Gordon Ray Belshe
Gordon Ray Belshe, 79, passed away June 6 in Oklahoma City.
Gordon was born in Long Beach, CA, on Nov. 18, 1941, to Ted and Florene Belshe. His family moved to Shawnee, OK, shortly thereafter. Although he considered himself a resident of Shawnee, after having moved around often during his formative years, he decided he "never wanted to move again" and became a longtime resident of Tecumseh, OK.
He attended Shawnee public schools, but an abrupt move to "the country," as he called it, saw him graduating from Konawa High School in 1959. He started college at the University of Oklahoma, spending one year there before leaving to join the military. After a brief stint in the Air Force he resumed college at Oklahoma Baptist University.
An aspiring entrepreneur from a young age, Gordon tried his hand at almost every conceivable job and occupation from raising pigs, to delivering papers and hustling odd jobs from the many businesses lining Shawnee's Main Street.
While putting himself through college at OBU, he worked with his family retipping drill bits in the oilfield and later selling them for Hughes Tool Co. He declined a job offer with Hughes Tool Co. upon graduation; as he put it, "I could never work for anyone else." After his father built a trailer for their business and lamented that there were "no good trailers," an idea was sparked – why not try their hand at building a better trailer?
In 1964, Gordon, his father and his brothers Ted and Kenneth started Belshe Industries Inc. to attempt to create a better equipment trailer. Gordon, while still in college, was known to build, go on sales calls and deliver products around the country and somehow arrive back in time (mostly) for his classes. He graduated from OBU in 1965 with a degree in business administration.
Upon graduation, he devoted his full time to Belshe Industries and helped originate and innovate many of the now common features of the heavy equipment trailer. He credited his success to having the right team of people working with him, many devoting their entire careers to the success of the business. Since its inception, Belshe Trailers has manufactured trailers sold in all 50 states and many countries, as well as employed thousands of people – including other members of the Belshe family. It continues to be one of the most respected and leading names in equipment trailer manufacturing.
Not believing in retirement, he continued to work until the time of his death.
Somehow between running a business and college courses, he was able to find time for romance. He met Paulette, who would become his wife of 55 years, at Van's Pig Stand – while he was dating another girl! Paulette received a phone call from Gordon a few days later. When she confusingly inquired if he would like to speak to the other girl, he replied, "No, I'd like to speak to you." They married in 1966 at The First Baptist Church in Elk City, OK.
Among Gordon's interests was travel, with some of his favorite destinations being Hawaii and his cabin at Lake Texoma, where he was often found tinkering on one of his boats and fishing. He enjoyed reading both newspapers and books on a variety of subjects. He was an OU football fan, a member of the OU Touchdown club and enjoyed tailgating and attending games with his family for many years.
He was an active member of the local coffee klatch scene and could be found discussing current events, both local and national, at a number of restaurants around town before, during or after work. He could often be found at the former Arrow Restaurant in Tecumseh talking with friends and acquaintances underneath a sign that stated "World Problems Solved Here," a piece of trivia noted by even The New York Times in an article from 2008.
Gordon is survived by his wife Paulette of Tecumseh, son Rob of Shawnee, son Jim and daughter-in-law Dianne and his two grandchildren Vivian and Carter of Chicago, IL.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 17, at Cooper Funeral Home in Tecumseh.
Posted online on June 14, 2021