Former CN Treasurer, Councilor Chapman dies
TAHLEQUAH – Former Cherokee Nation Treasurer and Tribal Councilor Gary Dean Chapman died Sept. 3 at age 81.
According to his obituary, he was born to Ezekiel “Zeke” Chapman and Elva Sunday Chapman on Jan. 2, 1938, in Grand View, Cherokee County. He was preceded in death by his parents, and brothers Kenneth Wayne Chapman, Richard Owen Chapman, Thomas Jess Chapman and Howard Ezekiel Chapman. He is survived by his wife of 60 years Virginia “Sue” Chilcoat Chapman; his sister Lenore Jones and her husband T. Jack Jones; one daughter, Susan Chapman Plumb and her husband Loyal Plumb; grandchildren Susannah Plumb Scott and her husband Dustin Scott; Sarah Plumb Morrison and her husband Michael Morrison; Sunday Plumb White and her husband Brett White; Sophie Plumb Rotola and her husband Nick Rotola; great-grandchildren Ezekiel “Zeke” Scott, Loyal “Zach” Scott, Emma Scott, Conrad Morrison, Teddi White and Kodi White.
His obituary states he was educated at Grand View School, Bagley School and graduated from Tahlequah High School in 1955. He attended Northeastern State University, graduating in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in education.
He taught and coached basketball for one year at Lost City School before working as a scout executive with Boy Scouts of America for three years, states his obituary. Chapman went to work for General Adjustment Bureau and from 1964-72 where he supervised hundreds of insurance adjusters working hurricane and natural disasters.
He began to dislike the travel schedule of disaster work and in 1972 went to work in the executive training program at Commercial Bank and Trust Company in Muskogee, his obituary states. Chapman left Commercial Bank in 1982 to come home to Tahlequah as executive vice president at First National Bank. During his time in Muskogee he was involved in Optimist Club, Junior Livestock Auction and Boy Scouts of America. He was also ordained a deacon at First Baptist Church Muskogee in 1973.
According to his obituary, he remained at First National Bank Tahlequah until 1993, and in 1996 he and longtime friend attorney Harvey Chaffin and his daughter, Susan Chapman Plumb, purchased First State Bank in Hulbert, now known as Bank of Cherokee County, where Chapman remained as chairman emeritus until his passing.
Chapman, at the urging of his mother, an original Dawes Commission enrollee, became involved with the CN and was appointed to the first Tribal Council in 1973 by Principal Chief W.W. Keeler after the U.S. Senate Concurrent Resolution 26 was approved in 1971 ending the federal government’s tribal termination policy, his obituary states.
It also states he helped draft the 1975 CN Constitution and was elected as a tribal councilor, serving until 1991. He was most proud of his work in securing the funding for the construction of facilities at W. W. Hastings Hospital in the early eighties and securing the Cherokee National Historical Society as the official records repository for the CN, according to his obituary.
He served as chair of the Executive & Finance Committee, business manager and secretary-treasurer for Principal Chiefs Ross Swimmer, Wilma Mankiller and Joe Byrd. Chapman also served for nearly a decade as chairman of Cherokee Nation Industries’ board of directors and president of the Cherokee National Historical Society.
A rural health care advocate, Chapman served on the board of Northeastern Health System as a board member and chairman, and was a founding member of the Tahlequah Hospital Foundation, his obituary states.
As a father and grandfather of only girls, he was a passionate voice for women’s equal participation in government, church and employment settings, his obituary states. His “girls” cannot recall a time that he was too busy to talk or a subject that he could not or would not talk about.
“The Cherokee Nation is saddened by the passing of former Tribal Councilor Gary Chapman. Please join us in sending our condolences to the family of Mr. Chapman, who served on the Tribal Council from 1976 to 1991,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “He was also Cherokee Nation’s Secretary Treasurer serving Principal Chiefs Swimmer, Byrd and Mankiller in that capacity. Mr. Chapman passionately worked for the Cherokee people and the Cherokee County community throughout his life.”
Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd characterized Chapman’s passing as a sad day for the Nation.
“It is a sad day for the Cherokee Nation as we mourn the loss of Gary Chapman, a person of the highest character. He was the most patriotic man I’ve ever known, and served the Nation not only as a Tribal Councilor, but as Secretary/Treasurer under Chiefs Keeler, Swimmer, Mankiller and myself. His absence will be felt for a very long time. Godspeed, friend,” Byrd wrote on his Facebook account.
Services were Sept. 9 at First Baptist Church in Tahlequah. The family requests donations be directed to the Cherokee Heritage Center, Tahlequah Hospital Foundation and Go Ye Village Retirement Center.