One Legacy Rose Bowl FloatPhoto Provided

Pictured is the OneLegacy Donate Life Rose Parade float titled “Woven Together-The Dance of Life.” The float celebrated Native American Culture and honored the lives of several Native American organ donors, including Choctaw Nation’s Linda Carroll Dean.

Choctaw tribal member’s legacy honored during 135th Rose Parade

By Christian Toews
February 1, 2024

Linda Carroll Dean’s life was honored during the 135th Rose Parade on January 1, 2024, in Pasadena, California.

A floragraph of Dean was featured on the trophy-winning OneLegacy Donate Life float titled “Woven Together- The Dance of Life.” The float was designed to celebrate Native American culture and serve as a tribute to life-giving donors. It featured a Hopi butterfly dancer in a full headdress with floragraphs of the selected organ and tissue donors on large traditional woven baskets.

Dean’s daughter, Sherri Eades, was invited to attend the Rose Parade and to participate in placing the floragraph of her mother on the float. She said that words can’t express her gratitude for the opportunity to be involved in the parade.

“I’m so proud of my mom and her donation,” she said. “She overcame all the obstacles that were thrown at her.”

Linda Dean Legacy Rose Bowl Float
Photo Provided

"Woven Together - The Dance of Life" prepares for take off.

Dean grew up in Leon, Oklahoma, and later moved to Ardmore. She was very proud of being a Choctaw tribal member.

According to her family, she was forced to speak English in school but continued to speak the Choctaw language with her family and elders in her community.

Dean was a hairdresser for 20 years and had a far-reaching impact on her local community. At the age of 40, she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.

This aggressive heart disease ended her career in cosmetology due to long hours of standing and the physical stress on her body. However, this didn’t stop her.

She attended Southern Oklahoma Vo-Tech school, where she studied medical coding. After completing the program, Dean began a new career path in medical records with the Chickasaw Nation.

According to her family, when she wasn’t working, you could find Dean attending local powwows, sewing, visiting local arts and crafts shows, or spending time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Dean passed away in January 2018 from chronic heart failure. Even though she thought she would not be a candidate because of her health, her family was able to honor her previous wishes of donation.

Her family said it is comforting to know that Linda can continue blessing those around her.

Eades said her mom was always giving and constantly looking for opportunities to help people. This spirit of giving was passed on to her children and grandchildren.

“Giving is part of the Choctaw culture, and she taught us to give and not expect anything in return,” said Eades.

According to Eades, her mother’s decision to be an organ and tissue donor allowed two people to see, and three people were able to recover from a mastectomy surgery because of her donation.

Linda Dean Image on Float
Photo Provided

Linda Carroll Dean's likeness displayed on the intricate float.

The organ and tissue donation recipients were invited to ride on the float and walk beside it during the parade.

Seeing the recipients of her mother’s donation was one of the most meaningful experiences of her time in California for Eades.

“It’s truly a gift of life. When you can see the whole circle, come back around and see what your donation helps,” she said.

Eades is passionate about spreading the word about organ and tissue donation to Native American communities.

She hopes that stories like her mother’s will inspire more Native Americans to sign up to be organ donors.

“The outcome I want from this is for Native Americans to be more aware of their choices about being an organ donor and then letting their family know their wishes,” said Eades.

To learn more about organ and tissue donation or to read other donor stories, visit LifeShare Oklahoma.