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James's Story

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James Edward Torrence was born September 14, 1952 in Muskogee, Okla. His parents, Christina and Grey Torrence called him Jet from an early age - and a star was born. Jet made his heavenly debut August 7, 2017. Waiting in the wings to welcome him home were his parents; his wife, Sarah "Sadie"; aunt, Georgia Davis; cousin, Sharon Fitzgerald; and in-laws, Albert and Louise Kidwell and Becky Enoch and Albert Kidwell Jr.
Jet was extraordinary. Blessed with talent to act, sing, dance and make people laugh, he had a stellar high school career winning many awards in speech and drama competitions. He followed his heart to a degree in Drama from East Central University, Ada, Okla. in 1974. Following graduation he entertained our troops as part of a USO tour that summer. He added a teaching certificate from Northeastern Oklahoma State University in Tahlequah, Okla. in 1975.
Fate and the wedding of friends brought Sarah Kidwell Gay, better known as Sadie, into his life. They were married November 11, 1977 and parted at her passing last October. Some of Jet's theatrical credits include You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, God's Favorite, Fiddler on the Roof, Stop the World I Want to Get Off, A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Forum, Story Theater, The Mouse Trap and Little Mary Sunshine. In the summer of 1978 he relinquished the footlights of Jewel Box and OKC's Stage Center to move to Parsons, Kan. where he began his 35-year career, teaching junior high speech and drama. While in Kansas, Jet added a Master's degree in Reading from Pittsburgh State University to his educational arsenal.
The family returned to Oklahoma in 1990 where he began his long career at Cimarron Middle School, Edmond, Okla. He taught speech and drama, service learning and eventually 8th grade reading/writing workshop. The birth and heritage of the Crawdad Song, sung every Friday to celebrate life, was added to the curriculum.
Jet was multitalented. He was comfortable at a sewing machine and was an amazing chef. He lovingly accepted the charge of caring for his mother and later his wife as their health declined while facing his own physical challenges. His garden was the perfect, peaceful setting for "coffee and quiet time."
The house lights are up and the curtain has closed on the life of a brilliant, talented, inspiring man. Those left in standing ovation are his children: Greg Gay (Donna) Oklahoma City, Okla., Lori Gonzales (Clay) and Trevor Torrence (Megan), Edmond; cousin, Deeann Davis, Tulsa, Okla.; brother-in-law, M R Kidwell, Yuma, Ariz.; grandchildren: Beth (James), Caitlin, Ghislaiine, Jacob, Moira, Kaia, Gunner and Griffin; along with a handful of nieces and nephews. Surrounding the family are hundreds of friends, fellow educators and thousands of former students wishing Mr. T a fond farewell. Pincers up!
We will celebrate Jet's life 11 a.m. Saturday, August 12, 2017 at Memorial Park Funeral Home, 13313 N Kelly Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73131.
Published on August 11, 2017
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