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Dr. J.M. Gaskin, former pastor of the First Baptist Church, Durant, passed away January 8 following a brief illness. He was at First Baptist from 1962-1976.
After retiring from the ministry in 1976, Dr. Gaskin began a second career with the Oklahoma Baptist General Convention, serving in various capacities, particularly in the area of historical preservation.
A founding member of the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Society, Dr. Gaskin authored thirty books, including a memoir titled, “Route 1, Cartersville.”
Born Jesse Marvin Gaskin, on August 30, 1917, near Spiro, the native of Bokoshe felt called to preach while still in his teens. After graduating from Crowder High School, where he met his future wife, Helen Isom, he attended Oklahoma Baptist University, graduating in 1941. His first full-time pastorate was in Coalgate. That preceded a nine year stay at First Baptist Church, Tonkawa. He was pastor of First Baptist Church Heavener from 1953-1962 before coming to Durant.
Dr. Gaskin was awarded a doctor of divinity degree from OBU in 1959. For many years he was editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Chronicle. Three scholarships at OBU were established in Dr. Gaskin and wife Helen’s names. Mrs. Gaskin passed away in 2013.
During his years in Durant, Dr. Gaskin was a member of the Ministerial Alliance and was active in many civic organizations. Dr. Gaskin’s wife Helen, who passed away in 2013, was the first woman inducted into the local Kiwanis chapter.
His favorite pastime was quail hunting. With his beloved dogs Jumper, a Brittany Spaniel, and Ike, an English Setter, he spent many a Saturday in the Bryan County countryside with Bill Morton and other hunting friends. Among his fondest memories were summer youth camps at Falls Creek Baptist Assembly.
In 2017, a 100th birthday celebration was held for Dr. Gaskin at Featherstone Retirement Center in Durant, where he continued to reside until his passing.
He is survived by one son, Ray Gaskin of Pottsboro, Texas, Ray’s wife Suzanne, a brother - Arthur Choate of Springfield, Oregon - three grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A memorial service celebrating his life is scheduled for Saturday, January 19, at 2 p.m. in the Youth Worship Center at First Baptist Church, Durant. The family extends special thanks to Calera Manor, Featherstone Retirement, and Mary McCalib for their assistance during Dr. Gaskin’s final years.