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Tributes: Richard Gillihan, 77, was an All-American wrestler for Oklahoma State

Gillihan was a 115-pounder who finished third at the NCAA Tournament in 1957.
by Scott Munn Published: March 20, 2014

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

Richard Gillihan, 77, was a Tulsa Central High School graduate who attended Oklahoma State on a wrestling scholarship. Gillihan had a 5-1 record as a 115-pounder during the 1957 season and earned All-America status by finishing third at the NCAA Tournament. He served in the Marines and then worked in petroleum land management for Sinclair.

•Radio station owner and sportscaster Charlie Jones died 10 days after celebrating his 76th birthday. Jones opened KBLP radio in Lindsay in 1991. He and his staff covered high school events for Lindsay, Blanchard and Purcell. The Comanche native was honored by the Oklahoma Interscholastic Sporting Directors for his coverage of high school athletics. J.D. Northcutt, the longtime broadcaster for Moore Lions football, said, “He made sure that south central Oklahoma had a radio voice for high school sports and coaches’ shows.” Jones also provided entertainment for the Lindsay Leopard Basketball Camps held by legendary coach Charles Heatly.

Jesse Gorbet, 16, of El Reno died from injuries suffered in an auto crash. He was a sophomore at El Reno High School, participating in football and wrestling. Gorbet also liked to 4-wheel and lift weights. He served as a pit crewman for his father Travis Gorbet, who raced dirt cars at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City.

Jim Smith, 91, of Oklahoma City spent 25 years as a fighter pilot or squadron commander. He flew more than 100 combat missions and received a Bronze Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses. After retiring from the military, Smith was a founder of the Oklahoma City Running Club. He set several state records ranging from 5-kilometer races to marathons. Smith, who ran into his 70s, was added to the Oklahoma Long Distance Running Wall of Fame in 1998. He also officiated high jump competitions at the high school and college levels.

•Jim Bassel died in Claremont, Calif., at age 69. The native Oklahoman marched on football Friday nights with the Lawton High School band, and then went on to complete 189 missions behind enemy lines inside reconnaissance aircraft during the Vietnam War. Bassel worked for the U.S. Forestry Service after his military discharge, and recreation time was spent swimming, biking and running. He biked from Williamsburg, Va., to Astoria, Ore., in 44 days. Bassel ran several 10-kilometer races; he also completed in marathons in San Diego and Honolulu.

•Gary Bettenhausen, 72, of Monrovia, Ind., was a nationally known race car driver who made a few stops at State Fair Speedway. Bettenhausen, who raced 21 times in the Indianapolis 500, also drove open-wheel dirt cars. He participated in a U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown Series race in OKC in 1983, and then he competed in a USAC vs. NCRA Shootout in 1986 at the now-demolished fairgrounds track. The four-time USAC points champion is a member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

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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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