A $10,000 donation from the Morris-Baker Community Fund to the board of directors of Langston Education and Arts Development was generations in the making. The money will go toward ongoing work to rehabilitate the former Langston High School.
Preston McKee, president of Morris-Baker Funeral Home, grew emotional as he spoke about the relationship between his grandfather, the late Carson Baker Jr., and J. Fletcher Birchette III, a Langston graduate who passed away in August of 2017. Even though the two men were competitors – Birchette owned Birchette Mortuary – the mutual respect and friendship they had for each other made an impression on McKee.
“They set an example where people can compete in business in the same market and still be true, trusting friends,” McKee said as John F. Birchette IV, the current president of Birchette Mortuary, stood beside him. “John and I are kind of a dying breed. We are among the last few funeral homes that are owned by local families. He knows that if his funeral home burns down, he has a place to be, and I would do anything I can to help him, and I can trust the same in him. I can’t tell you how much that means.”
When McKee heard about the plans to renovate the Langston and transform it into a community center, he was excited about the opportunity to contribute, especially since John F. Birchette IV serves on the LEAD board of directors.
“This is a big day for us,” Birchette said. “The project is moving forward very quickly. We are very excited, and we just want to continue the momentum.”
To learn more about ongoing fundraising efforts, visit www.leadlhs.org.