Sunday, July 2, 2017

Memorial Service, Honor Guard Luncheon, Cousin Power

We got to return to Oklahoma again this week, and be there for the memorial service and dedication of the grave. Grandpa Choate was given a 21 gun salute and the honor guard presented Grandma Choate with an American flag and thanked her for Grandpa's service to his country.  

The memorial service at the church was very well attended. They set up basically every chair in the chapel and overflow, and there were only a few extra seats. Grandma's little brother Mark came from Texas. Grandpa's brother John and his wife Gretchen came. Many other family and friends came too. 

Friday night the family gathered at the church for pizza and to practice the program. All the grandkids sang "A Child's Prayer" and "I'm trying to be like Jesus." It was movingly beautiful. Tim showed a slideshow of Grandpa's life. He used a lot of the music that Grandpa used to play on the piano. We also showed the video of Grandpa playing the piano at his birthday party last July.  

We took family photos after the luncheon on Saturday.

We arrived on Friday and went with Uncle John and Aunt Gretchen, just home from their mission to Japan Tokyo South (not released yet), to our great grandparent's home in Ada, OK. Uncle John had been in touch with some of our Choate distant cousins and he told me to add them of FB.. I added a few (there were hundreds) years ago, and when I posted this picture, a few of them replied!

The Seminole Nation Honor Guard presented Mom with an American Legion Award for Dad

 Graveside Service
Immediately after Memorial Service

Seminole Nation and Veterans Memorial Cemetery
36645 Highway 270, Seminole, OK 74868. (Hwy 59)

Family Prayer……………………………………….William I. Choate
Dedication of Grave……………………..John Irvan  Moritzky Choate
Honor Ceremony……………… …………..…Air Force Honor Guard

Memorial Service

Presiding………………………………..President Shad Satterthwaite

Conducting…….……………………………Bishop Steven L. Choate

Chorister………………………………………..………Carol A. Cook
Organist………………...………………………..…....Linda K. Hardy

Opening Hymn……..….Love One Another…………….……..Page 308

Invocation……………………………………....…...…..Eric J. Choate

Life Sketch………………………………….……….LaNae M. Stout

Solo……...Consider the Lilies of the Field............…Sung and played
by Susan E. Choate

Speaker……….…………………………….……..….David E. Choate

Musical Number... A Child’s Prayer and I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus
by Grandchildren

Poem………………………………………………...…Wayne J. Cook

Musical Number ………………..I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go
Sung by Jason Choate

Speaker……………………………….………….……James A. Choate

Closing Hymn…...God Be with You ‘Til We Meet Again…...Page 152

Benediction……………………………………………..Paul J. Choate

Life Sketch of William Wesley Choate

Our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-great grandfather, William Wesley Choate was born in 1939 at St. Anthony's hospital in Oklahoma City, the eldest child of Irvan Wesley Choate and the former Fleeta Stapleton Moritzky, who had been living in Seminole, OK where his father was employed in the oil field.

As an infant his family lived in a duplex at 25th and North Western in Oklahoma City. In his third year, WWII began. During that time, and under great sacrifice, his family went to Utah, and was sealed for eternity in the Salt Lake Temple on May 20, 1942.

In 1944 the family moved less than a mile down the street to 1605 Classen Blvd. where Billy's younger brother, John was born in 1946 and they attended Eugene Field Grade School a block away with Billy also graduating from Roosevelt Jr. High and Classen High in 1957. Awarded the Eagle in 1953, he attended National Jamboree. Both boys attended summer school so they could enter college a year earlier. His parents bought a rooming house near the University of Oklahoma and the income saw the boys through their college years and provided work.

Upon receiving his Bachelor of Science Degree in geological engineering in June 1960, Bill entered the mission field serving in Brazil and returning home in January 1963. His mission president was Grant Bangerter whom my father greatly admired.  When my family was living in Japan, I had the opportunity to meet President Bangerter’s daughter Julie B. Beck who at the time was serving as Relief Society General President.  Since there was a small group, I introduced myself and she said, “Yes, I remember your father, he was the mission secretary and ate dinner with our family regularly.  He kept a notebook and would take detailed notes on how to raise a large family.”  President Bangerter had ten children.

