Terry Clubb was inspecting construction activities on the east end of the new Interstate 40 Crosstown Expressway when he was pinned under a tractor-trailer that overturned while delivering asphalt. He died the next day, June 14, 2011.
His widow, Cyndie, recalls the prayer he recited every weekday morning as they reached the intersection of I-40 and I-240 while driving westbound from their home in Harrah: “This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Soon a 1-mile stretch of I-40 will be named for Terry Clubb. He is one of three men killed on the job in the five years since former Gov. Brad Henry signed a law providing that honor to any state Transportation Department worker killed on the job. The others are Ira Henderson, of Bartlesville, killed Nov. 30, 2011, and Tim Vandiver, of Checotah, killed last June 25.
These men are among 57 state Transportation Department employees killed in the line of duty.
They were not just workers in safety vests. They were family members, friends — and they are painfully missed on this Memorial Day weekend and every day.
Driving and praying
Clubb multi-tasked, driving and praying as he and his wife commuted together to their jobs.
“He prayed every day for co-workers, everybody he worked with, for the job coming up,” Cyndie said. “He prayed that things would go well and that nobody would get hurt.
“He just kind of blanketed everyone in prayer.”
Cyndie and Terry, who were just short of celebrating their 25th anniversary, shared a ride to work for 11 years. She'd drop him off and then pick him up.
Although he got off an hour earlier and would have to wait on her to come by, that wasn't a problem. You see, besides loving God and his family very much, Terry also loved sports — specifically the University of Oklahoma Sooners, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Oklahoma City Thunder. He grew up listening to Cardinals' baseball games on his grandpa's old radio.
He didn't have to look up OU statistics, he could recite them. Along with general lessons of life, he taught his children who the starters were on offense and defense for the Sooners every season.
Even before prayer time came during the morning commute, Terry would turn the radio to sports talk. Cyndie got used to it.
“He made me listen to WWLS, which was fun, the guys are funny,” said Cyndie. “He would wait for me to pick him up at 5:30. So, he waited an hour on me and checked Rivals.com and checked the OU recruits. He'd check games. So he did his hour of sports research.”
He coached Little League Baseball for more than 20 years and filled in one season as a softball coach. One of his baseball players made it to a farm team somewhere out east. Terry was an All-State baseball player from Heavener. He turned down a baseball scholarship in Texas to stay close to his parents.
He loved to hunt and fish and was an excellent trapper. He didn't let anyone use his open-faced reel because he didn't want to clean up the backlash. He loved the mountains of southeast Oklahoma and had walked most of them while hunting.
“Terry was larger than life,” his wife said. “When he walked into a room, he filled it. He loved to tell stories and make up games for the kids to play or little songs to tease them. His nephews have passed one of the songs down to their children. He made all of his nieces and nephews call him ‘Uncle Terry' — even the two nephews who were older than him.”
Midweek he studied for the small group lesson he taught on Wednesday nights at church. Other than that, a good portion of his free time meant either watching an old movie or a game on television or going to one of his kid's ballgames.
And he always took time to laugh.
Son Jeremiah, 20, said his father considered himself quite a jokester. And daughters Rebekah, 21, and Melissa, 14, backed that up with stories.
“I called his phone one day and he acted like he was an old grandma,” Rebekah said. “I hung up the phone because it sounded so real and I called his number back again. I was like, ‘This has to be the right number.' And he had the same voice and I was like, ‘Dad?' He said, ‘Did I get you?'”
Melissa said her father at times thought it was funny to pretend he was asleep.
“You'd go over there and he'd scare you, like jump up out of his chair and scare you,” she said. “He thought that was funny.”
Family and friends
Angie Vandiver still can see husband, Tim, taking one of their grandchildren, Aryah, out to count cows when she was only 4 years old. One day when he was at work, a bull got out, and Tim needed Angie to get the old feed truck and go down and try to drive the animal back to where they kept him.
It was Aryah who knew exactly where the truck keys were because she'd spent so much time with her grandfather.
Tim's brother, Mark, superintendent of McIntosh County Maintenance for the transportation department, talked of how his sibling loved to team rope, fish, hunt and build things including his own house. Tim, a carpenter, worked as a contractor for years.
