A funeral ceremony honoring Earl Edward Bender will be held at 10 AM Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at the RiverCrest Chapel in Bixby, with Pastor Jeff Sloan officiating. (The service will be live-streamed via Bixby Funeral Service's Facebook page.) Interment will follow in Bixby Cemetery. The family will receive visitors from 6-8 PM Tuesday, also at RiverCrest. Earl passed away Friday evening, December 4, 2020, in Tulsa. He was 86 years old.
Born November 3, 1934, in Brooken, Oklahoma, Earl was the son of Alexander and Addie (Green) Bender. He attended a one-room school in Sandridge, just west of Stigler, off of Highway 9. Earl graduated from Stigler High School in 1952, and then attended Connors State College, where he was a pitcher on the baseball team, and took piano lessons. Following his education, Earl enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he served in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He always had great organizational skills and was an excellent typist.
Earl met Shirley Shaw through her sister, who was dating Earl’s brother. They became known as the “Bender Boys” and the “Shaw Sisters,” after their first date at the Stigler Dairy Queen. Even though he had to ask her twice, Earl and Shirley married on March 26, 1960, and spent over 60 wonderful years together.
Along with 3 business partners, Earl founded Besco Supply, a wholesale heating and air company, which he helped to run for over 40 years. The employees of the company always loved Earl and he in turn loved them: many stayed with the company for several decades. Earl retired at the age of 70, and the future treatment of Besco’s employees was a big part of his succession plan.
Earl collected Coca-Cola items and accumulated quite the collection through the years. Earl loved antique cars and won several awards for his restored 1934 Hupmobile. Earl also enjoyed Southern Gospel Music (and the occasional Hank Williams, Sr.).
A devoted Christian, Earl was a member of the West Tulsa Free Will Baptist Church for 54 years, where he was a deacon, served on the church board, and frequently played the guitar and sang in the choir. Earl and Shirley attended the Bixby Free Will Baptist Church for the past six years.
A loving family man, Earl and Shirley raised three children in the Bixby community, where he served on the School Board during the late 1970’s.
Surviving family members include his wife, Shirley; three children, Phillip Bender and wife, Linda, Darrel Bender and wife, Cheryl, Susan Jordan and husband, Jim; 8 grandchildren, Andrew Bender, Nathan Bender, Barret Bender, Allie Jordan, Ben Bender, Jamie Jordan, Kyle Jordan, and Sydnie Jordan; and three great grandchildren, Molly, Madelyn, and Copelan. Earl was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, and two sisters. He will be dearly missed by a host of family and friends who loved him.
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