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Beloved Actor Among Notable Oklahomans Who Died In 2014

Jim Johnson

The year 2014 saw the deaths of a beloved actor born in Oklahoma and a forensic anthropologist who worked on cases including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Actor James Garner, who grew up in the Norman area, died in July at age 86 at his home in Los Angeles.

Garner was known for a low-key, wisecracking style, especially on his hit TV series "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files."

When Garner received the Screen Actors Guild's lifetime achievement award in 2005, he quipped, "I'm not at all sure how I got here."

He remained popular in his home state, attending the unveiling of a statue of him in Norman in 2006, where he said that early in his career some people gave him grief for being from the Sooner State.

"They'd say, 'oh, you're from Oklahoma,' and I'd say, 'damn right, I am. What are you going to do about it,'" Garner said.

Clyde Snow
Credit Oklahoma Educational Television Authority
Clyde Snow

Forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow died in Norman in May at age 86.

Snow's subjects also included serial killer John Wayne Gacy and Nazi fugitive Josef Mengele. He often helped build criminal cases against government leaders who carried out killings. And in 1978, he spoke before the House Select Committee on Assassinations about various aspects of the death of President Kennedy.

"Bones don't forget," Snow once told the AP. "They're there and they have a story to tell."  

Other notable deaths included Lawrence Walsh, the Iran-Contra prosecutor who prosecuted key figures, including former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North and national security adviser John Poindexter.

Walsh died in March at age 102 in Oklahoma City, his wife's hometown, where he moved in 1981.

Three noted Native Americans also died.

Edmond Harjo, 96, a member of the Seminole Nation and one of the last surviving members of a group of American Indians known as Code Talkers who used their native languages as code during World Wars I and II, died in March.

Phillip Coon, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and World War II veteran who was the last remaining Native American survivor of the Bataan Death March, died in June at age 95.

The December 2013 death of Emily Johnson Dickerson, 93, the last remaining monolingual speaker of the Chickasaw language, was announced in January.

The business world saw the deaths of Tulsa businessman and philanthropist Henry Zarrow, 97, in January; Crest grocery store chain founder Nick Harroz, 93, and Hideaway Pizza founder Richard Dermer, 74, both in March; and Jack McClung, 79, the inventor of the pain relief ointment Blue Stuff, who was hit and killed by a vehicle in June.

Retired Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Rudolph Hargrave, 89, and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William J. Holloway Jr., 90, both died in April.

In political circles, former Oklahoma state Sen. William Schuelein died in June and former state Rep. Barbara Staggs died in November.

Also in November, two days before the general election, Earl Everett, 81, the Democratic nominee to the U.S. House in District Two, died of injuries from an automobile accident.

Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board member and Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame member Currie Ballard died in July.

In August, the arts world saw the death of best-selling author Billie Letts, whose novel "Where the Heart Is," was turned into a movie.

Clark McEntire, the father of country music star Reba McEntire, died in October.

And Paul Risser, former chancellor of Oklahoma's higher education system, died in July.


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