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Opinion: COVID-19 has a face – and Mustang suffered a loss in Jim Nowlin

Pictured during a Masons Lodge 407 fundraising breakfast are Mustang Historical Society President Jim Nowlin (right), with Carole Hanna and Glen Muse, who alternated with his longtime friend in leading the nonprofit. (File photo)

By Traci Chapman
Staff Writer

It’s easy to get complacent with the novel coronavirus. It’s been going on for so long and in ways it seems Mustang has dodged the worst of it – but then you realize COVID-19 was waiting to show you it doesn’t care where you live or who you are, what kind of life you’ve led or how you’ve dedicated your life to others.

For me, it’s been pretty steady – reporting on COVID-19 isn’t easy. Beyond the people who get angry at the stories and coverage (#fakenews), there’s this constant weight of the numbers: the illness, the long-term effects, the deaths.

Then there was Jim Nowlin and a terrible day a few weeks ago that reminded me no one is going to walk away from this unscathed in some way.

Traci Chapman

You might not have known Jim Nowlin; I was blessed to count him as a friend, someone who showed me constant kindnesses for more than 13 years as a Canadian County journalist. In fact, Jim and fellow Mustang Historical Society officers Glen Muse and Dolly Priest were the first people in the city I interviewed when I began working for the Mustang News in 2007. From that day until the last day I saw him, I never saw Jim without a smile on his face. That’s just who he was.

Jim, like Glen and Dolly and his great friend Carole Hanna, grew up in Mustang. He graduated from Mustang High School in 1966; he loved working the family farm with his wife Kathy; he was so loved by his children and grandchildren, his many friends, former coworkers. And by me.

Jim dedicated years of his life sharing the history of Mustang with anyone he could. He served as president of Mustang Historical Society and spent countless Western Days and hours at Mustang

Masons fundraising breakfasts talking about the changes in the community – and the importance Mustang’s past has on its future.

Jim in many ways was Mustang, to me – kind and generous; funny and outgoing; there whenever someone needed him; humble; loving.

Although for some Jim’s age – 72 – might seem old, he never seemed it. His energy and enthusiasm propelled others to keep going, and his love of our community never wavered. He celebrated our history and gave his time to ensure younger generations would not forget the dusty intersection that once represented Mustang – and everything since.

Jim is a loss to Mustang, someone I know I’ll never forget. Anyone who loves this community should learn about him, about Dolly and Carole, about Glen, about Tanya and the other members of a historical society, who labor behind the scenes to protect our heritage.

I know COVID-19 is exhausting, I know we’re sick of it. I know for some people wearing a mask is a chore or something they do not want to do – for whatever reason. But, please, for the people you love and who love you, remember that the numbers we print in the virus stories I write represent Jim Nowlin and others like him, people who cannot be replaced and who died too soon.
If you would like to learn about Mustang Historical Society, see its Facebook page,, or website, The organization’s museum is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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