Gramper passed away on March 8th. We are all lucky to have known him and appreciate the time spent together. Family was his number 1 priority (with safety coming in a close second). He always wanted to know how your car was running and what kind of tires you had on it. He was crazy about Avery and Ben and he always seemed to get a kick of out Ben's spirit. He and Grammar got the kids their first piggy banks, and he always had some coins for them to put in them (even after a 1 year old Avery tried to put some in her mouth instead of the bank, nearly scaring the pants off him). His presence will be greatly missed within our family.
Being the first grandchild of the family comes with special privileges. One of which is getting the first crack at nick-naming grandparents. I am told that Curtis Dement received the nickname “Gramper” from a young me. When I spent time with Gramper I knew I was in for man-time. He taught me important things that every man should know but some are not fortunate enough to be taught. He recognized the importance of maintaining a sharp mower blade, engine maintenance, driving a 5-speed, etc. The first time he paid me for mowing his lawn he told me to save 10% of everything I earned. I wish I would have listened. He also explained that mowing in flip-flops was unacceptable. Following this advice wasn’t optional, at least at his house.
Gramper was always concerned about the safety of everyone in the family. So concerned that he was often the target of jokes or pranks that were usually intended to concern him further. Most of the time he was a good sport but sometimes I’m not sure that he saw the humor. He genuinely cared for our family's well-being.
Gramper taught me how to play pool. We would sometimes go to Ernie’s pool hall in Claremore. Other times we would go to Tulsa and play a few games at Slick Willies. He shared the rules, provided tips, and won most games. The same is true for poker, however, I remember Gramper being unbeatable. In the summer we would go to Braums and he would buy me my own banana split because every young man needs his own.
Gramper was a huge fan of milk. I doubt that his refrigerator ever ran out of it. I remember mowing his lawn on a very hot summer day. He came outside and insisted that I take a break and have a cold drink. There he had sat a tall glass of milk. Not exactly what I craved when I was hot and sweaty but I did appreciate the thought. As the summer went on I introduced Gramper to Gatorade. He also felt that it was a good refresher for hot summer days and began to keep it on hand. We were both pleased.
Gramper worked in Norman at the same time that I also attended college at OU. I remember going to the store for groceries one day and running into him. He offered to pay for my groceries and I was happy to accept. A couple of months later I was at the store again for groceries and saw Gramper across the store. Hoping for the same offer, I may have filled my cart a little more than I usually did before “bumping” into him. Just as before, he again offered to get my groceries. That was just how he was.
He was a gentle man that seemed larger than life. His deep laugh was always a welcomed sound. It was clear that he loved being around his family and spending time together. He was proud of his family and worked hard to ensure that they were taken care of. He knew what was most important in life. I am fortunate to have the memories and experiences that we shared with him as well as the life lessons, big and small, that he passed on to me. If I could say one last thing to Gramper I would thank him for all of those things and tell him that I hope to pass the same values and memories to my children and grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by us all.
Curtis Wayne Dement was born May 5, 1934 in Madisonville, Kentucky to Ollie and Claudia (Winstead) Dement. He spent his early childhood in Madisonville, moving to Beaver Dam, KY around the age of 11. It was in Beaver Dam that he attended and graduated high school. It was also there that a young schoolmate caught his attention, that of Ms. Alice Baugh. The two married on July 23, 1954 in the local Methodist Church.
Following high school, Curtis began a career with Peabody Coal Company. He retired after 26 years of service as a Superintendent. This career took the Dement family all around the country, spending time in multiple states including Kentucky, Illinois, Arizona and Oklahoma to name a few. Curtis later retired from the Mine Safety and Health Administration as an Inspector.
1970 was the first time the Dement family called Claremore home and although they moved away a couple of times, they were happy to return to and settle in Claremore.
Even though Oklahoma became home for Curtis, one cannot take the Wildcat out of a Kentucky boy. Thus, he always enjoyed keeping up with his Kentucky Wildcat Basketball. In addition he enjoyed NASCAR racing and “tolerated” OU Football. He had been a long-time member of the First Baptist Church of Claremore.
More than anything, Curtis enjoyed his family. He was devoted husband, father and “Gramper” and his presence will certainly be missed by those he loved and leaves to cherish his memory.
He is survived by: his wife, Alice Dement of the home; daughter, Terri Thomas and husband, Bob of Owasso, OK; son, Tom Dement and wife, Laurie of Trophy Club, Texas; grandchildren: Rob Thomas and wife, Monique of Owasso, Kristi Garcia and husband, Daniel of San Diego, CA and Kari Anne Dement of San Francisco, CA. He is also survived by two great-grandchildren: Avery and Ben Thomas of Owasso along with many nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters: Ann Adams and Pat Vandiver and a brother, James Dement.
Courtesy of Rice Funeral Service
Courtesy of Rice Funeral Service