Dick Oatman

Published 4:07 pm Friday, June 22, 2018

Dick Oatman, age 81, passed away Tuesday, June 19, 2018. This obituary is written by Dick’s wife, Glenda, as told to her by Dick. Back in the ’30s most gave birth at home. On a snowy Christmas Eve, Dr. Frost was called to the home place of Dick’s grandmother, Dillie Matheson, where his mom Ruth gave birth to Richard William (Dick) Oatman as his family waited to hear the good news. Dick was the first son and grandson born in the Oatman family as his dad Richard, Aunt Mary (Shorty), Granny Matheson all waited. What a gift on Christmas Eve. Dick grew up learning the value of hard work at a young age and had a heart of gold. He remembered the smell of cedar trees and shiny ornaments at Christmas time. His mom told stories of boys at school that needed clothes. Dick would bring them home giving them his newest and best clothes. He would go to Yates Confectionary, an old hang out, setting up friends from money he earned.
Dick grew up in the East Side Community where Granny had bought the house and property in which the family lived. Dick’s mom built on the property next door. His grandfather, Conley Matheson, had passed at an early age with black lung from coal mining in Virginia and they moved to Elizabethton. Dick would go blackberry picking with Granny, helping fill her buckets first. Dick would return with his buckets earning spending money. Dick never passed the blind man without telling his mom that he wanted to give. I’ve heard many stories of Dick’s happy childhood and many special friends who have passed on: Joe Spitzer, Norman and Fred Angel, Ralph “Snooky” Davis, Charlie Powell, Glen and Jack Scott, and leaving behind his best friend, James “Junior” Cannon.
As a young boy, Dick began a journey learning to be an electrician with his dad at Oatman Electric. His grandfather had the same trade, wiring the first post office on Sycamore Street. My husband, Dick, worked on what is now the previous post office and now the public library along with several businesses. They were the early electricians of Elizabethton. Later, in the early ’60s, Dick joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union 934, where he retired after 25 years, working nuclear power plants, TVA, Eastman, the ETSU mini dome, Johnson City Mall, and others. Dick attended Elizabethton High School with the class of 1955.
Dick’s mother, Granny, and Aunt Shorty taught Dick the good life and took him to Eastside Christian Church. Another special friend, Brownlow Scalf, talked and prayed with Dick about accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior. After Brownlow’s death, Dick and I were engaged.
When Dick said he wanted to be baptized I was thrilled. He was baptized at Eastside Baptist Church in memory of Brownlow. That was 56 years ago. A few months later, he moved his membership to West Side Christian Church. He was a member of the Ninety and Nine Men’s Sunday School Class. He was a greeter, served on the building and grounds committee and the benevolence committee and was a daily Bible reader.
Dick and I met when I worked as secretary at Oatman Electric. We were married almost 57 years. The greatest joys of my life are the times seeing Dick on his knees by the bed praying. He loved his family and continued praying for others. Dick was the son of the late Richard Oatman and Ruth Matheson Peters. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Pamela Ann Oatman, and brothers-in-law, Doug Stair and Bill Wilkins. Those left to cherish his memory include the love of his life, Glenda Oatman, his son, Richard Oatman, and grandchildren whom he adored, Joshua and Sophia; two sisters-in-law, Betty Hoover and husband Eddie, and Kay Wilkins, both of Elizabethton. A loving thank you to special caregivers, Wilma Barnette, Sharon Merryman, Jackie Thomas, our family, many friends and neighbors, and church family. Also, Signature Health Care where he received such special and loving care, and from Brooks Monroe and all of Avalon Hospice nurses. A special thank you to our minister, Greg Key, for the many visits, prayers and love shown to Dick.
Due to Dick’s wishes to be a body donor through Restore Life USA there will be no funeral services. For those who desire, memorials may be sent to West Side Christian Church, 1307 West G Street, Elizabethton, TN 37643 for the church van fund.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox