Lilly Bell Dunlap
Lilly Edington Dunlap, the daughter of Janette Sally Edington and William A. Royce, was born July 17, 1932, in Wilburton, Oklahoma. For seven years, she lived on her grandfather's small dairy farm two and one half miles south of Wilburton where she attended a small country school. After the family moved to town in 1939, she enrolled in the Wilburton Public School system and had her first opportunity to begin learning about life beyond the two room school she had previously attended. The depression made material things scarce, but Lilly and her little brother Clyde were much loved and cherished children who enjoyed playing with their many cousins and friends on the hillside near their home. After graduating from Wilburton High School in 1950, Lilly worked in a retail job until January 1952, when she became secretary to the president of the Wilburton State Bank, a job at which she excelled. This enabled her to better meet her grandfather's dying
charge to care for Janette and the kids, which at this point included her brother as well as several cousins.
In 1956, Lilly decided to move to Oklahoma City where she went to work for the First National Bank. There she met Nancy Sewell who became a lifetime friend and who introduced Lilly to Bill Dunlap, a graduate student in chemistry-biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma, who would soon become her husband. The couple was married on June 2, 1957, after which she worked in several activities to support her new husband while he completed his doctoral studies. This support continued while he worked as a research chemist for Kerr McGee and became a member of the research faculty at OU. In 1967 the family moved to Ada, Oklahoma, when Bill took a research position at the Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Laboratory.
In 1969, Lilly received what was probably her greatest blessing, when a beautiful baby boy, Jeffrey Keith Dunlap, came into her life. She was a wonderful mother, and baby Jeff never wanted for love and attention. When he entered school, Lilly was deeply involved with his activities, from serving as a Cub Scout den mother to vociferously supporting all of his athletic endeavors. In addition to her motherhood duties, she found time to become very involved with church activities such as teaching Sunday school and serving in various lay leadership positions. Lilly also received a great honor when she was invited to join Ada's most prominent ladies club, where she eventually served as president. At the same time, she found the time and energy to support Bill, by taking the families of international scientists who were visiting Kerr Lab under her wing and introducing them to life in small town America.
When Jeff was nearing the end of his secondary education, Lilly took a position as the secretary to the owner of a small oil company and soon became well versed in all of its operations. When the company experienced financial difficulties after the death of its owner, Lilly was selected to organize its recovery under the bank's supervision and successfully returned the company to solvency and control of the owner's family, even while completing a paralegal course. She completed her work efforts by serving as a secretary at Saint Luke's United Methodist Church prior to retiring in 1993.
In 1994, Bill and Lilly, who were anticipating a long and enjoyable retirement, had just moved to Oklahoma City and started building a new home when she was stricken with breast cancer for the first time. While the cancer appeared to be eradicated at that time, the chemotherapy caused a great deal of damage to her immune system. When the cancer returned again in 1999 it was removed entirely and although it never returned, Lilly began to suffer increasingly with health problems, becoming wheelchair bound by 2012. She was a strong willed lady who fought hard, but she was finally unable to resist the inevitable on March 5, 2015. She was much loved by her husband, family and many friends. She will be sorely missed.
Lilly is survived by her loving husband of fifty-eight years, Dr. William J. Dunlap of Oklahoma City; her beloved son, Jeffrey Dunlap and her grandson, William Thomas Dunlap of El Paso, Texas; her nephews, Richard Edington of Oklahoma City and Gary Edington of Norman; and her niece Anita Griffin of Houston, Texas; as well as numerous other cousins and friends. The family will forever be grateful to Dr. Michael and Carolyn Crawford for their wonderful care and unwavering support through Lilly's long travails.
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