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Mary Fortenberry took the last step in her eighty-six-year earthly journey on May 30, 2015. And what an interesting journey it was. Mary was born October 6, 1928 in Durant, Oklahoma. Her parents, Reta (Franklin) and Henry C. Newman, were the second generation to own and operate the family retail business, Newman Furniture, on the corner of Second and Evergreen in Durant. She was enthralled with the furniture business and was an active part of it at an early age. Mary also had a special gift of music. She studied concert piano with a student of Bach while living in Germany. Earning her degree in Education from the Oklahoma College for Women, Mary began a teaching career which would lead her to meet the love of her life. Even though they were both from Durant it wasn't until she was teaching in Midwest City that Mary met Hugh Dahl Fortenberry. This relationship literally "spanned the globe" as Hugh Dahl was called back to active duty shortly after their June 4, 1955 wedding. From the Azores Islands to the European continent, Mary and Hugh were on the go and loving it. In 1968 these two globetrotters decided to settle down in their hometown and take up the reigns of the family business. Hugh preceded Mary in death on February 10, 2002. Mary continued to actively run Newman Furniture until her stroke in October of 2012. She was an avid supporter and member of Downtown Durant. Market Square held a special place in her heart as did the Three Valley Museum. A life-long member of the First Presbyterian Church in Durant, Oklahoma, Mary took pride in her active participation in all aspects of church life. From Preschool Sunday School teacher to Building Committee member, Mary immersed herself in her faith. She held the positions of Deacon and Elder. For decades she was an instrumental part of the Children's Christmas Pageant beginning when her own children were small. She often wrote the plays and directed the children in this annual reenactment of the birth of Christ. A Master Level Bridge player, Mary spent many hours in the company of individuals who became some of her dearest friends and most competitive rivals. She thrived on competition and enjoyed every minute of being with her friends and playing the game. Mary cherished her sisters of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. For the majority of her life these wonderful women were her steadfast friends. Mary is survived by her son Hugh C. Fortenberry and wife, Tammy; her daughter, Weslie Elliott, all of Durant; grandchildren Fallon Elliott of Norman, Oklahoma; William and Chelsea Fortenberry of Durant; Christy and Billy Hamilton, of Durant; and great grandchildren, Braden, Kasen, Hudson, and Hadley Hamilton; and her sister, Rosy Tomme. Of special mention are Becky Husen, her treasured best friend; Dortha Childs, "second daughter"; and Janelle Pierce, a dear friend and caregiver. Memorials can be made in Mary's memory to the Three Valley Museum 4th and Main, Durant, Oklahoma 74701. A gathering of family and friends will be from 7-8:00 PM Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at the Holmes Coffey Murray Funeral Home in Durant, Oklahoma. Services will be held Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at 10:00 am, at the Presbyterian Church in Durant with interment to follow at Highland Cemetery (the burial will be private) with Reverend Jim Shroyer officiating. Pallbearers are Gene West, Ken Golden, Billy Hamilton, William Fortenberry, Joe Sebourn, Roy Badger and Hugh Fortenberry.
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David Weston Decker, CLU, 86, died May 24 from Pike's Disease, a rare form of dementia. He was born in Martinez, CA. He served in the Army in Korea in telephone communications in Pusan, Taegu, Seoul, and Chunchon. Upon release from the military, he used the GI bill to learn to fly and was licensed as a commercial pilot with instrument and instructor ratings. He taught many people to fly and only failed with one, his wife! He was a pilot for KFC, Bank of America, and Flavor Fresh Poultry. Dave eventually worked for KFC as Purchasing, Supply and Distribution Agent for 32 KFC stores in San Diego and South Los Angeles. Dave designed eight commissaries to improve operations, efficiency and cost savings. He wrote a Commissary Operation Manual for five owners of these franchises and trained managers for other areas. Later in life David became a licensed life insurance broker and retirement planner until he retired in 2006. He is predeceased by his parents Howard and Orma Decker, his sisters, Beth Lawrence and Arlene Frye (Will), and a son, Conrad Decker. He leaves to grieve his passing his loving wife of 37 years, Barbara Decker, sons Terry and Carson Decker, grandsons, Dee and Devin Decker, stepson Michael Cooper, (Shelley) and stepdaughter, Kathryn VanGilder. In addition he leaves step-granddaughters Jennifer and Megan VanGilder, nine nieces and nephews, and his beloved companions, Bonnie and Maggie. A memorial service will be held at Beargrass Christian Church at 11:00 a.m. Friday, May 29, 2015 with a time to visit with family at 10:00 a.m. Memorials can be made to Beargrass Christian Church, 4100 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40207 or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, www.jdrf.org .
