Dortha Lee Albright Tucker
Dortha Lee Albright was born April 10, 1919 to her parents Clarence Lee and Lora Lee Toliver Albright in Wiley, Colorado. Her father was killed in an oil field explosion when she was five years old. Her mother remarried to Walt Lomenick, three years later. She had two younger brothers, Loren Clarence and Stephen Wesley, and a half-sister, Lora Jean, all of which preceded her in death.
Dortha Lee grew up on a farm in Kiowa County and married Kensel Tucker on October 6, 1936 in Anadarko, Oklahoma. They had grown up together as their home places were less than a mile apart. Kensel worked with his dad on his farm and eventually they were able to build their own home on their own section of land. Dortha Lee cooked for the farm hands while taking care of her chickens and often milking their cows. She, also, picked cotton, measured land, helped with the plowing and took care of her children Nancy, Keith, and Jennifer.
In 1949, they purchased the ranch ten miles southwest of Wilburton from an aunt of Kensel’s who owned the land and was living there when he was born in 1913. Their property was sold in Kiowa County and the family moved to Wilburton. The family became members of the First Methodist Church. Dortha Lee was used to working hard and soon become involved in teaching Sunday School and church activities. She was active in the PTA and Farm Bureau. She began working in the Insurance and Real Estate business Kensel had started. She made nearly all of the clothes for herself and her two daughters. When Kensel agreed to run the drive-in movie, she took charge of the bookkeeping.
In 1959, she enrolled at Eastern Oklahoma State College after he first grandson was born. Their six grandsons were born within four years. When her daughter-in-law was expecting, she told Dortha Lee that she didn’t seem to excited about her being pregnant. Dortha Lee’s reponse was, ‘it’s just not too easy to get excited right now.’ Dortha Lee received her Associates Degree from Eastern in 1962, with a 4 point grade average.
Once their children were grown and away from home, they built a house at the ranch in 1966. They lived there 17 years. She signed up for art classes and found she had a real talent for painting. She has always crocheted, but also learned to knit. She enjoyed gardening and took great pride in her flowers. She joined a bird watching group, became involved with AARP, the Latimer County Library, and organized the “Beautify Wilburton” committee. She was a charter board member of the EOSC Alumni and on the board for the Eastern Oklahoma State College Development Foundation. She and Kensel established the Kensel and Dortha Lee Tucker Scholarship fund at Eastern. She was a candidate for the Wilburton Centennial Queen Contest, sponsored by the Wilburton BPW Club. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Dortha Lee was a survivor of breast cancer two times; the first in 1976 and then again in 2008.
The Tuckers purchased a motor home in 1977 and traveled through 49 states; they couldn’t drive to Hawaii. Dortha Lee was able to convince Kensel to ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the mule ride tour. They saw many beautiful sights and made a lot of new friends.
Kensel was living in the nursing home in 2006 when Dortha Lee moved in with her daughter, Nancy, who had recently been widowed. After she gave up housekeeping, she gave the contents of her house and her jewelry to her children and grandchildren. She often said, “Do your givin’ while your livin’, then you’ll be knowin’ where its goin’. Kensel died March 9, 2007.
She moved to the Latimer Nursing home in 2011. She settled in very well and was always content and happy. The staff took very good care of her and kept her up to date on current events. She spent much of her time reading. Dortha Lee told her three children just a few weeks ago that she was content and happy at the nursing home and she didn’t want to go anywhere else, ever again. She didn’t want to go to the hospital, the doctor, or dentist, or to their homes. She just wanted to stay there, that was her home.
Dortha Lee passed away November 27, 2016 at the Latimer Nursing Home in Wilburton, OK. She and Kensel set perfect examples for their children, grandchildren and all future generations to follow. Her survivors include children: Nancy Lee and her husband, Jim McCallie of Eufaula; Merle Keith and his wife, Carla Jo Tucker of Lafayette, LA; and Jennifer Lynn and her husband Ronald Richard Tarrant of Wilburton. Also, seven grandchildren: Clifford Dale and wife Jeana Downing and Lloyd Blake Downing of Wilburton, Bryan Alan and his wife Phyllis Downing of Pocola, Robert Lewis and Rodger Mark Pate of McAlester, Rickey Lyle Pate of Wilburton and Crystal Lee and her husband, Wilton Louis (Joey) Credeur of Lafayette, LA. She has nine great grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.