NORMAN — Leatrice Faye Buckley Clark was born March 29, 1927, in a log cabin near Oxley, Mo., to Claude E. Buckley and Cecil Mae Earnhart Buckley. She was the oldest of five children. She passed away peacefully Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, with her son, Frank, and grandson, Roy, at her side.
Services will be 2 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church of Norman, with interment following at IOOF Cemetery in Norman.
When she was very young, the family moved to Kiowa, where her parents share-cropped a small farm. The next year, they went to Gideon, Mo., where they picked cotton, and then went to Reynolds to share-crop again. Lea then spent a year with her grandparents at Beggs. In 1938, her dad traded a truck load of pigs as down payment on a farm near Limestone Gap, northeast of Atoka. Lea and her siblings went to a local country school until it was time for her to go to high school. She moved to Atoka, exchanging cooking and chores for room and board with an elderly woman. That was the first time Lea had lived in a house with electricity and indoor plumbing. The next year, she went to work for Dr. Cotton at the Cotton Clinic and roomed with two of his nurses. After graduating from Atoka High School, Lea attended nursing school in Tulsa for a year, but returned to Atoka because of illness and finances and went back to work for Dr. Cotton.
In 1947, she met Benjamin F. Clark, of Coalgate, who had just returned from World War II. They dated on a 1940 Harley-Davidson motorcycle. They married at his mother’s house in Coalgate on Christ Day, 1947. They lived in Ada, but she continued to work for Dr. Cotton in Atoka, while Ben was a pressman at the Ada Evening News. Dr. Cotton had planned on retiring, but when Lea became pregnant, he kept his clinic open and staffed until Benjamin F. (or “Frank”) Jr. was born on March 2, 1949. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Liberal, Kan., where Ben was a pressman, photographer and columnist at the Southwest Daily Times. Lea worked for a while as a “Rosey the Riveter” at the Beech Aircraft Plant. Their daughter, Claudia Lynn, was born Sept. 10, 1950.