My name is Kurt Gariss and I am the youngest of four sons of Chester and Sarah Gariss. Unfortunately, I am responding to your email because my father, Chester Joseph Gariss, has passed away after a long battle with Kidney and Heart failure. Chester battled hard, but his body just couldn’t take the stress. For those of you who don’t remember my father and those that do, know that while he suffered greatly for the last few years of his life he suffers no more and his family and friends look forward to a grand reunion with him. Sorry, I am writing back so late. He passed away on Sept. 9th and the funeral (celebration) was on Sept 12th. It has taken me this long to respond.
While I don’t know much about my father’s years at Enid High School, I do know that he participated in what I can only refer to as the wood shop. My mother still has his cedar chest that he made for a project. If anybody does know something about my father back then please drop me an email or letter. firstname.lastname@example.org or 8391 S. 298th E. Ave. Broken Arrow, Oklahoma 74014.
Just a little biography for those who were unable to keep up with him. My father worked with his father building around Oklahoma until he enlisted in the US Marine Corps. He worked on many man carrying vehicles and was a diver. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1963, I believe. He married my mother, Sarah Cummings, of Shawnee, Oklahoma prior to leaving the Marine Corp.
Chester worked as a mechanic for many years and built custom cars and racing motors along the way. Also in 1963 , Chester and Sarah had the first of four sons. They and built the first of many dragsters along with their own venture named Gariss Racing: www.garissracing.com (it’s a work in progress, but I hope to update it soon with much of his racing history and his sons’ other racing adventures. Chester’s love was in making horsepower and he became very good at his job. While winning many races, his greatest achievement came in 1974 when Chester built a motor and crew chiefed for a drag racer whose name is Marvin Graham. Chester and Marvin took the motor in Marvin’s Top Fuel nitro burning dragster to Indianapolis and the NHRA U.S. Nationals. Chester and Marvin were up against a formidable field and beat Gaines Markley to win the 1974 U.S. Nationals. Chester and Marvin went on to other notable victories together, but none could out do that National run.
Chester built motors for drag racers (both asphalt and dirt track) and boat racers for the rest of his life, and many rounds, finals and track championships have been accomplished using his knowledge of motors. Along with racing, Chester began driving diesels in the 70’s and drove and owned trucks until 1998 when he retired from a company he help to build; Coweta Trucking. Coweta Trucking has become one of this regions premier oversized load and cross country carriers. After retiring he enjoyed running a wrecker service with a friend in Coweta, OK along with venturing back to the track with the same friend (they won a track championship when they were both 60 and over).
Chester and Sarah lived in the Oklahoma communities of Shawnee, Moore, Sapulpa, Tulsa, Coweta and Broken Arrow. Chester and Sara have four sons: Keith, Kevin, Kenny and myself, Kurt. They have 14 grandchildren. They were married 46 years in Feb 2007. He enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. He also enjoyed an occasional fishing trip to the lake or river. He leaves behind a strong legacy of hard work, dedication and love. All four of his sons carry on his racing legacy, and along with his family and friends we carry on the memory of a great man to us.
From my mother, the rest of Chester’s family and on behalf of my father, I hope you all have a wonderful reunion and if you can remember anything about my father, remember those days fondly, if possible, and have a wonderful life. Until we all have a great reunion we will miss him, but he would tell you that he knew the Lord that took care of him until his final breath. Even though his life wasn’t perfect, Jesus’ blood covers all.
As I said, I hope you have a wonderful reunion.
Kurt P. Gariss