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Ruth Marie (Callahan) Gillum
Feb 8, 1923 - Sep 1, 2018
Posted by Martha Reddout



Ruth Marie Callahan Gillum was born on February 8, 1923, to Caliste Alphonse Callahan and Ida Boudreaux Callahan in Houma, Louisiana, and was the 9th of 10 children. Her father, the Chief of Police, died when Ruth was 13 and her widowed mother converted a room of their house to a small grocery store to support her large family. In spite of the hardships, the family prospered and developed the strong will Ruth exhibited all of her life.

At age 18, Ruth met Leon Gillum, a 24 year old graduate of OU employed by the Texaco Company. Leon and his friend were driving by and saw Ruth and her friend walking and offered them a ride. Ruth turned him down, but her friend knew the car driver so they got in his Ford. Ruth had to sit on Leon’s lap during the trip and the rest is history! Leon and Ruth were married in Houma on March 21, 1942, and began their married life in a little place on the bayou in New Iberia where two children, Riley and Gwendolyne were born. In 1946, Leon’s father, J.W. Gillum died and Leon moved his family to Erick to take over the Texaco business for his widowed mother, Edna. As the town of Erick grew so did the Gillum family as four more children were born—Jim, twins Jack and Jerry, then David. Ruth was the queen of the home and manager of this unruly brood. Ruth was an amazing, energetic, vibrant woman as well as an excellent cook. She loved to sew, crochet, do crafts, and always kept a very neat house. She always started every day with prayer, Bible reading, and made sure her clothes, hair, makeup, and jewelry were just right. Ruth was always involved in all of the children's school, church, and athletic activities. Our classmates will remember all the juicy burgers she served at fundraisers and all the many slumber parties and birthday parties she hosted over the years. Ruth was famous for her unique blend of Cajun and Okie dialects. When she moved to Erick the people encouraged her to talk and at first she feared they were making fun of her but she soon learned they were fascinated by the way she pronounced words. For example, Leon was pronounced “Lay-on”, Sayre became “Sar-rah.” Her own brother was named Elwood but in her special way, it sounded like “El-witt”. The Gillum family were members of the First Christian Church for many years and later joined the Mt. Zion Church in Erick. Leon and Ruth leave behind a lasting legacy to their family. They loved the Lord, lived their faith to the best of their abilities, and most of all, for 74 years they loved each other through good times and bad times. Ruth’s strong will and faith helped her overcome many things including a silent heart attack while home alone with her four youngest children. She thought she was just tired and didn’t tell anyone about it and when years later doctors found the damage she simply stated, “ I prayed to the Lord not to take me then because I had those young children to take care of.” God granted Ruth’s prayer. She also survived a colon cancer diagnosis in 1991. She never faltered during a year of chemo and used her time in the treatment center to encourage and witness to the other patients who were there. Ruth’s life changed drastically when she suffered a stroke in 2010. She fought back valiantly until September 1, 2018, when God called her home and we said goodbye to Leon’s “Cajun Queen”.

She is preceded in death by her parents, husband, one son, Jerry Eugene Gillum; one great grandson, Berit Calvin Warren McAbee; 4 sisters, Hilda Gaillard, Zoie Folkes, Eula Thibodeaux and Beverly Darcey; 5 brothers, Clayton, Ben, Elwood, Earl "Tom" and Caliste Alphonse Callahan, Jr.

She is survived by her children, Leon Riley Gillum, Jr. and wife, Norma, Luther, OK, Gwendolyne Carol Gillum, Yukon, OK, James Warren Gillum, Erick, OK, Jack Edward Gillum and wife, Connie, Amarillo, TX, David Leon Gillum and wife, Beverly, Erick, OK; daughter-in-law, Wendy Joy Gillum, Edmond, OK; 15 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren, 1 great grandson on the way, 5 great great grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends. 

The Gillum families thank the staff of Wellington Parke Nursing Home and Frontier Hospice for their care, love, and support of our sweet “Granny”.  

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Erick Ambulance fund or Erick Cemetery fund at City Hall, P.O. Box 25, Erick, OK 73645.

Funeral Service Thursday, September 06, 2018 10:00 AM Rose Chapel Funeral Service (Sayre) 906 N 4TH ST Sayre, Oklahoma 73662

A video keepsake is available at www.whineryfs.com.

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