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Obituary for John Tatum

John Tatum

John E. Tatum passed away peacefully after a long battle with advanced stages of Parkinson’s Disease Aug. 11, 2022.

John was born Feb. 16, 1941 in Fairfield, Illinois to Alma Levelle Owen Tatum and T. H. Tatum.  John grew up in Heavener, Oklahoma and graduated from Heavener High School in 1959.  John was a gifted athlete and earned a full scholarship to the University of Oklahoma, where he played for legendary football coach Bud Wilkinson as both center and middle-linebacker from 1959 to 1963.  He graduated from O.U., majoring in zoology and pre-med classes. He earned his Masters Degree of Education from Central Oklahoma University in Edmond.

He taught biology and coached football and baseball for seven years before entering the insurance business with Farm Bureau as an agent in Durant.  John retired as Chief Operating Officer of Farm Bureau Mutual in 2005.

John is survived by his wife, Nancy Jean, of Wickenburg, Arizona; two sons  John Mark and Robert Loyd Tatum; step-daughter Monica Bolin; step-son Sam Steele Marshall; step-daughters Penny Dee Marshall-Bigelow and Marilee Marshall-Dose; two granddaughters Kelsey Tatum Mason and Isabella Dianna Tatum; one great-grandson Baker Owen Mason; seven step-grandchildren  Summerslee and Sterling Latham, Davis Bigelow and Daryan Marshall, Myla Batchelder, Digby Rose Marshall and Dipper Steele Marshall; and two nieces Pam Cox and Shirley James.

John was preceded in death by both his mother and father; his grandson, Jake Tatum; and sister Peggy Lewellyn “Lou” Gartner.

Funeral service is Aug. 22, 2022 at the Dowden-Roberts Funeral Home Chapel in Heavener with Reverend Ricky Huggins officiating and Hal Dowden reading the eulogy.  Burial will follow in Heavener Memorial Park in Heavener. Arrangements are under the direction of Dowden-Roberts Funeral Home of Heavener.

Viewing will begin at noon until 6 p.m. Sunday. The family will be visiting with friends from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.

To sign John’s online guestbook please visit

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