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Donald Ray Bittle
May 20, 1937 ~ January 9, 2022 (age 84) 84 Years Old
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A funeral ceremony honoring and remembering Donald Ray Bittle will be held 2 PM Thursday, January 13, 2022 at the First United Methodist Church in Bixby. Interment will follow in the Bixby Cemetery. Visitation will be from 6-8 PM Wednesday, with the family receiving friends from 6-7 PM, at the Rivercrest Chapel and Event Center. Don passed away Sunday, January 9, 2022 in Tulsa. He was 84 years old.
Born May 20, 1937 in Pierce, Oklahoma, Don was the son of Jim and Bessie (Broadnax) Bittle. When he was 10 years old, his family moved from the farm to the city of Checotah, where Don grew up with his 7 siblings. He was proud of both his Creek and Scottish heritage. Don graduated from Checotah High School in 1955 and was Valedictorian of his class. A tremendous athlete, Don participated in football, basketball, baseball, and track, earning 14 Letters. He was selected to the all-conference teams in football, basketball, and baseball.
As an All-Stater in basketball, Don attended the University of Oklahoma on a basketball scholarship. He received over 100 contacts and offers from colleges across the nation. Don’s parents advised him that they believed any success from his God-given talent should be at a school in Oklahoma. This was based on a precedent established by their cousin, “Indian Jack Jacobs” - who led the University of Oklahoma to their first Orange Bowl appearance in 1939. Don played basketball for the Sooners for three years and transferred to Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. It was there he met the love of his life, LaQuita Silver.
While at Northeastern, Don and LaQuita were introduced by fellow student, Frank Kelly, who was from Bixby. Following college, Don served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps, while LaQuita worked in Tulsa as a secretary for Warren Petroleum and The Permian Corporation. Don and LaQuita had a long-distance romance and were married April 19, 1962 in Tulsa, following his military duty. He began his career with Douglas Aircraft (later McDonnell Douglas), where he remained until retiring as General Manager in 1995.
The Bittle family made Bixby their home where they became active members of the community. Don was instrumental in bringing the Red Cross Bloodmobile to Bixby. In 1973, Don, along with Ernie Dunning and Loyd Means, organized an elementary basketball league; and with the blessing of Mr. Whitey Ford, named it the Whitey Ford Basketball League. Don also coached both girls’ and boys’ high school summer leagues from 1973-1983. He was a member of the Bixby Optimist Club, served as Director on the Bixby Education Endowment Foundation, and Chairman of the Scholarship Committee.
Don was extremely proud of his children. Don and LaQuita’s daughter, Lisa, graduated from Bixby High School in 1981, and was one of eight Valedictorian’s that year, and was a four-year starter on the basketball team. Their son, Jay, graduated from Bixby High School in 1984, and was Salutatorian. He was a three-year starter on the basketball team. Both children have pursued successful careers and raised beautiful families of their own, which brought tremendous joy to Don’s life.
Surviving family include his wife of almost 60 wonderful years, LaQuita Bittle; his daughter, Lisa Buckelew and husband, Paul of Norman; son, Jay Bittle and wife, Sherry of Glenpool; his grandchildren: Jonathan, Elizabeth, BreeAnn, Jacob, and Maddie; great granddaughter, Jurnee; his sisters, Cheryl Bittle of Portland, Oregon, Ina Bittle of Checotah, and Norma Winter of Bartlesville; as well as a host of in-laws, nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Don’s parents preceded him in death, along with his siblings, Jim Bittle, Robert "Cotton" Bittle, Ollie Carey, and Bill Bittle.