2023 Hennessey Hall of Famers

This year Hall of Fame candidates were nominated for the Hall of Fame and the class of 2023 HOF selection committee chose Valerie and Bert.  

Each year, the HHS Graduating Senior class selects two candidates for the HHS Hall of Fame award chosen from nominations submitted this year and/or submissions carried over from previous years. The HHS Hall of Fame honors those former graduates and educators of Hennessey Schools who have excelled in a career, contributed to society, and serve as an inspiration to students, alumni, and the community. Our goal is to honor those persons no longer associated with the Hennessey school system who have enriched their surroundings.

John R. “Bert” Gritz was born in Enid and has been a lifelong resident of Hennessey. He graduated from Hennessey High School in 1975. He owned Bert’s Kwik Shop in Waukomis for thirteen years before pursuing a degree in mortuary science. He purchased Cordry-Sisson Funeral Home in 1998. Bert earned his bachelor’s Degree in Mortuary Science from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1999 and later earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling from Oklahoma City University in 2018.

Bert has served on the Hennessey Fire Department from 1978 to present. Bert was a Nationally Registered EMT Advanced for twenty years and was the EMS administrator for many of those years.

 He was elected to the Town Board of Trustees in 1979 and was appointed mayor in 1981, the youngest mayor in Oklahoma’s history. He served until 1983. He ran and was elected to the Town Board of Trustees again in 2003 and has served on the town board since that time. During that tenure, he has served several terms as mayor.

He is a member of First Christian Church, Hennessey Lions Club, and a board member of Hennessey United.

Bert loves antique and classic cars and his hobby is working on and restoring them. 

Bert married his wife Kim in 2021 and has three children; two step-sons and seven grandchildren. 


Valerie Shamburg. Ms. Shamburg moved to Hennessey in 1974. During high school, she was a member of the basketball team, chorus, Future Teachers of America, National Honor Society, Newspaper, and Spanish Club. Ms. Shamburg graduated from Hennessey High School in 1979 as an honors student. 

After graduating high school, Ms. Shamburg attended Phillips University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. Then, she completed her teaching requirements within the College of Education. After graduation, she taught in Shidler for two years and then in Dover for 25 years. The last 10 years of her teaching career were spent teaching science at Hennessey. 

While in Dover, Ms. Shamburg was the teacher of the year several times. She worked with Kingfisher Regional Hospital to start health career clusters and an internship program for students interested in various fields of science as a career. Ms. Shamburg hosted many science fairs and had one student who made it all the way to nationals with their project. 

While in Hennessey, Ms. Shamburg was a Student Council Sponsor for many years. She has been a junior class sponsor and a prom chaperone several times. She was also the online education teacher for grades 5-12 for science students who learned remotely during the first year of the COVID pandemic. 

Ms. Shamburg had no biological children of her own, although, in her 37 years of teaching, Ms. Shamburg had a positive influence on many students. Many of her students have pursued successful careers in science such as a research scientist in Antarctica, an astrophysicist for NASA, chemical and nuclear engineers, and numerous medical professionals and science teachers. She is always ready to lend a hand. She has been known to help any student who is needing extra help and has even tutored young people taking college classes.