GARY JOE FOWLER
It was on the eighteenth day of October, 1941, when Gary Joe was born in Dalhart, Texas. The parents who greeted his tiny face were Millard and Esther (Carson) Fowler. Gary would live upon the earth for 79 years. He passed into the arms of his heavenly Father July 1, 2021.
Gary was a bright-eyed, energetic and intelligent little boy. He was also a big brother helping welcome his little sister, Carol, into the family when he was two and a half years old. Theirs would be a bond which saw them through many highs and lows in life. He also shared a life-long friendship with his cousin, Jay Carson, and his Fowler cousins.
It was when Gary entered first grade that the circumstances of his life were forever altered. Unbeknownst to his teacher or family Gary suffered from severe dyslexia, a learning disability which affected his spelling, reading and writing skills. His teacher's lack of knowledge led to many spankings and reprimands which led to him developing a bleeding ulcer that required surgery to remove part of his stomach. This was the beginning and the end of Gary's formal education.
Gary had a secret weapon. He was filled with a rich and enduring inquisitive nature that shone through the dyslexia masking his high intelligence. He learned by doing. Give him a clock and he would take it apart, figure it out, and put it back together. He loved Atwater Kent radios, anything with tubes, hit and miss engines. He spent time with his friend, Kenneth Ogston, who educated him in the art of tinkering with motors. When he was about 20 years old he built a Model T truck from the ground up. Life was his school and he was its student.
Gary was generally reserved and quiet, tending to stay in the background at most functions. But come Santa Fe Trail Daze and Gary came alive. He would polish up the Green Oliver tractor his dad helped paint, connect the trailer displaying several engines he had built, fire them up on all cylinders and join the parade down Main Street. It was then that Gary truly felt at one with his fellow citizens.
During the decade of the 1980's, Gary worked at the family owned gas station. It is unknown how many oil changes he did, windshields he washed, or how many flats he fixed. Or how many Dr. Peppers he imbibed. Gary took pride in working hard and was a loyal employee.
Alongside Pam and Jay Carson, Gary was a member of the Lutheran Church. He couldn't read the Bible, but he found everlasting peace with his Lord and Savior listening to its words and promises, and he especially enjoyed being chosen as the official candle lighter.
Although Gary didn't get to enjoy marriage, there were women in his life whom he admired for their kindness. LuAnn Albus, who sold him Avon and Sandra Baird, who sold him Radio Shack items were on the top of his list, as was Martha Keepers, his tutor for several years and Elizabeth Hensley, who helped care for him. If Gary had the words and ability he would have given each of them a hug and said 'Thank you!".
While he wasn't afforded the gift of fatherhood, Gary did delight in the youthful antics of children, especially those performed by his nieces, Cheryl and Leah, and his nephew, Chad. And in his last years he enjoyed spending time with Bryce and Erica's little girl named Azariah, who was happy to share Cheetos and sweet smiles with her great-great uncle.
Gary spent many years farming for his dad and brother-in-law, Bob. Many an acre Gary plowed, and come harvest many a mile he'd drive the old Ford truck, hauling grain to the elevator. These were times he knew he was needed and that knowledge drew him closer to the men in his life.
Throughout his life Gary found pleasure in the pursuit of musical instruments. He purchased a harpsichord and strove to learn its secrets. And he bought several keyboards. Even though dyslexia kept him from mastering either, he still enjoyed making music. His favorite song of all songs was 'Danny Boy', which sometimes brought tears to his eyes and he also found solace in the words of 'Amazing Grace'.
Lawn mowers were also items Gary keenly enjoyed. Whether cutting grass, tinkering with a broken one or using one for transportation, a lawn mower was a valuable tool. In later years, Gary would transition to a scooter. Neither rain, ruts nor obstacles kept him from trips to the grocery store or cafe. Alas, Gary never got to enjoy the experience of navigating his scooter on the smooth surface of the newly paved North Main.
Sadness fell across Gary's heart when his mom died in 2007. She had always been his protector, his advocate, his friend. He soldiered on, walking bravely beside his dad, who died in 2016. His sister, Carol, his "Sis", took up the mantle of his care and faithfully watched over, guided and loved her big brother. The last time she saw him, when age and illness had diminished his mind and body, will be forever treasured. He waved at her and smiled. His face was transfixed into the image of her brother in the prime of his life, filled with love and a knowing that he would soon be in the arms of Jesus.
Those who went before Gary are his mom and dad, Millard and Esther, and his niece, Leah Gayler Johnson. Those who remain are his loving sister, Carol, and brother-in-law, Bob Gayler; his niece Cheryl and Larry Taylor and family; his nephew, Chad Gayler; Chris Johnson and family; cousins Pam and Jay Carson and family; his eleven Fowler cousins;and Jack and Nancy David, two dear friends who were always willing to help Gary and his family.
"Mourning is but for a moment. Joy is eternal."
Memorial contributions may be made to the Boise City Ministerial Alliance c/o Henson-Novak Funeral Directors, P.O. Box 1306, Guymon, Oklahoma 73942.
Gary's funeral service is at 10:30 AM on Saturday, July 3, 2021, at the Lutheran Church in Boise City, Oklahoma. Services have been entrusted to Henson-Novak Funeral Directors of Boise City.
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