Retired couple embraces wellness
by Ray scippa
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:50 a.m., like clockwork, retiree Orlan McClung and wife Jeanie appear at the Houston Wellness Center pool, suited up and ready for their aqua workout. Ponca City High School sweethearts who married just six months after Jeanie graduated in 1951, the pair has been a fixture at the Wellness Center since it opened in 2007. Before that, they frequented the old basement fitness room and another gym off campus.
“I had been going there for quite a while,” said Jeanie. “When Orlan retired, he finally started coming with me.”
Orlan’s Conoco career spanned 37 years, from September 1955 until December 1992. Hired as a transportation freight clerk at the company’s Ponca City headquarters, after just three years Orlan transferred to a new position in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I went there as a glorified freight clerk, but it was a step up the ladder,” Orlan said. “Roy Mays was the vice president, Clovis Martin was the manager of transportation, and I was the operations manager. We had 19 truck terminals that delivered fuel to everybody in the old southwest region. Some of the fuel came from Conoco’s refineries in Ponca and Lake Charles, but we also did trade deals from any source to get our customers’ orders filled.”
The Fort Worth job lasted eight years before Orlan and Jean moved south. They first made Houston their home in 1967 and have lived in the city for half a century.
“I went into marketing for wholesale and commercial operations,” Orlan said. “Bruce McCall was the VP and I went to work for a man by the name of Clarence Weigmann. He and M.B. Abernathy had a little division called Railway Sales. When I came in, they changed the name to Transportation Sales. Because I was an old truck man, they added all the major truck lines.”
Orlan speaks fondly of his colleagues from those years. “The railroads I dealt with would purchase as many as 100,000 barrels a month in pipeline tenders. Guys like Ron Harwood, Ken Kibbe and others in Product Supply and Trading would help me get that fuel. I would call them up and tell them how much I needed and where. They’d say, ‘Send me an order.’ I never mailed them — it took too long and we were one building away. I’d just walk the order over to them and bam, bam, bam it happened. That’s teamwork.”
Orlan and Jeanie have three grown children — Clarke, Cheryl and Cindy — five grandchildren and one great grandchild, with another due in December 2017. Clarke, 61, retired from the U.S. Forest Service after 35 years; Cheryl retired from her job as a school teacher after 25 years; and Cindy, the youngest, is still teaching.
Before taking his first job at Conoco, Orlan McClung served in the 82nd Airborne, 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. “We were the military’s first rapid response unit,” he said. “We could get our orders, get equipment loaded on the planes and be on the ground fighting anywhere in the world in 48 hours.” When Orlan describes the intense training of his military career, it becomes easy to understand how he translated those early life skills into a long, successful career, a beautiful family and the discipline to keep on swimming.