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Mazola Holman McKerson

Born on 1-10-1921. She was born in Bluff, near Hugo, OK.
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Mazola Holman McKerson is a native Oklahoman born on January 10, 1921 in a small close-knit community called Bluff, located near Hugo, Oklahoma. After the premature accidental death of her father, Mazola moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1929 to live with her mother's sister, the late Pearl Ray. As a child growing up with her aunt, Mazola was exposed to fine dining by the lady that employed Ms. Ray. This provided a foundation that launched Mazola's catering business in 1942.

Mazola was an avid student and precocious learner at Ardmore Dunbar Elementary School and Douglass High School. She married Alfred McKerson on July 20, 1938 and this union produced five children. Mrs. McKerson began her public service in volunteerism when she served as an advocate to foster improvement in the school system. She was involved at all levels of service for their four children who were in school simultaneously.

In 1960, faced with a catering business that had grown by leaps and bounds, she moved into a rented building that she purchased two years later. The restaurant, "The Gourmet Restaurant" a.k.a. "The Gourmet Tea Room" and her catering business were famous community institutions in Ardmore until 1994.

Mrs. McKerson is recognized as a "trailblazer" due to her successful service on the Ardmore City Council from 1975 until 1981. She was the first woman and the first African American to be elected to a City Council of a municipality with a population of 30,000 or more residents. She was Vice Mayor and Mayor of Ardmore in 1979 and 1980, respectively.

Some of her noteworthy accomplishments include:

* Selected as Woman of the Year by the YWC A in 1976
* Served as Chairman of the Status of Women under the former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh
* Served as a delegate to represent Ardmore on the White House Conference of Family Living in Washington, D. C.
* Served on the Board of Directors for the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce
* Served on the Board of Directors of Higher Education in the state of Oklahoma and was elected Chairman, 1986-88
* Selected as one of the Women of the Year in 1996-1997
* Selected as Spokesperson for the national recognition given to Ardmore for being an All American City at the ceremony in Chicago
* Served on the Board of Directors and elected Chairman of the Southwestern Museum in Ardmore
* Member of the Women's Advisory Committee for Mercy Memorial Hospital in Ardmore

Mazola attends Mt. Zion Baptist Church where she has served in various capacities including President of the Women's Missionary Union and Sunday School Teacher. She received an honorary membership to the Sisterhood of Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. Sorority. One of the highlights of her life was meeting President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, while serving as Chairman of the Status of Women. Mazola enjoys visiting with people and learning about their diverse lifetime encounters. She continues to mentor young women and feels blessed to have had the opportunity to employ high school students in her business establishment. Her entire life has been devoted to helping others and she truly feels honored that God has blessed her to be a servant leader and an obedient follower.