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Catoosa still remembers

Catoosa still remembers

By Judy Reed

The scene of what remains of an area restaurant in Catoosa, OK after a tornado ripped through the small town of 3,200, leaving destruction in its wake in the spring of 1993. 
Left to Right: Former Catoosa Chamber of Commerce Director Glen Taylor and Cedar Springs City Manager Frank Walsh in 1993 at Catoosa. 

We recently received a letter from former Cedar Springs City Manager Frank Walsh, who was City Manager here from 1991-1996. He currently serves as Township Manager in Meridian Charter Township. In the letter he sent, he recalled an event that linked Cedar Springs with another small town—Catoosa, OK—850 miles away.

“On April 24, 1993, the little town of Catoosa, Oklahoma was hit with two Saturday afternoon tornadoes that devastated the community,” he wrote. “In the span of minutes, the town suffered 10 deaths and massive destruction. Although it has been 28 years, Cedar Springs residents may recall that after hearing about the disaster, the Red Flannel City jumped into action. City officials raised funds through various means to assist the Oklahoma city of 3,000 residents. After just two weeks, Cedar Springs had raised $7,250. Mayor Jerry Hall was instrumental in the efforts as he served as the Director of Public Works. The next challenge was getting the funds in the hands of Catoosa city officials.

“American Airlines donated airline tickets and two city representatives presented the check to Catoosa officials. (It was Frank Walsh and Cindy Miller, head of the Chamber of Commerce.) Three months later, Catoosa officials visited Cedar Springs and officially named the two communities “Sister Cities.” It was a heartwarming experience at the American Legion Hall.

“Last month, while visiting nearby, I spent the afternoon in Catoosa,” wrote Walsh. “I stopped by the local Historical Museum. It was amazing that the museum volunteer remembered the 1993 act of kindness. It was apparent that Cedar Springs had left a lifelong impression on Catoosa. It was memorable for me to see the community in a much better place than May of 1993.

Following my recent visit, I left Catoosa with a genuine smile knowing that kindness and compassion will never go out of style.”    

We found a couple of old articles from 1993, talking about how Cedar Springs stepped in to help Catoosa start to rebuild, along with a couple of photos. Their population has now more than doubled to over 7,000 people. 

We hope that the people of Cedar Springs retain that same kindness they showed Catoosa by helping each other and their neighbors both near and far.

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Ray Winnie
Kent County Credit Union

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