After my father completed his mission, in October of that year, at his request, he was introduced by James A. Cullimore who was my mother’s mission president and was from Oklahoma, to our mother, Beth Petersen who was at the Central British Mission Reunion.  Our father invited her to come to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving, and she accepted. Soon after, he was drafted, but because was of his engineering qualifications, he was accepted into the Air Force Officers Training School, he did visit Beth and her family in Idaho Falls and they were married on February 8, 1964 in the Idaho Falls, ID Temple the week before they entered the Air Force.

He served for many years and retired from the Air Force on June 10, 1992. Assignments took them to Loring Air Force Base in Maine where I was born in January 1965, the Strategic Air Command Headquarters in Omaha, NB where Billy and Jimmy were born, and the Anderson Air Force Base on Guam, which also gave opportunity to visit Taiwan and two Servicemen's Conferences in Japan before leaving active duty in August 1969.

Returning to Oklahoma City, the family lived at the 1605 Classen Blvd. home while Bill worked with the State Water Resources Board, US Army Corps of Engineers, and returned to schooling, earning a Juris Doctor degree from Oklahoma City University night school and commenced his law practice. To them were born while there Steven in 1970, Carol in 1971, Linda in 1973, David in 1974, and Paul in 1977. Bill and Beth decided to buy a trade school built house and move it onto property by the Little River in Pottawatomie County. Dad called Jason, “the first born in the wilderness”, he came in 1979 and Eric in 1981.

Our father was involved in music from a very early age. As with Old Testament Samuel's mother, Hannah, his own mother knew the Church needed piano accompaniment and resolved if she had children, she would see that they received such instruction. At age 5, for his birthday, he received a piano which now is in Steven's home  His last teacher, Mr. Lill, also taught him the cornet, which was useful in band, and he played with both the Navy and Air Force drum and bugle corps.  He played the piano daily throughout my childhood and adulthood.  Music is powerful and if I close my eyes, I can clearly hear him playing his favorite medleys.  He also used the piano to call us to the Livingroom for daily scripture reading and prayers. He would start with “Let us gather in a circle and kneel in family prayer to thank our Heavenly Father for the blessings we all share,” and then he would play, “In our lovely Deseret, where the Saints of God have met, there’s a multitude of children all around.” And then, “As I have loved you, love one another,” and finally, “There is beauty all around when there’s love at home.”  By then, if we were not there, he would get us up.  I’m grateful for his consistency in making sure our family read and prayed each day.  It must have been difficult, but he was diligent and I thank him for it.

At age 14 he began what would become his lifelong interest in Family History and temple work.  He would visit relatives and take careful notes of birth, marriage and death dates.  He was detail oriented and a prolific writer.  He had a love for poetry and memorized wise sayings, poems and he knew by heart all the words to all verses of most of the hymns and many songs.  He used music, poetry and quotes to teach us important truths.

His interest in animals began at an early age. His paternal grandmother gave him a Rhode Island Red hen and baby chicks shortly before her death in 1947 and he raised and sold fryers and kept his mother in eggs for cooking for several years. Bill Alberry got him started with homing pigeons in 1952 and raising them until he left for college and again getting into that program in the late 1990's. He would often take the grandchildren with him to train and take care of the pigeons, giving them careful instruction on how to feed them and how to send them off for a flight from which they would always return to their pen.  While in Oklahoma City, the family had an acreage where they started with what would become a substantially larger cattle, horses, and hay production later. It started when dad was trying to teach me, Billy, and Jimmy how to work and whenever we completed a chore, he would make a mark above the kitchen doorway.  After we got a certain amount of points, we could choose an animal.  Billy chose horses, Jimmy chose cows, and I chose chickens. We later moved to Seminole and began farming.  We all learned much about the principle of faith while farming because so much is out of your control.  The weather, farming equipment breaking down, and variable rate interest rates which were common then.  At times, things got very difficult.  I asked my dad one time how he was able to handle the tough times.  He thought a minute and said, “Do you know that picture of Linda where she is grinning?” I did know the picture he meant.  He said, I have the picture in my office it helps me remember my endless blessings.”  Then I feel better. I remember over and over praying fervently, doing the best we could and putting our trust in the Lord and somehow things always worked out.

