John P. Bridwell

1932-2015

Bridwell, JohnJohn P. Bridwell, Jr., 82, passed away peacefully March 17, 2015, at Epworth Villa Nursing home after a long illness. John was the oldest child born October 26, 1932, to John and Lorene Bridwell at Lindsay, OK.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Don Bridwell, and sister Mary Connel. Growing up on his parent’s farm, John formed a strong work ethic. After lettering in multiple sports at Lindsay High School, he graduated in 1951 and married his high school sweetheart, Betty Smith. He attended Central State a short time, and then with the help of a family friend purchased his first business, a small grocery store in Cyril, OK. In 1957, he sold the store and joined the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, serving four years in Blackwell and Ponca City. John resigned the Patrol in 1961 and purchased a Cities Service Distributorship in Perry, OK, delivering fuel to service stations and farmers.

His farm heritage led him to purchase land near Perry to raise cattle. He sold the gas delivery business in 1966 and began a career of 30+ years with Ditch Witch. He worked sales at the factory, owned a Maryland dealership, traveled most of the United States as a Zone Manager, and finally owned and operated the Oklahoma Ditch Witch dealership with locations in Edmond and Tulsa. John retired from the dealership in 1996, and his son, Gary, who had managed the Tulsa location, assumed full operations which continue today. John’s love for horses began in grade school when he rode his horse “Shorty” to a one room school near home.

In 1984 he started a horse farm in east Edmond to breed and sell thoroughbreds and quarter horses, at times having over 75 horses. Besides the horses, John enjoyed quail hunting, playing golf, and watching his grandsons growing up playing sports. He also enjoyed OSU football and basketball. Other business interests included developing two housing additions, an oilfield supply company, a dirt and development site contractor, and several Keller Williams locations. He also served in the Edmond Men’s Tips Club, as a bank director, and Edmond Economic Development Authority board member. John was a humble man with a big and tender heart.

He truly enjoyed helping people, a trait he learned from his dad. John loved the Lord and his church. Before his health declined, he was an active member of the Edmond Church of Christ.

He is survived by his wife Betty, son Gary (Mary Ellen), daughter Gayla (Max), grandsons Dru (Daryn), Chad, Cody (Piper), and Trevor (Amber), plus six great grandchildren and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. His legacy will endure through the lives of each of them.

The family extends their deepest gratitude to the staff at Epworth Nursing and Hospice for their loving care and compassion.

A viewing will be held Thursday March 19th from 6-7:30 pm at Matthews Funeral Home. Services will be held March 20th at 11 am, Edmond Church of Christ.

Donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or In Search of the Lords Way.

Comments

  1. Gary will be thinking about you in the coming days. Your Dad will always be remembered by me as one of the true cornerstones of the Ditch Witch Family. He led a wonderful life and has a tremendous family that will carry on his name. Love Ya Brother

    Travis Wilkey

  2. Gary, Betty and family we have you in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
    We know he is at a better place now for what he has been through and the family is much moe at ease.
    Bless You All

    Bill & Linda Duncan

  3. Gary, Betty and Family
    I first met John when he had the bulk oil and fuel business in Perry. John deliverd fuel and supplies to our farm at Red Rock, in the early 60’s.
    John played a big part in my coming to work for CMW. Judy and I had just gotten married and were in Seattle working for Ditch Witch of Washington. I wanted to retun to Oklahoma but, couldn’t make the move without a job.
    John arranged my interview at CMW, with Dwaine and Ed, in 1975 and the rest is history. You always knew where you stood with John and knew that he always had your back. John will always be remembered by me as one of the true cornerstones of the Ditch Witch Family.
    Gary, Betty and family we have you in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
    We know he is at a better place now.
    We Love You Guys
    Steve & Judy Cockrell

