OBITUARY

Justice Robert Eugene Lavender (ret.)

July 19, 1926March 23, 2020

Robert Eugene Lavender, 93, passed away peacefully in his home Monday, March 23rd, surrounded by family and loved ones.

He was born July 19, 1926 to Harold and Vergene (Martin) Lavender in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He grew up in Tulsa until he was 12, when his mother died. He then moved to a farm near Catoosa with his loving Grandmother and Grandad, Rosa and Thaddeus Martin. He graduated from Catoosa High School in 1944. He then immediately enlisted in the US Navy during WWII, serving his country from 1944 thru 1946 in the Armed Gun Crew on the SS Winfield S. Stratton, SS Appleton Victory, and the USS New Jersey.

On December 22, 1945, during his Christmas leave, Robert married his high school sweetheart Maxine Knight, with whom he would spend 64 years of happiness and adventures before her death in 2010.

In 1953, utilizing the GI Bill, he earned a LLB degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law. While earning his degree, he worked as an assistant court clerk in Tulsa. After graduation, he served as the Assistant City Attorney in Tulsa, before joining a private law practice in Claremore, Oklahoma. While practicing law in Claremore, he was an active member of the community, serving as President of the Catoosa School Board and various other positions. He was an active member of the Masonic Lodge as a 32nd degree Mason.

In 1965, Robert was appointed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court by Governor Henry Bellmon. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest judge to serve on the court at age 37. He served on the Supreme Court for over 42 years, setting a record in Oklahoma for the longest serving justice. He served as Chief Justice from 1979 - 1981. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Rogers County Bar Association, the Oklahoma Bar Association, the American Judicature Society and was a guest lecturer at University of Oklahoma College of Law, University of Tulsa College of Law and Oklahoma City University College of Law. He was the 1993 recipient of the University of Tulsa Distinguished Alumni Award. He cherished many lifelong friendships formed during the years he served on the court. He served with dignity and grace and and set the bar high for those around him. His quote from the beginning of his career on the court, “My sole ambition as a member of this court is to study the cases, work hard, and so conduct my personal life as to inspire confidence and earn the trust of the people of this court as an institution. It is my opinion that a strong, independent judiciary composed of men of unimpeachable integrity is an absolute essential to the continuation of our society.”

He lived his life with the upmost integrity and was an inspiration to all he touched in his professional and personal arenas. He loved his country and kept a list of the flag days, flying it proudly, a true member of the “greatest generation.” He was a wonderful husband, loving father, grandad, great grandad and a friend to all. He will be greatly missed. We find comfort in knowing he’ll be reunited with Maxine, loving family and friends, his beloved golf foursome, and many dogs that were lucky enough to receive his unconditional love and unlimited snacks.

Robert was preceded in death by his parents Harold and Vergene Lavender, his grandmother and grandad, Rosa and Thaddeus Martin, his wife of 64 years, Maxine, son Robert Knight Lavender, brother Harold Lavender, sister Vivian (Lavender) Robson and brother-in-law Robert Carr. Robert is survived by his daughters, Linda Courter (Dean), Debra Merrill (Tom), and son, William J Lavender (Kelly), sister-in-law Kathryn Carr; eight Grandchildren: Alan Courter (Kristina), Melissa Flores (David), Laura Courter, Emily Collins (JC), Amy Matlock (Brian), Steven Merrill, Lexi Chiarolanzio (Mario), Lindsey Lavender; eight great granddaughters: Cassandra and Lillian Courter, Naya Flores, Molly and Mattie Matlock, Caroline Collins, Kinsley and Emerson Chiarolanzio, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A special thanks to Dr. John Krodel and Express Home Health for your excellent care over the years and Good Shepherd Hospice for your kindness and compassion in his final days. We owe our deepest gratitude to his special caregivers over the past year, Rona and her family Kevin, Lindsey, and pup Bentley, and Marissa, for caring for him as if he was one of their own.

A celebration of his life, honoring him on his 94th heavenly birthday, is planned for Saturday, July 18th at 10 am at Hahn-Cook Street/Draper Chapel, 6600 Broadway Extension, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73116.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the charity of your choice in his honor.

  • FAMILY

  • Robert was preceded in death by his parents Harold and Vergene Lavender, his grandmother and grandad, Rosa and Thaddeus Martin, his wife of 64 years, Maxine, son Robert Knight Lavender, brother Harold Lavender, sister Vivian (Lavender) Robson and brother-in-law Robert Carr.
    Robert is survived by his daughters, Linda Courter (Dean), Debra Merrill (Tom), and son, William J Lavender (Kelly), sister-in-law Kathryn Carr; eight Grandchildren: Alan Courter (Kristina), Melissa Flores (David), Laura Courter, Emily Collins (JC), Amy Matlock (Brian), Steven Merrill, Lexi Chiarolanzio (Mario), Lindsey Lavender; eight great granddaughters: Cassandra and Lillian Courter, Naya Flores, Molly and Mattie Matlock, Caroline Collins, Kinsley and Emerson Chiarolanzio, and numerous nieces and nephews.
  • DONATIONS

  • Charity of your choice in his honor.

Services

18 July

Memorial Service

10:00 am

Hahn-Cook/ Street & Draper Chapel

6600 Broadway Extension
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73116

Memories

Justice Robert Eugene Lavender (ret.)

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