Funeral services for Royce E. Gauntt, will be 1 p.m. Thursday, April 17, 2014, at the Sulphur United Methodist Church with the Rev. P.J. Stewart, the Rev. Billy Staggs and the Rev. Leo Potts officiating. Interment services will follow at the Lone Grove Cemetery in Lone Grove, Mr. Gauntt will lie in state at the DeArman Clagg Funeral Home in Sulphur, until 11 a.m. Thursday.
Royce was born on Aug. 2, 1918, in Lone Grove, to the late John W. and Hattie (Ballew) Gauntt. He was the youngest of nine children. He died at Mercy Hospital Ardmore, on April 11, 2014, at the age of 95 years.
Royce graduated from Lone Grove High School in 1937, and then attended Oklahoma A&M, and later went on to Tulsa University.
In 1940, Royce joined the Navy as a cadet and was assigned to the Naval Aviation Program. He completed several Navy flight schools with extensive training in Norman, Oklahoma and Pensacola, Fla. In 1944, he received his Navy officer’s commission as a Naval Aviator. For the remainder of World War II, Royce served his country in the Pacific Theater at Okinawa, Japan, Saipan and Korea. In 1952, he was called back into active duty to continue flying in the Korean Conflict, Vietnam and the Bay of Pigs. Royce served his country for a total of 27 years as an Aviator in the United States Navy and in the Naval Reserves. He had been promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander by the time he retired from the military in 1968.
Royce’s relationship with the telephone company began at birth, and he worked the switchboard starting at a very young age. He was literally handed the Lone Grove Telephone Company at the age of 19, because none of his siblings wanted any part of it. He wasn’t able to give his complete attention to the company until after his years spent with the United States Navy. In 1956, his vision was to continue to give the best service to the current and future customers. Along with J.B. “Sonny” Bright and Jack Hester, the trio forged ahead, changing the name and expanding the Chickasaw Telephone Company to what it is today.
Royce has received the Bill Barnes Award from the Oklahoma Telephone Association and is a member of the Oklahoma Telephone Association Hall of Fame. Royce was the CEO and innovator for the Chickasaw Telephone Company, and his direction and leadership continues today.
His parents; and siblings, Nora Gauntt Alexander, Guy Gauntt, Herman Gauntt, Dugar Gauntt, Geneva Gauntt Bigbie, Obed Gauntt Nye Scott, Jessie Lee Gauntt Kyle and Jonnye B. Gauntt Gardner, preceded him in death.
Royce is survived by his family, J.B. “Sonny”, Sally and Lori Bright, of Sulphur; cousins, Hermagene Smith and husband, Bill, Nelda Sue Burrow, all of the Dallas area and Billye Louise Nutting and husband, Bill of Denton, Texas; and numerous other cousins, nieces and nephews, as well as, his Chickasaw family.
Casket bearers will be Dale Fitzwater, Fob Jones, Larry Jones, De Lannom, Larry Sloan and Billy Staggs.
Honorary casket bearers will be W.O. “Bill” Young, Jim Young and the employees of the Chickasaw Holding Company.
Memorial contributions may be sent to the Oklahoma Telephone Association Scholarship Fund, 3800 North Classen Boulevard, Suite 215, Oklahoma City, OK 73118. Checks may be made payable to the OTA Foundation.
Online condolences may be sent to www.hdouglasfuneralhome.com.