Claremore lost a rare and gentle man on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2006, when Mike Brunson died at his home following a valiant battle with cancer. He was 63.
Mike was born Jan. 27th, 1943, the eighth child of Odes and Ora Lee (Hopkins) Brunson.
He attended Inola schools graduating with the class of 1961, representing his classmates as their valedictorian.
According to old newspaper clippings, he was voted “most courteous” and “most deserving,” a testament that these enduring qualities were developed early in his life. In addition to being on the state honor roll all four years, he won an academic award, the American Legion certificate, the State Science Fair Medal, and was ranked in the top two percent of the Junior Master Farmers in the state of Oklahoma.
Very well-rounded, Mike’s accomplishments went from the classroom to the basketball court to his father’s lumber business where he was the bookkeeper.
While still a minor, Mike petitioned the court to receive a majority rights declaration so he could be eligible to borrow money to start a business of housebuilding. Though he had already tested for and received his real estate license, he needed to become a real estate broker so that he could not only build the houses, but also market and sell them.
Mike’s unwavering belief in setting goals and working hard to attain them took him not only to the top of his class, but also to the top of his profession. In 1966 he became an agent for Farmers Insurance. Three short years later, a Claremore Progress Business Review edition acknowledged not only that Mike’s company offered a full line of insurance, but that it was the sixth largest Farmers group in the United States. The highest accomplishment in the company, the President’s Council, was a position Mike earned in the late ‘70’s. Doubly gratifying, this award represented not only his outstanding sales and service but also the recognition of excellence by his peers.
Whenever he got away from the rigors of his business, Mike enjoyed his hobbies of fishing and cheering on his OSU Cowboys, but these too took a back seat to his service to his community and church. He contributed as a member of both the Kiwanis and the Lions’ Clubs.
He also served on the City Council, first selected and then elected to the position that brought him the responsibility of assisting with the writing of Claremore’s first city charter, this referred to as a freeholder position on the Council. A member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Mike served on the vestry, and was a lay reader and treasurer there.
Quiet and honorable, Mike’s gentle and kind heart made him not only a well-respected man in the community, but a dearly loved family man. The proud father of two daughters and a son, Mike and Sharon Lambert married on Nov. 15, 1985, in a Pryor ceremony and for the last 21 years, they have shared the joys of their children and grandchildren who include two daughters, Anita Williams and husband, Greg, of Claremore, and Dana Homer and husband, John, of Stillwater; grandchildren, Tara and Emily Williams, Claremore, and Raina and Django Homer of Stillwater; four stepchildren, Lori Jolley, Claremore, Lon Lambert and wife, Pam, and Brad Lambert and wife, Joy, all of Oologah, and Amy Weaver and husband, Tim, of Edgewood, Texas; eight stepgrandchildren, Amber Sweet, and Anna Jolley, who have both been nurtured by Mike as their father figure, Landon, Lane, Logan and Luke Lambert, Dillon and Levi Weaver; and one step great granddaughter, Lilly Anna Sweet.
Being a part of a large and loving family, those siblings that survive Mike are two brothers, Lavell and Guy Brunson, and five sisters, Pauline Lee, Evelyn Reynolds, Kathleen Anderson, Joyce Hinds and Marilyn Trude, as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and other extended family. Mike was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, Maggie Hazelwood, and his son, Darin.
Funeral services honoring and remembering Mike Brunson will be conducted by Fr. Jim Freidel who is the pastor of Mike’s Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal. The pastor and congregation of St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church have extended their facilities for services which will be 1 p.m. Wednesday with interment to follow at Woodlawn Cemetery. Friends may visit at Rice Funeral Service until 8:00 this evening with family there to receive visitors from 6-8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, a perpetual memorial to be awarded as a scholarship to an FFA student continuing their education at Oklahoma State University will be established in Mike’s honor because of the value that program contributed to his own life as a young man. Contributions may be made to the Mike Brunson Memorial Fund care of First Bank, 1698 South Lynn Riggs Blvd., Claremore, OK 74017.