Margaret Catherine Carver, daughter of pioneer Cushing residents, Homer Thornsberry and Mittie Blair Carver was born June 19th, 1917 at the H. T. Carver Residence, located at 720 East Broadway. Her brother, Homer, and his best friend, Joe Manning were waiting in the cupola of the Carver Barn, located on what would become East Maple Street. They were earnestly watching for the stork to appear, while Joe’s father, Dr. H. C. Manning attended to Mrs. Carver.
Guests in the Drawing Room of the Carver Home included family friends Milton and Maud Thompson, Jacob Puckett, and representatives of other pioneer Cushing families named Fuson, Laughlin, Carpenter, Hughes, Walters, McLaury, Boatright, Blankenship, Vockrodt as well as a telegraph operator at Mr. Carver’s store, Cushing Trading Company. His assignment was of special importance to a boyhood friend of Mr. Carver. Before the noon recess in the United States House of Representatives, Speaker of the House “Champ” Clark read into the House minutes that his god-daughter, Catherine, had come into the world. Within a month, Champ was in Cushing holding the young baby girl, that he called “His Little Miss.”
Miss Carver was the pride of her father’s life. During the “golden days” of Cushing’s history, H. T. Carver took his young daughter with him everywhere he went. She was a fixture at the Cushing Post Office, First National Bank, Thompson Hotel Coffee Shop, as well as Missouri’s Kansas City Club and anywhere Mr. Carver’s mercantile and oil business took him. Author of “Young Cushing in Oklahoma Territory,” Laure Lou Wells, often reminded her lifelong friend of historical events, saying “you were there, you witnessed everything that happened”, to which Catherine would reply, “I wasn’t listening.” But in so many ways, she had been listening.
When Catherine was nine years old, her father passed away after a lengthy illness. By the time she was ten, she, along with her mother, took on many of the business responsibilities her father had shown her. While the depression was hard on all involved, it was a challenge to young Catherine. A visitor passing through Cushing, saw a young girl behind the wheel of a large Cadillac Touring Car and questioned “who would let a child of that age drive such a big car?” He was quickly told, “She is not a child… that’s Catherine Carver.”
Catherine graduated from Cushing High School in 1935. By that time, she had a lifetime of memories with childhood friends Laure Lou Boatright, Barbara Surface, Pat Lavery, Carolyn Crenshaw and Maxine Nighswonger. Many of her activities centered around the First Baptist Church, where she was in both youth and adult activities. Her family had been active members since 1898. She furthered her education at Oklahoma A and M College where she pledged Pi Beta Phi Sorority.
In 1940, she married Paul Fonville and moved to Guthrie, Oklahoma where Mr. Fonville was manager of Cushing Grocery Company. Mr. Fonville was called to service during World War II, and was killed in the line of duty in 1942. She returned to Cushing, staying in the family home, and quickly became a mentor to the First Baptist Church’s GA’s, a girl’s youth association. She equally became “big sister” to her niece, Kay Carver and her many school friends.
In 1949, she married Robert M. “Bob” Bland. While living in Bartlesville, their son, William Robert “Bill” Bland was born in 1957. After returning to Cushing, she was active in her son’s education and continued her work in the First Baptist Church’s Primary Department. After serving four years as homeroom mother for her son’s classes at Harmony School, Principal Coleman Vaught remarked, “You are the most dedicated person, I didn’t hire.”
As the years past, Catherine Bland got more involved with her husband’s work with the Oklahoma Society of CPA’s. While he was an officer in the Society, she served as hostess to numerous meetings and conventions. She cherished the friendships she made nationally through these events.
In Cushing, she was a member of the AX chapter of PEO. For over ten years, she, Wilma Butcher and other friends had a monthly Bridge Club.
Many of her social activities ended in October, 1980 when she suffered a severe heart ailment. The procedure used by Tulsa cardiologist, J. Andy Roye, and heart surgeon Spencer Brown, was written about in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Catherine has spent much of her later life as both a caregiver and patient. She managed twenty-four hour nursing care for her mother, and nursing care for her husband, Bob, who passed away in 1994. Since that time, she has had daily nursing care. In 2003, after a ninety-day hospitalization, she moved to Tulsa to live with her son, Bill R. Bland, at his home in the hi-rise condominium, Liberty Tower, where he serves as President/CEO of the LTOA (Owner’s Association.) She has had a devoted 24-hour staff taking care of her daily medical and quality of life needs.
Through the years, Mrs. Bland has been instrumental in the lives of many high school students at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her son, Bill, who was Department Chair of the David L. Boren Department of Communications at B.T.W., often had students who could not pay for the expenses of national speech and debate competitions, or national travel. Her generosity insured that no student was denied opportunity because of financial need.
Seeing the need for a new church facility for the First Baptist Church of Cushing, Catherine and Bill Bland presented a challenge to their church to prepare for the needs of a changing world. With the donation of almost 100 acres of land, they asked for their community to “build for the future” in the same way the Carver family helped build the current First Baptist Church facility. With a vote of the membership, the church accepted the land and the commitment for a new building in the near future.
Margaret Catherine Carver Bland passed away on Friday, April 10th, 2009 at her home in the Liberty Tower of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Memorial service will be held at 12:30 PM Tuesday, April 14th, at Lot 1, Block 1, at New Zion Cemetery and will be officiated by Dr. Lonny Lee. Services are under the direction of the Palmer-Marler Funeral Home of Cushing. Following the service, a Friend and Family Memorial Dinner will be held at 3:00 PM in the Terrace Clubrooms at Liberty Tower, 1502 South Boulder in Tulsa. Memorials may be given in her name to the Building Fund of the First Baptist Church, 418 East Moses, Cushing, Oklahoma 74023-3352.