Claremore Daily Progress

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June 18, 2014

Family, friends remember Former Sheriff Prather

CLAREMORE — Friends and family of the late Jerry Prather gathered Tuesday morning at First Baptist Church in Claremore  to pay tribute to the life of longtime lawman.

“We’re come here today to remember a man who was vitally important and loved by us all; a man whose life is characterized by the good things he’s done, and the things he believed — Jerry Prather,” said Pastor Weldon Foster. “It was my privilege a long time to know Jerry a long time before he ever knew (wife) Myrtle, and to know her a long time before she knew Jerry. Through all these years, he’s been a very dear friend to me. Let me share with you this morning some scriptures that will be good for all of us to remember.

“In the 116th Psalm, it says ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints’,” Foster continued, his venerable voice slow and calming. “We grieve, but know that Jerry has been welcomed home, and released from the lamentations and weaknesses of this life.”

After offering a prayer for comfort and reading from the book of John, Foster introduced longtime friend of Prather, Rogers County Commissioner Dan DeLozier, who shared his memories of Prather.

“It’s kind of hard for me to be up here and talk about Jerry (Prather) — he was a good friend, a very good friend,” said an emotional DeLozier. “We’re gathered here to say good-bye to a beloved husband, father, grandfather, respected friend, co-worker and mentor.

“I’ve had the honor of knowing Jerry, his family and extended family for many years — his family’s always treated me more like a member of the family than as just a friend,” he said. “I worked with him back when he was with the Claremore Police and I was a reserve deputy, and again later, after I was elected a county commissioner and he was the sheriff.

“Anyone who worked with him knew how committed he was to his office, to his county,” he said. “He tried to act tough, but he wasn’t as tough as he let on, and he thought so much of his family. Jerry was a friend of mine. He set an example for all of us to follow. He set a high standard. He always meant what he said, and he was committed to his family, his extended family, and his roots ran real deep here in Rogers County.

“I won’t say good-bye (to Prather) today, but instead, I’ll say ‘See you later’,” he said.

Prather’s nephew, Mike Clark, also in law enforcement, shared memories of his uncle, crediting Prather with shaping him into the man he is today.

“Jerry was a man I loved and cared about — he was very important in my life,” Clark said. “When I was five years old, my father passed away, and my Uncle Jerry stepped up — he’s the reason I’m the man I am today. He treated me like I was his own son. I learned so much from him and I’m so grateful for everything he taught me, for everything did for me. He was the greatest man I’ve ever known. He’s my hero.”

Prather’s service culminated with a reading from 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 — the “love chapter” — by Pastor Paul Simpson.

“It was my privilege to know Jerry and to minister to him, particularly in the last days of his life,” Simpson said. “Many people might thing it strange to preach on the love chapter at a memorial service, but I think this passage is appropriate for the life of Jerry Prather.

“Love suffers long, it is kind, it does not envy or parade itself, it does not seek it’s own, it is not provoked, it rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes and endures all things — I believe that’s a picture of the life of Jerry Prather,” he said.

“Jerry lived a life of love. People who didn’t know him might not think of him that way — he was a man of the law — but he loved people. Even in the midst of his occupation, he was a man of love.

“Jerry was also a very quiet man — much of the time, he didn’t have much to say, but I learned that when he did say something, it was worth listening to,”  Simpson said.

“He was a quiet man and a private man — something which was difficult to do with his occupation, but that was him. Jerry was the same wherever he was, and as you’ve already heard, Jerry loved his family. I don’t think there was anything he loved more than spending time with his family.

“And of course, we couldn’t leave here this morning without saying that Jerry loved Rogers County,” he said. “He was born here, he was raised here, he was educated here. He spent his whole life here and he loved it.”

Following Prather’s service, he was laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery.

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