Norman Earl Garner
March 14, 1932 – June 13, 2020
Devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Norman Earl Garner went home to be with his Lord on June 13, 2020 at the age of 88. He was and will remain a wonderful model of a father, husband, son, father-in-law, friend and Christian. “Buddy” to his friends and family, was born to James William Garner and Era Erma Bailey Garner on March 14, 1932 in Cyril, Oklahoma. Buddy’s early childhood years were spent in Hobbs, New Mexico. Eventually his family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he graduated from Will Rogers High School in 1950. Buddy excelled in school, and as a member of the school track team, he helped Will Rogers High School secure the Oklahoma High School State Track and Field Team Championship in 1948 and 1949. Buddy ran the 220 and anchored the 880 relay team. It was this gift for athletics that allowed Buddy to secure a full college scholarship. So, in the fall of 1950, Buddy hitchhiked to Abilene, Texas to begin his college career at Abilene Christian University. He later transferred to the University of Tulsa where he obtained his BS, Petroleum Engineering in 1955.
After graduating from the University of Tulsa, Buddy began a long and successful career in the oil and gas industry working with Gulf Oil in West Texas. It was here where Buddy met the love of his life, Shirley Baker, while he was working in Crane, Texas. Buddy and Shirley’s first date was under the famous “Friday Night Lights” at an Odessa Permian high school football game. Shirley and Buddy were married in 1957 and spent the next 63 years of their lives as much, or more in love as the first time they met. Buddy continued to work for Gulf Oil until he returned to school at the University of Texas at Austin where he obtained his MS and PhD in Petroleum Engineering in 1963. It was here that Buddy and Shirley started their family and where their oldest two children, Bradley and Lou Ann were born. Buddy and his family later moved to Houston, Texas and he started his career with the Exxon Corporation and where his youngest child Allison was born. While Buddy spent the majority of his career with Exxon in Houston, his career with Exxon took him to Australia and England before he retired and returned to Houston in 1986. After his retirement from Exxon, Buddy continued working and consulting with various energy companies until 1992. In retirement, Buddy and Shirley were inseparable and treasured their time traveling, visiting children and grandchildren, and summering in Colorado with their children and families.
Buddy was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and an active member of Bering Drive Church of Christ where he served as an Elder and Board Chairman of the Bering Drive Christian School from 1994 – 2000. Buddy’s faith, love for people and heart of service led him to Spaulding for Children. Their mission of providing children in need of a loving home with the joy of having one really resonated with him. Buddy faithfully supported and served Spaulding for Children as a Board Member, Advisory Board Member and Board Chair from 1992-1998. He supported and volunteered at Hospitality Apartments, which provides free temporary housing for families of patients receiving medical treatment at Texas Medical Center. He also enjoyed working with his hands, crafting and building many beautiful pieces of furniture for his family that will be treasured for years to come.
However, the real “love” of his life (other than Shirley) were his children and grandchildren. When Buddy became a grandparent, he became known as “Papa.” Papa loved attending birthday celebrations, Post Oak Little League games, dance recitals, school performances, high school football practices, graduations and just about any activity of his seven grandchildren. His grandchildren have fond memories of him teaching them to fish at the family farm in Moravia, TX and of many wonderful summers in Crested Butte, CO vacationing together as a family. They all loved his sweet and gentle spirit. He had a love for singing that he shared with his grandchildren. They howled with pleasure when he broke into his rendition of “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas.” A favorite game was to give Papa a word cue and he would sing a song with that word in it.
Preceded in death by his parents James William Garner and Era Erma Bailey Garner Scogin, he is survived by his brother James Garner and wife Joyce, his loving wife Shirley, his son Bradley Baker Garner and wife Lisa, his daughter Lou Ann Garner Chae and husband Alex, his daughter Allison Garner Elkin and husband David, Buddy’s seven grandchildren who brought him great joy, Anna Laura Clark and husband Neat, Alexander Carl Chae Jr., Frances Allison Chae, Bailey Grace Elkin, Emma Corinne Elkin, Sarah Garner Elkin, Claire McDowell Elkin and his great grandson Garner Eddleman Clark. The family wishes to thank his amazing caregivers Alfonso Cepeda and Andrea Robison for the personal care and attention they provided, and to Hospice Plus who helped through difficult times. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorial gifts be directed to the Shirley and Norman (Buddy) Garner Endowed Scholarship at Abilene Christian University, Advancement Services, ACU Box 29132, Abilene TX 79699 (acu.edu./giveonline) and Hospitality Apartments, P.O. Box 25213 Houston, TX 77265-5213 (hospitalityapartments.org).