“He had the gift of working with wood, a great carpenter,” Mark said. “But his biggest passion was his family. He loved his family. And his family included his employees. He loved ODOT and loved his job out here.”
Daily, thousands of vehicles go by the signs that read “Tim Vandiver Memorial Highway.” Among those is the pickup driven by Sam Duvall. In rodeo, Duvall is known for twice qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in steer wrestling and many more times for assisting steer wrestlers as a hazer, the cowboy on the other side of the steer.
However since kindergarten, Tim had just thought of Duvall as his friend.
A few years ago when Duvall came off the rodeo trail, Tim suggested he go to work for the Transportation Department.
“He hired me about eight years ago,” Duvall said, and then his voiced saddened. “I took his spot. He was the supervisor. That's what I do, I'm supervisor.
“It's hard, it's tough. Every day, I have to go by here as I check these roads. It's just tough.”
Tim was just short of 25 years of service with the Transportation Department.
“He was only 47, but he was old-school,” Duvall said.
Shirley Vandiver described her son as easygoing. Take for instance his kindergarten year, she said.
“We dressed Tim up in a white shirt and black dress pants, and the dress pants were too long so I turned them up that morning,” Shirley said. “And his daddy told me, ‘You should have cut them off,' and I said, ‘I didn't have time.'”
They took Tim to his teacher and went out in the crowd to watch graduation.
“When he came out on the stage he had rolled those black pants up to his knees in big cuffs and was as happy as a lark,” Shirley said. “It didn't bother him a bit.”
Angie and Tim, who had been high school sweethearts, would have celebrated 30 years of marriage this April. Angie described her husband as a family man. He liked “taking the kids fishing.” The day before the accident that claimed his life, they had taken their trailer to Lake Eufaula and set it up to get ready for the Fourth of July holiday stretch.
During fishing excursions with the grandchildren, Tim spent the day either baiting hooks or grilling, and was happy to get the chance.
Angie and Tim have three children — a son, Wes, and twin daughters, Amanda and Miranda.
Wes described his dad as his best friend.
“He was always there for me and always had great advice for me as well as others,” Wes said. “Dad had respect for others and was respected by many.”
Angie remembers sharing the news of the twins with him about 1 in the afternoon one day.
He turned around, walked out and went and saddled his horse. Angie didn't see him again until he walked back in the house about midnight.
“He came in and said, ‘Are you sure?'” she recalls with a smile. “I said, ‘I'm positive.'”
It just meant he had more family to love, and Tim was definitely OK with that.
Laughing and talking
Lisa Henderson's slight grin widens when she recalls how husband Ira shook his head every time she came walking down the hall with a sugar glider peeking out of either hip pocket of her housecoat.
Ira liked to tell co-workers about the small, omnivorous, arboreal gliding possums and then watch for their reaction.
There were so many things Ira enjoyed, be it bowling, karaoke, riding his motorcycle, playing the guitar, playing golf or eating fried chicken.
And he had a passion for hunting.
“He'd been hunting pretty much every weekend prior to the accident,” Lisa said. “He was kind of mad about the deer he saw but didn't get that weekend before.”
Ira also loved spending time with friends and his family, including “hanging out with his nieces.”
“He loved to talk and joke,” Lisa said. “He wasn't the quiet type. He pretty much told you what was on his mind. I knew him for about 13 years and we'd been married for 10.
“I met Ira at the Homeland store downtown. I worked in the video department and he used to come in and rent videos from me. And I just thought he was it.”
Pat Razo described her son — who was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in Wichita, Kan. — as a clown who got a kick out of keeping everybody laughing.
Corbie Henderson went hunting with his brother a lot, but went fishing even more, catching channel cats or anything they could. Ira enjoyed life but worked hard, said Brian Sutton, the transportation department's Washington County maintenance supervisor.
“He learned quickly,” Sutton said. “We do a number of things. We take care of everything from the centerline out. We do a lot of concrete work, asphalt work and we were taking these raised pavement markers out, the reflectors. He was taking this one out when he got hit.
“He was a real good hand and a good guy. Couldn't believe it when it happened, still can't understand it.”
... He loved his family. And his family included his employees. He loved ODOT and loved his job out here.”
Speaking about his brother,