Obituary for Dr. J.M. Gaskin

DURANT--Dr. J.M. Gaskin of Durant, former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Heavener, passed away Jan. 8 following a brief illness. Dr. Gaskin was at First Baptist Church in Heavener from 1953-1962. 

After 14 years with Durant First Baptist, he retired from the ministry in 1976 and began a second career with the Oklahoma Baptist General Convention, serving in various capacities, particularly in the area of historical preservation.

A founding member of the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Society, Dr. Gaskin authored 30 books, including a memoir titled, “Route 1, Cartersville.”

Born Jesse Marvin Gaskin on Aug. 30, 1917 near Spiro, the native of Bokoshe felt called to preach while still in his teens. After graduating from Crowder High School, where he met his future wife, Helen Isom, he attended Oklahoma Baptist University, graduating in 1941. His first full-time pastorate was in Coalgate. That preceded a nine year stay at First Baptist Church in Tonkawa.          

Dr. Gaskin was awarded a doctor of divinity degree from OBU in 1959. For many years he was editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Chronicle.

Three scholarships at OBU were established in Dr. Gaskin and wife Helen’s names. Mrs. Gaskin passed away in 2013.

During his years in Heavener, Brother Gaskin, as most Heavener residents knew him, was active in civic organizations, was an avid supporter of Heavener High athletics, Wolves’ football in particular, – and spent many a Saturday quail hunting with Martin Tate and others. His favorite hunting dog, Ike, an English setter named after President Ike Eisenhower, was a joy to watch when on point.

Among his fondest memories were summer youth camps at Kiamichi Baptist Assembly and spirited softball games against the rival team from First Baptist Church of Poteau.

In 2017, a 100th birthday celebration was held for Dr. Gaskin at Featherstone Retirement Center in Durant, where he continued to reside until his passing.

He is survived by one son, Ray Gaskin, of Pottsboro, Texas, Ray’s wife, Suzanne, a brother - Arthur Choate of Springfield, Oregon - three grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

A memorial service celebrating his life is scheduled for Jan. 19, at 2 p.m. in the Youth Worship Center at First Baptist Church of Durant.

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P.O. Box 38
Heavener, OK 74937