- Associated Press - Sunday, November 22, 2015

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Oren Lee Peters remembers exactly where he was when Notre Dame snapped Oklahoma’s 47-game winning streak in 1957.

He can recall plenty of happier moments at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium as well.

Peters claims to have been to more Sooners home football games than anybody around and if there is anyone who can top him, it’s not by much.

Since 1948, the Edmond native has served as an usher at OU football games, wearing his Boy Scout uniform, directing people to their chairs and enjoying the company of just about everyone he meets.

“I’m here to help you,” Peters’ business card reads, in large all-capital letters.

When he served as an inspector general for the Oklahoma National Guard, the phrase become something of a joke.

“I’m here to help you,” Peters would say when he’d go to one of the guard units around the state.

“Then I’d start finding fault in everything that’s going on,” Peters said. “That went on for a long time so I just picked it up. They always laughed about it when I’d go in and say, ‘Here I am, I’m here to help you.’ “

Now 94, Peters’ days in the National Guard are long behind him but that phrase - “I’m here to help you” - remains a central tenet of his outlook on life.

That attitude of service can be seen most weekday mornings at the Edmond Senior Center, where he helps prepare the lunch service.

It can also be seen in his continuing dedication to the Boy Scouts.

Peters joined the organization when he was 13 and stuck with it virtually ever since.

“I got my Eagle in April 1940,” Peters said. “September 16th is when the National Guard was called up for active duty.”

The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1I2ebsi ) reports that his National Guard commander tried to discharge Peters but his brother convinced his mother that it would be a good experience for Oren, one of her nine children, to spend a year on active duty.

Peters was in a movie theater in Abilene, Texas, near Camp Barkeley, where he was stationed, on Dec. 7, 1941.

He was watching “Sergeant York” when a message flashed on the side of the screen alerting soldiers to report back to their base.

Peters remained in his seat.

A few minutes later, the message flashed again.

Still, Peters remained.

“I was interested in the movie,” he said.

Finally, the lights came on and the movie stopped and the soldiers were forced to leave.

“When we got outside the theater, of course this was the big buzz that Pearl Harbor had been bombed,” Peters said. “When we got back to camp, we sat around and talking about how did that affect us? Pearl Harbor, that’s in the middle of the ocean out there. It doesn’t affect us. What are we doing? Within the next day or two we realized that we’re in the Army. We’re not National Guardsmen anymore.”

He wound up serving nearly two years in combat in Europe with the 45th Infantry.

“I loved it,” Peters said of his service. “It was fun. It was a game. I volunteered for everything that happened. You hear people talking about, ‘Don’t volunteer for anything.’ I volunteered for everything. There wasn’t anything that came up that I didn’t try to get to do it.

“Shoot, when we landed in Sicily, I was all excited. ‘Gosh, this is fun. This is a new country. Here I am in a war and this is fun.’”

Of course, not all of it wound up being fun but Peters tried to enjoy it as much as he could.

“The Lord was on my side,” he said. “So we came through it. I’m still healthy. I keep busy.”

In 2011, Peters was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame.

Saturday, Peters would have normally been in Norman, working the south end zone handicap seats, making sure the fans find their seats and the aisle is kept clear so others can move freely.

But instead he was at Wantland Stadium in Edmond, watching Central Oklahoma take on Lindenwood in its homecoming game.

He wasn’t an OU football fan until the scouts started the ushering program at Sooners games in 1948 - Peters was one of the original ushers. He’s always been a UCO fan, though. He graduated from what was then Central State Teachers College and has remained loyal to his alma mater.

But it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with OU football.

On a Saturday morning in early October, Peters - wearing his Boy Scout jacket and cap - directs fans to their seats and spots on the front row of the south end zone.

Many of them have been there for years. But even the new ones, Peters quickly becomes friendly with.

Dewayne and Lois Sarten live in Kansas, Oklahoma, but plan to move to Norman once Dewayne retires.

They’re in their first year sitting in the section.

“He’s great,” Lois said with a laugh, pointing at Oren. “Everybody’s really friendly down here.”

Jim Hagar is the second-longest serving Boy Scout leader that’s part of the detail that buses from Oklahoma City to Norman about four hours before every OU home football game.

Hagar has been doing it since 1977.

“He’s just that kind of guy that if he puts his mind to something, he’s going to do it,” Hagar said of Peters. “It’s kind of neat to have somebody from that group of ushers to still be involved.”

Peters has thought about hanging it up.

“I’ve thought about it but I enjoy the games and enjoy being around people and when I think well why do I go down there, well, I just like being a part of the program.”

He missed last season after having open heart surgery on Valentine’s Day 2014 but couldn’t stay away.

And he plans to be there for as long as his health allows it.

“It’s kind of fun,” Peters said. “You’d be surprised at the number of people that you meet.”

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