Alvin Lavern (A.L.) Whinery was born on August 27, 1932 in Canute, Oklahoma to Richard Samuel and Olive March (Richmond) Whinery. He passed away December 23, 2020 in Elk City, Oklahoma at the age of 88 years, 3 months and 27 days.
A. L. attended school in Dill City and graduated from Retrop High School in 1950. He was married to Dala Ruth Wyatt at Sentinel, Oklahoma on July 31, 1952. After their marriage they farmed in the Retrop community until they lost their first cotton crop. They moved to Oklahoma City where A.L. found work with Farmers Union working in the elevator. In 1953, they moved to Dallas, Texas where Dala worked nights as a long distance operator for Southwestern Bell to put her husband through the Gupton Jones School of Mortuary Science. After his graduation in 1955, they returned to the Tulsa, Oklahoma where he began working for Stanley Funeral Home. They later spent a couple of years in Chandler, Oklahoma while he was working for the Curry Funeral Home. A. L. and Dala moved back to western Oklahoma in 1961 where they purchased the Scroggins Funeral Home in Sayre, Oklahoma where he and his wife worked side by side caring for families in western Oklahoma.
During the next 27 years they owned and operated funeral homes in Sayre, Sentinel, Mangum, Reydon and Cheyenne. Along with operating the funeral homes, they, with their sons owned Whinery Real Estate in Sayre, managing 45 rental homes and apartments they had purchased from Dr. H. K. Speed in 1977. Part of the purchase was 90 vacant lots and during the oil boom of the late 1970’s the family built modular houses in Sayre and throughout Roger Mills County. They, with their children, donated the land where the Sayre Public Library is currently located.
In 1981, they formed Great Plains Leasing Company with their son, Brad and Eddie Beard and purchased the Thrifty Rent-A-Car franchise in Lawton and Duncan, Oklahoma. They combined them with ones in Oklahoma City, Norman before opening a location in Norman. Always being a maverick and with the downturn in the economy, A.L. led his family to move the franchise into the airport terminal. Up until this time Thrifty corporate was always off airport throughout the nation. They were the first Thrifty franchisee to make this move that is now common place throughout the nation. They later added Whinery’s Off Airport Parking in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma which grew to become the largest off airport valet parking facility in the world and even gained front page recognition in the Wall Street Journal. One of his greatest joys was when a customer who had been traveling back from Russia brought him a copy of the article in Russian. In August of 1988, they sold the funeral homes to their youngest son, Brad and wife, Glenda; then the parking facility to the oldest, Don and wife, Deborah in 1995. Dala and A.L., along with their son Don, began the Flying W Guest Ranch in 1999 north of Sayre and at its peak operated over 6000 acres of farming and ranching operations along with bringing the largest privately funded land run reenactment in the state of Oklahoma. The three-day festival brought western Oklahoma to the forefront of Oklahoma’s Centennial Celebration and through tours and art work commissioned by A.L. and Dala, they were able to give visitors an accurate glimpse of early Oklahoma living. A. L. worked along with his wife but also worked tirelessly in the communities he served. He was active in the Chamber of Commerce in Sayre and Cheyenne where he served as President. He was extremely proud that he had the longest tenure of being a Rotarian at Sayre where his membership began in Chandler, Oklahoma and continued for over 60 years. He and Calvin Cook worked tirelessly through Rotary to build a map and install the original 911 signs throughout the Beckham County. A. L. and Dala were inducted into the Western Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2011. Along with their civic duties they were also instrumental in forming the Little Wranglers Riding Club in the 1960’s. Little Wranglers were known far and wide winning numerous awards as a little army of youngsters with their shetland ponies. A. L. was a longtime member of the Church of Christ.
The family requests Memorial Donations be made to the Tanzania Mission Fund in care of the Second and Adams Church of Christ at P.O. Box 1609, Elk City, OK 73644
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife of 63 years, 1 brother, Dr. K. E. Whinery and 1 great granddaughter, Addison Nicole Whinery. He is survived by 2 sons, R. Don Whinery and wife, Deborah, Cheyenne, OK and R. Bradley Whinery, Sr. and wife, Glenda, Elk City, OK; 5 grandchildren, Donna Jo Whinery-Ferenczy and husband, John, Ozark, MO, Dr. Bradley Whinery, Jr. and wife, Kristi, Elk City, OK, Chris Whinery and wife, Kaylynn, Elk City, OK, Paul Wyatt Whinery, Lawton, OK and Christina Cochrane and husband, Nate, Gilbert, AZ; 4 great grandsons, Kyron, Aiden, Keaton and Toby Whinery and 1 great granddaughter, Bella Cochrane, and a host of other relatives and friends.