Dr. LaVern Irdell Galyen, age 95, of Norman, Oklahoma, passed away Thursday, December 24, 2020. He was born March 8, 1925, to Columbus Irdell Galyen and Edna Luchester (Weatherford) Galyen. He was preceded in death by his parents; and his wife of 66 years, Emogene Rose Galyen, who passed away in 2016. He is survived by his sister, Wanda Louise Cline of Norman. Dr. Galyen is also survived by two daughters and one son, and their spouses: Bonnie and Gustin Wood of Newcastle, Beverly Fenley of Norman, and Marcus and Rio Galyen of Newnan, Georgia; six grandchildren and their spouses, Jan and Brent Fairchild, Sherry and Jerred Vandivort, Brent W. Smith, Brian C. Simonds, Lacey and David Clark and Terran Galyen. He also leaves behind eleven great-grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren, and one nephew.
LaVern grew up in Maud, Oklahoma and received his high school diploma from Maud High School. Before graduation day, but with enough credits to graduate, he enlisted in the Navy in July of 1943 to serve our country in World War II. It was there that he took his first steps toward a career in medicine by serving in the operating rooms on two ships, the USS Euryale and the USS Kittson in the Asiatic-Pacific campaigns. He was honorably discharged in April, 1946.
Upon returning home after the war, aided by the GI bill, LaVern enrolled at the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in 1951 and 1953, respectively. In 1950, he met and married, Emogene Rose, a widow with the cutest little girl named Bonnie, whom he adopted.
After receiving those two degrees, he and the family moved to Houston Texas, where for the next eight years, he simultaneously worked in the MD Anderson Hospital Research Department, and attended Dental College at the University of Texas. After graduation, the family moved back to Oklahoma, and LaVern began his practice in Norman in June of 1961.
For the next forty-five years, Dr. Galyen saw many patients, most of whom he regarded as his friends. He was talented with treating children: they were terrified when they arrived, but smiling when they left. Emogene joined her husband as his dental assistant, and they worked together almost 30 years. They retired in 2005. In January of 2015, they moved into assisted living at Rivermont Gardens. It was there that he passed peacefully of old age.
During his life, Dr. Galyen was active in the Norman Chapter of the Oklahoma Dental Association, helping young orthodontists in Norman start their careers with his recommendations. He was also active in the Norman Lions Club. Twice, he took the family on cross-country road trips to attend annual conventions, to Las Vegas and to Atlantic City.
Both LaVern and Emogene loved OU football and basketball (both men’s and women’s). They attended many home games and traveled to out-of-town games for many years, including championships and bowl games. In their early years, they loved to square dance. He also loved to fly and earned his private pilot’s license.
Dr. Galyen was a man of integrity. The staff of Rivermont, who are all angels in our book and who took the best care of him, reflect that he was fun, had a very dry sense of humor, and was very opinionated. He loved his kids. He was a good guy, and he touched many lives during his time with them. More than we will ever know.
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