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ACROSS THE INDUSTRY 

07/24/09

GARNETT FRYE, LONGTIME WESTERN WEAR FIGURE, DIES AT 93

Garnett Frye, Woodward, Okla. resident, died July 17 at the age of 93 in the Vici Nursing Home in Vici, Okla. Funeral services were held July 21in the Billings Funeral Home Chapel with the Reverend Gene Spillman officiating. Interment was in Woodward’s Elmwood Cemetery with the United States Army providing military graveside rites.

Garnett Leroy Frye was born Oct. 24, 1915 to Robert L. and Emma B. (Monett) Frye in Avard, Okla. He grew up on a farm north of Waynoka and graduated from Waynoka High School. He went to Wichita Business College and after graduation moved to Woodward and went to work for Woodward Production Credit. He met (Georgia) Thurlene Trego after a concert at the Crystal Beach band shell. They were married March 13, 1937. This union was blessed with two daughters, Lovilla Kay (Frye) Bowser and Mona Dee (Frye) Story.

Garnett served in the Army Air Corp during World II from 1944 to 1946. While stationed near Marysville, Calif., he moved Thurlene and Lovilla there and put in a Western store. Shortly after that he was sent to Attu Island in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Thurlene found out she was going to have Mona so they moved back to Woodward. Garnett began taking and developing photos as a side business while on Attu. After discharge from the Army he returned to Woodward and started an unfinished furniture manufacturing business and also designed and sold furniture and accessories that he molded from Plexiglas. He sold the company and went into business with his father-in-law at Trego’s Westwear Manufacturing in 1947. He was a creative and innovative designer, and an excellent businessman. He also converted sewing machines from single needle to sew with 12 needles to apply six to 12 rows of braid to squaw dresses in one operation during their popularity in the 1950s. He created many machines and techniques to make the manufacturing smoother and less time consuming. He had many employees that he loved like family. He remained president and CEO of the corporation until ill health forced his retirement in 1996.

In 1950 Garnett and wife Thurlene purchased a building in Red River, N.M., and started Frye’s Western and Sport Shop. After a few years they started another Frye’s Store in Ruidoso, N.M., and one in Taos, N.M., and expanded the operation to five stores in Red River as well. The Frye’s Old Town store was operated by daughter Lovilla Bowser and her husband Gary until it was sold in 2007, but it continues to bear the Frye’s Old Town name. When Garnett built the store he envisioned it to look like an old Western town with “gunfights” daily in front of it. He not only wrote the script for them but also was the emcee and starred in it along with his daughters, son-in-law, employees and many other “stars” over the years. Garnett also helped to start the Red River Chamber of Commerce and served as president for many years and was emcee and promoter for many events. During his spare time, he loved to fish anywhere, everywhere and for as long as possible. He also loved to farm and raise his cattle on his land southeast of Woodward. He started collecting coins as a hobby in the ‘50s and was one of the founders for the Woodward Coin Club. He started the annual Woodward Coin and Gun Show and also became an avid collector of Winchester rifles.

Garnett was known as a gentle, caring, generous and fair man who loved his family. He was a member of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Masonic Lodge and the Elks Lodge.

Garnett was preceded in death by his wife, his parents and one sister. He is survived by daughters Lovilla Bowser and husband Gary, Mona Story and husband Keith; four grandchildren, Toni Bowser, Tray Story and wife Jessica, Tyler Bowser and wife April, and Stacy McCoy and husband John; and two great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the National Ataxia Foundation with the funeral home accepting the contributions.