The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Robert L. “Buddy” Pendarvis, 85, of Norman, passed away Friday, March 21, 2014. Buddy was born March 9, 1929, at home in Barnsdall to William and Letha (Thompson) Pendarvis.
He grew up in Barnsdall with his older brother, Billy. He came to Norman in 1947 to attend the University of Oklahoma on a National American Legion Scholarship. In the years following World War II, ROTC was a required activity for men on campus. Having attained the rank of cadet colonel when he graduated in 1951, he entered the Army and soon found himself in a foxhole in Korea as a forward observer in the Army field artillery. He proudly and honorably served his country.
It was during his three-year military service that he participated in prosecutions in courts martial and got interested in law. He returned to Norman and law school, graduating in January 1957. In those days, a graduate could practice law under a temporary permit issued by the State Supreme Court before taking the bar exam. He secured the permit and went to work with Hez Bussey as assistant county attorney. The two of them were the county’s entire legal staff. When Bussey left to become a Court of Criminal Appeals judge, Buddy was elected county attorney without an opponent.
Buddy’s career in prosecution ended in 1962 when he joined the well-established father-son law firm of Luttrell and Luttrell, an association that lasted for nearly 30 years. Gary Rawlinson became a partner, and after the death of Jack Luttrell, the firm merged with Crowe and Dunlevy in 1991. His law practice was a very general law practice, which included defense work on criminal cases, civil litigation, accidents, real estate, divorce work, all facets of law.
Buddy worked closely with partner, Jack Luttrell, who was the attorney for Norman Public Schools, and he developed an expertise in school law, work that earned him national recognition. Luttrell passed away in 1991, and Buddy assumed Norman Public Schools as a client. He loved serving Norman Public Schools, and Buddy was recognized as one of the best attorneys practicing education law in the United States.
Buddy was active in the Cleveland County Bar Association and served as chair of the Bench and Bar Committee, when attorneys and judges discuss the administration of justice in Cleveland County district court.
In 1993, the Oklahoma Bar Association conferred its Public Service Award on Buddy, and in 2004, he received the Distinguished Service Award. The Cleveland County Bar awarded him its first Professional Award, and he was recently designated among the best of the Best Lawyers of America publication. Buddy was active in the State and National Association of School Board Attorneys.
Up until his passing, his law practice included real estate transactions and estate planning in addition to Norman Public Schools affairs. At the age of 85, he was in the office every day and ended most workdays with a swim and water aerobics. Summer evenings, he taught water aerobics classes in his neighborhood pool. He also loved sports and was an active tennis and golfer until water aerobics took over the past 25-plus years as his recreational hobby.
Buddy’s list of accomplishments in the community and with his faith was long and diverse. He taught the Fellowship Sunday School class at McFarlin Memorial Methodist Church for the last 40-plus years. He also served as their legal counsel.
Buddy loved the University of Oklahoma and loved being a Sooner. He enjoyed watching just about any OU sporting event but particularly loved OU football. On days when he wasn’t working, he almost always wore something with an OU logo. He served as president of both the OU Alumni Association and the OU College of Law Alumni Association and was inducted into the OU Alumni Hall of Fame. A longtime season ticket holder for OU football and basketball, he served on the OU Athletic Council in the early 1970s, at the time Wade Walker was name to replace Gomer Jones as athletic director.
His civic work included working with community leaders in a campaign to get approval of the first one-cent sales tax. That was in 1966, when the tax raised just $50,000 a month. It now generates about $3.5 million each month for the operation of the city. He represented the Chamber of Commerce before the Corporation Commission to establish Wide Area Telephone Service for metropolitan areas in the late ’70s or early ’80s, ending Norman residents paying a long-distance fee to dial an Oklahoma City number.
He has served as president of the Lions Club and has been active in the Chamber of Commerce and United Way. One of his favorite honors was being chosen as the Norman 89er Day Parade grand marshall in 2007. He truly was an ambassador for Norman.
He met his wife, Donna Drake, on a blind date, and the rest was history for them: 47 years of marriage. They raised three children — Price, Patti and Paige — and loved being parents. He was actively involved in their lives, attending almost every activity his children participated in while also coaching some of their teams.
Family was extremely important to Buddy. He taught his family how to live each day with joy and have fun, too, but also how to live unselfishly. Buddy loved people and, in turn, he was loved by many, too. He has touched countless lives. He loved serving his country, his profession, his community, his faith, his family and his fellow man.
Buddy was preceded in death by his parents and wife, Donna Pendarvis in 2007.
He is survived by a son, Price Pendarvis; daughters Patti Fox and husband Larry and Paige Hofer and husband Jon; his brother, William “Billy” Pendarvis and wife Betty; his eight grandchildren, Amanda, Megan and Austin Pendarvis, Sidney and Jeremy Fox and Drake, Shane and Chase Hofer; and cousins, nephews and nieces. He will be missed by his dear friend, Gerry Mayes.
Memorial services will be 1 p.m. Friday at the McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church, 419 S. University Blvd. in Norman.
Memorials may be made in memory of Robert L. Pendarvis to the Norman Public Schools Foundation, 131 S. Flood Ave., Norman, OK 73069; or the McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 6390, Norman, OK 73070.
Arrangements for Buddy and his family were placed in the care of the Vice family at Havenbrook Funeral Home in Norman.
Online condolences may be shared at HavenbrookFuneralHome.com.
Norman Transcript, Thursday, March 27, 2014
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