Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning

God is Good!

Neoma Staples

I was born Dec. 20, 1940. I had an older brother and one sister. As early as I can remember, I lived with my grandmother along with my brother and sister. The day I went to enroll in the ninth grade at Sallisaw High School, my grandmother was killed in a tragic car accident. I had several aunts and uncles, but they had their own children to care for. My pastor, Bro. Jake Self, took me home with him. He and his dear wife counseled with me about considering the Baptist Children’s Home.

We visited the Home where I met and talked with Mr. Browning, who was the Superintendent. He had arrived at the Home in late August. I would become the first child admitted since his arrival.

Mr. Browning took me to Potter Cottage, the older girls building. Twelve to 16 teenage girls lived there. The housemother was Mrs. Irene Huffman. Another lady did the cooking. I was much impressed. I so well remember, having come from a poverty-stricken background, how impressed I was by beautiful drapes that reached from ceiling to floor, a beautiful piano (the girls took piano and voice training), gorgeous lavender carpet, taffeta bedspreads, and each girl shared a room with another girl. In my room, I would have my own chest of drawers and my own bed. There was even a special room where we could all watch television. Such luxury I had never known. After finishing a tour campus-wide, they asked this 13-year-old if I thought I might like to live there. Can you believe they would ask such a silly question?

I entered Baptist Children’s Home Oct. 5, 1954. Surely God was leading me to opportunities I had never dreamed of. I attended First Baptist Church and John Marshall High School. The music program at the Home absorbed a lot of my free time and I enjoyed it very much. If our grades were good, we could turn our names in for baby-sitting jobs in the surrounding neighborhoods. A few older teenagers had jobs off campus in summer. We received $1.00 per hour baby-sitting and had to put some of the money in our savings account each time. I remember one girl baby-sat for a doctor’s family of three small children. When they went on vacation to Hawaii, they took their baby-sitter along. I was never so lucky. Vacation time was great.

Many of us had two summer vacations, one with relatives and one with our Society (the staff went on vacation when we did). Where did the name “Society” come from? Most of us couldn’t spell it, but we argued a lot about who had the best society. One had a society near Guymon who had a pilot in their church who flew his plane down to Oklahoma City to pick him up for vacation. My society was in Oklahoma City and I could be there in twenty minutes. I always wanted to go to some of those exotic faraway places like Miami, Bartlesville or Idabel.

The opportunities provided me at the Baptist Children’s Home I would never have had if I had lived elsewhere. The education, the encouragement, the music and voice training, the religious training in First Baptist Church, at Falls Creek and on campus, the discipline which was fair and consistent, all of these helped me to become the person I am today.

I loved Miss Mildred, Mrs. Edith Laging, Mrs. McDonald, Mrs. Irene Huffman, and Mrs. Edith Stinson; all of these individuals had much to do with developing confidence and character in me.

Mr. Browning was the head man in charge. He could be very firm. (We called him J. V. behind his back, but we were all a little afraid of crossing him and being called to the office for consequences.) I really felt close to Mr. Browning and asked him to give me away at my wedding. I graduated in May of 1958, and married Ronald Staples on Aug. 8, 1958.

We had a daughter in 1961 and a son in 1964. Ronald and I both attended college at Central State in Edmond. Our children grew up and we now have four fine grandchildren who live close to us.

My husband had a good career of 40 years with Oklahoma Natural Gas Company. I started working for Apco Oil Company when we married. When our children were young, I didn’t work until they entered school. Then I worked for the Oklahoma Public Schools for 24 years.

All of these years, we have been active in First Baptist Church. Ron has supervised and worked with the youth in recreation. We have sponsored many youth trips, etc. I worked with nursery-age children and then directed a Junior High Department. We have both retired and must confess to our addiction to golf and travel.

God has been good to us. Oklahoma Baptists provided much needed opportunities for this teenage girl to find security, direction, encouragement, and a genuine sense of fulfillment and happiness I most likely would never have come to know following the heartache and tragedy after losing Grandmother.

Yes, God has been good to me. I am glad I can be an Oklahoma Baptist and continue to support needy and troubled children today.

Neoma (Nemo) Staples passed away on August 18, 2007. Neoma was born on December 20, 1940 in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. She was married to her husband, Ronald Staples, for a wonderful 49 years. She had two children, Sherri Fulton and Ron Staples II. She had four grandchildren, Jessica Fulton, Dustin Fulton, Nicole Staples and Amanda Staples.

Go to top of page

Your gifts help provide hope and homes for children.