Remembering Tony Kouba

Former Yukon legislator, Oklahoma Czech dies at age 91; funeral Wednesday

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Tony Kouba

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Funeral services for Tony Kouba, a former state legislator and Oklahoma Czech, will be Wednesday, Nov. 17 in Yukon.

Antone “Tony” Ray Kouba, 91, died Saturday, Nov. 13 at his home in Yukon. He was born Nov. 1, 1930.

Kouba served from 1991 through 2000 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He represented Yukon and Canadian County in House District 43.

Colby Schwartz

Yukon’s Colby Schwartz, who served District 43 from 2006-14, said he was saddened to hear of Rep. Kouba’s passing.

“Tony was a one-of-a-kind legislator with the long-forgotten qualities of the pioneer spirit of Oklahoma,” Schwartz said. “He always put the citizens of House District 43 and Canadian County ahead of partisan politics at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

“We should all be grateful for his 10 years of service.”

Yukon businessman Ray Wright said Kouba’s loss is being felt well beyond this city’s borders.

“Yukon, Canadian County and Oklahoma has most certainly lost a fine gentleman farmer, businessman and politician,” Wright said. “As a politician, Tony represented the best interest of the people whether they be Democrat or Republican.

“If it was good for Yukon, it was good with Tony.”

Kouba was a valued member of the YNB board for many years, bringing his unique brand of loyalty to the community through Yukon’s hometown bank.

“As a friend, he was always available to talk and discuss items that would promote the town,” Ray Wright said. “He will be greatly missed by all.”

Kouba was a longtime member of the Oklahoma Czechs, Inc., promoting Yukon’s rich Czech heritage. He served as the organization’s president in the early 1980s.

“Tony was our representative,” said Oklahoma Czechs’ volunteer Jimmie Pallesen. “Everybody loved him. And everybody will miss him.

“We’re just so proud of him and the benefit that he’s been to Oklahoma Czechs.”

Pallesen is granddaughter of Oklahoma Czechs’ founder John Kouba, who served as its first president from 1966-76. Tony Kouba was John Kouba’s nephew.

“My mother grew up with Tony; she was his older cousin,” Pallesen shared.

Kouba was the “anchor” of his family, she added.

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‘YUKON CAME FIRST’

Tony Kouba was part of an era that featured other Yukon movers and shakers like Clarence Wright, Jim Snyder, Jackie Cooper, and Glen McKinney.

“They cared about Yukon; they were Yukon,” Yukon banker Randy Wright said. “They wanted to make Yukon best.”

Randy Wright

Randy Wright will miss seeing his friend around town.

“Yukon came first to Tony,” he said. “He was a fine gentleman and was very trustworthy.

“For both Tony and (wife) Beth, Yukon was always first and always the best – from the Czech heritage to the Miller heritage.”

The former state legislator had a knack for debating issues.

“But he always listened to both sides before he made his decision,” Randy Wright said.

Former Yukon City Manager Jim Crosby worked closely with Tony Kouba over the years. Crosby became city manager in 1994 when Kouba was in his fourth year as House District 43 representative.

“Tony Kouba was a great statesman and representative for the City of Yukon,” said Crosby, who retired in January after 55 years of municipal government service.

While serving in the legislature, Rep. Kouba was instrumental in bringing a driver’s license testing center to Yukon. He authored and supported bills to benefit this city.

“Tony was always asking, ‘What can I do to help?’” Crosby related.

“He was supportive of all our events and worked ‘behind the scenes’ to help make a lot of things happen in our community. We could call on him and he was always there for us.

“I really appreciated Mr. Kouba and what he meant to Yukon. He was just a wonderful, outstanding citizen and this is a great loss to the community.”

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FUNERAL 2 P.M. WEDNESDAY

Tony Kouba’s funeral will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 at Ingram, Smith & Turner Mortuary, 201 E Main. Interment will follow at the Yukon Cemetery.

Public viewing will be noon to 2 p.m. before the services.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to Yukon Sharing, 401 N 6th, Yukon, OK 73099 or a charity of one’s choice.

Larry Taylor

Former Yukon Mayor Larry Taylor will play “Taps” on his trumpet at Kouba’s burial at the cemetery.

Taylor served on the Yukon City Council from 1992-2000 when Kouba was a member of the Oklahoma Legislature. Taylor recalls how much of an advocate Rep. Kouba was for the City of Yukon.

“It was always a pleasure to be around him,” Taylor said. “Tony was a big supporter of everything that we did while I was on the city council.

“When he was our state representative, he did whatever he could to help us.”

View Tony Kouba’s obituary at www.IngramSmithTurner.com.