Echo Garvin Rider is a true legacy to be treasured forever. She was an educator, horsewoman, rancher, rodeo queen, historian, distinguished Cherokee citizen and a woman blessed with a large family filled with love. She began and ended her life on her father’s Cherokee Nation allotment and homestead nestled between creeks, hills, massive oak trees and prairie grasslands in the community of Miller Ridge, Oklahoma. The same family ranch which is recognized as an Oklahoma Centennial Ranch established in 1817, and the homeplace of one of the largest cattle producers in the early years of the Cherokee Nation. Today’s event is a celebration of Echo Rider’s life – a life of challenges, adventures, prestige, appreciation, and most of all, honor and love.
In late April, 1919, an afternoon storm cloud arose producing a bolt of lightning striking a prominent stockman. A handsome Cherokee named John Franklin Garvin was tragically killed at the young age of 29, leaving behind his lovely wife, Claudie Amos Garvin, and three small children, Lee, Juanita, and Emmet. A few months later, on October 19, 1919, a beautiful, green-eyed, Cherokee baby girl was born and given the name Echo. A name suggested by her father months before her birth after he had watched a Hollywood silent adventure film serial with a character named “Echo” which was believed to be the reincarnation of a long-lost Princess from an Incan tribe. Echo was a blessing born in a time of disparity. This was also a time before women had the right to vote, before all Native American Indians were considered citizens of the United States and Cherokee Nation Principal Chiefs were appointed and not freely elected as they are today.
Echo attended schools in the area and graduated with honors from Sequoyah School which was commonly called Miller Ridge School, Central High School, Connors State Agricultural College where she was crowned football queen, and Northeastern State Teachers College. By taking courses at night and over summer break, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Education from Northeastern State University and taught students of all grades at Seven Oaks, Brushy, Central High, Roland, and Sallisaw Schools. Understanding the hardship of riding horseback and crossing icy creeks to teach school at Seven Oaks, Echo was excited to purchase her first car, a second-hand Model A Ford for $75. Later, it was a proud accomplishment for her when she began the first school bus route for student transportation while serving as Principal at Brushy School. Her educational accomplishments were notable and worthy of praise by her students for 43 years of dedicated service.
The highlight of her lifetime began when she married the true love of her life, Tom F. Rider, on July 3, 1947. Some knew Tom as “Spide Rider,” but Echo always called him “Jimmy.” He was a soldier, a cowboy, a business owner, a rancher…and the most wonderful person ever to her. They spent over 62 years together, ranching, traveling, racing horses, and raising cattle, together, every day, and he made her the Queen of the TRJ Ranch. He was the spark and she was the fire. They had a love that was unmeasurable. His passing in January, 2010, left an unfillable void but Echo’s strong constitution pushed her to continue on with her legacy. She always wanted to see how things were going to turn out.
Echo is considered part of the Greatest Generation and survived the Great Depression. An OsiyoTV documentary shared Echo’s personal contributions to the war efforts during World War II. She was recruited to work in Wichita, Kansas, for Boeing Aircraft where she painted stars on the wings of the airplanes as she instructed others in the trade. From there, this young beauty moved to California to paint liberty ships and troop ships for Moore Dry Dock in Oakland, and Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond. She was truly a Cherokee Rosie the Riveter.
Echo accomplished many outstanding achievements in her 100 plus year lifespan. She was the co-founder of the Fourteen Flags Museum located in Sallisaw and was immensely proud to be able to preserve the Judge Franklin Faulkner Cabin as it was the birthplace of her father at its original location just west of Akins. She was an originator of the Sallisaw Round-Up Club and for many years, the Rodeo Parade Marshal. She was instrumental in establishing Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw and instituting pari-mutuel quarter horse racing in Oklahoma. Echo was a charter member of the Sequoyah County Historical Society, was active in the Redbud Garden Club, the Retired Teachers Association and the oldest member of the Akins Baptist Church. She was an avid researcher and had many published works. Echo was also featured in National Geographic and Oklahoma Hall of Fame magazines. She was a contributing source for Route 66: The Mother Road and Pretty Boy: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd. She was a wealth of information.
Echo is leaving behind a son, Dr. J G Rider of the home, a grandson; Michael Rider of the home; her sister, Jean Ales-Roberts of Sallisaw; her sisters-in-laws, Mary C. Young, Ruth Wetzel, and Lillian Ketchell; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and special friends.
Honorary Pallbearers are Ann Frix, Barbara Fine, Yvonne Blevins, Sandra Rudick, Faye Allen, Kaye Tinney, Jawana Martindale, Wynona Burney, Emma Sue Brock, Christine Henshaw, Susanne Roth, and Vicki Gilstrap.
Active Pallbearers are Michael Rider, Garret Holt, Trajan Lattimore, Teagan Lattimore, Braxton Stewart, and Colby Martin.
She was preceded in death by her husband; parents; step-father, T. K. Miller; 3 sisters, Juanita Garvin Lattimore, Dicie Miller Pinkerton, and Fannie Miller Rives; 1 sister-in-law, Maxine Rider; 3 brothers, Lee Garvin, Emmet Garvin, and Nakdimen Miller; 5 nieces and nephews, Frances Garvin Johnson, Gary Lattimore, Janelle Lattimore Fullbright, Patsy Garvin McCrary, and John C. Garvin.
Echo Garvin Rider is a treasure worthy of remembrance….a polished gem in the crown of glory.
Services will be at 11:00 AM on Monday, June 1, 2020 at Akins Cemetery. Dinner will be served after the service.
Viewing will be 10 am – 8 pm Saturday at Agent Mallory Martin Funeral Home in Sallisaw. The wake will be 2 – 6 pm Sunday at Akins Baptist Church.