JOHN L. ELDER
(July 31, 1948 – March 4, 2016)
John L. Elder passed away on March 4, 2016, at his home in Edmond. He was born in Kingston-Upon-Thames, England (United Kingdom) on July 31, 1948, to Mavis Patricia Rippingale. When his mother married Carnel Lee Elder, an American Air Force manstationed in England, John was brought to the United States from England and adopted by Mr. Elder. The family was later transferred and stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, where John attended high school. The family eventually returned to live in California, where he graduated from Lompoc Senior High School. John later enrolled and attended school at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA.
In June 1967, John enlisted in the U.S. Army and he received training in the Missile Electronics School, where he served as a Redeye Missile Repairman. His military awards included several Certificates of Merit for his service. After his honorable discharge in 1970, John attended the United States International School of Performing Arts in San Diego, CA. He received his Bachelors’ of Fine Arts in Musical Composition. He studied under world famous composer, Dr. Wesley LaViolette, who was a Nobel Prize nominee in 1960.
John was an accomplished musician and music composer who organized and played in his band “Twelfth Street,” in which he played guitar and was lead vocalist. John loved all kinds of music, but particularly classical and rock. Some of his favorite bands were the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Queen. He also loved all things English, including his favorite P.G. Tipps tea.
In 1979 John moved to Oklahoma where he worked for Corken International Co. He later attended the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with two Master of Arts Degrees in 1991 and 1995. John began teaching as Adjunct Professor in the Multimedia Department at UCO in 1996, and later became an Adjunct Professor in the UCO History Department.
John became interested in history, particularly with Native American history, and in 1996, began working with the Red Earth Museum and Festival in Oklahoma City. He was former Museum Director of Red Earth Museum and appointed Executive Director of Red Earth in 2001.
John also taught history as Adjunct Professor at Rose State College in addition to teaching American Indian Studies at Southwest Oklahoma State University at the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribal College in Weatherford, Ok.
John was also an accomplished writer and poet, and in 2004 published his long awaited book “Everlasting Fire” about Cowokoci, a great leader among the Seminole Nation. He worked very closely with many Native American tribes including the Seminole Nation over the years on various projects.John and his wife, Tammy, later organized a non-profit, North American Indian Research Institute (NAIRI), in which they could research and publish about significant figures who contributed to the history and arts of American Indian culture.
John loved life, his family and friends, art, music, and teaching history. When it came to history and music, he was often considered a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He routinely had students who were on waiting lists to get into his classes. John was still actively working on many projects including a new book, and continued teaching until just one week before his death. He loved traveling to the Southwest to do research and visit his favorite places including Santa Fe, various museums, pueblos, and prehistoric sites.
John was preceeded in death by his mother, Pat, and sister, Barbara. He is survived by his wife Tammy, father Lee Elder, Santa Maria, CA, son Stephen Elder, Los Alamitos, CA, daughter Jessica Lawton, Benton, AR, niece, Anna Lucas and Jordon, Montrose, CA, and grandchildren, August and Averi Elder, and Jonathan Lawton, and his beloved dogs, Nipper and Tippy, and his special “Bitty bird.”
The family would like to thank all of those who were friends to John over the years. A special Memorial Service and Celebration of Life is scheduled on April 1, 2016 from 4-6 pm., at Crawford Funeral Services, 610 N.W. 178th, Edmond, Oklahoma. The family has suggested in lieu of flowers, that memorial donations be made to North American Indian Research Institute, P.O. Box 8254, Edmond, OK, 73083, to help continue John’s work. A special wake will be held by the family after the memorial service.