Joe Conner McClendon
Oklahoma City - Joe Conner McClendon, 93, devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, died peacefully at his home in Oklahoma City on July 13, 2021. Born December 12, 1927, in Sulphur Springs, Texas to Brodie Jackson McClendon and Mary Vallee Connor McClendon, Joe was the youngest of their five children, a surprise addition to the family following the birth of his twin sister, Jean.
In 1931, his father died when Joe was just 3 years old, leaving a widow with a large family in the depths of the Great Depression. Joe's mother later moved to Ada, Oklahoma, where she raised her children by renting rooms in their small home to others. After graduation from Ada High School, Joe entered the University of Oklahoma, working as a houseboy at the Delta Gamma sorority and pressing clothes at Clark's Cleaners. In March 1946, Joe joined the Regular Army for 18 months, where he served with distinction in Germany as an occupation officer assisting with the transfer and supervision of Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg Trials. The tour enabled him to finish his college education under the GI Bill. Joe graduated from OU in February 1951 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army. He was assigned to Korea as an artillery forward observer, serving with the Seventh Infantry Division. Following his military service, he worked for Kerr-McGee until his retirement in August, 1990.
During a chance encounter in the spring of 1951 when Joe needed a ride back to Ada from OU, he met the lovely and accomplished Carole Kerr who was headed in the same direction to see her family. They were reintroduced in 1954 and after a few dates, quickly realized they had found their match and were married in Ada that July. As was customary in the day, Joe's job required frequent transfers and by their 10th wedding anniversary, Joe and Carole, along with their two sons David and Aubrey, lived in seven different cities. During those years, Joe knew his greatest strength came from his wife, whose superb homemaker skills and unwavering support made those many moves more manageable.
After retiring, Joe enjoyed working as an assistant to his son, Aubrey, who frequently and affectionately called his father "Pop" or "Pops." That became the inspiration for the iconic Pop's destination on Route 66 in Arcadia, where Joe was a frequent customer. Joe was a Mason and regularly attended meetings at Rotary, English Speaking Union and Economic Clubs. He was a devout and faithful Christian his entire life. Joe was baptized at the First Methodist Church in Sulphur Springs, and has been a member of Nichols Hills Methodist since 1984.
With a genuine, welcoming smile and a twinkle in his eye, Joe never met a stranger. Always warm, engaging, inquisitive, and sincere, conversations with Joe were easy and enjoyable. He was a stickler for good manners, being on time and doing the right thing. He was a true gentleman. As life wound down for Joe, he delighted in attending OU football and Thunder basketball games, playing Rummikub with his special friend, Martha Williams, savoring a glass of good scotch and a hearty conversation with his grandson, Jack, and truly appreciating the care and compassion of his son, David. Joe lived a full and happy life to the very end.
He is survived by his son, David (Pam) McClendon and his daughter-in-law, Katie McClendon. He is also survived by three grandchildren, Jack (Whitney) McClendon, Callie (Tim) Katt, and Will (Finn) McClendon; four great-grandchildren, Andrew Katt, Ellie Katt, Charlie McClendon, and Everett McClendon; two sisters-in-law, Nancy Kerr and Ann Crawford, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife, Carole, and their son, Aubrey Kerr McClendon; brothers, Jack McClendon and William McClendon, and sisters, Mary Fletcher and Jean Lewis.
A Memorial Service celebrating Joe's life will be held at the Nichols Hills United Methodist Church on Monday, July 19 at 10:00 a.m. A private interment will follow at the Rose Hill Mausoleum. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Joe's honor to the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County, P.O. Box 18701, Oklahoma City, OK 73154.
Published by Oklahoman from Jul. 15 to Jul. 18, 2021.