Board Member Tribute


Our amazing ministry partners support Cookson Hills in countless ways. One of those happens behind the scenes, through service on our Board of Directors. At the annual Board retreat in April, two outstanding members, Rashonda Taylor and Larry Naumann, reached their maximum terms and ended their Board service. While we are sorry to see them go, we are also deeply grateful for their years of dedicated service.

Rashonda and Larry both have a long history with Cookson Hills, one that began when they were just children. Rashonda grew up at Cookson Hills, and Larry volunteered on work crews alongside his dad from the time he was old enough to wield a hammer.

Rashonda came to Cookson Hills at the age of 4, along with her three older siblings. She lived with the Lankston family for the next 14 ½ years until she graduated from high school. After graduation, she spent the summer traveling to camps and VBS programs representing Cookson Hills, then started college at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO.

For me, Cookson [Hills] provided stability and a real, nurturing family. The whole community helped shape the person I am. I was fortunate to have the same houseparents the whole time, and many of the same teachers and other staff.

In 2009, she was approached about serving on the board of directors, and she readily committed. For nine years, she made the six-hour trip from Texas for board meetings and served as an officer of the board. Coming back to Cookson Hills for board meetings also gave her the chance to visit her houseparents, who still live in the area.

I saw board service as an opportunity to give back. I want other kids to have what I had. – Rashonda

Larry Naumann’s memories of Cookson Hills go back even further than Rashonda’s. Larry owns and operates a large Oklahoma farm and is an active member of Town & Country Christian Church in Okmulgee. His father, Kenneth Naumann, was a key supporter of the ministry from the very early years. As a young boy in the early 1960s, Larry joined his dad on a work crew that was building houses in the “920” area of the campus. There were only a few buildings on campus at that time, including a 2-room schoolhouse.

Looking back, I’m amazed at just how God provided for Cookson [Hills] through the years. There were many times when we didn’t have the money we needed, but God always provided it just in time. – Larry

Another way Larry and his wife served the ministry was by sponsoring a family. While this sponsorship program is no longer offered, it opened a great door for Larry and his wife to dive deeper into the ministry of Cookson Hills.

We sponsored the Hockett family for several years. We really got to know several of the kids and got to see firsthand how their lives were changed. – Larry

Larry has served on the Board for 24 years, and he took the place of his father, who had served for about that same length of time. His children, Kelly and Kimberly, continue the family legacy of service.

We are deeply grateful for the investment Larry and Rashonda have made in Cookson Hills over the years, and we look forward to continuing the relationship in years to come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Aileen Gronewald, Board Chair, is from Joplin, Missouri. She delights in her family and calls her grandchildren the “frosting of life.” She’s an avid reader, an aspiring writer, loves fashion, fishing, and Fantasy Football.