Colonel Sanders Visits Sapulpa KFC
A chance encounter at a Claremore KFC started an 81-year-old retiree on a journey to being "Oklahoma Colonel Sanders."
Vernon Hester, of Broken Arrow, a Colonel Sanders impersonator, paid a visit to the Sapulpa KFC Sunday afternoon, June 30th. Hester, dressed in iconic Colonel Sanders attire, replete with mustache and goatee, visited with customers, providing a unique photo opportunity for the restaurant patrons. He travels around the state as the Tulsa-area Goodwill Ambassador for KFC.
Mr. Hester, 81, told the Sapulpa Times he had retired several years ago after decades of successful entrepreneurship. He developed the first 4-color process for outdoor billboards; he also ran two highly successful plumbing companies, before becoming the face of KFC in Oklahoma.
When asked how he became the “Oklahoma Colonel Sanders,” he explained it was a chance encounter at a Claremore KFC. He walked into the establishment to enquire which KFC in the area had a buffet. The young man working at the counter said, “Come on in, Colonel.” Hester asked to speak to the manager, so the employee asked him, “Are you checking up on us?” It was then that Mr. Hester first met Billy Hodge, Tulsa-area Director of Operations for KFC. Mr. Hodge offered him a job as a spokesperson for KFC in Oklahoma playing the role of Colonel
Sanders. Hester respectfully declined.
As fate would have it, Vernon Hester and Billy Hodge would meet again. Mr. Hester and his wife were at the Hard Rock Casino in Catoosa. The room was crowded but he found some empty seats. As he and wife were discussing where to sit, a woman exclaimed, “I want to sit by the Colonel!” No sooner had the woman spoken, when Hester looked up and saw Mr. Hodge. Mr. Hodge again offered Hester a job.
This time Hester agreed with a caveat. Hester told Hodge he was trying to sell a truck, and if he sold the truck, he would take the job. As it turned out, he sold the truck. Hodges called him a few days later and the rest is history.
Mr. Hester has been asked to expand his territory into Kansas. The Sapulpa Times wholeheartedly endorses Mr. Hester as the International Goodwill Ambassador for KFC. His uncanny resemblance to, and genteel mannerisms of the real Colonel Harland Sanders are remarkable.
About the Author
Long-time Sapulpa resident, Charles Betzler, followed his father, Charlie, into the radio and TV repair business. At age 9, he fixed his first broken radio and his first love is vintage audio equipment. In his 50 + years of technical work, graduation from OSUIT, and years of Continuing Education, Charles, in his capacity as Emergency Management Director of nearby city, designed the Emergency Operations Center, and the radio-activation system for the sirens. In his long career, he has repaired every type of consumer electronics from black-and-white TVs to the latest lap-top.