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Death can't part Holdenville couple's long-lasting love

Barbara and Bob Pettis, of Holdenville, Oklahoma, had a bond so strong, even death couldn’t seem to part the married couple of 63 years.
by Heather Warlick Published: July 7, 2014
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“I couldn’t carry on a conversation with him, but I got responses to questions sometimes,” Clay Pettis said.

He left the hospital at 7:30 p.m. His son left at 7:50 p.m. At 8 p.m., Bob Pettis had died.

“I don’t believe in coincidences, and I didn’t sit down and tell Dad that Mama was gone. But I’m sure he knew,” Clay Pettis said. “Just knowing them, you wouldn’t be surprised that Dad decided to check out, too.”

The Pettis couple were a special breed, Clay Pettis said. They had three children — Clay, Leslie Neeley and Jim Cole Pettis.

“We had something growing up that a lot of kids don’t get. The thought of them divorcing was inconceivable to me. We had that kind of security with them that it never crossed our minds growing up.”

Barbara and Bob were both schoolteachers at the end of their careers. She taught at Butner, Skiatook and Wann, and he taught vocational agriculture at Sperry, Copan and Wann.

“They lived just ordinary lives, but you get closer and start looking, and you realize that what you thought was ordinary was very extraordinary,” Clay Pettis said.

His parents loved each other deeply, and there is some relief to the family that the two joined their maker together.

Their love was bigger than this life.

“They weren’t all ‘smoochy-woochy, touchy-wouchy,’ but in their voices and the way they looked at each other, you could see their love” Pettis said. “Just in the little things.”

Life goes on

As caregivers, Clay and Jana Pettis still have their hands full, caring for another in need. Macee, or “Sweet Pea” as she is called, is a 9-year-old member of Jana Pettis’ family whom the couple have cared for since she was an infant.

At 59 and 58, Clay and Jana Pettis have a lot to live for, including watching Macee grow up.

“Half the time in life, you don’t see the biggest blessings until ‘Bam!’ I can’t imagine life without her,” Clay Pettis said.

“She takes care of us,” Clay Pettis said. “Somebody said once she’s real lucky to have you, and I said we’re luckier to have her.”

by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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