There is only ONE Oklahoma

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sooner Born and Sooner Dead

With the recent death of 'Crazy Ray' (the Dallas Cowboy 'superfan'), I was reminded of a very unique person I had the opportunity to meet years ago.

I don't know what will be written on "Crazy Ray's" head stone, but of all the cliches that could be appropriately written of the death of Cecil Samara, his family chose the best one of all.

"Sooner Born... Sooner Dead"

The obituary that followed in an issue of "The Oklahoman" expresses their sentiments in a paraphrase from his favorite song:

"It can truly be said of Cecil that he was Sooner born, was Sooner bred, and now he is peacefully Sooner dead."

Cecil David Samara, who himself proudly acknowledged he raised "fan" to "fanatic" when it came to University of Oklahoma football, died at age 77 in 1994.

He wanted "Booomer Sooner," played at his funeral, and he hoped everyone would clap along (they did) . However a spokesman at the Funeral Home said the Samara family did make a few compromises if Samara's wishes for his funeral proceedings.

Cecil was buried wearing what he wanted -- an OU tie, an OU belt buckle, his trademark red jacket with an OU pin. His red felt hat will be placed beside him in the casket.His casket was draped per his wishes with three flags -- U.S.A., Oklahoma and OU.

However, the family decided against Cecil's vision of propping his index finger up in a "No. 1" position.

Samara's reputation as OU's No. 1 fan gained him the curiosity and affection of lesser fans across the state. For some 40 years, Samara was a regular sight at home games in the front row behind the team bench. He wore the initials O and U implanted in his front teeth.

He owned a complete red and white wardrobe. He drove to games in a Model T decorated in OU motif, blazing 'boomer Sooner' over a loudspeaker.

When the state began issuing personalized auto tags in 1968, Samara got the first one; it read BIG RED. His home was filled with Sooner souvenirs.

As flamboyant as Samara was in his fandom, he was quietly passionate about his work in the community. He donated to Children's Memorial Hospital and other organizations for ill children and was a supporter of police professionals.

Samara said, in 1982 interview, that he grew up in impoverished neighborhoods of Oklahoma City and was selling newspapers at age 6.

But before he was 10, he also knew how to hitch hike to Norman for football games. He supplemented his third-grade education by dropping into the library on those trips.

Samara owned Big Red Flag Service for 30 years.

Samara didn't die during football season. But he did give instructions that took that into account. He wanted his family and friends to postpone the funeral and go ahead to the game.

Because, he said then, "I'll be upstairs on the 50-yard line watching OU play."

I met Mr Samara in the early 80s and actually got to spend an afternoon with him will doing a paper on 'super fans'. He fit that bill to a Tee.

1 comment:

racefan57 said...

nice story.... i have a little "sooner" experience having spent a year in tulsa