Mahan family picture

Pictured above: Members of the Mahan and Stallman families with the first Mahan scholarship recipient, Rita Thompson.

The Mahan and Soderquist family and their extended Stallman, Shook, Adams, Allgood, Cartwright, and Kelly families, have a legacy of public service, working at all American civic levels in local, state, and federal governments, as well as our military.

Defending the United States and Americans has been the highest service.  Military wives and families, equally committed, know that their family members serving in the military may be imprisoned, become wounded, suffer long term health issues, or lose their life protecting our Country and never return.  Every veteran enlisted in every branch of military service commits to knowing, in times of need, they may be called back into active uniform service as part of active Reserve or Individual Ready Reserve status.  

Military service in our family began with the Civil War and continued with the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War. Our family members have served in the Navy, Army, Coast Guard, and Air Force.  C.L. Mahan and his brothers, served during the Korean Conflict and C.L. continued service during the Vietnam War. His daughter and son-in law also served in the Air Force, also retiring after 20 years.  She and her husband, Vietnam War Air Force veterans, continued their commitment, after retirement from the Air Force, to veterans and advocacy for veteran’s health care thru their work within the Veteran’s Hospital in Muskogee, Ok, during the 1990’s – 2012.

C.L.’s daughters actively support Quilts for Valor, a national Foundation. Handmade quilts presented ceremoniously endeavor to “become identified as the civilian equivalent award equal to the Purple Heart.”  “The Mission of the Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war, with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor, ” and also encompasses and comforts those civilian individuals at Dover Air Force Base, who receive the bodies of service men and women killed in action and are returned to their families.

In 2016, when this was written, over 175,000 individuals of the Oklahoma population were part of active and reserve military service or civilians providing support for the Aerospace and Department of Defense.  Cited among the top five of the State as employers it is a reflection of Oklahoma’s commitment to our national defense.

Mary Kathleen Mahan, “Kathy,” worked in public service her whole life.  Beginning with the Work-Study program in the History Department at the University of Oklahoma, Kathy took her love of history to her work as a teacher and counselor in Crescent, Oklahoma, as a Disability Examiner in Arizona, and with the Social Security Claims office in West Virginia. Her most important work that she valued was with the Social Security Administration central headquarters in Maryland.

Signed and enacted by President Roosevelt in 1935, The Social Security Act (H.R. 7260, Public Law No. 271, 74th Congress) began providing programs funded and paid for by the American worker payroll taxes.  Social Security services led to assisting the elderly with supplemental retirement pensions, providing supplemental income for widows and orphans, Medicare health services for the elderly, and programs for citizens with disabilities.

Kathy was committed to these services for the American people and advocated for these programs and services to continue from one generation to the next.  Recognized for her work, Kathy contributed as a Policy Analyst researching and giving recommendations related to Social Security law, regulations, and policies; Cost Savings for the American taxpayer; Disability and Return to Work programs, Disaster Planning and Continuity of Operations Plan to insure Americans continued to receive services during an adverse national event; Modernizing Delivery of Services; and, importantly, ongoing Improvement of Social Security services for all Americans.

Kathy received numerous awards, throughout her 30 years of service and was recognized for her work by being given the Commissioner’s Citation, the Social Security Administration highest honor award. 

Numerous family members became teachers, establishing and improving educational systems as the United States grew and expanded during the 1800’s and 1900's.  New schools were opening in the new state of Oklahoma and Stallman family members taught in one room schools in small towns and rural sites in NW Oklahoma. Hazel Bennett Stallman, attended the two year Northwestern State Teachers College (Normal School for Teachers) in Alva, Oklahoma, and, as a young woman, taught in one room schools.  Hazel received her Life Teaching Certificate from the State of Oklahoma.

