We celebrate the life of Bobby Gene (Bob) Ledbetter. It has been six months since Bob’s death at home, on Dec. 31, 2015, at 83 years of age, with his wife, Irene, at his side. His body was donated to UTN and was then cremated. Bob did not want a funeral, or memorial, but wanted his ashes scattered over the lake at Lake Murray Village. His request was fulfilled on his birthday, with his wife, Irene; daughter, Teresa; oldest granddaughter, Kelly; and the landowners and friends, Cindy and Jack, present.
Bobby G. Ledbetter was born on a farm, in Vina, Ala., on May 16, 1932, to Willis and Tressie (Pleasant) Ledbetter, the next to the youngest of 12 children. Hard times and the death of his mother, when Bob was seven years of age, sent him and the younger sisters to live with married sisters, while his father sought work.
During the next few years, Bob moved several times and while living in Adrian, Mich., he began working for the J.C. Penney Company, in management training, and was highly praised for his retail skills by Mr. Penney. In 1951, Bob joined the Marine Corps during the Korean War, going through basic training at Parris Island, S.C., then to Camp Pendleton, where he went through officer’s training school. Bob became a Special Service officer, playing baseball with the team as a pitcher and coach. He was very athletic and was awarded several medals, including marksmanship expert rifleman, national defense medal, good conduct medal, and outstanding member of platoon.
While stationed in California, Bob married Mary Jo McLeroy, to which a daughter, Teresa Rea, was born on Nov. 22, 1955.
After leaving the Marine Corp, Bob joined the Mahaney Shoe Corp. of Dallas.
With 45 stores, Bob was in charge of opening locations in selected department stores, which brought him to the Daube’s Department Store, in 1962. He soon realized that Ardmore would be home.
Bob married Irene Lancaster, in Las Vegas, May 5, 1964, and while Bob managed the shoe department, Irene worked in sales at Daube’s. In 1966, the Ledbetters opened their first business together; The Village Den and The Villager franchise, next to the old Sonic Drive­ In, on Grand Avenue. Stylish shoes and clothes made this a fun place for young people to gather.
In 1973, Bob and Irene purchased the Red Rooster restaurant, in Marietta.  This began a 30-year career of renovating and operating successful restaurants. One of the great personal achievements for Bob was when he and Irene designed, built and operated Fireside Dining, which they opened in six months, on July 6, 1976. The Fireside hosted thousands of guests who would fly ­in to dine, until the restaurant was sold, due to health reasons, in 1985. During this time off, Bob and Irene finished their home and ranch on the lake at Lake Murray Village, where Bob trained and raced quarter horses, with these being some of the happiest times of his life, enjoying family and friends.
In 1988, Bob repurchased the Red Rooster to be redesigned as Denims Family Restaurant. Also at this time, Bob and Irene assumed management of Dakotas for a friend, building new business with concerts, corporate luncheons and receptions. This was followed by management of The Gourmet restaurant and purchase of The Downtowner deli, which Bob and Irene solely operated.
After several years and a surgery, Bob sold The Downtowner and opened his first Native American jewelry and art store. He became very knowledgeable about the culture and art, through research and traveling the Southwest, in search of treasures.
It was at this time that Bob and Irene decided to retire to Durango, Colo., but found that it was not home, and the Ledbetters moved back to Ardmore a couple of years later.
Soon after returning to Ardmore, Bob’s health began to decline, but their best times were in finding their new faith together. He grew worse and Irene became his caregiver, at home. She was assisted by Cross Timbers Hospice; Kevin, his physical therapist; and their pastor, David Allen, by Bob’s side, until he died peacefully at home, New Years’ Eve 2015.
Bob leaves behind a loving family and friends to cherish his memories: Irene, wife of 52 years; daughter, Teresa (Kenny) French of Victoria, Texas; granddaughters, Kelly French, Dallas, Kristie (Sebie) Kirkland, North Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Autumn French, Austin, Texas; grandson, K.J. (Ashley) French, Victoria, Texas; great-granddaughters, Laken French and Caroline Kirkland; sisters, Charlene (Rev. Lowell) Baggett; Glynnis (J.W., deceased) Pike, Billie Sue (Ray, deceased) Stephens; and favorite nieces, nephews and cousins, all of Alabama.
Thank you to our friends and former co­workers who have made this journey so meaningful. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider the following: Grace Baptist Church, P.O. Box 1761, Ardmore, OK  73402; Cross Timbers Hospice, 207 C St. NW, Ardmore, OK  73401; St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105, or the American Cancer Society, “Relay for Life”, c/o Jolyne Saum, P.O. Box 283, Marietta, OK 73448.