Funeral Mass of Christian Burial for Lawrence Eugene (Gene) Iven will be Thursday morning, September 28, 2017 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Enid, Oklahoma at 10 am. Rev. James A. Goins will officiate. Rev. Ken Harder will co-celebrate the mass. Burial will follow at the Pond Creek Cemetery with the Rev. Carl Janocha officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of Henninger-Hinson Funeral Home.
The Rosary will be prayed on Wednesday evening, September, 27, 2017 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Pond Creek, Oklahoma at 6 pm. Deacon Tony Crispo will lead the prayer service.
Gene was born on July 15, 1932 in Enid, Oklahoma to Frank Frederick and Mary Olive Iven. He was raised on a farm southeast of Pond Creek. An only child, Gene learned farm responsibilities at an early age. In 1949, his family completed the construction of a new brick home in Pond Creek where they moved into for his Senior year of High School. A life long sportsman, Gene enjoyed being a Pond Creek Bearcat and excelled in Football, Basketball, and Baseball. He graduated in 1950 from Pond Creek High School.
Gene attended Oklahoma State University and graduated in 1954 with a B.S. in Agronomy. While in Stillwater, he furthered his love for the Cowboys, while being a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. He longed for fall weekends when he could return to Pond Creek, duck hunt in the early morning hours and sew wheat later in the day with his dad. During college, he also furthered a high school acquaintance with Mary Ann Zaloudek of Kremlin.
Gene and Mary Ann were married on October 25, 1958 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Enid. With the help of their parents, Tony and Alice Zaloudek of Kremlin, and Fred and Ollie Iven of Pond Creek, they built a home ½ mile south of Pond Creek where they would live for the next 59 years. They loved their homestead, their farms, their sons - Val Gene and Van Shea, and their friends. They were blessed with very special neighbors - Clair, Betty Lea, Patricia, Lewis, and Kathy Schuermann.
To engage in good conversation with Gene, it was likely you shared one of his three passions. 1) You were a farmer. 2) You were a Pond Creek Bearcat or a Pond Creek Hunter Panther or 3) You were an Oklahoma State Cowboy. He was a kind hearted, humble, and hardworking man of his faith - who truly enjoyed the simple things that life had to offer. Homemade ice cream, fishing with a cane pole, watching ball games, and slowly driving country roads with his trusted canine companion "Ralph" - were some of his favorite things.
Gene was truly a "good shepherd of his sheep", raising them for many years. He awoke numerous cold winter nights for the birth of a new baby lamb. He tended to his flock with pride and compassion, and sympathetically brought newborns into the house for their first days of life. In his moments of frustration, he often said, "The only thing dumber than sheep is the guy who raises 'em."
Gene began officiating High School basketball games while in college and continued to call games for 25 years for the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. He traveled the State of Oklahoma calling games ranging from Pee Wee Tournaments to High School postseason games. On the court, he was a poised, calm and well-respected official. He looked forward to and was a regular at the Oklahoma High School State Basketball Tournament at the Fairgrounds Arena in Oklahoma City.
Gene was instrumental in growing the Pond Creek Hunter All Sports Association in its early days. He and Mary Ann served as President, Secretary and Treasurer. Membership grew, a Panther Mascot outfit was purchased, and flags with purchased for game days - often both placed and taken down weekly by Gene. He and Mary Ann also served as the Superintendents of the Farm Products at the Grant County Free Fair for several years.
Gene was befriended by L.O Sills, the editor of the Pond Creek Herald in the late 1950's. Through this friendship, L.O concocted an idea that he presented to Gene. L.O needed a Sports Column for his paper, and thought Gene to be knowledgeable regarding sports. The "Old Pro" was "anonymously" written for nearly 50 years. It's readers were entertained weekly with a blend of a bit of sports happenings, a touch of comedy, some fairly accurate score predictions, and quite often very poor grammar - all of which made for the uniqueness of the column, somewhat surprisingly well known to its readers in NW Oklahoma and far beyond. The "Old Pro" often commented that readers "got what they paid for".
Gene especially enjoyed tailgating at Oklahoma State football games. He cherished special family relationships with Coaches Ralph Tate, Eddie Sutton, and Mike Gundy. Despite his reluctance to fly, he attended many Oklahoma State and Tennessee football bowl games over the years from coast to coast. He also attended Oklahoma State Basketball Final Fours and became wonderful friends with fellow Sports "Reporters" like himself - Bob Barry Sr., and Bob Barry Jr. He mourned their early passing.
A faithful servant of his church, Gene was Baptized, made his 1st Holy Communion and was Confirmed at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Pond Creek. He served as an Altar boy during his school days. As an adult, he cleaned the church and mowed the lawn weekly.
Rarely taking a summer vacation, Gene instead enjoyed Sunday afternoons at Salt Plains Lake helping Pond Creek youth learn how to ski. He was the epitome of a good "neighbor" - often loaning tools, implements and farm machinery - and usually forgetting whom he had loaned what to - generally never asking for his belonging's return.
On August 23, 2008, Gene decided he was "ready to retire". On a bittersweet day, with his family by his side, Gene proudly sold his hard earned farm equipment. He once said "if you choose a job you love, you'll never have to really work a day in your life". With farming in his rear view mirror, Gene began looking forward to spending quality time with his sons and grandkids.
Over the last few months, Gene and his family were blessed to have the beautiful family of Joel, Nettie, Jonathan and Joshua Ancheta, as well as loyal caregivers Nellie and Davida provide daily, unmatched loving care and support. He had endured several recent admissions to the hospital over the last few weeks. Finally, during the early morning hours of September 24, 2017, thirty-seven years to the date that his Dad, Fred, had passed away - the Good Lord had made a decision. He decided that Gene had finally lifted and hauled enough hay bales, sheared enough sheep, cut enough wheat, refereed and watched enough ball games, written enough "Old Pro" columns, and hugged and kissed his family for the final time. It was time to rest.
Once in conversation with Gene, our Dad, he suggested to us......"Always treat everyone you come across as if they are going to pass from this life at the end of the day. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding that you can muster - and do it with no thought of any reward". He then told us that our life would never be the same again. You were right, Dad. And because of you, our lives will never be the same again.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents - Fred and Ollie Iven. He is survived by his loyal and faithful wife of 59 years, Mary Ann, and his two sons, Dr. Val Gene Iven and wife Angela of Stillwater, OK and Van Shea Iven and wife Summer of Arcadia, OK. Four grandchildren Austyn Shayann Iven, Carson Eugene Iven, Turner Gene Anthony Iven, and Tenley Mary Catherine Iven will miss their PaPa Gene and Poppy.
Published on September 26, 2017