Press.
He married his high school mistress, Mary Frances Beckett, on December 27, 1926.
In April 1931, Gabes’ close college friend JW Weaver bought the Democrat News in Sapulpa. Gabe joined Weaver as a partner on July 3, 1931.
The newspaper was published every Thursday at 108 East Dewey Ave. published and a subscription was $ 1.50 per year.
In 1942, Ray W. “Gabe” Gierhart was the publisher and Sarah Turner was the publisher of the Society. Some of the featured columns that year were News of the Boys in Service; “Kitcheneering” by the Home Service Department of Oklahoma Natural Gas; Sandy Moulder’s Echoes in the Corridor; and “The Smoke Signal,” sponsored by journalism students from Sapulpa High School.
On April 20, 1947, Gabe Weaver bought Weaver’s stake in the Democrat News and became the sole owner of the newspaper
Gabe was very active in the ward, serving as president of the Rotary club in 1950. He served as district chairman of the Creek Nation Area Council of Boy Scouts for Sapulpa District for seven years and area chairman for two years. He served on the Board of Directors of Sapulpa Federal Savings and Loan for sixteen years.
He was an avid fisherman and wrote a column called “Angling Around”. He also broadcast a fishing program on the local radio station KREK. Ed Livermore, owner and editor of the Sapulpa Daily Herald, bought the Democrat News and ran the newspaper until 1975.
After running the Democrat News for several years, Gabe began selling office supplies, creating Gabe’s Office Supply.
William William and Frank helped their father run the family business. William stopped typing and Frank packed and mailed the newspapers. Her mother, Mary Frances, ran a gift shop in the corner of the shop. Her sister Barbara Gierhart (white) worked by her side for many years. Mary Frances Gierhart died in April 1978. Ray “Gabe” Gierhart died in 1993.
Gabe’s two sons followed in their father’s footsteps by studying journalism at OSU and doing community service. Frank worked as a sports editor for the Daily O’Collegian at OSU.
Aside from college and military service during the Korean War 1950-1951, William worked in the family business from youth until retirement.
Frank graduated from OSU in 1958, then worked for a chain of restaurants in Dallas before returning to the family business in 1969.
William served as the Boy Scout Master for Troop 224 in the Pre Betrerin Church and served as the elder, deacon, and trustee of that church. He was state vice president of the local Jaycees and served as president of the Rotary club.
Frank served as an elder in the Presbertian Church and in several committees and in the choir. He was active in Sapulpa’s Main Street program. He was involved with the Route 66 Association and helped create the Association’s annual official travel guide. In 2006 he was voted “Favorite Community Leader” by readers of the Sapulpa Daily Herald.
I still remember some of the products that were sold at Gabe like the file binders, Wilson-Jones Ledgers that my father used in his shop, an abundance of ink pens and ink bottles that I used to refill my ink cartridge in junior high.
After 73 years of service, the Gierhart brothers sold Gabe’s to Gary Fisher, who closed the business a few years later. Shortly after his retirement, William died in August 2004.
Frank opened a frame shop in the building that is now CTX Coffee and turned the upper floor of the building into a beautiful loft apartment. Frank was a self-taught frame builder who built a very successful frame business.
I remember one day in 2005 Frank stopped by my shop and gave me a “present”. He had written an article in Tulsa World that featured my leading role in a play. I told him it was a really nice gesture and offered to pay him, but he wouldn’t take any money. This framed item is still hanging on my wall. Frank died in November 2017. His sister Barbara died in June 2019.
The Democrat News, Gabes, Gabe, Frank, William and Barbara are gone, but they will never be forgotten.