Scholarships

Fall 2013

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Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester, left, poses with OU senior Sydney Gettel and Bud and Mary Jean Busken, parents of the late OU ballerina Juli Busken. Gettel is the recipient of the Juli Busken Memorial Scholarship for the 2012-13 academic year.

Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester, left, poses with OU senior Sydney Gettel and Bud and Mary Jean Busken, parents of the late OU ballerina Juli Busken. Gettel is the recipient of the Juli Busken Memorial Scholarship for the 2012-13 academic year.

An unlikely friendship between a bereaved couple and a university police chief has helped preserve the memory of a University of Oklahoma ballerina while helping other young dancers reach their dreams.

Cleveland County Sheriff Joe Lester presented a check for $42,343.66 to University of Oklahoma Foundation President Guy Patton in September. The funds were raised through the Juli Busken Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament sponsored by Lester in June. The check is the latest gift to the scholarship through Lester’s efforts.

The scholarship honors Busken, who was kidnapped from her Norman apartment in December 1996 and brutally slain. A student in the School of Dance, Busken completed her senior year at the University of Oklahoma a few days prior to her death.

“This scholarship allows the opportunity to honor Juli and keep her memory alive in the community,” Lester said. “Student dancers have the chance to complete their education with help from this scholarship.”

Busken’s parents, Bud and Mary Jean Busken of Benton, Arkansas, attended the check presentation. “We’re so excited about Sheriff Lester’s raising $42,000 for Juli’s scholarship fund,” Bud Busken said. “Thank you to the community that continues to support and remember Juli.”

This is the second year Lester has organized a golf tournament in Juli’s honor. Support from the community, including Toby and Tricia Keith, netted $10,000 more than last year’s total.

Sheriff Lester was the OU chief of police in 1996 when Busken was murdered. Lester said he became friends with her mother and father during the homicide investigation and remains close with them today.

The Busken case, which went unsolved for years, had a profound effect on Lester. When the perpetrator was identified by DNA samples, Lester himself made the drive to Benton to tell Juli’s parents. “They still love her as much as ever,” said Lester.

Lester said, “It wasn’t an OU police case, but it was an OU student and part of the OU family. You don’t let things like that happen to family with it going unresolved.”