A family fishing trip ended in tragedy for an Ada family late Saturday evening [July 11, 1959] when 33-year-old Harold J. Raplee drowned on Mill Creek, near Ravia.
Raplee, his wife, Addie, and their two children were camping near the creek. Raplee and a friend, Bill Steele, were wading in shallow water, setting out the trotline, when Raplee suddenly stepped into deeper water and went under.
He grabbed Steele’s foot in an attempt to remain above water, but went under.
Two other men were fishing nearby, Heu Gatter, Pontotoc, and Richard Don Ray, 31, Wynnewood, said Steele and Raplee asked them earlier if it would bother them if a trotline were let out nearby.
Gatter and Ray told the two Adans it would be all right, and they began to set it out just across the water.
“I heard one man tell the other that they were getting near the stepoff,” Gatter said. “Just about that time, the one who drowned kinda stepped back, then went under.”
“I thought he was just testing the depth of the water, but soon he began to thrash about and some women screamed that he was drowning,” Gatter continued.
“Richard jumped in and grabbed him, but I guess he panicked or something. Anyway, he grabbed Richard and almost drowned him, so Richard had to let him go or he would have been pulled under himself.”
It was 30 minutes later that Raplee’s body was finally recovered. The fishermen tried to get a resuscitator unit to the scene, but it was too late to save the Ada man.
Mrs. Raplee and the children, Amelia Lynn, 5, and Cathy, 12, were out of sight of the pond at the camp site.
“I heard some women screaming and a man came running up to tell us a man had drowned,” Mrs. Raplee said. “I asked him what kind of clothes he had on and the man told me he had on overalls and a tee shirt. Then, I knew it was my husband.”
Gatter and a friend put the body into their car and took it to Chapman’s Funeral Home in Tishomingo and later brought it to Smith’s Funeral Home in Ada.
There were several other families nearby when the tragic mishap occurred. One was from Pauls Valley and another from Oklahoma City. The Steeles and Raplees were together on the trip.
Raplee was an employee of Ideal Cement Company. He had worked as a driller at the plant’s Lawrence Quarry the past seven years.
Mrs. Raplee said her husband was an expert swimmer. He served with the First Marine Division in World War II.
Raplee was also a member of the Ada Lodge No. 119, AF&AM.
He and his family resided at 416 West Seventh.
Funeral services for the Ada man will be announced later by Smith’s.
Last rites for Harold J. Raplee, 33, 416 West Seventh, who died Saturday near Ravia, will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Oak Avenue Baptist Church.
Rev. Robert Norsworthy, pastor, will officiate. Smith Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Burial will be in Rosedale Cemetery.
Masonic graveside honors will be bestowed. Bearers will be George Cowart, Pete Howell, Pete Sherrell, Grover Barnes, Royal Adair and Virgil Medlock.
Raplee was a World War II veteran, holding the rank of corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. He had been employed by the Ideal Cement Company since 1945 in this community and was a member of the Ada Lodge, No. 119, AF&AM.
Raplee leaves the wife, Mrs. Addie Raplee; two daughters, Amelia Lynn and Karrie Mae Raplee, both of the home; his mother, Mrs. Amelia Andrus, and stepfather, Abel M. Andrus, Canton, Pa.; four sisters, Mrs. Lewis Mattlocks. Troy, Pa.; Mrs. Kenneth Bainske, Wallsboro, Pa.; Mrs. Eloise Blaney, Canton. Pa., and Mrs. Robert Green, Palmyra, New York.