Stillwater News Press


November 19, 2010

William Theron Karns

After 90 years of relentless service to church, country, community and family, Theron Karns died peacefully at home in Stillwater on Thursday, Nov. 18.  He was born Sept. 19, 1920 in Gracemont, Okla. to Donald P. and Gertrude Wooley Karns. They moved to Fay, where he had his first bank job: emptying spittoons. At 13, he moved to Watonga where he graduated from high school. He attended Oklahoma City University. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, attaining the rank of Captain, serving in the Pacific on the USS Starr as the combat cargo officer where he participated in the landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After WWII he resumed his education at OK A&M, where he graduated.  On June 3, 1944 he married Nelma Montgomery of Marietta. Upon their graduation, they returned to Watonga where he continued his banking career at Watonga State Bank. He returned to active duty during the Korean Conflict. After continuing his banking career in Watonga and Midwest City, he moved the family to Healdton to assume the position of cashier at the Bank of Healdton. He retired there as president of the holding company. A life-long Methodist/United Methodist, he provided leadership and service in every church where he worshipped and at the district and state level. In his final act of service he donated his body to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.  Two of his great passions were OCU and United Methodist Men.

His parents, a niece Kathy Karns Oden and sister Dora Karns Waggoner preceded him in death.  He is survived by his wife of 66 years, brothers Donald C. Karns, MD of Enid; Tommy Karns, Ph.D, Norman.;  daughter Mary Ann Karns and her fiancé Richard Krouse, Edmond; Ruth Karns Atterberry and husband David of McAlester; Monty Karns and wife Vickie of Stillwater; Kelly Karns and wife Mary of Bartlesville; and 14 grandchildren, and the fifteenth great-grandchild is due to be born in December.  He is also survived by 13 nieces and nephews, numerous great nieces and nephews and a host of friends.  

Family will greet guests on Monday Nov. 22, 2010 from 5:30 to 7:00 P.M. at Strode Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held Tuesday, Nov. 23, 11:00 am at the First United Methodist Church, Stillwater.  Memorial donations may be made to the Oklahoma City University/Karns Family Scholarship Fund at the United Methodist Foundation, 4201 Classen Boulevard, Oklahoma City, OK 73118; the Oklahoma State University Theron and Nelma Karns Scholarship Fund; Judith Karman Hospice of Stillwater; or the United Methodist Men’s local missions through the Stillwater First United Methodist Church.

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