The Duncan Banner
Betty Apple stood in front of numerous lawyers, city and county workers and dignitaries, and took home recognition for all she’s done for the community.
On Friday, Apple was this year’s recipient of the Liberty Bell Award, which is given every year during the Law Day luncheon. The award was presented by District Judge Joe Enos.
In his introduction, Enos talked about all Apple has done for Duncan and Stephens County, from helping establish Duncan Regional Hospital to leading a high quality group of nurses to helping establish the DRH Foundation. And despite retiring in 2004, Apple has continued to be an active part of the community.
“It’s a community worth supporting,” Apple said.
Apple admitted she grew up in large cities and hadn’t lived in a smaller town when she and her husband, Ed —another Liberty Bell recipient — moved to Duncan. But the city was something they fell in love with and knew they both wanted to leave things better than when they found them.
She said members of the community have met her desire to improve Duncan and have helped run with it.
She said the hard work has been worth the effort, and she’s excited by all the progress being made.
“It’s not something I did,” Apple said. “It’s something we all do together. I’m going to continue to support Duncan and Stephens County as long as I can.”
Apple wasn’t the only person recognized during the luncheon.
Phil Leonard was recognized for 50 years of membership to the Bar Association, and Harold Garvin was recognized for 70 years of membership. Garvin received a standing ovation from those in attendance.
“Both of them have exhibited what I consider a dying trait; they have given back to their community,” attorney Scott Stone said.
For the event, Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Noma Gurich was brought in as the keynote speaker. Gurich, the third woman ever to become a Supreme Court Justice in Oklahoma, talked about this year’s theme: “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.”
This year is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, from which the theme originated. Gurich discussed how equality is becoming more of a reality than it has been in the past.
“Either you believe in equality or you don’t,” Gurich said. “I wanted to believe in equality. Differences are celebrated by equality.”
As late as 1978, when Gurich was graduating college, she was finding it difficult to get a job as a lawyer because of her gender. In 1978, there were just under 8,000 lawyers in Oklahoma. Of those, 396 were women, which equates to about 5 percent.
In the 1980s, that percentage went up to 14 percent. Now, the number is up to 31 percent, representing 5,400 female lawyers in the state.
“It’s come a long way,” Gurich said. “It’s not over until every person gets what they deserve. Things have gotten way different, have gotten way better.”