I can’t begin to remember the horror stories I listened to about protective “older brother Hiram” guarding his brood of younger sisters throughout their school days between Welty, Mason, and Bristow. Tommie and I once laughingly celebrated this fastidious man by giving him a 45-rpm record called “Chew Tobacco Rag”. It was a good piece of “blue grass” but the fact is Hiram chewed tobacco while commuting daily from Shawnee into Norman.
I never could understand how a man as fastidiously clean as he was, would insert a plug of that nasty stuff into his mouth. Ugh!!! Although he was a daily commuter, and frequently drove his car, but this neat-freak tobacco-chewer would not allow passengers to smoke in his car because that would “stink up his car.” What that did to his insides I have no idea, but I find the very idea abhorrent and repulsive to this day; although funny.
“Hi” or “Harm” was Doc and Mary’s oldest sibling. He could repair any kind of motor and make anything work. He worked his way up the ladder at Tinker AFB, after working for some years in Bristow. He became head of the Electrical Engineering Department following studies at Oklahoma A&M and that was his life when we visited shortly after my discharge back in the days another friend, Elam Lambert, served as pastor of Shawnee First Church of God. It was also my first introduction to Oklahoma Baptist University as well as my very first taste of good soft ice cream. I never found any as good as what I experienced on that visit to Shawnee.
"Hi"; "Harm” was the older brother that serviced every aircraft as if his next younger brother Gilbert would be flying it. Tender enough to protect his younger sisters from “boys,” “Hi” could be tough as nails in the face of four stars. One day he stood nose-to-nose with an Air Force General at Tinker AFB and informed “four-stars” … “not on my watch with my brother flying…” That well-intentioned General thought to save Uncle Sam some money and ordered Hiram to service all aircraft with a cheaper grade of oil that Hiram knew was less dependable and subject to engine failure but Hiram hustled all four stars hurriedly back to the Pentagon.
Hiram was the big brother that mentored his baby sister and taught her much of the life she practiced throughout her ninety-one years of life. He was the man Doc Stiles fought savagely to save, and did save, after Hiram accidently literally blew his leg off just below the knee in a freakish accident while climbing through a barbed-wire fence. It took some effort on Doc’s part but Hiram lived to invest years of successful service at Tinker, aided by his dependable prosthesis.
Hiram died on the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University adjacent to his home from a well-planned self-inflicted gun-shot to the forehead that resulted when illness twisted his thinking processes and convinced him he was “resolving a bad situation with Hodgkins lymphoma” for his family--as our family physician in Fort Worth explained it later. I haven’t yet forgotten the intense conversation we had following that service with an old friend Pastor George Arnold, who did Hiram’s service ever so splendidly.
I still remember Tommie and I bracing Mary as we entered the Funeral home for that final service and Mary saying: It just wasn’t supposed to be this way!”
Younger “flying brother” attended Texas A&M after a stint in the Civilian Conservation Corp. During WWII, Gilbert went MIA in the South Pacific and the San Antonio Evening Light carried the story of the four crewmen that I still have on file yet today. He distinguished himself as a “flyboy” by leading the squadron for seventeen months that Wisconsin Air Ace Richard Bong earlier vacated after six months of duty, before teaching a lot of other young Airmen the basics of flying.
Gilbert (Gib) led numerous punishing raids in the South Pacific through such notable battles as Rabaul and the re-taking of New Guinea from the Japanese. Part of that time he spent piloting what “they” then called “flying coffins.” As is typical, this decorated Veteran never discussed his war experiences, but following his extended military career he gave up management of his seventeen-section ranching interests on the southwest Texas border where his daddy-in-law operated another twenty-seven sections (I did say sections) of long-haired Angora Goats. Gib then became a self-employed Texas Business Executive with clients that included such exotic names as Lady Bird Johnson (like Mrs. LBJ), with whom he distinguished himself.
Two younger boys formed the bottom rungs of the fourteen-step Stiles’ ladder for this family of eight siblings and six inherited cousins. Bennet Allen, the older of the two youngest brothers and just younger than Tommie, completed his military service and went into business, becoming the owner of a large tree-trimming company servicing the MKO area of Missouri-Kansas-Oklahoma. Baby brother “Mo”, tallest of the five males in the family of man-sized men, stood 6’ 4 ½. Following his near-death experience when he came close to freezing when caught out in Alaskan weather; he became a “man of the cloth” much to his mother’s singular delight and in answer to her passionate prayers.
Named Maurice Warren, “Mo” began his preaching ministry as an unknown country preacher at home in the village where he grew up. Rather than allow the village church to die without nurturing, “Brother Mo” assumed that leadership role and became modestly successful with it. He consequently received a call to move down state and into the small town of Paul’s Valley. By the time he had become a successful pastor of that growing church, some of his church-folk migrated into “The City” with changes of employment.
“Mose” consequently received an eventual call to become an urban church planter where he established the Church of God in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore. He retired in Moore years later after distinguishing himself through years of building up a once-mini-sized church and through giving years of service with the Moore PD, and additional service with the OK Highway Patrol in chaplaincy work.
He served significantly during the Oklahoma City bombing disaster and had become the Church of God Executive Minister of Oklahoma Ministries before his retirement. During this time he also formed a liaison prayer partnership with Dr. John Conley, then President of Mid-America Bible College (now MACU). I should say Ben was more than a Christian Business man. Marrying a Freewill Baptist girl, he became a Deacon in that denomination, one of a select few ordained beyond the local level) and very involved in Mexican Missions (when I run across it again I will tell a neat story about Ben’s hill of beans), making frequent trips to Mexico where he became well known for his humanitarian efforts.
Ben died prematurely when a massive heart attack caused him to wreck his truck near Okemah. Today his grandchildren carry on their Christian legacy in ways today that would make Ben proud.
This I know: Mary took unquestionable pride in all four sons ... walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com