Some people have the knack for telling a story, for painting a vivid picture of a time or person now past. My father is one of those people.
This past weekend in between celebrating my grandmother’s 90th birthday and his 71st birthday my father shared a few stories about Randy Kilgore, an individual whose name I remember well from my teenage years in Alva, Oklahoma. Coincidentally, Randy's name had come up earlier the week when I was working in Kiowa, Kansas.
My father worked with juvenile delinquents through the Court Related and Community Services division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. This work often brought him into direct contact with the local police department. That was how he became acquainted with Randy .
According to my father, when Randy first started work as a police officer he was too young to use a weapon with bullets and supposedly just carried blanks. But this likely wasn’t a problem for Randy, who was a fairly stout fellow and probably intimidated would be troublemakers just by his size.
My father and Randy would often give each other a hard time … in a good natured sort of way that is. I remember once as a teenager my father telling me that he had been stopped that day by Randy for breaking the speed limit. Apparently he got off when he told Randy that he was on his way to the blue light special at Wal Mart and he hoped he wasn’t going to make him late.
My father shared another story this past weekend. One time, he said, he noticed a police car in front of him at the light. He said he could tell by the outline of the officer that it was Randy. So, he slowly let his foot off of the brake and bumped into the rear of Randy’s squad car. Randy apparently responded by rapidly unbuckling his seatbelt, exiting his car, and storming back to my father’s vehicle. When he discovered who the culprit was he told my father, “I’ll get even with you.” My father said that he did sometime later.
Randy eventually moved on from the Alva Police Department and became Chief of Police at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma. It was while serving in this capacity that he died in an auto accident east of Alva, only a mile or two east of my father’s home.
Randy’s car drifted left of center, and he hit a tractor and the flatbed trailer it was towing. He was only 31 years old. That was a sad day: December 10, 1990. Sometimes, that’s the way it goes.
Some names become stuck in your mind. Randy Kilgore’s was one of those, and it likely will be for a long time.