Howard Gilbert Aitken, 92, of Buffalo, Oklahoma, left his earthly home to reunite with his wife, Marie, and his family in Heaven after passing away peacefully on October 30, 2020. Howard was born on November 28, 1927, to Gilbert and Laura Edna (Messner) Aitken in Bent Canyon on the Homer Aitken farm, situated between Fern and Selman in Harper County, Oklahoma. Howard always enjoyed reminiscing and sharing stories about his life and experiences with his children and grandchildren. One story he would share included a time back in 1934, when he got the opportunity to meet the famous pilot and American hero Charles A. Lindbergh and his wife after they made an emergency landing on the Aitken farm and stayed with Howard’s family until the plane was repaired. During the Great Depression, not long after his brush with fame, Howard’s family made the decision to sell the Aitken farmland and downsize to a smaller farm, perfectly nestled between the Paruna Community and Buffalo. The second of seven children, Howard’s youthful days were spent from sunup to sundown helping with chores on the family farm, attending school, and playing team sports. In high school, Howard tried repeatedly to enlist in the US Army to serve in World War II. After being denied on medical grounds in Buffalo, he asked his father to drive him to surrounding towns to enlist again. He didn’t stop attempting to enlist until Army officers threatened to jail him if he tried again. He then shifted his focus to how he could help from home, and always told his family that even though he couldn’t fight for his country overseas, he fought to make sure that the American people were fed. After graduating from Buffalo High School in 1946, Howard moved to Alva, Oklahoma, to pursue an accounting degree at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Not long after arriving, Howard met Marie Corbin at a town dance, and he instantly knew they would spend their eternity together in love. On March 15th, 1947, they ran away to Medicine Lodge, Kansas, to elope and begin their lives as a married couple. After their wedding, he took his bride back to her parents’ home and he went straight back to the dorms without telling anyone they were married. They both loved that the start of their marriage was a secret for the two of them to share - even if only for a short time. Through this union they were blessed with three children: Howard Terrance “Terry,” Teresa Marie, and Steven Gilbert. Howard spent much of his early married life working as an accountant and bookkeeper at the flour mill in Alva until its doors were closed. Howard and Marie then had the opportunity to move to the family farm and take over daily operations. Upon having three children of their own, Howard and Marie whole-heartedly opened their home to take care of Marie’s two younger sisters, Grace and Melba, raising and loving them as their own. The two spent the rest of their lives working alongside each other, equally sharing the chores as true partners, to build and grow a future for their children and grandchildren. They were blessed to share 71 loving years of marriage before Marie’s passing in 2018. Along with their deep love for the farm and their community, Howard and Marie also shared a love of travel. They were blessed to be able to travel and see much of the United States as well as parts of East Asia and Europe during their lifetime. In the 1970s, Howard’s older brother Ralph returned from a trip to France with information about a French cattle breed called Blonde d'Aquitaine. He wanted Howard to test out the breed within the family herd. It was a success. Not long after, the Aitken farm became recognized for raising some of the first registered Blonde d'Aquitaine cattle in Oklahoma. They had buyers from all over the world buying their cattle – an accomplishment to which Howard was very proud to be a part of. From a young age to the day he was called home, Howard had two undeniable passions - mathematics and softball. He was a true human calculator, to which he was at his happiest while calculating softball statistics. He always said he never understood why he loved softball so much, but he found the sport fascinating and cherished getting the opportunity to coach and watch his granddaughters and great-granddaughters play ball. He was their number one fan and rarely missed a game. He had a natural patience and ability to coach, share his knowledge and to inspire a love of softball in many young athletes throughout the years. Howard was a simple and humble Christian man whose kind-heartedness, generosity, and devotion to others left a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to meet him. As he got older, he earned the nickname “a tough old bird” for persisting through all his hardships with grace. When he heard someone calling him a tough old bird, it always made him chuckle and his face would light up with joy. The sense of responsibility and tremendous work ethic Howard modeled throughout his life, continues to be an inspiration to his family. Howard was preceded in death by his loving wife, Marie; his brother Ralph Aitken; his sister Betty Willis; his brother Charles Aitken; his daughter Teresa Catlin; his son Steve Aitken; and his great-grandson Tyler Aitken. Howard is survived by his sister Evelyn Brown and husband Marshal; his brother Raymond Aitken and wife Marcelle; his sister Joanne Lucas; his son Terry and wife Claudette; his son-in-law Bob Catlin; his daughter-in-law Dixie Aitken; his grandchildren Celesta Hernandez (with husband Joe and sons Joe and Jacob), Steve Aitken (with wife Stacy and children Brittney and Blake), Susan Seevers (with husband Dennis and children Natalie, Allison, Riley, and Matthew), Shannon Aitken (with wife Shawna), Jennifer Bridenstine (with husband Clint and children Carson, Jillian, Jesse, Jaci, and Jackson), Kristy Strohmyer (with husband Jason and son Christopher), Amy Pemberton (with husband Jay), Gilbert Aitken (with wife Allison), Rebecca Crouch (with husband Brian and children Kimberly, Madison, Gabriel, Brandon, and Xander), and Chelsey McGonigal (with husband Sean).
The family takes solace in the fact that Howard and Marie are united once again. Per the couple’s wishes, a family-only service will be held where the couple’s ashes will be joined near their farmhouse where they spent so many loving years together.
Howard, Dad, Grandpa, Granddad, Grandan: you will be missed by so many. The moon has shined over the mountain.