Family and friends remember state Transportation Department workers killed on the job

Three men have died in the five years since former Gov. Brad Henry signed a law that says a 1-mile stretch of highway will be named in honor of any Oklahoma highway worker killed on the job.
by Bryan Painter Published: May 26, 2013

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.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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... He loved his family. And his family included his employees. He loved ODOT and loved his job out here.”

Mark Vandiver,
Speaking about his brother,

Tim Vandiver,

who died on

the job in June

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