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On August 15th 2015 the world lost a true source of light.  Marty Puckett a long time competitive Oklahoma Racquetball player passed away.  I had the privilege of playing Marty many times in the Men’s Open division over the years as well as playing doubles as his partner.  One thing I knew every time I faced him in a tournament bracket was that I was going to be in for a battle.  There was nothing easy or given in playing him because he was such a competitor.  He was one of the best players in Oklahoma and a man you just couldn’t help but really like both on and off the court.  I sincerely looked forward to playing him each time, even though I knew I had my hands full every time we played.  Marty would use his eclectic game style to try to take you out of your own game and speak kind words to you the entire time.  I would tell my wife Angela before playing him that I would have to focus on not getting caught up in the Marty Puckett verbal vortex as we played if I was to have a chance to win the match.  This vortex is where he would talk to me about any subject under the sun between points, between games and as I was trying to figure out how to beat him.  He would often compliment the shots I made as we played and make funny remarks after points.  If he made a great shot he would look at you and act totally surprised as if he had not made that same shot dozens of times.  Before you knew it you were laughing, saying thank you to his many compliments and then realizing you were only a few points away from losing the match.  The only way to beat him if your game was on was to run your tail off, hit as many good shots as you could, and ignore some of the verbal entertainment he was sending your way throughout the match.  If you played exceptionally well and were able to stay (or get back in) your zone you might get by him…this time.  Other times you weren’t so lucky.  Many top players he was up against in matches did not meet with good fortune.  If you did manage to squeak by him he was then quick to compliment your play and make even more entertaining sarcastic yet truly funny comments that had you chuckling on your way to your next match.  He wanted to win, which he did often, but was very gracious and a good sport if he didn’t.  Marty had an outstanding 3rd place finish in the Men’s Open Division at the 2015 Oklahoma State Championships.    

I really enjoyed talking to Marty even when we weren’t playing each other.  I would encourage him to play more events as he was clearly one of the most talented players in the state.  He would always tell me that most weekends he was spending time with his grand kids which was understandably a higher priority.  He would enter racquetball events whenever he was not committed with his kids or grand kids for the weekend and I so respected him for his sense of priority.  I was always glad when he was able to join us and add to the competition.  It was always great to see his wife Margaret on the sidelines supporting him and shaking her head with a smile as Marty told story after story and ribbed players between matches.  I was so impressed with their relationship exemplified for other couples and how he was so family focused.  What an example for up and coming players and couples. 

I knew Marty had something special within him and he shared this with everyone he met in the racquetball world.  I was so blessed to be able to attend his funeral service and see how many others he shed his light on as well in so many areas of his life.  I was saddened at his service in thinking of the loss everyone was feeling including myself and in particular his loving family.  However, from him and those he touched I learned a lot at that service about living, family, and love in how he affected others in his life.  Marty clearly spread his joy to everyone in every aspect of his life.  He was an awesome father, husband, grandfather, coworker, father in law, brother, and Christian leader and an amazing racquetball player.  I can say I was very impressed and left the service feeling I needed to be more like him and learn from the wisdom he shared and exemplified.  If you want an example of how a man should live, then his life was where to look.  Marty taught others that life was too short to go through feeling angry.  One would be fortunate to have even a portion of the impact this man had on others in such a positive way and pass on in some way the type of legacy he has.

What a good, funny, down to earth, competitive, athletic, loving and giving man this was.  We honor you Marty Puckett and all you added to Oklahoma racquetball and this world. 

Your Friend,

Shaun Manning

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