Gary Story, who brought Oklahoma City to Wall Street on a roller coaster, died on Saturday. He was 58.
Story was the former president and chief operating officer of Six Flags Entertainment Corp. from 1998 until he retired from the company in 2004. He, along with his partner Kieran Burke, was the driving force behind the success of Premier Parks Inc., which began with just Frontier City in its inventory and later grew into the largest regional theme part company in the world with the $1.9 billion agreement to acquire Six Flags.
Soft-spoken and always preferring to remain low-profile, Story, however, was bullish on the business side of an industry he worked in since high school — sweeping streets at Six Flags in St. Louis.
“We've proved ourselves to be an aggressive, well-financed company that has obviously experienced very good growth and — we don't want to blow our own horn — but we have aggressive, good management,” Story told The Oklahoman in 1997 after announcing a deal that would allow Premier Parks to become a managing general partner of Six Flags Over Texas.
The company became based in New York and Oklahoma City, as Story continued to live in Edmond.
Story remained an adviser to Six Flags after stepping down from his executive role and left the company in 2005 after Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder won a proxy vote earlier that year. At the time, Story who suffered from Type 1 diabetes, said he was looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Lorena, and their three children.
Six Flags closed its Oklahoma City headquarters in January 2006, but Story — who once was described as having cotton candy and thrills running through his blood — would return in 2011 to the only business he's ever known and again manage Frontier City.
“I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Frontier City,” he said in a 2004 interview. “It's kind of like your first girlfriend — you never forget.
Over the years, Story brought several signature rides to Frontier City, including the log flume in 1983, the Silver Bullet and Wildcat roller coasters in 1986 and 1991, and Renegade Rapids water ride in 1990. And the phenomenally successful Mr. Six mascot — the a bald octogenarian with thick, black-rimmed glasses and a red bow tie who gyrated his way across TV screens to the sound of dance group Vengaboys' 1999 hit “We Like to Party” — was also during his era.
A memorial service will be noon Friday at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.