November 9, 2013

Oakhurst Residents Part of History of November 22, 1963

President Kennedy speaks outside of the
Hotel Texas on November 22, 1963
President John F. Kennedy made his last speeches in downtown Fort Worth just 2 1/2 miles from Oakhurst on November 22, 1963, a day that changed the history of the country and the world.  As we mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Dallas, it is good to remember that Oakhurst residents were part of the happy events for the president in Fort Worth.  A new National Geographic television special on JFK in Fort Worth entitled “JFK — The Final Hours” features a segment on five Carter Riverside High School coeds who were downtown that day and saw the president.  Most if not all of those girls lived in Oakhurst.  One of them, Dian Witherspoon, recently wrote about the experience of being interviewed for the television documentary:  “Well, Sat. May 25 at 9:30 in the morning, the "5 Carter High School coeds" and Pam Pierson's aunt met the TV Producer with National Geographic in downtown Fort Worth at the JFK Tribute site and filmed the interviews
of our experience there on Nov. 22, 1963.  It was fun and I trust that it will be well edited so that we are all proud of it.

They had many more people after us, but he said our group were the "stars" of the parking lot segment.  (In case you need names of the 5, they were Kathleen Kane Golden, Dian Frohlich Witherspoon, Carol Clinton Sikes, Kay Fredericks Payton and Pam Pierson DeLeon.  That is the order (right to left) in which we were standing back in 1963.  There were other students from Carter there that day in "63", but because we were among the very first to arrive, we were mentioned on a WBAP radio broadcast, which started the hunt for us for this project.  Also because of our early arrival of 5:00 AM, we were front and center when the crowd started to gather and appear in several photos taken that day.  Three of us are clearly visible in one of the photos at the JFK Tribute and the others were blocked from view by Kennedy and the Secret Service agents as he passed by shaking hands with the was Pam's aunt who volunteered to take Pam and some of her friends to see the President.  Her aunt is now 80 and as full of life as people half her age.  She is shorter than any of us and was only 29 years old when we saw Kennedy, so the radio reporter said 6 coeds assuming she was a student too.”

Another Oakhurst resident, Mrs. Milo Thelin, shown left in her Mapleleaf home in the early 1970s, was also part of the November 22, 1963 Fort Worth story.  She and her Sunday School class from Grace Lutheran Church often worked as a team serving banquets at the Hotel Texas (now the Hilton) to raise extra money for class and church projects.  Mrs. Thelin and her fellow Sunday School class members helped serve breakfast to the packed house at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast for the president in the hotel ballroom that Friday in November 1963.  A statue of President Kennedy and memory wall of the famous day are new additions to downtown across from the hotel.  They are worth a trip to see to remember Fort Worth’s place in this important history.

This story, authored by Libby Willis, originally appeared in the November 2013 edition of the Oak Leaflet.

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