John P. Gover, 85, longtime resident of Jackson County, died Monday morning Dec. 9, 2013, surrounded by his family. Gover was born Oct. 16, 1928 in Shidler to Walter B. and Marianna Johnson Gover. They moved to Altus in July 1931 when his father organized and founded National Bank of Commerce in Altus. He attended Altus Public schools and then graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1947. He was a member of the last class to be trained in horse cavalry. After his graduation at NMMI , he attended OU and was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He also served on the Wichita Falls Police department until the Korean War when he enlisted in the United States Navy as an Aviation Structural Mechanic. In 1955 he was honorably discharged with the rank of Petty Officer Second Class and then entered the banking business with his father at NBC. In 1957, on a trip to Mexico City, he met Maria Eugenia Valverde. After only one un-chaperoned date, almost two years of writing weekly letters interspersed with 30 days of courtship, they tied the knot on April 11, 1959. John and Maria were active in the Altus Round-Up Club, and enjoyed the Santa Rosa Rodeo in Vernon, where John served as Rodeo Board Member for many years.
John retired from NBC as Chairman of the Board in 1985 but continued to serve on the Board of Directors until 2009. After retirement he kept busy with owning a wholesale beer distributorship in Lawton, and a small commuter airline in Altus. He and his wife Maria had also purchased a farm and ranch east of Duke in 1959. They commenced operating it as a cow/calf and quarter horse operation in 1997 which became a major passion in his life. Since childhood his love of horses never diminished. His other passion was for his dogs, notably Sheba. The two were inseparable.
Active in civic and community affairs, Gover served on the boards for the Oklahoma Bankers Association, Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, Sooner Southwest Development Corporation, and served as Chairman for the Altus Chamber of Commerce, and President of the Altus Rotary Club. Serving 22 years on the Board of Directors for Arkla Gas/Noram Energy Corporation, he retired in 1996. But one of his most notable accomplishments was serving as the first Chairman on the Board of Regents for Western Oklahoma State College and continued to serve for 21 years.
He was also very active in Scouting. As a youth he was an Eagle Scout. As an adult he served as Assistant Scoutmaster, board member and President of the Black Beaver Council. He also received the Silver Beaver award. He held a commercial pilots license with instrument and multi-engine ratings. He was also appointed by Commissioner Paul Reed to be an Honorary Oklahoma State Trooper.
He is survived by his wife Maria; son Jim and wife Cathy; daughter Gina; and grandchildren Buck, Phillip and Jacob Stephens and Rachel and Morgan Gover. He has six great-grandchildren, Kayden, Landon, Knox, Kale, Taytum, and Bray. He is also survived by one sister, Mary Jean Cahill of St. Louis, Mo., and his beloved dogs Cooper and Doyle.
John was preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Gretchen Fronterhouse.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to be sent to either the First United Methodist Church of Altus, the Salvation Army, the Rotary Foundation, or COHPS (Concerned Oklahomans for the Highway Patrol).
Memorial services will be held at 5 p.m., Saturday at the First United Methodist Church with the Rev. David Player officiating. Memorial services and cremation have been entrusted to Lowell-Tims Funeral Home of Altus.
Online tributes may be made to the family at www.Lowell-Tims.com