  4. Dear Betty,
    John & I were friends. We rode our horses in the West, shot prairie dogs,etc. I sold him horses and he sold me some. We quail hunted for years. One year I stopped by his office and told him I needed for him to vouch for me at his bank as I had bought a horse and needed $9,000. He said “I’ve probably got that much and went to back of his office and got me the money. He, Carl Dyer ( our mutual horse trainer) and I spent quite a bit of time together; good times. We never had a dispute over our Territory lines. I loved him and have greatly missed him ever since he got sick. Gerald Medlin

  5. Gary, Betty, Gayla and family,

    In 1980, John gave David and I an opportunity at Ditch Witch of Oklahoma that would eventually lead to an opportunity to have our own Ditch Witch of Arizona dealership! “All anyone really needs is for someone to believe in them!” John believed in David and made us believe, too! To us, John was a mountain of a man and left an indelible mark on our hearts and on our lives! We will always be grateful for being a part of his Ditch Witch family! We loved him and we love your family! You are in our thoughts and prayers!

    K-ana-A and Bev

  6. Dear Gary and family,

    You are in our thoughts and prayers. Though you will miss your dad, it is wonderful to think of him healthy, whole and happy and with the Lord he loved so much. God bless and keep you all.

    Susanne Schovanec
    Ditch Witch, Perry

  7. Dear Gary and family,

    All our thougts aand prayers are with you and your family.
    Loosing someone in the Ditch Witch Family, is like loosing someone of your own family.

    We wish you strength in this difficult time.

    Marc
    Ditch Witch The Netherlands

  8. Gary and family, a saint has gone home, he has been welcome to God’s promise, no more sickness.Thank God

  9. I left a note on the Oklahoman obit but don’t see it here – just want you to know that I am thinking of all of you. It is so hard no matter what the circumstances!! Thinking of John and you all always brings a smile. So many memories!! Such fun times!! We are all so fortunate to have had him in our lives!! Love you all and sending prayers!! Corky

  10. Gary and Family: Please accept our most sincere condolences. John and Harold Chesnutt guided me many times while I was a neophyte traveler for Ditch Witch all over the United States. While a Cities Service dealer here in Perry, My father-in-law, who was working for Texaco at the time, called John …” the fairest competitor a person could have in the gasoline business.” He most certainly will be missed. Our prayers are for John and the family.

    Sam and Jeannie Ebersole

  11. Gary & Dru and family:

    I wanted to relay my condolences and let you know how much my Dad talked about and thought of John. He will always be remembered in the Baetz family. I let him know of your loss and we both will keep you and your family in our prayers.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Baetz

  12. Gary and Family,

    I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to know John as a friend, a great person and highly respected businessman. The world needs more of his values. Heaven has gained a great soul. Your family is in our prayers.

  13. Betty, Gary, Gayla and families,

    As far back as I can remember, I can remember John Bridwell, and it has been an honor to say I knew him. He was without a doubt, one of the most honest and sincere people I have ever met. His smile and positive attitude and demeanor were infectious. John had an incredible ability to make everyone he spoke to feel as though they were a blessing to him that day. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. We are keeping all of you in our prayers.

  14. Dear Betty and Family,

    How many times over the years I have counted my blessings for your friendship. All the phone calls and visits and especially for when you came to Mississippi to help me when Everett had a heart attack. Those are true friends. Our lives have intertwined since the days when John made the phone calls from the pole near our home when we lived east of Perry. That was long before cellphones. 53 years ago!

    We are sending our prayers and blessings to you all,

    Everett and Sharon Merz

  15. Gary, Dru and family,

    John was a wonderful person, both on the inside as well as the outside. He has always been a person you looked up to in all situations. It’s not hard to see where you all got your fabulous personality. May God Bless your family and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Joe and Susan Smith

  16. Gary,

    Our heart goes out to you and your family. No matter how much better John is today, it is still so hard for those of us left behind. He was a leader in everything he did, and you have inherited the best of his best. His is truly a life to be celebrated here and I know there is a celebration in heaven for him. May the Lord bless your family.

