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News & Press: Featured Alumni

Regent John Massey

Tuesday, August 03, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Cody Wood
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I've been able to realize some of my goals and dreams in life and I can trace many of the positive experiences back to Southeastern.

I was born in Durant, moved to Boswell when I was three months old, then returned to Durant at age 14. I finished high school in Durant, where I played football and participated in the DECA program.

My family wasn't able to afford the extra things, but we had each other and our home held a lot of love. We all pitched in to make things work. My mother and father, Jennie and Emmett Massey, gave us things far more valuable than any material things might have been.

I graduated from Durant High in 1954 and served in the United States Army from 1954 to 1957. I lived just across the street from Southeastern president Dr. Allen E. Shearer. I was out in the yard one day when he came out to talk to me. That's when I realized I had a chance to be more than a day laborer. He gave me the most encouragement of my life.

Dr. Shearer became my mentor in life and a very good friend.

My military time was in the medical corps and I spent a lot of time with doctors. That's really where I learned how to study. I went to work early and stayed late and finished at the head of my class. It was a tremendous learning experience, associating with highly educated people.

I went back to college and today I couldn't dream of a better experience.

My Bachelor's Degree came from Southeastern in 1960 and the years I spent in school there taught me some lessons I have carried throughout my life. I learned to apply myself, to budget my time, to understand there were things I could do and things I couldn't do.

There's no way to tell you what Southeastern means to me. I just feel so full of love for my school, the Campus of the Rising Sun. As a student, I knew that if I needed one-on-one help it would be available. The faculty and staff were always willing to go the extra mile to help students.

Working for the Oklahoma Publishing Company in the southeastern Oklahoma area from 1959-72 gave me some valuable lessons in paying attention and taking care of business on a daily basis.

College is a great time in our lives and it's unfortunate that many of us don't take advantage of it. It's a time to meet new friends and have fun, but it's also a time to learn new things and prepare ourselves for the future.

Back then, all of our activities were on campus. I remember sock hops on Mondays and weekends. Those were great times to meet people and many students participated. We didn't have the money to go other places and we all just became involved in our campus.

I would like to see that involvement revived on campus today.

Being the first in my family to attend college made me feel I was setting an example for my family to follow. I wanted to be the best I could be and I worked hard to achieve that goal.

I have been so fortunate in my life. The foundation I received from my family, encouragement from Dr. Shearer, Dean John Krattiger, and many teachers at Southeastern, helped me realize I could go beyond my wildest dreams.

I was elected state representative while a senior at Southeastern in 1960. I served two terms there and was elected state senator in 1964, for another two terms.

I started working with Durant Bank and Trust Company and served as Director in 1966. I was named Chairman in 1974. That was the beginning of my banking career. The Durant Bank and Trust is now First United Bank with 32 branches in 20 Oklahoma and Texas cities. First United consistently handles assets of more than $2 billion dollars.

I sit on numerous foundations and boards and chair some boards of directors. I have served on the ethics commission, historical board, security commission, and am currently serving my second term as a State Regent. I'm a member of professional associations, including the Oklahoma and America Bank Associations.

I'm now in a position to support Southeastern and I try to do that in various ways. One of those ways is the Massey Family Lectureship in Business and Public Policy, established in 1994 by a $30,000 gift from my family. That was matched by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

I have gradually withdrawn from the daily operation of First United while my son, Greg, handles the business. I serve as Chair of the Board of First United, along with serving in that capacity with other organizations.

I am fortunate and proud to have accomplished some good things in my life. My wife, Donna, and I were able to build a chapel in the new tabernacle at Falls Creek (Oklahoma) church camp in the name of my mother. I was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Southeastern in 1984 and that's a highlight of my life. The Southeastern School of Business is now the John Massey School of Business (2005). My family has established eight endowed chairs and four professorships. These are just other ways of giving back.

At Southeastern, I was a member of Blue Key Men's Leadership Fraternity, president of the Student Senate, and listed in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities.

Being the only student in Southeastern history to receive the Outstanding Student Award for three consecutive years is a great accomplishment and being the first "outsider" inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame (2002) is another tremendous honor.

Everything worthwhile traces its roots to education. Whether you're in business, doing research, or teaching, I sincerely believe in the importance of businessmen and women sharing time and expertise with students.

I realize there are other good schools in our country, but I would, without reservation, recommend Southeastern to anybody.

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