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J.L.'s Story

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Services to honor and remember the life of J.L. "Jr." Kays will be 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 in the Chapel of the Garden at Rice Funeral Service. Burial with military honors will follow at Oakhaven Memorial Gardens. Friends may visit at the funeral home Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. with family there to receive guests.
Jr. passed away at his home on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 25, 2016, with his wife Bernice by his side. He was 95.
Jr. was born on Aug. 31, 1921 in Adair, Okla. He was the son of Joseph Luther Kays, Sr. and Gertrude Bell (Madole) Kays. He spent his youth in his birth community and other areas surrounding Claremore, graduating from Tiawah High School. When he completed school he was drafted into the Army. Following his honorable discharge from military service, he returned home to Claremore. But with his job as a heavy equipment operator, his workplace was construction sites all across the country.
Jr. and Bernice (Dudley) Massey met and married on November 19, 1966 in a Claremore ceremony, followed by a Eureka Springs honeymoon. Their union was blessed with their sons, Dale, Alan, Jack and Joe.
Though he continued to work in the same field, he kept those jobs closer to home so he could both provide well and spend time with his family. Jr. may not have been the ball coach for the boys, but he instilled so much character with his example of integrity and hard work. It was out of the question for him to miss work.
Even Jr.'s hobby required a great deal of hard work. He loved his land and his cattle and was always mowing the pasture, fixing fences or tending to any other of the endless tasks that needed attention. Though Bernice was always at his side on the farm, she often reminded him that she knew she might have a little competition with the cattle. When Joe was due to arrive, Jr. saw that labor may take a while, so he simply asked his bride if she thought he might have time to run over to Talala to get a load of feed. It was Jr.'s way and Bernice was okay with that. That ornery side was often showing off through the more than fifty years of marriage. Once as Bernice was giving her best effort to make gravy, Jr. asked if they were planning to wallpaper the room. Well, Jr. had the job of making gravy from that day forward, and Bernice was just fine with that too.
If you knew Jr., you knew he had that quiet but clever way about him.
Though his health challenges in recent months brought some true struggles for both he and his family, he never lost that ability to smile and make those hard times a bit better. Both friends and family will be encouraged by the many gifts Jr. added to the lives of those he touched through his full life. Those family members who survive him are his beloved wife Bernice Kays of their home in Claremore; sons and daughters-in-law, Dale and Lisa Kirkley of Broken Arrow, Alan and Janice Kirkley, Jack and Pam Massey and Joe and Becky Kays all of Claremore; eight grandchildren, Allen, Ashley, Melissa and husband Caleb and Jr.'s only great grandchild Halyee, Misty, Heather, Courtney, Amber and Erin; brother, Robert L. Kays of Claremore and sister Betty Taylor of California. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, James Kays.
Published on September 27, 2016
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