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Carroll Taylor a resident of Bennington, Oklahoma passed away in Calera, Oklahoma on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015 at the age of 83. He was born to Arthur Riley and Edna (Miller) Taylor in Caney, Oklahoma on September 4, 1931. Carroll was of the Baptist faith. He spent his life caring for his livestock and land as a rancher. Carroll had a passion for crafting fiddles and playing them whenever he could. He loved working in his garden and playing a game of dominoes with his friends. Mr. Taylor is survived by his children, Burva Blakley and husband Jim of Durant, Oklahoma, Terry Taylor, Quanda Lowrance and husband Bennett of Ardmore, Oklahoma, Rhonda Pearce of Durant, Oklahoma and David Taylor and wife Tammy of Bokchito, Oklahoma; grandchildren, Jimmy, Angela, April, Carla, Andy, James, Jessica, Keith, Mellisa, Jennifer and Austin; great-grandchildren, Cordelia, Elizabeth, Maverick, Izzabela, Dillon, Issia, Joshua, Stephanie and Amber; brother, Junior Taylor and wife Elaine of Caddo, Oklahoma; sisters, Glenda Granger of Atoka, Oklahoma and Neoma Davis and husband Benny of Caddo, Oklahoma. Mr. Taylor was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Edna Taylor; brothers, Eulis, Hubert and Billy Taylor; sister, Louise Castell. A service in honor of his memory will be held at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, May 28, 2015 at the Holmes Coffey Murray Chapel in Durant, Oklahoma with Bro. Anthony Williams. Interment will follow at Bokchito Cemetery. Carroll's grandsons will be the pallbearers. Family and friends may send online condolences and view tributes at www.holmescoffeymurray.com . Services are under the direction of Holmes-Coffey-Murray Funeral Home, Durant, Oklahoma.
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Bertie Jean Kellam a resident and beloved family member passed from this life in Bells, Texas on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2015 at the age of age of 85 years 11 months and 12 days. She was born in Utica, Oklahoma to John William and Ida Mae (Dodd) Sims on June 13, 1929. Jean graduated from Durant High school in 1947 and met T.L. Kellam after coming home from WWII. They married November 22, 1947 in Sherman, Texas moving to California, then back to Dumas, Texas where their first child Michael was born before returning to Bryan County to farm and ranch for nearly fourty years. Jean was a faithful member of the Armstrong Baptist Church for many years. She taught Sunday School, was the Youth Director, sang in the Choir and assisted with the Women's Sunday School Class. Jean enjoyed being outside tending to her garden. She liked camping and traveling to new places. Jean loved and cherished her family especially her grandchildren, great grandchildren along with her precious sisters who were inseparable. Mrs. Kellam is survived by her children, Michael Kellam and wife Ruth of Grapevine, Texas, Gary Kellam of Mead, Oklahoma, Carla Kellam Robbins and husband Gary of Bells, Texas, Doug Kellam and wife Shelly of Calera, Oklahoma, Sherry Kellam Norris and husband Bob of Durant, Oklahoma and Brett Kellam and wife Debra of Durant, Oklahoma; 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren; sister, Wanell Regnier and husband Don of San Diego, California; sister-in-law, Wanda Kellam of Silo, Oklahoma; and numerous nieces and nephews. Mrs. Kellam was preceded in death by her parents, John and Ida Sims; husband, T. L. Kellam; siblings, Pauline Cundiff, Lois Gray, Larada Macias, Donnie Sims, Bill Sims and Glenn Sims. A celebration of Jean's life will be held at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, May 28, 2015 at the Fairview Baptist Church in Durant with Bro. Bill Ledbetter officiating. Interment will follow at Gethsemane Cemetery in Caddo, Oklahoma. Honorary pallbearers will be Jeremy Robbins, Danny Robbins, Matthew Kellam, Shane Kellam and Jason Norris. Family and friends may send online condolences and view tributes at www.holmescoffeymurray.com .
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