Obituary: Abby Huckelbury

The Diligent Life of Levi Arther

It’s six a.m. and Levi Arther has just arrived at the Sherwin-Williams company warehouse. They won’t be open for another hour, but he’s diligent, always coming to work early. He sets his lunch aside at the little break table and makes his way over to the same forklift he’s driven for 40 years.

Levi Arther was a simple man whose soul was satisfied with diligence and a strong faith. His callused hands were a testament to his passion for hard work and his heart was marked with scars of great love and triumph over living as a black man in 18 century Oklahoma. His life was one that proved true to who he was and what he held most sacred.

Arther died Feb. 9, 1929 at age 90. He is lived on by his small colony of three grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and 37 great-great grandchildren.

His life began in the tiny town of Atoka, Oklahoma. Arther and his brother were raised with a simple life as two country boys. For the most part the brothers were close and fought only the healthy amount that any siblings would. Being the little brother, Levi had a since of admiration towards his sibling. This relationship help foster the leadership in his character.

Just before graduating from Douglas High School, Arther was offered a job at Sherwin-Williams paint company in 1948. The manager at the time was looking for someone to take on the extra handy work that needed to be done around the store. Arther worked there every day after school, mixing paint and driving his pickup down to the railroad station to load the new gallons into his bed. Arther enjoyed working with his hands. He liked hard labor, which was part of the reason he never wanted to work within the business side of the company.

Shortly after landing a job with Sherwin Williams, Arther found another stumbled upon another season in his life, marriage. Love was never something Arther was searching for. He believed that love was something God gifts to you when you’re ready. That the people you meet are specifically placed in your life at the right time and the right moment. It was a Sunday morning when he met Harriett. The two caught eyes at church, and he knew she was someone special just by the extent of her beauty. Arther and Harriett married in the following year 1949.

Newly married Arther worked at the paint store until he left for Korea. Just as love suddenly appeared in his life, Arther was bombarded with a call to war. In 1950 Arther left Oklahoma to serve in the Korean War. His service lasted from 1950 until the end of the war in 1953. Arther never enjoyed speaking about this season in his life. Bering witness to the death of so many weighed heavy on his heart. Arther was never one to have any regret towards the decisions he made, but the horror that occurred in Korea was not something he liked to remember.

As a testimony to his diligence, the manager of Sherwin Williams told Arther not to go looking for a job when he returned from the war because his job at the store would still be waiting for him. Arther stayed at the Sherwin-Williams paint company in Oklahoma City for 71 years of his life. Most of his time was spent driving a forklift in the warehouse. Customers would meet him at the garage door where they would give Arther their order, and he would proceed to drive into the back and bring out the order to be loaded up. For almost 80 percent of his life he drove that forklift. His hands would glide over the gear shifts, his feet having memorized the movements of the pedals. Off and on Arther would hop down from his machine to load the many gallon paint buckets. His body never once showed his age as his wrinkled hands would grip the skinny metal handles attached to the buckets of paint, and effortlessly lift them onto the forklift. Customers would linger to strike up conversations, but there was never any time for small talk, there was always work to be done in his mind.

“He was a hard worker for sure,” said Sherwin Williams Oklahoma City Commercial Branch Manager Chris Cope. “Levi was the type of guy who was just really honest and all he wanted to do was get his work done. He always came to work with a big smile on his face.”

Part of Arther’s diligence at work was attributed to his longing to provide for his family. Harriett gave Arther two daughters, both became the lights of his life. He knew that kids were a challenge in life, but Arther learned that the hardest challenges often times became the greatest rewards. Being a father was a gift in Arther’s eyes. He cherished every minute and never took a second for granted.

His heart shattered when he lost his children. Both daughters passed before Arther and his wife, and their family seemed broken. Yet again, Arther’s determination to be a good man prevailed in 1969 when his eldest daughter passed away. He acted as he always did in a courageous manor and told his three grandchildren that he would raise them. Arther always said that he raised two families-what diligence he truly had.

Dealing with this kind of grief was not foreign in Arthers life. Part of his character was built by the effects of loss. Loss built Arther into a man of solitude, one who swallowed his sorrow alone and learned to keep moving forward. After losing his children, his brother also left his on this earth in 1995, followed by his wife of 52 years in 2001.

Even through these troubled times in his life, Arther had faith. He was a spiritual man who held on tight to the promise that God had a plan for his life. He considered himself a very lucky man to have been blessed with such a long and exciting life. He was a man of contentment. Arther lived his life with diligence. His heart went through many trials, yet he always prevailed, determined to follow through with what was expected of him and never any less.

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