Funeral mass for John Manuel Vela, 69, of Lawton, will be held at 12:00 pm on Wednesday, September 8, 2021, with Rev. Father Seeton officiating.
John passed away on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at his home with his loving family by his side.
Burial will be at Highland Cemetery under the direction of Lawton Ritter Gray Funeral Home. Viewing will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, with a special viewing and remembrance to be held on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home.
John was born on September 19, 1951, in Victoria, TX to Juan Manual Vela Sr and Josefina (Flores) Vela. He grew up in Corpus Christi, TX with his mother and grandparents while his father served overseas with the military. The family was later stationed in Hawaii and lived there for three years until coming to Lawton where John attended Taft Elementary, Central Junior High and Lawton High School, graduating in 1969. He then attended Cameron College on an ROTC scholarship and later transferred to OSU. He married Beth Bertram on July 17, 1971, in Lawton and they recently celebrated 50 years of marriage. John and Beth had three children, Jason Vela, Adam Vela and Heather (Vela) Clay. He was a drummer in the band “The Shade” during high school and the band “Mount Scott” playing rock n’ roll then settling into country western into college and beyond, but his heart was always in rock n’ roll. His sons shared the same passion and followed in his footsteps as percussionists. He spent many years in the plumbing wholesale business, first with Bailey Meisner and ending with Wynn Nelson and Wynn Supply Company, where he met many lifelong friends. He often spoke fondly of his plumbing customers and would often bring home-grown produce and Avon to his wife in efforts to help their businesses. As the years went by and he continued to battle health problems, the staff at Great Plains Pharmacy became family and they were a bright spot in his day.
John is survived by his wife, Beth, of the home; his daughter and son-in-law Amrid Clay; many children that he and Beth raised as their own, Kaci Biggs, Shaun Smith and Amber Morrow; his grandchildren Sierra Vela, Kennedy Biggs, Haylee Clay, Aidan Clay and Haydan Clay, his sisters Mary Rice and Martha Vela; his sister and brother in law, Nancy and Jay Bonifield; his brother in law Tim Bertram; special nieces and nephews Tanner Biggs, Jessica and Jason Doll, Jeremy Bonifield, Sayre Bonifield, and Tony Bertram.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sons, Jason and Adam Vela; his brother, Michael Vela; his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Joe and Wylma Bertram and nieces Tracy Rice and Jamie Lynn Bonifield.
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