Euel D. (Hoot) Newcomb was greeted into heaven on February 22, 2023, by beloved family and friends, including wife Irene and a few old fiddle buddies.
Hoot was born April 3, 1931, to parents Wayne and Sylvia (Strader) Newcomb, in a Sinclair company-owned house in Avant, Oklahoma. He was schooled in Avant until the age of 13, when he, his dad, and brothers conducted their own cattle drive from Avant to Pershing, located between Pawhuska and Barnsdall. They ran their cattle to their new home in a valley, where his dad became an Osage County cattle rancher and raised champion quarter horses.
He completed his formal education when he graduated from Nelogony High School. But not before he had accomplished an even greater life event when, in 1948, he eloped with his high school sweetheart, the beautiful yearbook queen Irene Warehime, at the age of 17 between their junior and senior years of high school. He knew a good thing when he saw it and wasn’t letting her get away. After getting the Tulsa courthouse to unlock its doors on a Saturday and finding “a red-headed woman preacher” who would marry them, they wed on July 11, 1948.
They shared a love of horses and basketball. Hoot’s basketball jersey was #31 and Irene’s basketball jersey was #31. Later, Hoot’s younger brother Steve took over jersey #31.
They lived at the ranch and graduated together in 1949. Afterward they made their initial home in Barnsdall, then moved frequently during their early marriage, following work in the oilfields of Oklahoma and Kansas, later returning to Barnsdall where they raised their children. They eventually moved to Gainesville, Texas, from 1973 until 1975. In 1975, Hoot and Irene moved to the Cleveland, Oklahoma, area where they remained. Hoot’s entire career was in various positions in oil production, he retired from Atlantic Richfield Oil Company in 1985. It was dangerous work. He was very strong willed, surviving a major gas well explosion and other critical accidents.
They became parents at the age of 19, with the arrival of son Greg, followed by daughter Terry four years later. And their family was complete. They remained together for 60 years until Irene’s passing in 2009.
The often-asked question about his nickname was answered by his oft-told tale of the name being given to him by his grandfather at the age of two, after silent filmscreen cowboy actor Hoot Gibson, who was always getting into trouble. The name stuck, it fit him, and he used it his entire life.
Unfortunately, no grandchildren arrived. But they both readily adopted the Spears girls Sarah and Taylor as their own, daughters of near lifelong friend Terry Spears and wife Shirley. The girls embraced them in return, and Hoot was affectionately called Grandpa Hoot, alongside Grandma Irene.
Son Greg shared with Hoot his interest in the 1920’s and 30’s Arts and Crafts Movement, a redirection of ornate European house and furniture styling to one of simpler and more practical every-man character. Hoot embraced that interest as well, they studied it and had many deep discussions about the virtues and origins of the movement, Craftsman houses, and mission oak furniture of that time. They both pursued collections of original mission oak furniture and Roycroft hammered copper and bronze pieces, rare finds. Irene, daughter-in-law Mary, and then Terry whole-heartedly joined in. Other shared interests, too, made for many educational conversations among them.
Daughter Terry has fond remembrances of Hoot often changing the oil and filters in her car. He would always leave her a bill for his work: “One oil change, other maintenance. TOTAL: N.C. (No charge.) “ She paid those bills, though, in homemade cookies. And the bills are now treasured keepsakes.
For several years, Hoot and Irene traveled frequently to Vivian, Caddo Parrish, Louisiana, where they established a bayou location to camp in their travel trailer and enjoy the cypress trees and Spanish moss. Hoot built a dock there extending into the bayou for fishing. Terry sometimes joined them, and on one such occasion he was canoeing in the bayou and began shouting for his wife. Not out of fear or distress, just wanted her to see the alligator swimming along beside him. They developed several lasting friendships there.
Hoot and Irene were longtime and active members of the Barnsdall Methodist Church, and later became members of the First United Methodist Church in Cleveland.
Hoot didn’t seek higher formal education but was relentless in pursuing more education on his own in all manner of things throughout his life. He worked with his hands, built everything, fixed everything. And he was very artistic and good at the arts he chose.
Among his many interests, artistry, and accomplishments: Hunting, fishing, golfing, raising cattle and horses, bee keeping, stealing the bees’ honey, large vegetable and fruit gardening, raising pecan trees, pecan tree grafting, writing music, western sculpture, making a bugle out of a horn, scrimshaw on the horn, live model drawing (classes at Philbrook), studying birds and trees (special affinity for owls), collecting mission oak, single handedly building a barn and building additions onto his houses, leather tooling, listening to bluegrass music and attending bluegrass festivals, playing the guitar, banjo, and especially the fiddle. He was also a romantic, often bringing Irene wildflowers.
All interests pursued wholeheartedly, but one passion was all consuming, PLAYING THE FIDDLE. The fiddle, the fiddle! Playing bluegrass music. Hoot was a self-taught fiddler, starting from scratch on a fiddle purchased in passing for $100 from an Arkansas pawn shop. And ‘scratch’ describes how he started. But that didn’t last long. He practiced constantly. He went on to play the fiddle beautifully, able to make one fiddle sound like two. He was a member and officeholder of the Pawhuska branch of Oklahoma Fiddler’s Association for several years, where he became known as “the Waltz King.” He never thought that he got very good. But he was, he was amazing. His favorite fiddle tune was “A Maiden’s Prayer.” . He made many friends at bluegrass festivals where he would jam with other fiddlers, beginners and experts alike.
He was generous to many charities, especially those benefiting children with medical needs and others who are less fortunate. He was well-known to be kind-hearted and very appreciative of anything done for him by others. He was honest to the bone and dedicated to truth.
Surviving Hoot are his son Greg Newcomb (and wife Mary) of Terrace, Minnesota, and daughter Terry Newcomb of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and several nieces and nephews. his long-time best friend Terry Spears and his wife Shirley, his adopted granddaughters, Sarah and Taylor. He was preceded in death by his parents, Wayne and Sylvia Newcomb, his beloved wife Irene, brother Steve Newcomb, and brother Jack Newcomb.
To our beloved dad Hoot, his children Terry, Greg, and Mary wish to say,
Thank you for the person that you are, for your true and giving heart, for sharing your strength, guidance, and love. Farewell for now. Save a place for us close by in heaven. We love you! Oh, and here’s your bill.
A promise to honor and love you
A promise to respect your strength and artistry
A promise to hold you in our whole hearts forever
TOTAL: N.C. (No charge)