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Tributes: Longtime runner Wish Lemons, former Choctaw athlete Robert Larkin die

A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed a game day experience.
by Scott Munn Published: January 27, 2014

A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed a game day experience:

*Muskogee native Wish Lemons had a motto after retiring as an oil field chaplain: “Gotta keep movin'.” That he did. Lemons started running at age 45 and continued to do so until a broken hip sidelined him for good in his 80s. Lemons participated in the annual Tulsa Run and other charity races. He also started the Lemons 5K in the Tulsa area to raise money for First United Church missions. Lemons, who died at age 96, spent four years on the Navy cruiser San Francisco during World War II.

*Robert Larkin, 77, of Oklahoma City played center and linebacker for the first varsity football team in Choctaw High School history. The Yellow Jackets finished 2-5 that 1952 season under coach June Dawkins. Larkin, who also raised prizewinning hogs and chickens as a 4-H Club member, went on to graduate from Oklahoma State and own a civil engineering firm.

*Alvin Covalt, 93, was a medical technician in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Before he joined the service, he played quarterback and halfback for the Woodward High School football team. Covalt also played for the town's American Legion baseball team.

*Jim Gilliam was a recognized face at many dirt tracks in Oklahoma, particularly State Fair Speedway. The Meeker resident owned and operated Dura-Light Racing Wheel Co. He helped revolutionize the industry with inventions that made racing wheels more durable, lighter and safer. Gilliam received the U.S. Auto Club's safety award in 1987 for inventing a rim lock device. The former Goodyear Racing Tire dealer owned a 13,000-square-foot building in Meeker that helped his Dura-Light business cater to racers internationally. Gilliam died recently at age 72.

*Tahlequah native Kate Kisner Cushing coached tennis at Monte Cassino High School in Tulsa for 28 years. Cushing led the girls team to a state championship in 1984, two years before the high school closed. The Northeastern State University graduate moved to Tulsa in 1946 to become the first physical education instructor at Holland Hall High School. A member of the Oklahoma High School Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame and the U.S. Tennis Association's Hall of Fame for the Missouri Valley Section. Cushing died at age 92.

*Vera Bearden, 87, of Altus was a cook for the Eddie Fisher Baseball Camp held years ago in Oklahoma. Fisher was a big-league pitcher who played at OU and for old Friendship High School near Altus.

*Jimmy Jones, 70, of Oklahoma City spent several years working for Fred Jones Ford. After retirement, he joined the grounds crew at historic Taft Stadium. Jimmy was the stadium's foreman when he re-retired in 2010.

*Fred Watson, a retired Tulsa jail supervisor, played high school football at Tuttle. He died at age 87.

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by Scott Munn
Sports Assistant Editor
Scott Munn joined The Oklahoman/Oklahoma City Times sports staffs in October 1982. He spent a year as a formcharter, three years on the desk and 16 as a reporter. Scott has spent the last nine years as an evening assistant sports editor. Scott's...
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