Gretchen Grover Harris
April 27, 1947 – January 7, 2023
Attorney, educator, and community leader Gretchen Grover Harris died on Saturday, January 7, in Norman after facing multiple health challenges over the last few years with grace and dignity. She was surrounded by longtime friends who will greatly miss her. Her Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, 3939 West Tecumseh, Norman, on January 20th at 10:00 a.m. Visitation will be at Havenbrook Funeral Home, 3401 Havenbrook St., from 5-6 p.m. on January 19th, followed by a vigil service from 6-7 p.m. that will close with praying the rosary. She will be laid to rest next to her parents in Summit View Cemetery, 1808 N. Pine St., Guthrie, with burial rites scheduled for 2 p.m. on January 20th.
Gretchen was born in Elk City, Oklahoma, to James and Hazel (Singleton) Grover and grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma. She excelled as a student, leader, and debater at Guthrie High School before attending the University of Oklahoma where she majored in Political Science and graduated in 1969 Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Gretchen was recognized with the prestigious Rita H. Lottinville Award for Outstanding Freshman Woman, Big Woman on Campus, Who’s Who, and membership in Mortar Board. She was a proud member of Alpha Gamma Delta and served her chapter as Activities Chair and President, but most importantly, she made lifelong friendships and remained involved as an alumna serving as President of the Norman Alumnae Chapter, VP of the Upsilon House Association and wearing the honor of the Arc with Diamond. Gretchen went on to earn two more OU degrees: Master of Education and in 1981 a Juris Doctorate, with Distinction. The Oklahoma Bar Association recognized her as Outstanding Senior, and she received the Paul K. Frost Memorial Award for demonstrated academic and leadership achievement and promise of future involvement in governmental affairs.
Before she attended law school, Gretchen was first, a teacher. Many Norman residents know Gretchen from the time she taught civics, geography, and social studies at Norman West Junior High and Norman High School. Gretchen also served as Assistant Vice Principal at Longfellow Middle School, Norman. She taught at Mannheim American High School, Mannheim, Germany, where she lived as a self-described “Army wife” during her brief marriage to Darrell Harris, who remained a friend.
After law school, Gretchen clerked for The Honorable Carolyn Dineen King, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Houston, Texas. She practiced in the private sector, litigating complex cases at Andrews Davis Legg Bixler Millsten & Price. Switching to the state, she was general counsel for the Department of Securities, then became an assistant attorney general whose roles included legal counsel for Oklahoma’s community colleges and the Board of Dentistry. Prior to retiring, she practiced with her law school classmate and good friend Linda Scoggins, who died recently. Over the years, Gretchen was active on OBA committees and she won its Women in Law Spotlight Award. She also regularly taught continuing education courses.
Her community involvement and contributions to Oklahoma and to Norman, a city she loved, are legendary and included two-time chair of the Cleveland County Election Board, Full Circle Board member, Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Board of Directors for FOI Oklahoma, Inc. She was a proud and active Democrat and advised or managed successful campaigns for several respected public servants. She loved OU sports, especially Sooner women’s basketball, and occasionally traveled on the team bus to away games. She was one of the first to join Sooner Stilettos, a group of successful women who support and mentor young female athletes.
Gretchen was a lifelong Catholic in words and actions. She was one of the first members of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church and served her parish in many roles including RCIA, Communion Minister, JustFaith participant and was one of the founding members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference at St. Mark. In 2012, she completed a fourth degree, a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from Newman University, Wichita, Kansas, through the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Gretchen also frequently attended St. Thomas More University Parish, enjoying the interaction with college students and faculty and the friendships made there.
Gretchen will be remembered as a lifelong learner with a tremendous intellect; a loyal and honest friend with a keen sense of humor; an enthusiastic world traveler; a lover of animals, especially rescues; a woman of faith and a fearless defender of justice, equity and the underrepresented.
Gretchen was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by cousins Tom (Gayle) Singleton, Carthage, Texas; Gayle (Jerry) Gardner and Betsy Singleton (Victor) Snyder, Little Rock, Arkansas; Steve (Becky) Singleton, Conway, Arkansas; Liz (Ed) Wilson, Denver, Colorado; Tyson (Bella) Biewen, New Mexico; Sarah (Matteo) Biewen, Italy; Peggy (Garland) Carter, Clifton, Virginia; Maria Van Loben Sels, Missoula, Montana; and Mary Katherine Firestone, El Cerrito, California.
Those who wish to make memorial donations are invited to contribute to St. Vincent de Paul at St. Mark the Evangelist, the Linda Scoggins Scholarship Fund at the OU Foundation, or a local animal rescue organization.