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George's Story

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George Valgene Cottom, Sr. passed from this life and entered into Heaven on Tuesday afternoon, May 3, 2016. He was 90 years old. Services to celebrate his life will be 2 p.m. Friday, May 6, 2016 at First Baptist Church, Claremore. Burial will follow in Woodlawn Cemetery under the direction of Rice Funeral Service.
Visitation will be at the funeral home Thursday, May 5 from 5-7 p.m. The family will receive visitors.
Born in Collinsville, Oklahoma on Oct. 19, 1925, George was the middle of the five children born to Edwin King and Ruby Maude (Grider) Cottom.
When he was just a boy the family moved to the Claremore area and George attended Sequoyah Schools.
Though he earned and received his high school diploma with the graduating class of 1944, he wasn't able to attend the ceremony.
He had been called to serve his country with the Navy. Thus, his flag draped chair was empty and his mother received his diploma.
While home on leave this young sailor visited the Collins Drug Store that was located downtown in Claremore. A lovely young lady named Irene Moore worked at the store as a 'soda jerk'. The attraction between the two was immediate and they began a courtship — letters written and sent back and forth from Claremore to California and George's leave time gave both all the assurance they needed to make a lifetime commitment. So, Irene made a long train trip to Oakland, California, and the two married on Dec. 11, 1945. California was home until George was honorably discharged.
Having learned the importance of hard work and diligence as a young boy, he sent all the extra money he could afford back home to his parents. This money was used to purchase the farm land needed to operate a dairy, raise cattle, chickens and turkeys and an amazingly abundant garden.
George also, along with his friend Roy Haynes, developed Tacora Hills housing addition on Oologah Lake. This is where George and Irene made their home.
The Cottom family grew to five through the years, with the birth of two daughters and a son. Due to the almost man sized efforts of a boy who hunted squirrels and rabbits to help supplement the family meals during the hard years throughout his childhood, George wasted nothing but gave generously to everyone. This generosity began with his own family, but it extended to anyone he found to be in need.
The Cottom children knew the value of hard work and the lessons of wasting nothing, but they also knew the luxury of plenty of extra little indulgences.
When the sound of dad's truck came into hearing range, there was plenty of excitement because there would always be a little something special. There were also routine trips to the store for candy and pop.
This tradition spanned the generations, as each grandchild was showered with sweet treats or extra spending money. The joy that George displayed when he was able to spend time with each of his beloved grandchildren grounded them. They received such value from that unconditional love.
The legacy of hard work, honesty, generosity and most of all loving commitment lives on in the lives of the Cottom family.
These family members who survive are his children, George Cottom Jr., Jean Weeks and husband Jim, and Janice Starkey; his grandchildren, Jimmie Weeks and wife Toni, Gina Koster and husband Kirk, Adren Cottom and wife Samantha, Julie Yates and husband Grant, Mandy Smith and husband Ronnie, Jodie Chanley, Tony Cottom and wife Melissa, Breanna Stanek and husband Keith, Gloria Cottom and Jimmy Utley; 26 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.
George was preceded in death by his beloved wife Irene Cottom of 63 years, parents, Edwin and Maude Cottom, siblings, Kenneth Cottom, Earl (Dub) Cottom, Darlene McClish and Kathy Crust.
Because of George's own generous support of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Organization, his family suggests those who wish to give to a memorial fund in honor of his memory contribute to: Paralyzed Veterans of America, 125 S. Main Street, Muskogee, Oklahoma 74401.
Published on May 4, 2016
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