Cover photo for Geraldine Suiter's Obituary
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1909 Geraldine 2008

Geraldine Suiter

October 28, 1909 — July 7, 2008

Funeral service for Geraldine Opal Suiter, age 98, of Tipton, Oklahoma, was at 2:00 p.m. Monday, July 14, 2008, at the Tipton Church of Christ, with Mike Suiter, officiating. Burial was in the Tipton Municipal Cemetery under the direction of Tipton Funeral Home. Geraldine Opal Kelly Suiter a member of an Oklahoma pioneering family, died Monday, July 7, 2008, in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. However, she spent the vast majority of her lifetime, spanning nearly a century, in Tillman County in the communities of Laing, Grandfield and Tipton. The State of Oklahoma was in its infancy, less than three years old, when Geraldine Kelly made her debut in the log cabin on the homestead of her parents, pioneers Marion and Mamie Kelly, on the southwestern plains October 28, 1909. The homestead was acquired by her father and his brother, "Uncle Will" Kelly, who were among the lucky boomers whose numbers were drawn early in the great land lottery held in El Reno in August of 1901. Geraldine was the first of 10 children to the Marion Kelly family, three of whom died in infancy. Mrs. Suiter attended the historic Laing School in Tillman County, the first consolidated school district in Oklahoma. She was an outstanding athlete, who played guard on the Laing Bulldogs basketball team which fought its way into the Oklahoma State High School Tournament in 1929. Into her 90's, she still had vivid recollections of the fierce competition. After graduating from Laing in 1929, she attended the summer and fall terms at Central State College in Edmond. Miss Kelly returned to Laing in 1930 as both a teacher and basketball coach for six years. Her 1934 and 1935 Laing Lassies won both the Tillman County and District basketball championships. She also taught briefly in Manitou. She also enjoyed similar success in the classroom. One of her Laing students, who graduated from the University of Oklahoma, OU Law School, became a practicing attorney in the city and a political confident to the governor, concluded that: "Undoubtedly, the greatest thing you did for me was to 'fire-up the imagination' as well as install the concurrent challenge 'to act upon it'. In 1937, she married Clifton "Tip" Suiter. In 1942, the young couple purchased a farm in Grandfield on the Red River. Geraldine continued her teaching career in the one room Sage School. The Suiter's daughter, Andrea, was born in November of 1939 and their son, James, followed in November of 1940. A formidable challenge intervened in the Suiter household when Tip was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. After her husband's passing in 1948, Geraldine, Andrea and James returned to Tipton to be near the family's Kelly roots and the Laing School. While teaching eight years at Laing, she was able to complete a degree in education by attending summer sessions at Central State in Edmond. Subsequently, Mrs. Suiter transferred to Tipton Elementary School where she taught 19 years and completing 35 years as an educator, she retired in 1975. Even in retirement, Mrs. Suiter continued to share her teaching talents. Among her landmark projects was one in which she volunteered to partner with the Soil Conservation Service and the Tipton 4 H Club. She also was an ardent activist in the Tipton Garden Club and continued to work with children on "Bird Book" projects. She also was a longtime member of the Tipton Church of Christ, where she utilized her teaching talents in Sunday school. She was a supporter in the development of the Pioneer Museum in Frederick, where she donated family items. With all of Mrs. Suiter's zest and passion for life, the greatest was for her three grandchildren: Rob, Diane and Pam, children of Dr. James and Edith Suiter. She was there for the birth of each. One of her greatest joys was the frequent trips to Duncan for each one's activities: school plays, recitals, athletic contests or anything involving grandchildren. And birthday celebrations always featured "Grandmother's" homemade angel food cake and ice cream. There were obvious tinges of both joy and sorrow when it came time for grandchildren from high school and the long journeys off to college. Fierce independence was always one of Geraldine's strongest personality traits. It was graphically manifested in her insistence upon being her own independent source of mobility. She successfully served as her own chauffeur from age 13 in Papa Kelly's new 1917 Model T Ford (one of the first automobiles in Tillman County) until several months past 90. On her 90th birthday, she joyously joined nearly 100 fellow celebrants in the Tipton Church of Christ fellowship hall to celebrate the momentous occasion. In included almost all of her extended family, brothers, sister, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, former students and countless other loved ones encompassing several generations. Shortly afterward, a mild heart attack meant she must leave the driving to someone else. And, soon after her 91st birthday, she moved from her beloved Tillman County to the east coast, to live with daughter Andrea and her husband Bob, in Silver Springs, Maryland in suburban Washington D.C. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Clifton Suiter; brothers: Orval, Alton, Elmo, Lewis and Lamar Kelly. She is survived by a daughter, Andrea Brown and husband Bob, of Silver Springs, Maryland; a son: Dr. James Suiter and wife Edith, of Duncan, Oklahoma; three grandchildren: Rob Suiter, of Los Angeles, California; Diana Cassinelli and Pam Pease, both of Boston, Massachusetts; fifteen nieces and nephews; and numerous great and great great nieces and nephews. Tipton Funeral Home 580-667-5241 Gray Gish Funeral Home 580-335-2112
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