Over the next decades of the 20th century, the Mahan and Stallman family determined to push the standards of teaching and education forward with 5 family members receiving both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees – Jessie Stallman and Carl Mahan, along with Kathy and her uncles, Delbert Mahan and Vernon Stallman, who also pursued post graduate education towards PhDs.  Delbert was both a classroom teacher and Superintendant of Schools for many years.  Areas of education taught by our family included elementary and secondary education in public schools, nursing, business courses of accounting, typing, economics, psychology, social studies, business math and personal finance in both high school and college.

At the beginning of the Space program in the 1960’s, Carl Mahan, a teacher for 20 years, was offered an innovative internship to introduce teachers to the Space Program. An exciting partnership developed which brought space exploration, one the 20th century’s greatest achievements, to life first hand to his high school students. Carl’s school was located in Beaver, Oklahoma, in the part of the state known as “no man’s land.” His internship encompassed touring Cessna and Beechcraft facilities in Wichita, Kansas, San Antonia, Texas, Eglin Air Force base, Florida, and then at last Cape Canaveral (now known as the Kennedy Space Center.)  The following year after his training Carl was able to order films for his students from NASA to help teach along with each flight of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects and up until the Apollo 11 Moon flight when the first men walked on the Moon, July 20, 1969.

Health care is valued by our families and medical care has been advanced by our own work treating and caring for patients during times of war, in homes, community clinic settings, hospitals, those needing long and extended nursing care, and hospice and end of life comfort.

Family members especially have moved health care forward as participants in research studies, including cancer treatment.   As new methods of treatments, medications, and health knowledge became known, at the earliest stages, these have been tried and tested and embraced by our families, contributing to medical knowledge which has improved the health quality of American lives.

Emphasis on the Public Health of Americans has been valued. Debra Mahan, Registered Nurse, and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, worked in many active roles, including at Visiting Nurses Association, which contributed to the establishing of the concept of Home Health Care and Hospice medical services in Oklahoma during the 1970’s and 1980’s.  As a Public Health Nurse, Debbie provided nursing care and assisted in the development of many programs and health services, including treatment and prevention of infectious diseases as threats to the public. This included newly discovered and identified HIV virus and AIDS disease in 1981, with Oklahoma City-County Health Department having one of the first diagnostic and treatment clinics in Oklahoma. Public Health programs encompassed responding to immigrant health needs, providing children’s health care and women’s health needs, prevention of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, among others.

Most importantly, availability of health care for all Americans became a national priority and has been increasingly implemented.  Public Health programs leading by example within Oklahoma and other states, demonstrated not only the cost savings but the positive impact of comprehensive preventive health care to find and treat illness early, minimize complications of illnesses, and most importantly to prevent as many significant illnesses as possible. Public Health during the 20th and 21st century facilitated movement and implementation of these new Preventive and Comprehensive medical care practices and new improved health standards of care to all medical providers within each community, expanding the availability of the highest quality health care possible for American children, adults, and families.

Agriculture, since the 1800s, has been a predominant way of life for us, especially our Stallman family. Commitment from generation to generation has always been to grow and raise more food to feed more people within the United States and worldwide.

Contributing to exports sent to other parts of the world, Stallman family farmers specialize in growing wheat which is a staple food of many countries.  The United States, as one of the world’s leading exporters of wheat, has sent grain to South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East and other countries.  The Stallmans both produced and distributed food as farmer and ranchers, operating dairies and grocery stores.

A high priority our family in agriculture has always focused on improving agriculture techniques over the decades of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.  Throughout this time new plowing and tilling techniques, combining for harvesting crops, and water management has been experimented and applied, especially having experienced the Dust Bowl of western Oklahoma during the 1930’s.  Stallman family members pursue advanced University research to improve increasing production and amount of food.  Researching both the quality and application of seed and contributing to new strategies to decrease water usage, decrease need for pesticides, decrease need for fertilizer, improve irrigation and to find ways to make seeds more disease and weed resistant.

Agriculture has consistently been among the top five industries of Oklahoma for 3 centuries, from the 1800’s to the present day of the 21st century.

*Written and contributions by Debbie Mahan, Cindy Soderquist, Carl Mahan, and Vernon Stallman – December 2016