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Press Release

Release Date: December 13, 2018

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office



  • Chickasaw citizens were honored during the 10th Annual AARP Indian Elders Honor program in Oklahoma City. Ramona Eyachabbe, second from left and Merry Monroe, center, were honored by, from left, Mashell Sourjohn, AARP Oklahoma associate state director of outreach; Sarah Jennings, AARP regional vice president and state president, along with Joan Ruff, AARP board chair.

  • Dr. Judy Goforth Parker was awarded AARP’s Dr. John Edwards Memorial Leadership Award. It honors her positive impact on Indian health care. Dr. Edwards was an Absentee Shawnee citizen and longtime advocate of quality health care for Native Americans.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Three Chickasaw citizens were honored recently at the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) 10th Annual Indian Elders program.

Accomplishments of 50 Native Americans were cited at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. A medallion was presented to each honoree.

Dr. Judy Goforth Parker was awarded the AARP Dr. John Edwards Memorial Leadership Award. Dr. Parker is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. She is a published author, former tribal legislator, and currently serves as commissioner of health policy for the Chickasaw Nation Dept. of Health.

The Dr. John Edwards Memorial Leadership Award honors an individual whose positive impact embodies the spirit of Dr. Edwards, who died in 2014.

Dr. Parker received a doctorate in nursing from Texas Woman’s University and completed her nurse practitioner degree at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences.

Merry Monroe, a dedicated educator for 47 years with Byng Public Schools and 2018 Johnson O’Malley Teacher of the Year, was honored by AARP. Mrs. Monroe impacted thousands of young lives throughout her career. She was recruited by the Byng Superintendent Marvin Stokes and became the Indian education coordinator.

Initially, she worked with prekindergarten through grade-12 students. In 1998, she was assigned permanently to high school students.

In 2002, Mrs. Monroe returned to college to complete her degree and enrolled in a Chickasaw language class. She was so intrigued she soon enrolled in the Chickasaw Nation Master Apprenticeship program which connects students with Chickasaw fluent speakers and applies language immersion principles.

Ramona Eyachabbe is a woman of faith who basks in God’s love and is known for sharing her blessings and talents of song with others, AARP officials said.

Mrs. Eyachabbe is the wife of Pastor Rufus Eyachabbe Jr. of the Pennington Indian Church in Reagan, Oklahoma.

Mrs. Eyachabbe’s church work began in her youth when her father was a United Methodist minister. As an adult, she became involved in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference of the United Methodist Church. She served as conference youth coordinator, Southeast District Region lay leader and conference lay leader.

In her local church, Mrs. Eyachabbe has served in many capacities and currently is lay speaker of scriptures, doctrine, heritage, organization and life of The United Methodist Church. She leads the Chickasaw Nation Elders Choir and conducts monthly choir practices at one of the Chickasaw Nation senior centers where she enjoys teaching elders the Choctaw hymns.

The choir sings at Chickasaw Nation elder events and many other functions.

They were among 50 Native American elders from 28 Oklahoma tribes and nations honored this autumn by AARP.

Last Updated: 09/16/2016