Richard Lee Cross was freed from his earthly body and re-united with his beloved wife, Vivian, on June 13, 2018, just weeks before his 92nd birthday. He was born on July 8, 1926, in Cushing, to William Luther “Luke” Cross and Ruby Kaufman Cross. The family, which included his older sister Verna, moved to Ponca City in 1930.
As a child of the Depression, Richard quickly learned the value of hard work and frugality. He willingly worked many small jobs to help his family as he was growing up.
While Richard gladly enjoyed laboring to bring a small income into the family, he neither valued nor saw a need for any formal education. In grade school at Washington Elementary School, he ran home every recess he could pull off an escape. Unfortunately, his mother returned him every single time – much to his dismay. As his schooling progressed, he became extremely familiar with the truant officer, who often went scouting around until he located Richard and various sidekicks in either the pool hall or the movie theatre. He never forgave Delbert Carlisle for taking him out of a movie that he had paid good money for and didn’t receive a refund. The ultimate insult, however, was when his daughter, Cheryl, became a teacher. Upon Vivian’s insistence, Richard received his high school diploma in 1958. He did NOT attend the graduation!
As World War II progressed, Richard dropped out of school at age 17 and joined the Navy. Unfortunately, he had to wait until age 18 to officially enlist in November, 1944. In the interim, he worked for Cities Service Oil Company.
In the summer of 1944, Richard went on a blind date with Vivian Welch and fell immediately in love. He later said he would have married her that night if she would have allowed it. He left for boot camp in San Diego in November. Upon the completion of basic training, he received a 5-day leave and went home to marry his sweetheart. Vivian and Richard were married in Cushing, on Feb. 16, 1945, at the home of Vivian’s childhood pastor, Reverend Eggers, from Council Valley Baptist Church.
Richard was a Seaman First Class on the USS Block Island aircraft carrier, where he loaded artillery for anti-aircraft guns. The Pacific Ocean – especially the Philippines – was his home base, and he lived through many harrowing experiences, including riding out two typhoons, surviving kamikaze raids, and taking onboard the American prisoners-of-war who survived the Bataan death march. The latter event left a lasting impression on Richard.
Upon his discharge, Richard returned home to Vivian in the summer of 1946. After working for both Cities Service and Conoco, in November of 1954 Richard purchased a Cities Service service station at Third and South Avenue. Six years later he sold the service station and began Cross Oil. Through the years as an oil jobber, he handled products for Cities Service, Citgo, Gulf, Chevron, and Conoco. His customers appreciated his integrity, honesty, and hard work.
After Vivian died in 2011, Richard turned the day-to-day management over to his grandson, Mark, and became the CEO of Cross Oil. His duties included indulging in long naps, looking over Mark’s shoulder, and taking the dogs, Bella and Marley, on walks out to the mailbox. He was extremely gifted in performing these tasks.
Richard was a devoted member of the First Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon for many years. He faithfully served various positions in Sunday School until he became unable to drive at age 91. In his prime, Richard and his best friend Roger Smith were the catcher and pitcher for the church softball team. Every year the Methodists tried to beat the fabulous duo, but it was never to be.
He was also a member of the AMBUCS, and Cross Oil provided the fuel for the sports car races for many years. Richard truly loved car racing and attended the Indianapolis 500 multiple times with his dear friends, Dr. Bob Gibson and Roger Smith.
A funeral service for Richard will be held on Saturday, June 23, at 1 p.m., at First Baptist Church. He will be buried beside Vivian in IOOF Cemetery in Ponca City.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Verna Mae Peterson; his infant daughter, Beverly Anne; and his precious wife, Vivian.
He is survived by his son, Richard Cross, Jr. of Ponca City; and his daughter, Cheryl Taylor and her husband Roy of Edmond. Other family members include his beloved grandchildren: Mark Cross and his wife Marcy of Ponca City; Beverly Cross of Aurora, Colo.; and Alyssa Siler and her husband Ryan of Edmond. Also surviving Richard are his six great-grandchildren: Kelby Cross, Kory Cross, Hayden Siler, Ian Siler, Wade Hand, and Brea Hand.
The family would like to lovingly thank all of the staff at Via Christi Assisted Living for their constant love and affection for the 10 years he resided there. They became Richard’s much-loved second family. Sincere appreciation also goes to Hospice of North Central Oklahoma for the high level of professional and comforting care during Richard’s last few days.
Richard Cross was a simple man who ended up profoundly impacting the lives of everyone who was lucky enough to know him. His deep faith, integrity, strong work ethic, sense of humor, dignity, perseverance, honor, and compassion were a guiding example of how to live an exemplary life. He was dearly loved and will be deeply missed.
Memorial contributions to Richard may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 8904 Silver Hill Drive, Oklahoma City, OK, 73132, in memory of his daughter Beverly and in honor of his great-granddaughter Hayden Siler.
Arrangements are under the direction of Trout Funeral Home & Crematory.