A video interview with Rhonda Noonan, Author of The Fifth and Final Name A Memoir of an American Churchill on KTUL’s Good Morning Oklahoma; Interview with Keith Taylor, on July 25, 2013
Transcript of Interview between Rhonda Noonan and Keith Taylor:
Our next guest spent 30 years searching for the truth about her father and family identity. Her story really sounds more like a detective novel. The secrets in her family tree were covered up by the FBI and the Department Human Services, but why? We’re going to find out.
Rhonda Noonan, here to share her story. Good morning! Thanks for coming in this morning.
RHONDA: Thank you, Keith.
So, you’re an Okie.
RHONDA: I am.
And yet, you have ties to the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
RHONDA: I do indeed.
This is an incredible story. And when did you first start to find out that you may be related to Winston Churchill?
RHONDA: I had some hints of it, long about ’98. But in 1999, I met Lord Rader’s executive assistant. Her name was Polly Hunt and Polly confirmed for me that she had met Randolph Churchill, in a meeting with Mr. Rader, concerning me and my adoption. So that was when I found out.
And Randolph Churchill is your biological father.
RHONDA: Is my biological father, yes.
And his dad was..
RHONDA: Sir Winston Churchill, yes.
So when you first heard about that, were you like “Are you Serious?”
RHONDA: I was definitely like “Are you Serious!” It was very surreal. It was hard to come to grips with it, it really was. You know, you start out looking for someone. Never in my wildest dreams, even though I knew that things had not been normal with my adoption, and certainly hinted that things might be somewhat of notoriety, but still when you discover it’s Winston Churchill, it’s very hard to digest.
Now, your biological father was in Oklahoma and that’s where he met your mother, your biological mother. And you were born., but he was married, and so they put you up for adoption?
RHONDA: Oh that’s right. They didn’t want anyone to know anything about me. My adoptive parents phone was tapped. They were instructed that they could never call the department or the city. You know, they referred to Oklahoma City as “the City” unless they were calling from their home phone. And the FBI showed up in Tonkawa interviewing people who knew my family, people who knew my grandparents because my mothers, my adoptive mother’s parents lived in Tonkawa for many years. So the FBI showed up talking to folks about the family and so there was considerable questions as to why that had occurred. And my parents got a call one night at ten o’clock saying be at a hotel across from the state capitol at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning to pick up a baby. And so they did and here I am.
And uncovering this, as you said, is just finding out things and headed in different direction is pretty incredible.
RHONDA: It was incredible. It was very difficult because most of the people involved with it had already passed. Polly Hunt I think was 93 when I found her. My birthmother was 92 when I met her. So the trail was getting cold and it made it pretty difficult, but with a little perseverance, something I suspect was genetic..
And she doesn’t smoke cigars, by the way!
RHONDA: No, no cigars.
But you had said that your grandfather was interested in you, wanted to know about you, so that had to make you feel pretty good, does it?
RHONDA: It was the driving force. I knew that my parents weren’t interested in seeing me and I wasn’t interested in seeing them, that was OK. I could respect that, but in order to find my grandfather, I had to find them. So it became a little different deal at that junction.
Now, unfortunately, we’re just out of time, we could spend all day talking about this. Now because of this, you really speak out about adoptions and kids who are adopted being about to know who their parents are and this is very important to you.
RHONDA: It is very important to me. Every human being has a right to know who they are, without exception. So I am a tremendous advocate for adoptees and open birth certificates for adopted adults.
OK and you can find out a lot about that by reading Rhonda’s book. Listen, thank you very much.
RHONDA: Thank you.
Incredible story and I can’t wait to start flipping through the book and I don’t even need pictures in this one; I’m looking forward to it. Thank you very much
RHONDA: Thank you.
Rhonda Noonan, the Fifth and Final Name – Memoir of an American Churchill. It’s available online, Amazon and Barnes and Nobel. You can also go online to FifthandFinalName.com. Also on Facebook.