by Bobby Anderson
From time to time, Gary England will drop by the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma to speak with the incoming freshman class.
Any student who knows anything about weather in Oklahoma understands when England walks into the room they are in the presence of greatness.
But the self-described kid from Seiling sets down a manila folder and pulls out rejection letter after rejection letter.
“I went a lot of places and they didn’t like me,” he grins.
Even in retirement the 76-year-old is still cracking jokes and – more importantly – he’s still helping Oklahomans protect themselves from Oklahoma weather.
Through much prodding, the University of Oklahoma has taken up some of England’s retirement time to collaborate on a new weather series.
This Sooner Series consists of short, entertaining videos that will give people of all ages a better understanding of Oklahoma’s severe weather patterns and events. This entertaining series will make it easy and fun for you to become familiar with the fundamentals of our weather, the history of weather forecasting, and the technology used by meteorology professionals to keep the public as safe as possible.
Using Janux’s social discussion forum, participants will be able to interact directly with Gary and share their own weather stories and experiences with people around the globe.
This series is being offered at no cost through multiple media channels, including iTunes U, YouTube, and OU’s Janux online learning platform.
These videos have been professionally produced by NextThought, and the entire series is being released at once, so that taking part is convenient to fit your schedule.
Visiting his granddaughter, Cassidy, now a sophomore at OU, England was hit up while on campus to work on the series by President David Boren’s Chief of Staff Nicholas Hathaway.
“A bunch of us sat down and what amazes me is how you gather so many really intelligent and creative people together,” England said. “They’re quite amazing.”
“I like doing the series. You plan it. You do it and you’ve got it out there forever for people.”
From there, the Janux series was born. It came at a right time for the recently retired England.
“Retirement kind of snuck up on me,” say’s OU’s meterologist in residence. “I never have liked to take vacations. Never liked to travel. I love what I do. My lifetime dream was to be on TV at Channel 9. I never had a thought past that.”
Undeniably, England is an Oklahoma treasure. Born in Seiling, Oklahoma, England joined the U.S. Navy at age 17, after which he attended The University of Oklahoma, graduating in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and meteorology.
He began his broadcasting career with KWTV in Oklahoma City in 1972. Over his 41-year career with KWTV, England is credited with saving countless lives and properties with his steady, measured reporting during severe storms in Oklahoma.
England became internationally noted for pioneering innovations in weather technology and systems that are now common tools in the world of severe weather coverage, including first acquisition and application of commercial Doppler radar, the storm time of arrival warning system, corner screen warning maps, and cellular still picture/video transmission.
With the firm Enterprise Electronics, he implemented the world’s first commercial Doppler weather radar in 1981, becoming the first person in history to use Doppler radar for direct warnings to the public.
Dubbed “The Weather God of Oklahoma City” by the New York Times, England is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including four Emmy Awards and the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Heartland Division.
He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2013. He also received the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for best in the nation in breaking weather coverage in all large markets.
He is the author of four books and has appeared in more than 60 national and international severe weather programs. In 2013, England assumed a new role at KWTV-9 as the vice president for corporate relations and weather development at Griffin Communications.
England was named an OU Outstanding Alumnus in 2008. He was further honored by OU in October 2013 at the annual Ring Ceremony and also served as parade marshal for OU’s Homecoming. England received the University of Oklahoma’s highest award in 2014, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
England is still highly-sought in the legal field as a consultant, testifying for attorneys as an expert witness – something he’s done since the 1970s.
“The legal stuff is fun until you get to court,” England laughed.
But when Oklahoma’s weather ramps up, England still feels that itch.
“I miss it a little,” England said. “I’ll tune in on bad weather and I think … I don’t miss the death, destruction and human suffering. I grew really weary of that.”
And just like he’s done for the last 40 years, even in retirement England is still trying to keep Oklahomans safe.