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Gerald's Story

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Gerald W Spotts passed peacefully in his sleep on December 30, 2016. He is greatly missed by his family, but has left a noble legacy of quiet strength, duty, loyalty, generosity, humbleness, and hard work. He appreciated the importance of community, tolerance, and of life-long education. In his later years, when his world became encumbered by illnesses, he always gave everything in his power to continue the fight. His family remembers his many expressions, such as "I can do anything", "when you fall off the horse, get back on", "do your best", and "Spotts here" when he answered the call on the job. Of course, we, his children, also remember his expressions of exasperation (he never got mad at us) such as "Thunder!", "Thunderation!", and "Why, I oughta......!". Above all else, he cherished his family, his most valued accomplishment.
Gerald was born the youngest in his family in Haskell, Oklahoma. His mother, Florence Lent, a teacher, met his father, William L. Spotts, a homesteader from Missouri, and established a family, farm and ranch in the fertile soils near Haskell. He attended a one-room school house where his siblings, Lois, Nickolas, Hazel, Kenneth, Donald, Dwight, and Kittie also studied. His father passed when he was 3 years-old, and he learned the hard work of farming from his older brothers. When the brothers had all gone overseas in World War II, at the age of 14, he assumed management of the farm. Hard times made him resilient, responsible, and resourceful, but not bitter. With God's grace, all the brothers survived the conflict and returned. Gerald graduated from High school and left to attend Oklahoma State University. As a member of the Oklahoma National Guard, 45th infantry division, Thunderbirds, he was mobilized to active duty in Korea. He was trained at Fort Riley in military intelligence and functioned as a combat engineer and combat construction foreman, achieving the rank of Sargent, First Class. He was awarded the Korean Service Medal w/l star. He kept these experiences under guard, not wishing to expose his family to the ugliness he'd witnessed and which had left deep scars in his soul. As he neared the end of his service obligation, rather than pursue officer training, he elected to continue his education at Oklahoma State University. There he met the love of his life, Nina, and graduated suma cum lade with B.S. in mechanical engineering. Nina and Gerald were wed in 1954 at McFarlin Methodist Church in Norman. They began their life together in Houston, Texas, where Gerald was newly employed by Shell Oil Co., the company from which he would retire many years later in 1989.
While in Houston, Gerald and Nina had three children, Deborah, Cheryl, and Gerald D.. He finished his Master's degree in industrial engineering, 1958, at the University of Houston. In 1961, he was transferred to Woodbury, N.J. Though now far away from Oklahoma, the family maintained connections by visiting every summer. During these years, Gerald worked in chemical engineering and was responsible for designing the extruder process that produced the plastic milk bottle that we are all now familiar with. When the children were approaching high school age and Nina was pursuing her graduate degree, the family moved to a farm near Turnersville, and learned the farm skills of fence-building, hard work, responsibility, and especially, horse-sense. In 1975, Gerald was again transferred back to Houston where he served as a senior professional engineer, working to establish new production plants in other states. During this period, with his children attending college and beginning families, he was able to indulge his passion of farming and horses again - until the San Jacinto River flooded their home in Kingswood, Tx. So, after extensive rebuilding and repairs, Gerald and Nina chose to move to Norman, Oklahoma in 1995. Gerald and Nina enjoyed these later years sharing with their extended family and traveling whenever possible.
Gerald is survived by Nina, his wife of 62 years. He is also survived by his sister, Kittie Eads, his sisters-in-law, Sue and Arta Sue, and his three children, Deborah, Cheryl, and Gerald D. Their families include four grandchildren, Christie, Jarrett, Jason, Cameron, and two great-grandchildren. He leaves many nephews and nieces, other close relatives, and many friends.
In lieu of flowers, Gerald requested that donations be made to the Salvation Army, so that those less fortunate than he may benefit.
Published on January 20, 2017
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