2022 Outstanding Elder banquet

Left: Outstanding Female Elder winner Diane McGee receives her acrylic plaque with (from left) Tribal Council Member Anthony Dillard, and Chief Gary Batton Right: Eddie Bohanan, Tribal Council Member (left), pauses as Chief Gary Batton hands Outstanding Male Elder Ricky Dearmore an acrylic plaque with Assistant Chief Jack Austin, Jr.

Dearmore, McGee Named Outstanding Elders for Choctaw Nation

Published October 27, 2022

DURANT, Okla. – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma recently hosted the 2022 Outstanding Elder banquet to honor the 17 males and 17 females who were nominated by their local Community Center as an Outstanding Elder. The recipients of the Outstanding Elder for Choctaw Nation are Ricky Dearmore of Smithville, Okla. and Diane McGee of Atoka, Okla.

Since 1999, Choctaw Nation has recognized elders who go above and beyond for their peers at the annual event. This year’s festivities were held on October 20 at the Choctaw Casino and Resort – Durant. Cultural and traditional activities, including the Lord’s Prayer performed by the reigning Choctaw Nation Princesses, opened the ceremony.

“Our Choctaw Nation elders are our connection to the past and to our culture,” says Kayla Williams, Director of Patient Relations for Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority. “Being able to keep aspects of our Choctaw culture is important to us as it honors their dedication and their legacy.”

Dearmore moved into the Smithville Independent Elder Housing in 2016 with nothing but the clothes on his back. Despite that challenge, it didn’t take him long to become involved in the community. He can often be found cooking for his neighbors or delivering meals to the homebound. “Ricky has such a servant’s heart,” says Eddie Bohanan, Choctaw Tribal Council Member, District 3. “He reminds me of the quote, ‘leave the world a little better than you found it’.”

McGee has been a part of the Atoka community her entire life, graduating from Atoka High School in 1978. In 2011, she retired and became more involved with the Choctaw Nation elders at the behest of her father. While writing her father’s biography for his nomination for Outstanding Elder, McGee promised him she would be involved and upon turning 55, she did just that. McGee has been involved with a range of activities from taco sales to trips with the Elders. “She tries to ensure that all Elders are treated as equals,” says District 10 Tribal Council Member Anthony Dillard.
“The Outstanding Elders bring us great pride and celebrating them gives us great joy,” says Williams. “We are thrilled to resume the ‘usual’ banquet to be able to acknowledge all of our nominees from all across the reservation.”

About The Choctaw Nation

The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 208,000 tribal members and 11,000-plus associates. This ancient people has an oral tradition dating back over 13,000 years. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, its historic reservation boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, covering 10,923 square miles. The Choctaw Nation’s vision, “Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture,” is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity.


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