As referred to, his church service began with piano accompaniment and singing.  By the time he left high school, he was a district missionary, District Young Men’s and Elder’s Quorum secretary, in the Sunday School Super intendancy, and Group Leader at the Navy base in Norman.  After his mission, he served as Young Men’s Superintendent in the Norman Branch and while on Active military duty was a Stake Missionary, in the Bishopric, Sunday School superintendent, explorer advisor, and Branch Clerk in the Guam Branch.  He also taught early morning seminary, was Executive Secretary, Bishop in the Shawnee Ward, on the High council, Melchizedek Quorum President, Scoutmaster, Branch Mission Leader, and High Priest Group Leader.

Dad’s employment began early and was varied.  He felt that the highlight of his career was the Judge Advocate legal assistance services he did for the Air Force because he was able to be involved with preserving marriages and what he referred to as the “deglamorization” of alcohol.

Dad considered the highlight of his life was family.  In his later years, his projects were Choate Valley Ranch for weekly and annual gatherings of extended family, and supporting mostly Church involvements with babysitting, equipment and other needs.  Our mother frequently mentioned how much it meant to her that dad was so supportive while she served in her various church callings. 

Dad’s lifelong mission and family pursuits were memorialized in President Stephen L. Richard’s adage,:I define home as being a divinely appointed institution in which a servant and a hand-maiden of the Lord prepare themselves in righteousness to bring spirit children and lead them back to the presence of God from whence they came,:  As admonished in his patriarchal blessing, Dad bore frequent testimony to the truth, particularly of the Savior and the restored Gospel.

We never had any doubt our father loved us.  He was very proud of his large family to which our mother was the other half of the team.  When I was 9 or 10, he brought me pink carnations and blue carnations, floral tape, wire and a nice box and requested that I make our mother a corsage for mother’s day with Blue carnations for the boys and pink carnations for the girls.  At our family reunion last year, he presented our mother with a bracelet that had birthstones representing all 10 of us.

I remember many tender moments with my dad that began when I went away to college.  He would say, “This is the last time we will all have Christmas together before you go, and so forth.”  He and I realized that our family was changing, as each child grew up went on missions and were married in the temple our family dynamic was different.  We cried together for three days before I left for college.  Many times when I would leave the ranch, he would stand at the doorway with tears, and I would have tears in parting as well.  Along with these sad partings, we also had many joyous reunions.  I know he is having such a reunion with his own parents and loved ones who have passed on and I know that one day, we will be with him again.  Thank you dad for your example, for all you taught us, for your many sacrifices in our behalf.  We love you and have been richly blessed for having the privilege of being your children.

Then they had the honor ceremony with the 21 gun salute, taps, and presenting the American Flag to Mom

Thanking Dad for his many years of service in the Air Force

He retired in 1992 as a Lt. Colonel

The highlight of his career was working as a Judge Advocate General in family assistance 

The ceremony was sacred and beautiful

after the memorial service and graveside service, we came back to the church for lunch.

Linda and Darrell's family

Eric and Mindy's family

Jason and Calista's family

Jim and Angie's family

Nick and Kayla

Paul and Cindy's family



Aunt Gretchen and Mom

Cindy, Mom, and Nancy

Amy, Aly, Hannah, Rachel, and Natalie

 Aly and Rachel came back with us for a week between the burial and the memorial service.  Amy enjoyed having her cousins here!