Bobby Wayne Whitaker, Senior, age 84, died peacefully on October 15, 2020 after complications from Aspirated Pneumonia associated with Dysphagia. Bob fought many long battles with infections of the lungs which were complicated even more by his C.O.P.D. Numerous times he was diagnosed to be at his End of Life stage. But, Bob was a real trooper. He survived. Quitting or giving up was never in his vocabulary.
Bob grew up in a farming family while living in Wanette, Oklahoma. When he was in the 8th grade, Bob chose farming over school. He told stories of picking cotton, fishing, planting crops, fishing, hauling grain to the mills in horse drawn wagons, fishing and riding mules to the fishing holes, of course!
Bob was best known as a “Man with Many Hats”. In 1956, Bob put on a United States Air Force Dress Blue Uniform and Cover Hat. Bob (now called and ‘Airman’) was cleared for access to and including “Top Secret Security Information.” He served as a Munitions Specialist which consisted of loading bombs in the belly of fighter planes. He served in the Air Force for 3 years, 10 months and 1 day at which time he was honorably discharged for a physical disability to his back.
In 1956, prior to being honorably discharged, Bobby Wayne Whitaker was married to Geraldine Elizabeth Rose from Tuttle, OK. A year later, he put on his ‘Daddy’ hat when his daughter Trela Carol was born and then a year and a half after that, his son Bobby Wayne Junior was born.
Bob wore many more hats during his lifetime including a long distance Truck Driver’s hat. Then, he pursued a career in welding and was very proficient at creating just about anything he needed. Bob wasn’t one to just go buy what he needed. He liked to think he had contributed a meaningful product by building things himself. He was a genius at making repairs just by using duct tape and baling wire!
In 1969, Bob and Geraldine moved to Tuttle where they lived for 50 years until their deaths. Bob found a hat that suited him just fine as a Water Well Driller. He drilled water wells for years in the Tuttle area. When most town folk would see him, they’d say, “You’re the guy who drilled my water well!” Bob knew as soon as he’d get home from drilling a well, he would be greeted by Geraldine with a stern frown and the words, “get those muddy jeans off and put them in the washing machine before you get mud all over the house!”
It didn’t take long for Bob to become an avid Tuttle Tiger fan. He wore the Tuttle Tiger hat with pride. He loved watching the Tigers play football while sitting in his pickup along the sideline (when that used to be allowed!) He admired Trela Carol playing her drums in the band and wondered where the heck had Bobby Wayne ran off to! He was proud to say he was from Tuttle, Oklahoma!
Next was the Cowboy hat! Bob loved a challenge and he wasn’t afraid to find it atop a 1200 pound horse. He loved family horseback rides along the river, competing at Playdays and Team Penning competitions. Horse racing was always a thrill for him and he spent many hours training his race horses and making future race horse babies.
Bob relied on his natural ability and common sense to make or repair anything when he wore the hat of a Maintenance Specialist and began work at the Producer’s COOP and Feed Mill in OKC. He was praised for maintaining heavy equipment and manufacturing specific components that helped the equipment run more efficiently.
After several years working at the Producer’s COOP, Bob took on another maintenance job and started wearing the hat labeled Cherokee Trailer Manufacturing in OKC. He loved his job and showing the “youngsters” how to repair (or prevent breakdowns) of their manufacturing equipment. He always delighted in showing off his skills and workmanship knowing that he created a one of a kind fix for something that normally would have been scrapped and replaced with new.
Now it was time to put on his fishing hat, grab the fishing pole and retire to the lake or anywhere he could find some peace and relaxation. Bob loved fishing and always put up a challenge to catch the biggest fish. He loved stretching the truth about his fish with brothers Jim and Nelson... and always with sister Zee! He loved family gatherings because it gave him the opportunity to pick on family and see everyone laugh. And, if that didn’t work, he’d say you “stank” when he was on the receiving end of a hug. But, you never did see him turn down a hug!
And, as life would have it, Bob’s health began failing. He was moved to the Norman, OK Veteran’s Center as a resident. He saved the best hat and for last! He proudly started wearing the hat of a proud Veteran! His service in the Air Force was not to be forgotten. It wasn’t just a few months later that he lost his true love of 62 years. Geraldine was instrumental in completing all the requirements to make sure Bob was always taken care of as her health was failing, too. She went to be with the Lord six months after Bob was moved to the Vet Center.
Bob always looked forward to Friday nights. As it would become a ritual for him to take a trip to the casino. He would always be waiting at the front doors of the Norman Vet Center an hour before Trela said she would be there to pick him up. He never spent much money. He just wanted to ride around in his wheel chair and see the bright lights and hear the bells and whistles. He always looked forward to eating a big heaping plate of biscuits and gravy from the casino café. Tim was his banker. And, to this day, Tim still has Bob’s casino money in his wallet.
The nurses and staff at the Oklahoma Veteran’s Center were always up for a little joking around while they were trying to care for Bob. As time was coming to an end, Bob still had a sense of humor and even made sure the nursing staff at Norman Regional Hospital knew he was there!
Bobby Whitaker was the last of his generation to pass from this world and walk through the gates of heaven. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Hunter and Lola Roberson Whitaker of Wanette, OK. Thirteen brothers, sisters and spouses: (1) Lawton and Eunice Whitaker of Yuba City, CA; (2) Della and Cleaster Martin of Gridley, CA; (3) Susie and George Mason of Gridley, CA; (4) Baby Infant Whitaker; (5) George and Evelyn Whitaker from Gridley, CA; (6) Nelson and Leona Whitaker of Tuttle, OK; (7) Baby Infant Whitaker; (8) Ammie and Joe Mitchell of Oklahoma City, OK; (9) Ruby Jean and husband Jesse (Son) Doolen of Spencer, OK; (10) AP and Georgia Whitaker of Oklahoma City; OK; (11) Avozee and Robert Eugene (Gene) Smallwood of Newcastle, OK; (12) Anna Lou and Ron Rodgers of Keota, OK; (13) Jimmy and Nora Whitaker of Moore, OK; and Bob’s son, Bobby Wayne Whitaker, Jr. of Hinton, Oklahoma.
Bobby Wayne Whitaker is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Trela and Tim Wishon of Luther, OK; one daughter-in-law, Evanrose Whitaker of Hinton, OK; 3 grandchildren, Rusty Miller and wife Christina Dahlstrom of San Antonio, TX; Leanda Whitaker of Apache, OK and Darrin Whitaker of Hinton, OK; Six great grandchildren, Matthew, Ean, Lexie and Alysa; and Abigal and Jaedyne; along with so many nieces and nephews that Uncle Bob lost count! And yet, he still had a big heart for every one of them!
As we close this Memoriam, you may have noticed there are several hats, ball caps, etc on a table at the entrance. The family would like for you to take a hat or as many as you want and keep it for a remembrance of the many hats Bob Whitaker wore during his lifetime. He was such a giving man and would love for you to have it.
There will be a dinner offered by the Snowhill Baptist Church for the family of Bob Whitaker. After dinner around 1:45pm - *Gather for a recession to escort the casket out to the hearse.*