John Thomas "J.T." Stites II, 86, of Sallisaw died Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Saturday at Immanuel Baptist Church in Sallisaw.
Viewing will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Agent Mallory Martin Funeral Home where the family will greet friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
Mr. Stites was born Oct. 7, 1928, in Greenwood Junction, Arkansas, the son of Tom and Lessie Stites.
At the age of 14-15 years old, during World War II, Mr. Stites was a welder at Kaiser Shipyards in Pt. Richmond, California. He was a 1948 graduate of Sallisaw High School, where he was president of the Student Council and a Black Diamond football player.
He married Mary Jo Ross on June 9, 1951, in Fort Smith.
Mr. Stites served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and was stationed at Fort Davis Panama Canal Zone from 1951 to 1952.
He attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah on a GI Bill and received his master's in education. He was a teacher, coach and principal at Liberty Mound (Bixby) School System from 1955 to 1961.
In 1962, he moved back to Sallisaw. From 1962-1970, Mr. Stites was a math teacher and from 1971-1990 he was Sallisaw High School principal. He and Mary Jo were the first co-directors of Carl Albert State College Sallisaw Campus and also served as a Trustee. In honor of Mr. and Mrs. Stites, the student center at Carl Albert State College was named the J.T. and Mary Jo Stites Multipurpose Student Center, and is popularly known as the Stites Center. The City of Sallisaw also named one of the streets leading to the new Sallisaw High School as J.T. Stites Street in Mr. Stites honor.
Mr. Stites taught, coached and led over 5,000 students during his 30-year career.
Mr. Stites was 2nd District state representative in the Oklahoma Legislature from 1990 to 2002. He was a cowman, builder, community activist, family man and was loved by all.
Mr. Stites was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Mary Jo.
Survivors are two sons and daughters-in-law, John Thomas "Tom" Stites III and Nan of Sallisaw and Dr. Kirk Stites and Stephanie of Van Buren, Arkansas; four grandchildren, Jake Ross Stites and wife, Samantha of Austin, Texas, Hailey Stites of Van Buren, Alec Ross Stites of Van Buren and Cale Abbott of Sallisaw; one sister, Imogene Copeland of Sallisaw; and two brothers: Edmund Stites and Don Stites, both of Sallisaw.
Mr. Stites was also preceded in death by two sisters, Verna Lindsey and Margaret Davidson, and four brothers, Ted, Herbert, Charles and Doug Stites.
Memorial contributions may be made to Carl Albert Development Foundation, 1507 S. McKenna, Poteau, Oklahoma 74953.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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