Bill Harper said he took an accidental first step into the life of a football official.
His son was playing as a seventh-grade linebacker and before one game, there weren’t enough men to fill an officiating crew, so Harper, a former longtime Tulsa World/Tulsa Tribune writer and editor, was invited to join.
From those beginnings, Harper became a fixture in northeastern Oklahoma high school officiating. He did it for nearly four decades.
On Wednesday, he learned he will join the latest induction class for the Oklahoma Officials Association Hall of Fame.
“I never considered myself one of the higher-echelon guys, but I’m proud of what I did and I enjoyed working with the kids and coaches,” he said.
Owasso’s Hal Deitz, a 50-year officiating veteran and a founding father of the Greater Tulsa Officials Association, also will enter the hall, along with Delmer Summers of Stroud, Eddie Moore of Oklahoma City and Clyde Smith of Calera.
Induction is 10:45 a.m. July 20 during the OOA convention at Southmoore High School.
Harper, 75, was associated with the Tulsa World and Tulsa Tribune from 1956 until his retirement in 2013. He entered the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 2008.
“I feel the same way about this (official’s hall of fame) as I did about that,” he said. “I never thought I was qualified to be in either, but I knew people who did and they voted me in, so I’m thrilled.”
From his first junior high football game, Harper quickly became a lead official and ran his own football crew for many years. He also worked basketball and baseball games and served frequently as president of the Bartlesville Officials Association.
He umpired an All-State baseball game and was part of two state championship football games.