OKLAHOMA CITY – Over this past weekend, two celebrations of life for two longtime friends were held. Both individuals, though very different in their paths and views, had the hearts of servants. They each had a strong impact on those whom they served, and I consider myself fortunate to have had them both as part of my life.
Former state Sen. Paul Muegge devoted his life to the stewardship of the land by farming and serving his district and state. During his career in the Legislature, he rose to one of the most influential leadership positions as Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. He earned national attention in 1998 when Governing magazine named him Public Official of the Year, but the award he was most proud of was receiving the John F. Kennedy Profile of Courage award in 2004.
I was a staff member for the Legislature during his service and had the pleasure of getting to know him personally. Paul had a passion for helping those in need, and I was thrilled to reconnect with him through my work in the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA). The conversations we had inevitably led me to learn something new, and he was very good at keeping me inspired to “keep up the fight” for improved children’s policies. Paul passed away from a lung disease exacerbated by his years of working in agriculture. You can read his obituary at https://www.poncacitynow.com/obituaries/obituary-for-paul-muegge/
Brad Scheidt was my second friend who recently passed away. I first met Brad in college through my fraternity, and we both majored in political science. Brad also shared a passion for helping children, with his focus directed toward mental health issues.
The final conversation that I had with Brad was just days before he became sick. He understood the crucial need for a strong advocacy network provide a voice for Oklahoma's youth, especially considering factors such as the high rate and impact of adverse childhood experiences faced by Oklahomans.
It was through the Children's Mental Health Resilience Coalition (CMHRC) that he desired to focus on awareness and action within this area. He reached out to me to encourage OICA to collaborate with this initiative. I agreed completely and was looking forward to working more directly with Brad on this topic. I intend to follow through with his wish and do what OICA can to assist CMHRC. You can learn more about the coalition at https://mhaok.org/childrens-mental-health-and-resilience. Brad’s obituary is at https://www.fitzgeraldfuneralservice.com/obituaries/Brad-Scheidt/#!/Obituary
Grief is inevitable in association with loss, but it also means that there was much joy associated with those whom you grieve. Recently, I heard a quote that describes grief better than any I had ever heard: “But what is grief, if not love persevering?”
It is also handling grief in a way that is not harmful that is most important. If you are enduring grief, do not be afraid to reach out for help. Oklahoma maintains a hotline, which you can dial 2-1-1 and reach someone who can assist you, whether it be to listen, or receive help in with aid for other issues. Just remember, you are not alone. Please especially be aware of the mental health of those youngsters around you as these times are very tough for them during this pandemic.
Thank you to both men for the positive difference made in the lives of those around them. Please do your part to also help others, as I am sure they both would like this as their legacy of service.
About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action, and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”