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OKL mourns the loss of a friend, graphic artist

Editor’s Note: T e Oklahoma Living magazine family recently mourned the

loss of a dear friend and colleague. Denis Lynn Westerman, 58, of Shawnee, was Oklahoma Living’s contract graphic artist for nearly 25 years. Denis put in several hours each month to create new ads, edit existing ads, and assist Okla- homa Living with its ad layout. He was extremely dedicated to our advertisers and always had OKL’s best interest at heart. Denis passed away Tuesday, June 19, 2012, of a sudden heart attack. He will be truly missed. Please join us in honoring Denis by keeping his family in your thoughts and prayers.

nee High School. D

On June 21, 1991, he married Wanda Fowler in Shawnee.

He lived in Shawnee all his life. Denis worked

at the Shawnee News-Star for 39 years as the IT di- rector. He loved the newspaper business, and he could tell you about any part of how the paper operates, from the front of the building to the back. He was a member of the Shawnee Kiwanis Club for 17 years. Denis loved spending time with family and friends. Almost every holiday he want- ed the family to come over for dinner and during

enis was born Dec. 21, 1953, in Seminole, to Andrew and Dolly (Carrigan) Frazier Westerman. He was a graduate of Shaw-


e have all heard the expres- sion “what goes around, comes around.” Fifteen years ago, if someone had told me I’d still be in the United States at age 30, I would not have believed them. You see, I came here in 1997 as an exchange student from Brazil. My intention: to enjoy to the full- est a year of living with a host fam- ily, making new friends and attend- ing MacArthur High School in the great community of Lawton-Fort Sill, while—of course—learning the English language. I still question if


Anna Politano Managing Editor, Oklahoma Living

Denis Westerman

the summer it was always time to have a cook-out. He loved to cook family din- ners, which was a trait passed down from his mother. She taught him how to cook at a very early age. Everyone loved the meals he prepared. He loved his grandkids. Every summer he had to get the pool ready by Memorial Day so they would quit asking, “Grandpa, is the pool ready yet?” He enjoyed working outdoors, always doing something to the house or yard. But he always looked forward to the time when he could come in the house, hold down his recliner and give his puppy dogs a treat. He will be missed by all who knew him. He was preceded in death by his parents.

He is survived by his wife Wanda of the home; his son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Trudi Westerman of Shawnee; daughter and son-in-law, Melissa and Steve Montgomery of Tecumseh; two stepsons, Bryan Lee and his wife, Jackie, of Tennessee, and Doug Lee of Shawnee; seven grandchildren, Courteney Lee, Tyler Montgomery, Lacie Montgomery, Austin Lee, Alyssia Lee, Chloe Westerman and Chelsea Cates; two baby girls (dogs), Maggie Mae and Paris Ann; two brothers, Danny Westerman of Shawnee and Doug Westerman of Tecumseh; his sister and brother-in-law Donna and Steve VanAntwerp of Shawnee; and a number of nieces, nephews and cousins.

Obituary Courtesy of the Shawnee News-Star

I accomplished the latter, but I can say with assurance I not only enjoyed my exchange year in Oklahoma—I have made it my home for a lifetime. Staying in the United States permanently was not part of my plan, but as the pages turned in my life, each chapter brought new ties, new connections and new dreams. The end re- sult: 15 years later, I’m still here. I remember my fi rst Christmas in the United States. I had never seen snow. On Christmas Eve, my host family—whom I have come to dearly love—woke me up for a “surprise.” They asked me to go out- side. My eyes were glowing as I saw the white, fl uffy mantle covering our yard. It was indeed a sight to behold—and on Christmas! As my American sister and I got busy building a snowman, my American mom called the Lawton Constitution and asked them to come by and do a story on this young Brazilian exchange student who had never before seen snow.

On Christmas day, on the front page of the Lawton Constitution, a headline read “Brazilian exchange student has fi rst snowy experi- ence.” There was a picture of my American sister, Liezl, and I building a snowman. I remember receiving dozens of copies of that Christmas- day edition. Everyone wanted me to send copies to Brazil to share with family and friends. Today, ironically, I’m the editor of a statewide magazine, which is featuring a cover story this month on exchange students in Oklahoma. The students, whose stories you will read on Page 14 of this edition, have already requested several copies of Okla- homa Living to be sent to their native countries where they will share the story and our publication with their family and friends. Oh my, how the world goes around!

Every year, nearly 30,000 teenagers arrive in the United States as exchange students. They come to learn English and experience a dif- ferent culture, but, most importantly, they come to be shaped into great leaders of tomorrow. Oklahoma families who have opened their homes to host a foreign exchange student are not only touching that life, but many others. Whether in Europe, Asia, Africa, or South Amer- ica, the fact is: experiencing a different culture is life changing. I can say that from experience for I am a by-product of this great learning opportunity. I will remain forever thankful for Henry and Sally Her- zig of Lawton, Okla., who graciously and lovingly opened their home to me. And I will be forever thankful to you, Oklahomans, who have embraced me and many others coming from different countries, and have given us opportunities to grow, to dream and to feel at home. I’m wrapping up this month’s edition of Oklahoma Living a bit early. By the time you receive it in your homes, I will be on a mission trip with my local church to an impoverished area of Brazil. As I write this column, I’m busy fi nishing off deadline, packing, making fi nal mission preparations and—oh yes—cleaning my house. You see, when we return to Oklahoma in August, we will be hosting an exchange stu- dent in our home! Yes, friends, what goes around, comes around! OL

AUGUST 2012 5

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