The Norman Transcript

January 1, 2014

Oklahoma suffered losses in 2013

By Ken Miller
The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — The college football coach who agreed to install the wishbone at the University of Oklahoma, the OU quarterback who led the Sooners to back-to-back national titles, an Oklahoma State basketball legend, and one of America’s first great ballerinas were among those with ties to Oklahoma who died during 2013.

At his offensive coordinator’s suggestion, Chuck Fairbanks agreed to install the wishbone in 1970. Although OU lost 41-9 to Texas in the wishbone’s debut, the offense became a juggernaut that helped the Sooners to national titles in 1974-75 after Fairbanks had left for the NFL. By that time, the offensive coordinator, Barry Switzer, had become the head coach.

Fairbanks, 79, died in April.

“He was a special coach, he was a special friend,” said Steve Owens, the running back who won the Heisman Trophy in 1969 playing for Fairbanks.

Steve Davis, 60, quarterbacked those back-to-back championship teams while compiling a 32-1-1 record in three years as the starting quarterback. He was killed in a March airplane crash in Indiana.

Davis had once recalled how he wrote “WHEN?” on a photo of his idol, former OU quarterback Bobby Warmack, wondering when he would become the starting quarterback. Davis told The Oklahoman that when Davis made his first start in the 1973 season opener his mother took the photo and wrote on it: “TONIGHT.”

Bob Kurland, the 7-foot center who led what was then Oklahoma A&M, now Oklahoma State, to national basketball championships in 1945 and 1946 and was a member of the 1948 and 1952 U.S. gold medal winning Olympic teams, died in September at age 88.

Maria Tallchief, the Oklahoma native who became one of America’s first great prima ballerinas and starred in such works as “The Nutcracker” and other masterpieces, died in Chicago in April at age 88.

“She was the perfect representative of the American ballerina,” said Jacques d”Amboise, who partnered with Tallchief in several performances.

The entertainment industry also lost veteran actor Dale Robertson, who died in February at age 89. Robertson, who was born in Harrah and spent much of his final years at his ranch in Yukon, starred in television westerns such as “Death Valley Days” during the 1950s and 1960s and later had roles on the popular night-time soap operas “Dallas” and “Dynasty.”

Dr. Perry Inhofe, the son of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, was killed Nov. 10 when the plane he was piloting crashed near Tulsa.

A preliminary report on the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board said Perry Inhofe took an unexpected turn and told air traffic control that he had “a control problem” and that his left engine was shut down.

The sports world also saw the death of Patsy Sutton, 74, the matriarch of a family of coaches; her husband Eddie Sutton and sons Scott and Sean. Another son, Steve, is a Tulsa banker.

Others who died during the year include former Oklahoma first lady Ann Bartlett, former Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau, former Oklahoma House Speaker Rex Privett, former state Reps. Mike Murphy, Forrest Claunch, Bob Ed Culver and Odilia Dank and Claremore Mayor Mickey Perry.

Wade Walker, an OU football captain and All-American during the early Bud Wilkinson years and later an OU athletic director who hired coaches including Switzer and Billy Tubbs, died at age 90.

Kenneth Stanley “Bud” Adams Jr., the owner of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and who was born in Bartlesville, died at age 90. Adams was a founding owner in the American Football League with the Houston Oilers, which moved to Tennessee in 1997.

Former University of Tulsa football player Bill Purifoy died in November at age 53, former heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Morrison, who grew up in northeastern Oklahoma, died in September, he was 44.

The music industry lost renowned musician and songwriter JJ Cale, 73, who was born in Oklahoma City, grew up in Tulsa and known as the main architect of the Tulsa Sound. He penned such songs as “After Midnight,” “Cocaine,” and “Call Me The Breeze.”

Myra Worley, 67, the wife of longtime Tulsa World executive editor Joe Worley, died in March and John Fenton Wheeler, 88, an Associated Press foreign correspondent who was the last U.S. reporter expelled from Cold War-era Cuba and later a Tulsa World senior editor, died in April.

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