My St. Paul-based sister is a retire public librarian, a consultant to editors of children’s books (as a national expert in that field I might add), who in her retirement has gained yet another field of expertise (yes, she’s the smart one in the family). And that would be genealogy, the study of families, family history and the tracing of lineages. Now I have to say, this has never been an area I could care a whit about; don’t know why. But she is expert and can easily explain the difference between second cousin and third cousin one removed and all the other vagaries.
So I’ll leave my Minnesota-based family history and remind my readers of a distinctly Oklahoma-based story now six years old: the Vaughn Food beheading incident which occurred in September 2014, when a man attacked two employees at the Vaughn Food processing plant in Moore, Oklahoma. Colleen Hufford was beheaded while her husband waited in the parking lot to pick her up from work while the other employee, Traci Johnson, was stabbed and critically injured. The perpetrator, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he attacked was then shot by the Vaughn Food chief operating officer. Alton Nolen was convicted of murder and assault in October 2017, and in that same year, a judge sentenced Nolen to death by lethal injection.
The tragic beheaded victim, Colleen Hufford, was 54 years of age at her death, a wife, mom and grandmother. She was born in 1960 in Landstuhl, Germany, to parents Marshall and Gisela Thompson. Her family later moved to Great Falls, Montana, where Colleen was raised. In 1984 she was married to KC Hufford in Great Falls. They settled in Moore, Oklahoma, where their daughter Kelli was born. Colleen was an avid hockey fan who could always be found at the rink cheering on the Blazers, then the Barons.
The stories of genealogy and the untimely horrific death of Colleen Hufford came together where the story started with my sister, who some six years after Ms. Hufford’s death, through her research and expertise, discovered that we, in fact, shared a great-great-grandparent with Ms. Hufford which made us, in fact, third cousins.
Most unusual. I wish I had known Colleen, and may she rest in peace.
Lee Baxter is a former commanding general of Fort Sill.