Elizabeth Ann Hedrick, age 76, passed away on June 24, 2020, in Norman, Oklahoma. She was born in Camden, Arkansas, on February 13, 1944, to Maurice William “Sully” and Evelyn L. Sullenberger.
In 1967, Elizabeth married her childhood friend Walter Evan Hedrick. Growing up together in Norman, Liz and Walt lifeguarded at Lake Thunderbird and served on the Junior Police. During their marriage of nearly 53 years, they shared many exciting adventures, traveling the world, sometimes crossing oceans on small sailboats. Liz and Walt’s happiest adventure, however, was raising their daughter Shelle whose birth in 1979 made their family complete.
Liz’s life focused on helping others through her family, profession, and community. After graduating from Norman High School in 1962 and while earning a Journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma, she began her career as an Easter Seals Camp Counselor in Florida and then as Director of Communications for Easter Seals in Iowa once she graduated.
Liz returned to Oklahoma when she and Walt married. They were house parents for the first juvenile shelter in the state. When Liz received Oklahoma’s first Emergency Teaching Certificate, her lifelong career in education began in McAlester. She taught classes for special needs children and founded the first pre-school daycare for children with special needs. Liz then taught at Pauls Valley State School and in Midwest City before moving back to Norman where she taught at Central Junior High, served as Principal of Whittier Middle School and Principal of West Mid High School. From West, Liz moved into an administrative role for the Norman Public Schools. She was the district’s Director of Personnel until her retirement in 1996.
Retirement, however, was not what the future held for Liz. After only a few weeks, she began a second career in higher education personnel at Oklahoma City University. In 2011 Liz retired from OCU as Associate Vice President of Administrative Services.
Liz was an innovator and motivator who was dedicated to seeing that people had the opportunity to be their best. Two of her proudest career moments reflect that dedication. While serving as Principal at West Mid High, the school was honored by winning the State Lighthouse Award for Excellence and the Blue Ribbon School Award from the U.S. Department of Education. This identified West Mid High as one of the best schools in the nation and the only school to receive both honors at that time.
A second accomplishment for which Liz was proud came when Oklahoma City University was named one of the “50 Best Places to Work” by U.S. News and World Report. Under her guidance the university won that designation three years in a row.
While Liz always donated her time to non-profit organizations, once retired she truly was able to focus on community service. She was always willing to assist in any way she could if it helped others. She was an active volunteer and served on the Board of The Christmas Store, but she did not limit her work to Board duties. Every year Liz made over 100 baby blankets to be distributed through The Christmas Store to families in need.
Liz was passionate about the mission of Bridges of Norman, a non-profit serving high school students in family crisis by providing housing and support services so they could pursue their education without obstacles. Liz said that in her 45 years as an educator she knew countless teens who left school because they did not have a safe place to live. She was committed to supporting those students through Bridges, where they had a safe place to live as they worked to graduate and become productive adults.
The Executive Director of Bridges said, “Elizabeth Hedrick was committed to our mission and has served Bridges students for many years. She was passionate about helping young people and dedicated her time and energy to teens in family crisis living at Bridges. We will miss her warm smile, cozy blankets, creativeness and giving spirit. Bridges’ Education Endowment Fund honors Liz and will be given annually to a Bridges student upon graduation to assist in their plans after high school.”
Liz is survived by her husband Walt Hedrick; daughter and son-in-law Shelle Hedrick and Chris Wilson; brother and sister-in-law Alfred Gale and Laura Sullenberger; cousin and wife Thomas and Jacqui Smith; cousin Patricia Shoemaker; sister-in-law and husband Ann & Virgil VanSchuyver; sister-in-law Monnette Marsh; brother-in-law and wife Doyle and MaryAnn Hedrick; and numerous beloved family members.
In lieu of flowers, Liz and her family request donations to the Liz Hedrick Education Endowment Fund for Bridges of Norman. Donations with her name noted may be mailed to Bridges, 1670 Stubbeman Ave., Norman, OK 73069. Donations may also be made using the online link and selecting the Liz Hedrick Education Endowment Fund from the dropdown menu https://bridgesnorman.kindful.com/liz-hedrick-memorial-endowment
Due to COVID-19, the Celebration of Elizabeth’s Life will be postponed to a later date. Announcements will be made by the family when the date is set.
To plant a tree in memory of Elizabeth Ann Hedrick, please click here.