FLETCHER - John Robert Vantine, 81, died peacefully at his home on April 25, 2020. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Interment will be in the Fletcher Cemetery under direction of the Fletcher Funeral Home.
Mr. Vantine was born March 18, 1939 on a farm near Temple, Oklahoma to Odis Cullen and Ruby Winton Vantine. He was the oldest of eight children. He was named for his two grandfathers, John Quincy Vantine and Robert Charley Winton. His father sharecropped or rented farms, so the family moved each year in January. John attended grade school at Temple, Geronimo, and Walters. Beginning in the 4th grade, he and the other Vantine children were taken out of school to pull cotton for six weeks each year until he was out of high school. In January 1952 he began 7th grade at Fairview, a country school near Pumpkin Center. He enrolled in the 9th grade at Central High School near Marlow in 1953 and graduated from there in 1957. His courtship with Regina Austin, who lived down the road from the Vantines, began in 1957.
He entered the U.S. Navy on January 14, 1958 as an Electronics Field Seaman Recruit at the U.S. Naval Training Center in San Diego. While in the Navy, he trained as a Fire Control Technician computing with sine tables and slide rules. He went to sea at Newport, Rhode Island and served aboard destroyers home-ported in Newport and Boston. He stopped at ports from Galveston to the St. Lawrence Seaway, Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica, as well as the Mediterranean. He visited the Parthenon in Athens, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Coliseum in Rome. He watched bullfights in Barcelona and stood atop Mt. Etna in Sicily. He served aboard the U.S.S. Compton, U.S.S. Charles R. Ware, and the U.S.S. Willis A. Lee. John and Regina wrote letters back and forth during his time away and planned to marry upon his return from the Navy. He received an honorable discharge from on May 11, 1962. Eight days later on May 19, they were married at Letitia Baptist Church east of Lawton. They made their home in Sterling. Soon after, he began work at Vance Air Force Base at Enid as a Ground Power Mechanic, and they moved to Waukomis. He drove his wife to the hospital while wearing a body cast for the birth of their first daughter, Karen, in 1965. In April 1966, he went to work in the avionics shop of a defense contractor at Henry Post Army Airfield at Ft. Sill. In 1968, maintenance of air-traffic control equipment was added to his duties, which required certification by the FAA. The Vantines made their home in Elgin until they moved to a place five miles east of Fletcher in 1973. They moved into Fletcher in 1988. Daughter Suzanne was born in Lawton in 1968. Their youngest daughter, Maria, was born in Lawton in 1976.
John was the personal water witch for his well-drilling father-in-law Melvin Austin; he could locate water accurately and could determine precisely how deep underground water flowed. He retired from Ft. Sill in December 2000. After retirement, he worked a small vegetable garden and orchard, grew flowers, and went fishing and hunting. He worked the New York Times Crossword each day for many years, was very well-read, and watched nature and science documentaries with regularity.
He is survived by his wife, of the home; three daughters and three sons-in-law: Karen and Peter Thomas, Duncan; Suzanne and Bobby Max, Lewisburg, Tn; Maria and Lynn Alexander, Marlow; three grandsons and two granddaughters-in-law: Ian and Diane Swart, Fletcher; John Reece Alexander, Eli Alexander, Marlow; and Mckenzie Chinnow, Fletcher; five granddaughters and two grandsons-in-law: Hannah and Zach Shafer, Elgin; Maura and D.J. Moffet, Junction City, Ks; Emma Thomas, Duncan; Tallia Max, Lewisburg, Tn; Ava Alexander, Marlow; nine great-grandchildren: Lila Swart, Jackson Swart, Henry Swart, Anson Swart, Graham Burris, Braden Burris, Nathan Shafer, Isabella Swart, and Liam Moffet; three brothers and two sisters-in-law: Gene and Diane Vantine, Jim Vantine, and Ron and Donna Vantine; four sisters and one brother-in-law: Myrt Franklin, Cora and John Roach, Mary Vantine, and Ruby Brown; and a host of nieces, nephews, and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; infant daughter Dianne Vantine; and grandson Blaine Alexander.