Vernon "Eugene" Harrell, "Gene" or "Slim" as some knew him was born October 4, 1931, in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He died on Sunday, May 28, 2017 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Eugene was 85 at the time of his death. We know there was a beautiful reunion in Heaven when he arrived there because we know his wife Leona met him with a smile.
Eugene's parents, George and Effie (Yarbrough) Harrell raised him first in Elk City, and then in Orlando, Oklahoma where he attended school and graduated in 1951. He was a very good basketball player, and after high school, he was offered a full basketball scholarship to Oklahoma A & M, but his commitment to his family kept him at home working on the family farm to help his parents.
Eugene joined the Air Force on May 1, 1952, and became a mechanic working on air plane engines. He told many stories over the years about his work on those loud engines. He served his country until his Dad's massive heart attack, when he was needed back at home to help with the farm. He received an honorable discharge and returned home to take care of his Mom and the farm.
Shortly after he returned home, he met the love of his life Ollie "Leona" Hall. They were married on February 7, 1953 in Hammon, Oklahoma. They would work side by side throughout the years, and that is how they liked it. They had four children, Kathy, Pam, David, and Debbie. Times were tough, but the kids never knew that. Their house was so full of love that they never realized how hard their parents had to work to make it all happen. From basketball games to 4-H demonstrations to livestock projects, their lives revolved around the kids and all the things they had going on. So many wonderful family memories were made during that time.
Eugene and Leona worked together doing custom combine work. They followed harvest from Texas all the way to Canada, and the kids went along to help until time to board a plane in late summer to return home for school while their Mother and Daddy finished the harvest. Eugene also owned and operated Harrell's Trenchers where he would work all over the state of Oklahoma laying water lines. Kountry Kitchen Café in Orlando was their place of business too, but more importantly, it was a place where friends drank coffee, ate homemade cobbler, and swapped stories. The café was also the place where many fishing trips to Sooner Lake were planned.
In later years, their commercial cowherd transitioned to registered Gelbvieh cattle and Harrell Gelbvieh became members of the Oklahoma Gelbvieh Association and the American Gelbvieh Association. Checking cows was a favorite pastime, and they were always watching for the next heifer to be born in case any of the grandkids needed a show heifer.
Eugene also began working as an independent contractor for the railroad, bundling ties on railways across the country. Sometimes Eugene and Leona would travel together, and other times, he would go to a job while she stayed home to look after the cattle. Eugene's son, David, son-in-law, Mike, and some of his grandsons would work alongside him out of state on these jobs. He spent many hours running a skid steer putting in a hard day's work.
Eugene and Leona were married 53 years before her very unexpected death on January 31, 2007. They had been out checking cows together that morning because it was calving season. We always thought a piece of him left that day when she died. Eugene still talked of her often and missed her dearly. We are thankful to know they are together again.
Eugene is survived by his daughters, Kathy, and her husband, Dusty Bode of Mulhall, Oklahoma and Pam, and her husband Randy Gallaway, also of Mulhall. Eugene, or "BeBa" as they knew him is survived by 12 grandchildren: Jamie and Josh Alexander, Marriya and Terry Wright, Julie and Monty Larman, Kristy Lorance, Stephanie Harrell, Kevin Lorance, David and Amanda Harrell, Trey Gallaway, Jarrod Harrell, Katy and Tye Schoepflin, Michael and Melissa Lorance, and Olivia and Dustin Warden. Eugene is survived by 37 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild. He is survived by his sister, Linda Atchley of Edmond and son-in-law Mike Lorance of Mulhall. He is also survived by special friend, Lydia Talley and her children, as well as a host of family and friends.
Eugene is preceded in death by his wife, Leona, daughter, Debbie Lorance, son, David Harrell, and great-grandson, Cooper Silvers. He was also preceded in death by his parents.
The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Grace Living Center and Judith Karman Hospice both of Stillwater. Eugene was a resident of Grace Living Center for about a year before his death, and was cared for by Hospice for the past 6 months. We very much appreciate the kindness and compassion shown to him during this time.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 P.M., Thursday, June 1, 2017 at Mulhall Christian Church where Eugene and Leona were members. Gilbert Forrest will be officiating. Interment will follow at Morris Heights Cemetery in Orlando. Services are under the direction of Smith-Gallo Funeral Home, Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Visitation will be held Wednesday, 3:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in his name to the Judith Karman Hospice, 915 South Main Street, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74074.
Friends may sign the online guestbook at www.smithgallo.com
Published on May 30, 2017