Distinguished Alumni 2021

Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins, a 1921 EHS graduate, is being honored posthumously.  Ralph was a member of the first state championship basketball team in 1921.  He also lettered in football and track while in El Reno High School.  Ralph then attended Oklahoma A & M College, graduating with a degree in science and literature in 1925.  He lettered in football, track and basketball.  

After graduation, Ralph taught and coached at various high schools in Oklahoma while playing football for the Oklahoma Chiefs.  He returned to Oklahoma A & M to coach freshman football and to lead the track team, where he became legendary.  

His track teams would claim 17 conference championships and 36 men would win NCAA, NAAU or All American titles and one Olympic Gold Medalist.  

After retiring OSU in 1967, Ralph went on to coach the US Army’s track team through 1975.  He coached at least six more Olympic competitors.  Ralph also competed in the Senior Olympics, setting several long standing records in sprints, long jump and hurdles.

Larry Bross

Larry Bross graduated EHS in 1965.  His lifelong dream was to play football at the University of Oklahoma.  He was not recruited but decided to walk on his freshman year.  Larry cleaned varsity dorm bathrooms for room and board.  He earned a scholarship his sophomore year and played OU a football for four years.  

He was involved in ranching and the oil and gas industries before settling in Edmond.  Larry and his wife Masie and three children, attended church in downtown OKC and it was obvious to him that there was a staggering number of homeless.  He started a daily breakfast through his church for homeless families in downtown OKC.  The nonprofit, City Care, began feeding over 2000 meals monthly.

Bross would later start Whiz Kids, a nonprofit aimed at tutoring at-risk children in the downtown area.  

After the Murrah bombing, he and his friend Steve Zable established The Pershing Center, a transitional home for higher functioning homeless.   This was followed by homes and duplexes.  City Care became one of the largest nonprofits in OKC, housing and feeding thousands of adults and children over the years. 

Ancel Airington

Ancel Airington graduated EHS in 1968.  After high school, he graduated from UCO, and is a CPA and Personal Financial Specialist.  Ancel worked as an auditor for IRS, where he gained his knowledge of tax codes and complex tax issues facing high-income individuals.  

Airington is recognized leader in wealth management by Raymond James and has held the Leaders Council for the past 12 years.  He attributes his success to his willingness to “devise innovative solutions” to meet the needs of his clients.  

Ancel is the founder if Airington and Associates and has served on the Board of Trustees of the University of Central Oklahoma from 2009-2018.

Ancel is married to Linda and they have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

Tim Gatz

Tim Gatz was appointed Secretary of Transportation by Gov. Kevin Stitt in January 2019 and was subsequently confirmed by the Oklahoma State Senate in April of 2019.  He also currently serves as the Governor’s designate and appointee for the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT). After more than two decades of service to ODOT, he became the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) in June of 2016 and continues to serve in that capacity. 

Gatz started his career at ODOT as an entry level Drafting Technician in 1990. 

Gatz was promoted to the Senior Staff position of Director of Capital Programs and Information Management in 2006 and led the department’s coordination with county governments to develop and deliver the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Program which provides dedicated funds for high-priority county transportation projects statewide. He then served as ODOT’s Deputy Director from 2013 until his appointment as Executive Director at OTA in 2016.

After graduating from El Reno High school in 1983, Gatz earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Oklahoma State University in 1989 and is a registered professional landscape architect

Gatz and his wife, Sandy, live in El Reno and have two sons, Dillon and Trace who are also El Reno High school graduates.   Dillon and his wife Meagan have 3 daughters and Trace is a senior at the University of Oklahoma.

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