Services to honor and celebrate the life of Gary Arlen Bickford will be 2 p.m., Monday, July 11, 2016 at Cedar Point Church. Interment will follow at Oakhaven Memorial Gardens. Family will receive friends from 4-6 p.m. Sunday at Rice Funeral Service. Gary passed away Wednesday, July 6, 2016 in Tulsa. He was 64.
Born April 13, 1952 in Claremore, Okla. to O.L. and Lorene (Hopkins) Bickford, Gary was reared and educated in his birth community. He attended and was a graduate of Claremore High School, graduating with the class of 1970.
Following high school, Gary attended college at Oklahoma Military Academy. After one year there, he began a long-time career in the grocery business. He first worked for Safeway and later Homeland stores for a combined 30 years — quickly working his way from sacking groceries to management. His intense work ethic can be attributed to his advancement. It was also that very work ethic that silently encouraged his children to always give their best and to work for the things they wanted. Gary's latest assignment was as Grocery Manager with Wal-Mart where he had logged 15 years of loyal service. In fact, he had recently opted for semi-retirement which gave him a little more freedom to... you guessed it hunt!
Hunting, spending time at the lake, anything outdoors and... hunting were Gary's main passions. When weather was uncooperative or simply when he was stuck indoors, one could pretty well guarantee that any conversation he entered into would quickly be directed to the great outdoors. Believe it or not, Gary was quiet around people he didn't know — that was until he found a commonality... usually hunting. And many can attest that if you were in a car with Gary somehow all roads eventually led to Bass Pro. (Except for that very predictable detour he always took to his favorite restaurant, El Chico).
A bit of a prankster, Gary was always up for a laugh. However, he was a bit better at giving or playing pranks on others than he was at being on the receiving end. When he was the target of a joke, he would often tell those dishing it out, "It ain't funny!" despite the mounds of laughter in the room. And he was always ready to size up his competition asking, "Just how big of a boy are ya?"
A devoted family man, Gary was a loving husband to his wife, Sherry. They were married February 23, 1994 and had celebrated 22 wonderful years of marriage together. He was also the proud father to his children: Steve, Kimberly, Katrina and Brandon. In addition, he was "Papa Gary" to ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren with one more on the way.
It was with his family that he enjoyed bowling, in earlier years, and more recently attending OSU football games. It was also within this tight knit group that they shared many practical jokes, special memories and a fondness of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.
Gary fought a tough battle during the last month after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He was taken too soon from his family and his friends and he will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved him.
He is survived by: his parents: O.L. and Lorene Bickford; brother, Donnie Bickford; his loving wife, Sherry; children: son, Steve Bickford and wife, Kimberleigh; daughter, Kimberly Jackson and husband, Mike; daughter, Katrina Pope and husband, Bobby and son, Brandon Bickford and wife, Alicia; 10 grandchildren: Trevor, Korbin, Kurstin, Kyleigh, Makayla, Madison, Gavin, Landon, Alec and Marshall and great-grandchildren: Hazel Grace, Beau Hampton and soon to be, Piper LaJune. He is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
To honor Gary, the family suggests wearing camouflage, army green or bright orange to his service. Those wishing to make a donation in his memory are encouraged to give to Sequoyah Strong at 17233 S. Stonehenge Ct., Claremore, OK, 74017 or at any BancFirst location.
Published on July 9, 2016