Monroe Thomas “Jay” Isom Sr.
Maiden Name: n/a
Monroe Thomas “Jay” Isom Sr., 77, passed away April 3, 2004, at his home in Daisy, Oklahoma. He was born January 13, 1927, in Daisy to Angie and Charlie Isom, the seventh of nine children.
Growing up in Southeastern Oklahoma in the 1930s was difficult to say the least. Jay learned the value of free enterprise at an early age. By the time he started school, he was given a runt pig which he raised to a sow, which rewarded him with a litter of pigs. He traded his pig crop for a pair of jennies and bartered for a wagon which he hired out for light hauling. He was now in the freight hauling business. During his early teens, he figured that if you could play music, you would be invited to lots of parties, so he traded for a secondhand guitar and taught himself to sing and play. Later, Jay’s sister, Virgie, married and moved to California, so Jay went West.
He lived with his sister and worked in the shipyards where he welded the inside seams of containers that bigger welders couldn’t reach. When the war broke out in the ’40s, he went to serve his country in the Army, serving his first hitch in the Philippines, and seeing much action in the field and on the base. He actually served two military hitches in the Army and was Honorably Discharged a Sergeant. After his discharge, he worked in the cotton fields in New Mexico where he met his future bride. Norene recalls seeing this handsome, cocky young man that seemed so full of himself.
One day, the trailer that held the picked cotton somehow caught on fire. Everyone in the field stood around wondering what to do, when this dashing young man jumped into the smoldering trailer and threw out the burning cotton to save the trailer. He won her admiration and her heart. She was 15 and he was 22, so his future mother-in-law drove with them to Texas to forge a marriage that would last for over 55 years. Their first home was in New Mexico on a cotton farm where they plowed, planted and irrigated the cotton crop. Their first crop was a record crop of tall, healthy plants, averaging 30 boles to the stalk. Their farming future was looking very promising, when, just before harvest, a big hailstorm beat the cotton into the ground. In one afternoon, a farming career ended.
The young couple came to Daisy and built a house on the side of a mountain. They tried to make a living cutting logs with a crosscut saw, but that was a very meager living for a growing family. During the summers, they would go West to work construction jobs in New Mexico, logging jobs in Washington and in Colorado. Wherever they went, you could count on several family members or friends living along with them. Jay was always very concerned about his friends and neighbors.
When he was 41 years old, he was involved in a construction accident while working on the Indian Nation Turnpike that left him missing his left leg and disabled for life. Shortly after coming home to Daisy from the hospital, he decided that the community needed a sawmill. Many of his neighbors were living on a fixed income, and needed the extra income to make ends meet. The sawmill was a place to work when you needed to without punching a time clock. Jay spent many long, happy hours leaning on his crutches at the mill with a hurrah string in his hand. We say happy because he was happiest when he was working. Many people in Daisy Valley got a paycheck and an education at Jay’s sawmill. He stood on one leg and ran that sawmill for several years.
After ill health forced him out of the sawmill business, he turned back to his love of music. Needing to stay busy at least 99% of the time, one of his favorite sayings was, Let’s do something, even if it’s wrong! That was not the case when he hooked up with some area musicians to form a band. The Daisy Valley Boys have played for events all around the Sooner State, as far away as Kingfisher and Chickasha. They stayed busy playing for local parades, fundraisers, rodeos and VFW events. Jay’s gift of gab made him a natural to lead the band and emcee many of the events that they played. They recorded a couple of songs, but who would have guessed that 45s would be outdated?
One of his proudest accomplishments was to organize and preside over the South Central Chapter of the Sooner Fiddler’s Association. They had their meetings and played music at the Farmer’s Market in Atoka and commonly greeted over 100 people in attendance. Jay’s love of live and zeal for living made him a great friend and husband. His genuine concern for others made him a great dad.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Anganora Billy; father, Charley Henry Isom; daughter, Phyllis Isom; grandson, Billy Colter Isom; brothers, Frank Page, Bob Page, Adolphus Isom, and Joe Isom, and sister, Opal Burleson.
Survivors include his wife, Norene Isom of the home; children, Ramona Lucas of Holdenville, Oklahoma, Monroe Thomas Isom Jr. and wife, Tracey, of Daisy, Fred Isom and wife, Floretta, and Kevin Isom and wife, Ruth, all of Kingfisher, Oklahoma; 13 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren; brother, C.H. Isom and wife, Nadine, of Daisy; sisters, Audrey Burleson, Virgie Stout and Alice Hutson, all of Daisy; several nieces, nephews and a host of friends.