Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning

A New Beginning

Harvey Derrick

I was born in Pawhuska, Sept. 23, 1946. As I reached my teenage years, I developed a dislike for school. By age 14, I did not like many of my teachers and I just refused to attend school.

After several weeks of hanging out at the Ford dealership used car lot, my Sunday School teacher, Shorty Woolbright (the used car manager), asked me if I might like to live on a ranch for boys. He talked to my mother and I made a visit to Boys Ranch Town. I liked what I saw. I also ran into a friend I had previously met at Falls Creek. I decided I would like to live there. So I was admitted to Boys Ranch Town December 4, 1960.

This decision enabled me to become a responsible adolescent and develop most of the talent and skills God gave me. It also made me realize I was something special in the eyes of the Baptist ministry, the Boys Ranch staff, and most importantly, God. All I had to do was follow their leadership and I could be the best I could be. My sense of self worth soared; my self-esteem grew remarkably. You might say they showed me I had wings, let me use them to fly, and when I drifted off course, they guided me back on course. This enabled me to reach heights I, and I’m sure others, never thought I could obtain. I have many fond memories of most all the people’s paths I crossed at the Ranch. I believe all I have accomplished in my life is a direct result of the four years I spent at Boys Ranch.

I joined the U.S. Army when I graduated from high school. In the army I served in special services, logistics, administration, and as a member of the U.S. Army European Honor Guard. After three years of service time, I received a football scholarship to Missouri Southern State College.

My athletic career was exciting and successful. I was voted the MVP award my sophomore year. Luckily, I established several kicking records, including a 57-yard field goal. I was inducted into the college’s Football Hall of Fame in 1994. After receiving my degree, I returned to Oklahoma.

While at Boys Ranch Town, I gained much in experience in music under the leadership of Jacquita Duncan and Dr. Coleman Smith from Central State University. We sang in many churches over Oklahoma. I was “Mister Bows” in a minstrel show. At my high school, I won first place in the talent show singing two of my original compositions. Through the intervening years, I have performed in a variety of shows and events from coast to coast. I hosted a live music show on KOKC radio in Guthrie. In 1985, I produced and hosted a 30-minute country music show that aired on local Oklahoma City television 15 times.

I serve as president of the Songwriters of Oklahoma Association. I have served as an Executive Board Member of Midwestern Country Entertainers Association. In 1983, I recorded my first record; my first album came in 1984. I have been an instructor at Moore-Norman VoTech, teaching Creative Song Lyrics. Music has played a big part in my life.

I have been married for 27 years. My wife and I are proud of our two sons and a daughter.

I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for the help I received at a critical time in my life. And I want to say, “Thank you, Oklahoma Baptists,” for providing a new beginning for me and hundreds of other boys at Boys Ranch Town. 

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