Gary Lane Kulchinski was born in Gainesville, Texas on August 16, 1943, to Benjamin Franklin Kulchinski and Nerine Annamae Hillburn while Ben was stationed in Texas serving in the U.S. Army. As the oldest of 3 boys and 2 girls, Gary was working in the oil fields alongside his dad and driving a tractor unattended by the time he was 4. From the age of 8, while his father tended to the oil wells, Gary was sent to the fields to plow. He attended grades 1-8 in the one-room Adair schoolhouse located just a few miles from the family homestead in rural Nowata County.
Once Gary was older, he went to school in town and graduated from Nowata High School, where he was heavily involved in FFA and showed his pigs at the county fair. He then attended NEO A&M College and graduated with an Associates degree in Electrical Engineering and Drafting.
Upon college graduation, he joined the U.S. Army Reserves and was stationed at Fort Polk. He had vivid memories of going through his basic training in the hot Louisiana summer. Being a skinny kid going in, Gary strangely gained weight while he was in Basic, so the food must have been alright.
Gary was then employed as an Engineering Technician at the Research Center where he worked on rod baffle heat exchangers for Phillips Petroleum Company. He bought a new car, a 1967 Ford Fairlane GTA in red, and enjoyed racing (and winning) at the Tulsa Speedway. One Saturday night in the summer of 1967, Gary was cruising main street and met who would become his wife of 55 years, Judith Standeford. The couple married in Nowata on August 23, 1968, and settled a half mile down the road from his original home. On that land, they raised 2 daughters and lots of cattle.
After Judi tired of washing laundry in brownish well water, Gary and a small group of neighborhood residents organized the installation of rural water to the area; he served for many years as the President of the Elm Bend water board. Gary enjoyed playing softball for the team at Hillside Christian Church and served as both an elder and a deacon on the church board. He was highly competitive at most things, including backyard games of croquet and evenings of Trivial Pursuit. As a family, many offroad riding trips with friends were taken to Chadwick, MO, various parts of Colorado, and to the desert of Glamis, California.
After 35 years of service, Gary took early retirement from Phillips 66 and shifted into being a full-time rancher and grandfather. He increased his acreage and his cattle numbers and loved driving his tractors and bulldozer. The next generation was typically in the buddy seat of his tractor to ensure the land’s continued success. During retirement, he and Judi traveled the world and enjoyed spending time with the grandkids.
Survivors include his wife Judi of the home, daughters Lisa (Todd) Cummings of rural Nowata and Teri (Eric) Dreyer of Tulsa, grandson Christian Cummings, granddaughter Allie Dreyer, 2 brothers, 2 sisters, and multiple nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, February 15, 2024 at the First Church of God in Nowata at 10:30 am, with a visitation and viewing starting at 10. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Cookson Hills Christian School.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the caring staff of Benjamin Funeral Service. Online condolences may be left at www.honoringmemoriesnowata.com.