Dr. Guy William Logsdon, 83, “shuffled off this mortal coil”
the evening of February 5, 2018, after a brief illness. Born May 31, 1934
in Ada, OK, he was the fifth and youngest child of Guy and Mattie Marsalas
Logsdon. The family was musical and by thirteen he was playing bass in
the Logsdon Family Band at dances around Ada. A proficient storyteller,
Guy enjoyed sharing the numerous raucous events he witnessed as a teen
musician, unbeknownst to his parents. Along with playing music, he also
helped out at his father’s Logsdon Furniture Store and assisted
at the family-owned The Western Store, just the second western clothing
store in the state of Oklahoma.
While a sophomore at East Central University in Ada, he began dating freshman
Phyllis Landers from Okemah, OK, whom he had previously met at Methodist
church camp. They were married two months later and recently celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary.
Because he was known for his love of music and Phyllis was from Okemah,
he began hearing about Okemah’s native son, Woody Guthrie. He quickly
discovered that Woody was not a popular subject in the small community
because of his unusual lifestyle and the mistaken belief that Woody was
a Communist. This only encouraged Guy to continue his research.
In 1960 the family moved to the remote mountain town of Payson, AZ where
he taught high school English. While the family created lifelong friendships
and is still credited by many of his students for fostering their love
of reading, it was here Guy was reported to the government for being a
suspected Communist because it was known he was a Woody Guthrie enthusiast
and he had a subscription to
Sing Out Magazine, a New York City publication of folk music and writings. He was, of course,
A move back to Norman, OK allowed Guy to complete his Masters Degree in
Library Science and eventually his Doctorate of Education from the University
of Oklahoma. In 1967, Guy became Director of Libraries at the University
of Tulsa, at the time the youngest director in the nation of a major university
library. By then Guy and Phyllis were a popular duo, singing and speaking
at events around the state. He was an accomplished guitar player with
a beautiful voice, a dry sense of humor and an unrelenting expectation,
especially from his four daughters, that spoken English was always grammatically correct.
In 1970, Guy wrote and narrated sixteen TV shows “Folklore of the
Southwest” for Oklahoma’s public television, OETA. In 1972,
he started the 1st Tulsa State Fair Fiddlers Contest, a popular event that continues today.
In 1974, he produced the nation’s first Western Swing Festival,
recorded by National Public Radio. And Woody Guthrie’s wife Marjorie
insisted that Guy be a consultant on the script and during filming of
the 1976 movie “Bound for Glory.”
Oklahoma was featured at the 1982 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the
mall in Washington, DC, and included a Woody Guthrie Tribute. Because
of Guy’s extensive knowledge of Oklahoma history and music, he was
coordinator and emcee of the Oklahoma stage. Guy was also one of the original
founders of Okemah’s Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, also known as
WoodyFest, now in its third decade.
Guy’s writing credits are immense. He wrote the extensive liner notes
for both Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger compilation CDs produced by Smithsonian
Folkways. His books include "The University of Tulsa: A History,
1882-1972", "The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing and Other Songs
Cowboys Sing", "Ada, Oklahoma, Queen City of the Chickasaw Nation:
A Pictorial History", "Saddle Serenaders" and "The
Flip of the Coin; the Story of Tommy Allsup". His most recent publication
was "Woody's Road; Woody Guthrie's Letters Home, Drawings,
Photos, and Other Unburied Treasures" co-authored with Mary Jo Guthrie
Edgmon, Woody’s youngest sister.
In addition to being known worldwide as a Woody Guthrie scholar, his writing
and research about Western Swing led him to lifelong friendships with
Bob and Johnnie Lee Wills and many of the Texas Playboys.
At the time of his death, Guy was serving on the boards of the Oklahoma
Historical Society and the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame. He was an early
supporter of Tulsa’s OKPOP Museum and was regularly consulted about
Oklahoma history, music, Woody Guthrie and Bob Wills. The Guy Logsdon
household was always a place filled with music, books, and fun.
He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Bettie Bell, brother John
Logsdon, and his youngest daughter Nathalie Marsalas Lester. He is survived
by his wife Phyllis and daughters Tamara Hawkinson (Jim), Cindy Black
(Baxter) and Susan Patterson (Bill) along with sisters Jean Long Meek
and Bobbie Koch. Known as Dr. Guy, he was adored by his grandchildren
Audra, Jennifer (Will), Heather (Nick), Grace (Matt), Samantha, William,
Samuel, Dylan, and Guy (Jessica) and great-grandchildren Phoenix, Storm,
William, Sophia, Savannah, and Mattie (named for his mother.)
A memorial service will be held on Monday, February 12, 2 p.m. at Boston
Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa. Reception and music to follow.
In lieu of flowers, Guy’s legacy can continue with donations to Tulsa’s
Woody Guthrie Center (www.woodyguthriecenter.org), the Oklahoma Historical
Society (www.okhistory.org) or Oklahoma Westie Rescue (www.okwestierescue.com)
in honor of his beloved Westie, appropriately named Woody.