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KEITH, HAROLD VERNE (1903-1998)

Novelist, historian, and sports information director Harold Verne Keith was born in Lambert, Oklahoma Territory, on April 8, 1903, to Malcolm A. and Arlyn Kee Keith. Keith attended schools in Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri and received bachelor's and master's degrees in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied under Walter Campbell. Keith had a lifelong interest in marathon running, winning the Valley Conference Championship, the OK AAU cross-country race, and the Penns Relay steeplechase. Keith married Virginia Livingston in 1931; they had two children.

Keith held the position of sports publicity director at the University of Oklahoma from 1930 to 1969. He founded the College Sports Information Directors organization, receiving its Arch Award in 1961. In 1969 he was inducted into the Helms Foundation Hall of Fame and in 1987 to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. He wrote two books about Sooner football: Oklahoma Kick-Off: An Informal History of the First 25 Years of Football at OU (1949), and Forty-Seven Straight: The Wilkinson Era at Oklahoma (1984).

As an author, Keith wrote many novels that were set in Oklahoma. He won the Newberry Medal and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award for Rifles for Watie (1957). The novel Komantcia (1965), won the New York Times Best Book Award in 1965). His Oklahoma-themed books also included Boys' Life of Will Rogers (1937), Susy's Scoundrel (1974), and The Obstinate Land (1977). Other books included The Bluejay Boarders, Brief Garland, The Runt of Rogers School, and Sports and Games. In 1993 he received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Harold Keith died on February 24, 1998, in Norman, Oklahoma.

SEE ALSO: FOOTBALL, LITERATURE AND WRITERS, SPORTS, TRACK AND FIELD, UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA, CHARLES "BUD" WILKINSON.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Harold Keith," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. "Literature," Vertical File, Special Collections, Max Chambers Library, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma. "OU's Keith Dies at 94 Award-Winning Author Pioneers Sports Publicity Field," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 25 February 1998.

Ruby W. Wile

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