School of Religion names Gragg outstanding graduate


From left: Sharon Betsworth, director, Wimberly School of Religion; Jeff Riles, president, OCU Alumni Association; Jim Gragg, distinguished alumnus; and Mark Davies, dean, Petree School of Arts and Sciences.

James P. Gragg was recently named a Distinguished Alumnus for the Wimberly School of Religion at Oklahoma City University.

This honor was presented at the annual Alumni Awards Dinner, held Nov. 1 in the OCU Student Center, as part of Homecoming weekend festivities.

Rev. Gragg followed his father, Owen Gragg, into ministry in The United Methodist Church. He received a Bachelor of Arts in religion from OCU in 1963, then completed his Master of Divinity work at Duke University Divinity School.

His appointments include Hinton, Marietta, Tulsa-Boston Avenue (associate), Drumright, Kingfisher, and Wickline in Midwest City. He served as senior pastor at Stillwater-First UMC for 12 years before completing his active ministry as South Oklahoma City District superintendent. He retired in 2006.

Jim and his wife, Elaine, are actively involved in OKC-Epworth UMC, a Reconciling Congregation.

Jim served as a member of the board of directors for Neighborhood Services Organization for 12 years and chaired it for three years. He is co-chairing NSO’s campaign to raise $2.5 million for an expanded low-cost dental clinic and administrative offices.

He also is a leader in VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement), a coalition of nonprofits in Oklahoma City giving voice to the needs of citizens.

Jim and Elaine celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this month. They have three married children, seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Dr. Sharon Betsworth, director of the Wimberly School of Religion, praised Gragg. "His service to the Conference, church, and our community is a model which we want to lift up for our students."

Gragg was one of seven honorees this year from various schools within the university system. Also honored: Norah "Noni" Erb (Class of ’06), who manages the 35 employees of the inpatient nursing care unit at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Oklahoma City; Gregory Potts (’92), a therapist on a team serving older adults at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago; and Vicki Zemp Behenna (’84), who has served 25 years as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma. Scott Stone (’87), manager of Spartan Resources, an oil and gas exploration company, is a life member of the National Association of Eagle Scouts. Jennifer "Jenny" Lang (’93) has more than 20 years of production experience in the performing arts, spanning many venues. She is production manager and stage management adviser for the University of Arizona’s School of Theatre, Film, and Television. Honored posthumously was Joyce Eilers (’63), recognized as one of the top choral composers in the country and as a mentor for young composers. She died in 2009.

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