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Oklahoma Family Tree Stories

This beautiful sculpture of three redbud trees with gold and silver leaves by artist Robin Starke is located just outside the Eleanor & John Kirkpatrick Research Center in the Oklahoma History Center. Each leaf of the "Oklahoma Family Tree" memorializes an Oklahoma family with the family surname, first name(s), and the town or county where they lived. In addition, a short family history will be preserved in the digital family history book at the base of the tree. This is a great way for your family to make history and benefit future generations at the same time. To find out how to honor your own family with a leaf visit the Oklahoma Family Tree Project page.

Wootten Family

John Belton Wootten, Jr., ("Jack") was the first child born to John Belton and Marion Lucille (Bassett) Wootten on August 21, 1935, in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He spent his early childhood in Chickasha. At age seven, he moved with his family to the JE Ranch near Rabbit Ear Mountain in the vicinity of Clayton, New Mexico.

At the JE Ranch, Jack lived the life of a cowboy and rancher, riding horses and running large herds of cattle. The family was active in Clayton's United Methodist Church. Jack was an active student whose interests included football and trumpet. He graduated from Clayton High School in 1953.

Jack enrolled in New Mexico A&M (later, New Mexico State University) in 1953. He pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. In 1958 Jack was one of the first graduates of New Mexico A&M's Agricultural Economics program.

After six months of active service in the US Army, Jack launched his career in investing and finance at Oklahoma National Bank (ONB) in Chickasha. In 1977 he left ONB to start his own businesses, Chickasha Fuel Supply, a fuel-service company that served gas retailers such as Love's Country Store. Another client was Phoenix Investment Company, Inc., a loan and investment company. He also served as a member of the ONB board of directors for more than twenty-five years.

In December 1959, Jack met Catherine Ware Bond of Chickasha. They were married on August 13, 1960, at Epworth United Methodist Church. They had two daughters: Susan Jane and Catherine Anne. Jack continued to serve his country in the Army Reserves and attained the rank of captain. He joined First Baptist Church of Chickasha in 1976 and attended services regularly for the next thirty years.

In 1996, Scott and Anne Wootten Richey joined Jack and Catherine in creating the JE Ranch Foundation, a 501(c) (3) private operating foundation. The foundation's mission is to conserve wildlife habitats, practice and promote responsible agriculture, and educate and support youth and families.

Jack's main focus was his family, his business, and later in life, the JE Ranch Foundation. His family loved him, and he loved each one of them. Jack and Catherine celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary in August prior to his death. He enjoyed his children's and grandchildren's lives and accomplishments. Jack was a loving son who placed great importance on family. He was a successful businessman and was well known for his acumen in investments, especially in stocks and oil and gas. He also helped many people by providing loans to help them achieve their goals.

John Belton Wootten, Jr., died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, May 13, 2006, at the age of 70.

He is remembered for his twinkling blue eyes, mischievous laughter, and quick-witted sense of humor. He was committed to excellence and strongly encouraged everyone around him, especially his family members, to strive for success. He was a hard-working man whose legacy will live for generations.

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