    David

  17. Betty, Gary, and Gayla

    I am so sorry to hear about John’s passing. I have many fond memories of our families doing things together in earlier years. I still remember John’s smile and laugh. Dad had many funny stories to share about times with John as a highway patrolman. And of course there was fun times on the golf course and in Colorado. John loved to have fun. What a wonderful man he was. Prayers for you and your family during this difficult time. Love Vickie

  18. Gary,

    So sorry to hear about your dad. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Your dad and I shared the same birthday and I can remember as a kid to get up early on the 26th of October so that I could call him before he would call me to wish him a happy birthday. I know that my grandparents have all of you in there prayers as well. My granddad thought a lot of your dad.

  19. John was one of the truly great Ditch Witch pioneers that paved the way for the rest of us. Thank God he has left us two more great Ditch Witch professionals and friends in Gary and Drew . Our thoughts and prayers go out to of you and yours.

    Warren Peiffer

  20. Gary, Dru & family:
    Reading through all the other postings it is so easy to see how much of a huge affect Mr. Bridwell had on so many people. One of my favorite memories was visiting with him at the OSU basketball games.
    I am a better person for having known John Bridwell!
    Robert Campbell

  21. I have many fond memories of buying horses from John. I loved visiting the farm and seeing all of his beautiful horses. Many champions came from there and have his name on their papers. I loved his enthusiasm and zest for life, I miss those times.
    Linda Ketter

  22. Gary and Dru,

    You have always been there for me and my family and you will never know how much that has meant to us! We have so much respect for your family and hurt for your loss. I am praying for your comfort and healing as you go through this very difficult time. John was a very respected man and a pioneer of the Ditch Witch business, you should be very proud!

    Praying for your comfort,

    Joe and Christe Smith
    (Cole, Houston, Jett and Savannah)

  23. Gary, Betty, Gayla and family,

    John has been my friend since my early days at Charles Machine Works and
    the friendship continued after we were both in Edmond.

    We had many enjoyable lunches together.

    He always had such a positive effect on so many people.

    I have greatly missed him since he became sick and will continue to do so.

    You have all been in my prayers since John became sick and will continue to be.

    Best wishes to all of you.

    Sincerely,

    Byron Mayes

  24. Gary,

    Our family is thinking of yours during this difficult time. I know Art appreciated the road your Dad paved for him in Maryland. The whole Bridwell family has a legacy to proud of in the Ditch Witch Family.

    God bless,

    Matt, Laura, Cody, Kyle, and Kayla

  25. This past year I have gotten to know Cody Bridwell, one of John’s grandsons. Only once have I had the privilege to meet Gary and I never was lucky enough to meet John before he passed.

    The beauty of generational joy is an amazing thing as it brings hope to the reality of generational sin. The first and only time I met Gary, I thought he worked at the golf course that to my surprise it was his tab I was playing on. It was clear to me that he was a man that sacrificially put others before himself and all he had was in dedication to serving the Lord and others, with whatever was left over for himself. This first impression has now been affirmed and seconded by the many men I have met who have worked for Gary for years, attesting to his steadfast humility and tender heart. Gary, I don’t know if you know the Nida family, but I grew up with them in Houston and he moved to Edmond to work for you probably 20 years ago.

    Upon learning that I was forming a friendship with John Bridwell’s grandson, my father in law began to recount the times he had done business with John 30+ years ago when he was getting his eventually publicly traded company off of the ground. A fatherless man himself, my father in law poured out over how John took the time to mentor and affirm his giftings as an entrepreneur. It was obvious to me that whatever experiences he may have had of a father, John gifted him with at least one. Gary – you may not remember this at all, but my father in law met you fortuitously when you were building your home and a man and his wife asked if you wouldn’t mind walking around the property.

    Now full circle for me today, I’ve had the great honor of getting to see God’s gracious love trickle down to Cody. Husband, father, man. Cody is a great example of how God designs his sons to be protectors, fearless leaders, and faithful friends.

    These 3 generations are an image of what i desire for my son and God willing a grandson.

    John, well done, good and faithful servant.

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