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Bob Leise was born in Hartington, Nebraska, September 8, 1931, and came to Tulsa in 1970. His pursuit of a college degree led him to Marquette University in Milwaukee where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, graduating in 1954.
During his college years he was a member of ROTC and became a Second Lieutenant upon graduation. He subsequently served two years in an Engineering Battalion as a Combat Engineer after the Korean War.

After military service he worked as a consulting engineer in Lincoln, NE. It was during an assignment on this job, while he was in Greely, CO, designing bridges, that he met his wife Helen. Subsequently, he worked as a Structural Engineer with Behlen Mfg. Co. in Colombus, NE. He later went into partnership in Albuquerque, NM as a Behlen dealer.

The Leise's then moved to Tulsa in 1970, when he went to work as an engineer for HTB Inc. a local architectural and engineering firm. At HTB, he eventually was appointed director of the engineering department and became responsible for all HTB projects at the Port from 1972-1992. Bob valued the Port account, and took special pride in projects to benefit river development.

His first assignment at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa was construction of the grain facility operated by OK Grain (currently operated by Peavey, a division of ConAgra). Later he worked on additions to the fertilizer facility (now ConAgra International Fertilizer Company).
In 1992, Bob left HTB to become deputy director of the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. His knowledge and experience with projects related to river development was an asset to Port operations.

The list of projects overseen by Bob is long and includes the Terra Nitrogen Terminal, miles of Port roads, railroad track, storm sewers, the low water wharf, the floating boat dock, and also the Port Authority building. Bob also was instrumental in wharf cut projects. His design of circular mooring dolphins is still used for new additions to that system at the Port.

Bob retired from the Port in 1997, but is still a consultant at the Port on its new projects.


John Mawn served with the Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as Public Affairs Officer, from March 1964 through December 1979. During that historic period, the Little Rock and Tulsa districts completed and dedicated the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. He and his small staff devoted significant time to media coverage of the historic project.

John Mawn publicized the Oct. 4, 1968, dedication of the navigation system from the Mississippi River to Central Arkansas, and later would work on the June 5, 1971, dedication of the entire waterway.

As work on the system was underway, Mawn stayed busy helping arrange and conduct individual ceremonies related to completion of various navigation structures. Through the media, he acquainted the public with the then-new operation of navigation locks, arranged tours of locks and even planned and carried out "button-pushing" ceremonies to officially close the gates on newly completed locks and dams.

Mawn coordinated numerous Bicentennial activities related to the river, and he remained always available for the news media as new Corps lakes around Arkansas were up and running. Mawn arranged inspection trips for numerous local, national and even international groups, including the visit in 1973 of a delegation of water resources engineers from the People's Republic of China. That group toured powerhouses at Dardanelle and Ozark locks and dams.
And, not the least of his accomplishments, Mawn helped the legendary Carl Garner get something called the "Great Arkansas Cleanup" get started and he instituted a popular river and lake level telephone recording system, updated daily, for projects in the Little Rock District. His years with the Little Rock District followed a lengthy period with the U.S. Army in Europe, Japan, Korea and stateside.

Mawn was born Jan. 10, 1915, in Scranton, PA. He was drafted in 1941 and, after basic training, found himself with the 94th Infantry Division. He met and married his late wife, Helen in1943. Mawn saw action with the 94th Infantry in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge, under General Patton's command.
Mawn received the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Purple Heart, and Bronze Star medals with four battle stars for European combat. He was recalled by the Army in 1946 and saw duty in Japan, where he received his first assignment as a public affairs officer. He also saw action in Korea in 1951-52. He retired as a major in 1962 and two years later was named public affairs officer for the Little Rock District in 1964.

Mawn remained active in the 94th Infantry Division Association, editing the organization's "Attack" newspaper for years. He also served as Association President in 1994-95. He was inducted into the Little Rock District's "Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees" in 1997.
N.M. "Buck" Shell II was born near Pine Bluff, AR. He is a veteran, having served in the United States Army.

Buck began his career on the Arkansas River in 1969, when he took a job with the Pine Bluff Warehouse Company owned and operated by Mr. L. E. "Ed" Thompson of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He then moved to their operations in Fort Smith in 1970. At the Pine Bluff Warehouse Company, he began as a forklift operator, and slowly worked his way up through the ranks. By the time he left the company he was senior Vice President.
He left Pine Bluff Warehouse Company after it was bought out by an enterprise formerly known as Mid South. The new firm did not retain any of the former management. Subsequently, he began his own company: Five River Distribution. He has been CEO of Five Rivers Distribution, LLC for 11 years.
Buck has a strong background in industry and the Arkansas Waterways System. He has helped develop the Fort Smith and Van Buren, Arkansas area. He is a member of the Arkansas River Basin Interstate Committee, and is recipient of the 2005 Outstanding Service Award for the Arkansas Waterways Commission.

Buck has been active in many waterway organizations. He is Past President of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Port Operators Association, Past President of the Inland River Ports and Terminals Association, and Past Chairman of the Fort Smith, Arkansas Water Resources Commission.

Other positions he has held include: Past City Director for Fort Smith, Arkansas, Past Chairman of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Rodeo Parade Commission, and Past member of the Arkansas Sebastian County Sheriff's Department.

Buck is an admired and respected businessman among his colleagues and associates. He is married and has two children and four grandchildren.


John O. "Jack" Thisler was Information Officer for the Tulsa District, Corps of Engineers. In this position he directed the public information activities of the Corps in Oklahoma and parts of six surrounding states. He retired after 18 years of service. This was the culmination of 38 years of service with the Federal Government. He came to the Tulsa District from San Antonio, Texas, where he was a reporter for the San Antonio Express (morning) and San Antonio Evening News (afternoon) papers.

Jack retired from the Army in May 1962 after 20 years of active duty. At the time of his retirement with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Thisler was chief of the public information division of the Fourth U. S. Army Information Section, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Before entering military service in 1942, he was City Editor of the Abilene, Kansas Daily Reflector. He received his B. S. degree in technical journalism from Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, in 1957.

Jack served in information assignments in Japan with the Eighth Army in 1945-1948; X-Corps, Korea, 1951-1952; United Nations Command, Tokyo, Japan, 1952-1954; public information officer of Operation Little Switch, the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of war in Korea, April 1953; and commanding officer of the U. S. Army Exhibit Unit, Cameron Station, Alexandria, Virginia, 1956-1959.

His Tulsa District colleagues expressed their indebtedness to him for his outstanding work and many significant accomplishments. From the time he joined the District in 1966, the District completed more major Civil Works construction projects than any other district in the Corps and Jack was a major part of the team. He was particularly involved in 15 dedications-including the presidential dedication of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation Project-8 groundbreakings, 9 gate closings, and 6 emergency disaster events. This is not to mention the numerous public meetings and workshops he attended.
Jack's dedication to the river and river projects led him to active membership in the Arkansas River Historical Society. He volunteered for many years as publicity chairman of the Society, publishing its newsletter, Reflections. He is also long-time Vice-President for Oklahoma and serves on the Hall of Fame committee. Jack is a member of Sigma Delta Chi, honorary journalism fraternity, and Tulsa Press Club.

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