Thomas Eugene Love
OKLAHOMA CITY - Thomas Eugene Love passed away on March 7, 2023, in Oklahoma City in the comfort of his home surrounded by his family. He was 85. Tom founded a family-owned and-operated network of more than 600 Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores alongside his devoted wife and business partner, Judy. Tom was born on October 10, 1937 in Oklahoma City. He attended St. Gregory’s Preparatory School in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and St. John’s University in Minnesota, before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in 1954. Following his military service, Tom and Judy married in 1960. After attending the University of Oklahoma and University of Central Oklahoma, Tom used $5,000 to lease an abandoned service station in Watonga, Oklahoma in 1964. From a modest beginning, the then-named Musket Corporation opened 40 stores in eight years in western Oklahoma. Tom’s keen and discerning sense for business and vision to grow the company resulted in Love’s establishing a new concept – the country store – that combined existing business models for grocery and convenience stores with a self-service gas station. In 1972, the country store in Guymon, Oklahoma, became the first store in the nation to combine self-service gasoline and grocery items. Throughout the decades of Tom’s leadership, Love’s expanded its services and national footprint. The company that began as a small service station in Watonga now has over 600 locations in 42 states and employs over 39,000 team members. It remains family owned and operated. He was beloved by the employees, and he cared deeply for them, often asking about their families. His presence at a store would fill it with energy and excitement. He was really the visionary leader who kept everyone grounded and inspiring everyone to do better every day. One of his mottos repeated frequently by Love’s leaders is “yesterday’s trophies don’t win tomorrow’s games.” He was always looking forward thinking constantly about new possibilities and opportunities.
A well-respected business leader, Tom was admired for his thoughtfulness, genuine humility, generosity and kindness toward others. In both his professional and personal life, Tom always focused on serving others. This was reflected in Love’s commitment to its customers, employees, and communities where the company operated. Over the years, Tom and Love’s received many honors, including Corporation of the Year in 1991 and the 1996 President’s Award for Service to God and Country. He was chosen as Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEO in 2010 and Trust Guardian Transportation Award in 2014. A Chickasaw citizen, Tom was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2019 and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2000. Tom was strongly committed to his family and faith and is preceded in death by his mother and father, Margaret and F.C. Love. He is survived by his wife Judith McCarthy Love, along with their four children, Gregory Love, Laura Love, Jenny Love Meyer and Frank Love, and their respective spouses. He’s also survived by his nine grandchildren, Frances Koop, Thomas Love, David Love, Caroline Ikard, Liza Reilly, Claire Cameron, Emma Love, Julia Love, and Alyson Meyer, along with great grandchildren Cameron James Ikard and Sterling Thomas Reilly. Tom was the brother of six siblings, William Love, Sally Gardiner, Kathy Ramseur, Charles Love, Margaret Goodman and Jack Love. Tom’s legacy will live on in the values he instilled in his family and company by the way in which he lived his remarkable life and inspired all who had the privilege of knowing him. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, March 11, 2023 at the Blessed Stanley Rother Shrine. Burial to follow immediately at Resurrection Memorial Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in Tom’s memory may be made to Catholic Charities or Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School 75th anniversary campaign.