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Raymond Overall celebrates 100th birthday

Raymond Overall celebrates 100th birthday

            Friends and family stopped by the Colonial Park nursing home on Saturday, June 18 to celebrate the 100th birthday of longtime Okemah resident, Raymond Overall. Senator Roger Thompson was also on hand to present Raymond with a citation of recognition in honor of reaching the centennial milestone.

            Raymond enthusiastically recalled how his father moved his family from Yorkville, Tennessee to Anadarko, Oklahoma, when Raymond was around 6 years old as a “head west” fever took hold of many Americans at the time. Claude Overall managed an Anthony’s Department store in Anadarko before moving to Holdenville to manage an Anthony’s Department Store there.

.           The Overall family eventually settled in Okemah where Claude managed another Anthony’s Department store, before eventually opening his own business, first called the Dixie Store. The 25 foot store front department store building located on Broadway soon expanded after Claude purchased an adjoining pool hall, converting his business to a 50 foot store front building that would be known as Overall’s Department Store.

A 1940 graduate of Okemah High School, Raymond attended the University of Oklahoma for two years before volunteering in the United States Army during World War 2. Raymond shared his fond memories of Italy and the beautiful sights he beheld as he was shipped around the southern tip of South America.

Raymond completed his service as a Staff Sergeant with the 3358th Signal Service Battalion and was honorably discharged on March 18, 1946. Raymond returned to the University of Oklahoma to finish his bachelor’s degree before settling down in Okemah and assuming the managership of his father’s business, a role he would maintain until he retired in the late 1980’s.

Raymond married Betty Earnest, of Okmulgee in 1951 and Betty would become a familiar and beloved face to the residents of Okemah as she worked for Okemah National Bank for 41 years. The couple remained together for 58 years, until her passing in 2009.

As Raymond reflected with amazing clarity on his childhood memories and a long-passed history, this reporter remarked how impressed I was at Raymond’s ability to recall these events so well, when I struggle to remember what happened yesterday. Raymond’s response was both quick and mischevious, “that’s your luck.”

So here is to 100 years and Raymond Overall, may we all have his luck.

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