Tolbert Owens

Tolbert Eugene Owens departed this realm to join his beloved wife and son on February 6, 2024, from his home in Coleman, Okla., with friends and family in attendance. Tolbert (Red) was born in Twitty, Texas, on September 3, 1930, to Clara Mae Chapman and Tolbert F. Owens.

He grew up mostly in west Texas and New Mexico, where he worked as a cowboy on ranches including the Old Matador and XIT ranches. The family settled near O’Bar, New Mexico. In high school, he began working for his brother-in-law at his truck stop, while attending high school. He was an outstanding athlete and scholar, graduating in May 1948 as Valedictorian of his class.

When the Korean Conflict began, he enlisted in the Air Force. He spent most of his enlistment on Okinawa, where he oversaw the supply of American bombers. His team was charged with creating ways to increase American pilots’ productivity. He also served at Tinker Field, F. E. Warren Air base in Wyoming, and he was honorably discharged on December 14, 1954, while he was based at Perrin Field in Sherman, Texas. While based in Texas, his parents moved back to Coleman, and while visiting them, he met his beautiful wife, Wilma Jean Rhodes. They were married on June 15, 1954. They were blessed with two children: Tolbert Eugene Owens and Sherrie Louise Owens.

Tolbert devoted most of his life to the education of students. He graduated from Southeastern with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in education. He completed more course work at UT and OU. He spent more than 20 years at Coleman, with the majority of his time as Superintendent. In 1980, he accepted the Superintendent’s position at Colbert where he stayed until he retired in 1990.

He then changed direction. He spent the next 14 years traveling and working across the US with his son laying fiber optic telephone cable. His grandson, Blu, joined them for the last few years. With his son’s death in 2004, he returned home and helped his wife raise their great-grandson, Cody. Unfortunately, his wife passed away in 2008, so he spent the rest of his time helping to raise his great-grandson.

He lived quietly but was involved actively in the community. Serving on various boards and as a deacon in his church, he stayed busy. He even, on a volunteer basis, assumed the role of Superintendent of Schools on an interim basis. In addition to being an educator and successful coach, he was a farmer, rancher, and devoted domino player. His group of domino buddies were some of his dearest friends and they held a special place in his heart.

A celebration of Tolbert’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday February 10, 2024, at Brown’s Funeral Service Chapel in Durant, Okla. Pastor Randy Tadlock will officiate.

Tolbert lived his life promoting education. He asked that in lieu of flowers, if you so desire, please choose a teacher and donate to their classroom.

Arrangements are under the direction of Brown’s Durant Funeral Service and Crematory.

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