Leta “Tiny” Wilson

Some nicknames just stick.

Like Leta “Tiny” Wilson’s.

When she was born the smaller of twins, her parents  Tom and Lois Bebout began calling her sibling Little Sis and Leta became Little Tiny.

In time, the pair became simply Tiny and Sis.

She’s Tiny to this day more than 86 years later.

She was born at home and was one of eight children. She grew up on the farm and attended Fairview School through eighth grade.

That was followed by four years at Wayne High School. Tiny graduated in May 1953.

The day the Wayne seniors left on a senior trip, Tiny found a job as a telephone operator in Purcell.

It was while she was working that job that Tiny met Billy Joe Wilson in May 1954.

He was working in the oilfield and was living in Purcell with his sister.

After a whirlwind courtship – “it was quite a short romance,” Tiny said –  they were married July 23, 1954, at the Assembly of God in Purcell.

The newlyweds moved to Oklahoma City for a time before returning to Purcell.

Tiny resumed her job as a telephone operator and Joe worked odd jobs.

After the birth of their oldest son, Mike, Joe joined the Navy and served four years in the ranks.

They moved to Brunswick, Ga., where Joe was assigned to a blimp squadron.

Then the Navy sent him to school to become an aircraft electrician. That move sent them to Jacksonville, Fla.

Following his school, they traveled to Naval Air Station Miramar near San Diego.

The Navy assigned Joe to the carrier Midway but by 1962, Mike was ready to start school and there was a second son, Larry Joe, in the family.

Joe left the Navy at the end of his enlistment and the Wilsons returned to Purcell.

In 1963, Joe began working as an aircraft electrician at Tinker Air Force Base and the following year, Tiny went to work part-time as a cashier at the Red and White Grocery Store owned by Ken Reynolds.

She worked off and on at the store for 25 years.

In 1966, Tiny gave birth to their third son, Alan Von.

All three boys were born at Purcell Municipal Hospital where they were delivered by Dr. Bill McCurdy Jr., who told Tiny with each pregnancy that she was carrying a girl.

Joe retired from Tinker Air Force Base in January 1986.

By then, Larry was married and working on a ranch, near Purcell.

Joe helped him at the ranch and Tiny divided her time  between work and helping care for her grandchildren.

Up until the time of his death in December 2018, Joe drove cars for Ferguson GMC in Norman.

Tiny also drove cars for the dealership, but failing eyesight – she has macular degeneration – caused her to retire from that job while Joe was still driving.

The couple also worked slipping papers for Gracie and John D. Montgomery at The Purcell Register.

“We did that for a couple of years,” Tiny said.

It’s a point of pride for Tiny that all of her sons graduated from Wayne High School and that she served as home room mother for all three while they were in elementary school.

All three sons are living and Tiny’s family has grown to include seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchilren. 

Mike and his wife, Cindy, have two children – Dustin Shawn, and his fiance, Amanda, and his children, Allison and Isabella, and Kyla Jo and her son, Jonah. Mike coached football in Purcell for 12 years and is now retired from teaching and coaching. 

Larry was a car salesman and now lives in Texas. He and his late wife, Debbie, had three daughters – Natalie Still and her husband, Adam, and their children, Ella, Connor, Adeline and Veronica, Kerri Wilson and Lauren Stufflebean and her husband, Matt, and their daughter, Lillian.

Alan and his wife Diane have two children – Brent Wilson and his wife, Jessica, and their children, Hudson and Harper, and Racheal Chapman and her husband, Sillus, and their children, Sophia, Stella and Cameron.

And then there’s her church family.

Tiny, a devout Christian since she was 11 years old, is a longtime member of the New Mission Free Holiness Church southwest of Purcell.

The church’s pastors are Devin and Hannah Birdsong.

Tiny continues to live alone since Joe’s death.

An independent woman, she told her sons “Let me do whatever I can do in my house.”

She is very thankful for her independence.

Her current project is sewing ironing board covers. She also enjoys cooking.

What about clubs or organizations, she’s asked.

“I don’t have time for that,” she said. “I’m busy doing for my kids and grandkids.

“I’ve had a blessed, blessed life. God certainly gave me a wonderful family. I was married to Joe almost 65 years.

“It’s been a good long life.”

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