Gertrude Lea Clay Flesher was born June 22, 1925 to Cleo Gertrude Provines Clay and James Madison Clay on the family farm north of present day Reydon. She lived one day short of her 96th birthday, passing June 21, 2021 in Clinton, OK.
Gertrude was a family name but everyone called her Sis. The Dust Bowl and depression was on so she, her six siblings and parents practiced a strong work ethic and conservative resource management.
She recalled Black Sunday of April 14, 1935, when a dust storm quietly rolled in, blocking daylight. They’d been visiting neighbors and eventually had to allow the horse pulling their wagon to find the way home.
Her mom sewed all their clothes, raised big gardens, canned, pickled and put up preserves. Cream, eggs, and dressed chickens were sold in Reydon. Her dad was known for his well cared for livestock and horses. Gertrude went through eighth grade at Midway and graduated Reydon High School in 1943. She paid her senior year expenses by working at Flesher Cash Grocery. After graduation, Gertrude, and her older sister Bula May worked for Boeing in Wichita, KS. Gertrude was an inboard wing and landing gear inspector on the B-29, the aircraft which eventually won the war in the Pacific. Alvin John Flesher returned from the Marines in 1946, marrying Gertrude in back of the Flesher grocery store on August 18. After a monthlong honeymoon, they purchased the Reydon phone exchange from Alvin’s aunt and uncle. That switchboard was the information hub of the town. Information was quickly disbursed, whether of a death, storm, or convict about. Gertrude kept the books, did the banking and mailed out bills. In 1960 they sold the exchange to Doc Dobson and bought a fuel exchange. Alvin sold wholesale and retail gas, Goodyear tires out of the old theater in Reydon. In 1965 they expanded their fuel business and moved to Cheyenne where they also operated a service station and auto parts store. They were active in their church, serving numerous positions and were very civic minded. During one visit to their daughter in Arizona, Gertrude held one office, Alvin the other. Gertrude drove and chaperoned many 4-H and Farmers Union youngsters. When Alvin was 55, they sold their businesses and traveled more.
They RV’d through many states and traveled to several countries. OSU interviewed Gertrude for their “Life in the 1930’s” series. She was inducted into the Western Oklahoma Historical Society. Gertrude was preceded in death by her husband, parents, siblings Bula May Sides, Russell “Brother” Clay, Velma “Dean” Robison and Kenneth “Pete” Clay.
She is survived by sisters Hester Millemon of Rolla, KS and Mildred Harrison of Attica, KS, children Virginia Reid of Elk City, and Jim Flesher of Stillwater, grandchildren Chris Flesher of Austin, TX, Robin Marquis of Weatherford, and Alicia Flesher of Stillwater. She also has numerous grand and great grand children, many nieces and nephews that call her “Aunt Sis”.