A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed a game day experience:
•Weldon Kern, a starter for Oklahoma State’s NCAA basketball championship teams in 1945 and 1946, died nine days before his 91st birthday. Kern was a 5-foot-10, 145-pound forward from Lawton who signed with coach Henry Iba’s Aggies after stints with Cameron Junior College and the Army. Kern helped OSU to a 58-6 record from 1944-46. He scored six points in a 49-45 championship victory over New York in March 1945; a year later, Kern had seven points in a 43-40 title win over North Carolina. Kern and the rest of the OSU starters — Sam Aubrey, Bob Kurland, J.L. Parks and Blake Williams — were All-Missouri Conference first-team selections for 1946. A family obituary said another one of Kern’s proudest moments was coaching the Edgemere Robins to the 1959 state baseball championship.
•Tom Gray Jr., 84, of Oklahoma City was a defensive back for the Oklahoma Sooners from 1948-50. The Sooners, under coach Bud Wilkinson, were 31-2 with three Big 7 championships and a national title during Gray’s tenure. Gray was a successful high school player, quarterbacking Duncan to a 10-2-1 record and the 1945 state championship under coach Billy Stamps. The family moved to Seminole, and Gray continued to succeed. He helped the Gene Corrotto-coached Chieftains to a 7-2-1 record in 1946. The next spring, Stamps was a state champion in the 100-yard dash, setting a state record at 9.6 seconds. Gray served in the military during the Korean War, and then worked in the oil and gas business.
•Tony Newcomb — the “T-shirt Man” — died at 72 after a fight against Parkinson’s Disease. Newcomb designed and sold thousands of T-shirts commemorating notable sports teams and sports events in Oklahoma. The Classen High graduate started his business in 1973 inside his garage. Family members requested relatives and friends to wear bright colors to the funeral, even a Tony Newcomb T-shirt if desired.
•Kaytie Joiner, 27, of Edmond worked in health care after earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise science at Southern Nazarene University. As a high-schooler, Joiner was a cheerleader for Bethany High School, when the Bronchos’ football team took state in 2003. She also participated in several 5-kilometer races, half marathons and mud runs.
•Brandon “Juicy” Smith, 29, of Oklahoma City was a salesman by trade. The Star Spencer High School graduate worked in the Langston University sports information department as an assistant while a student at the NAIA school. SID assistants handle tough game-day chores such as keeping statistics, spotting and running errands. “He was one of the most reliable people I ever had,” said Michael Stewart, who was the Langston sports information director during Smith’s tenure.
•Harold Wolaver of Edmond died at age 80. He starred in the 1950s as a catcher at Central High School in Oklahoma City. Wolaver then played the outfield for Oklahoma City University, where he earned a degree in geology. The retired Internal Revenue Service employee frequented Remington Park to enjoy horse racing.