Have you ever seen Elvis Presley in person? Well Glenn Buntin has, in fact he seen him in person 15 times! Buntin was born 1952 and raised right here in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.
Beginning first grade at Sand Springs Central, Buntin enjoyed his classes and administration. “I had a wonderful wonderful 12 years there.” From Ethel Jones to John Beck, Buntin raved over his former administrators and how they positively impacted his life. “I never felt threatened, I never felt afraid,” said Buntin. “I always felt that the school and the administration was there to help me and answer any questions.”
When he was of age, Buntin began his long career in athletics starting with peewee baseball. He then began his basketball career in the fourth grade – joining the 5th and 6th graders on their team. He played all the way through to high school where he played football and basketball. Buntin was quite the accomplished player at Charles Page High School. He still holds the record for all time leading scorer with 1718 points. He averaged 28 points per game his senior year and still holds the record for most points, 50, scored in one game in 1970. He was then invited to play in the Tulsa World Tournament of Champions, made the all-state team, was given the Jim Thorpe award, and named to the Phase 7 Basketball Team.
One of Buntin’s greatest memories from high school was with Marcus Haynes, a famous basketball player for the Harlem Globetrotters. Haynes began the process of integrating African Americans into the Sand Springs school system. “One of the greatest days of my life was when we were standing in line for equipment checkout in the eighth grade and… Leonard Parent told us that our African American (teammates)… were going to be joining us to check out equipment and they were going to be going to school with us and be on our football team….,” said Buntin. “We were waiting at the old Junior High… and I saw five… African American young men come around the corner.” These men were so excited to be able to play on the Sand Springs football team. “They said they were just hoping for some handshakes.” said Buntin,” but they got more than handshakes from us. We not only gave them a handshake we put our arm around them. I was so very happy for them… We had such a great experience.” Buntin enjoyed playing with his new teammates for the rest of his high school career and continues to keep in touch with them.
After graduating from high school, Buntin decided to join the basketball team at Oral Roberts University as he was awarded a scholarship. Even though college was different than high school, Buntin played his heart out and received the award of freshman player of the year averaging 27 points per game. After his first year in college, his passion grew to play in the Missouri Conference. When North Texas State became an option, Buntin jumped at the opportunity to play in Denton Texas. He finished his eligibility there in 1974. “I really enjoyed it down there, it was a really good experience.” said Buntin. While he was there his assistant coach was Billy Tubs, who went on to do great things at the University of Oklahoma. “Billy Tubs had the biggest impact on my college career.” said Buntin, and “Don Johnson, he’s the winningest coach in Sand Springs history, and he had the biggest impact on my basketball career at Charles Page”. After his eligibility was up, he made his way home to Sand Springs and he finished his education at the University of Tulsa in 1976.
After college, there were many avenues that Buntin considered for his career. While he began his career with Farmers Insurance he was also playing shows as,” basically an Elvis impersonator,” said Buntin, during his college career and continued after college. While his band was traveling around to universities he met his wife – who became a backup singer with her sister. “When I saw my wife…I couldn’t care less if she could sing a note, I was just interested in getting to know her better,” said Buntin. After meeting in 1978 they were married in the same year and traveled to universities, state fairs and even played in a big 50’s show in Sand Springs downtown at the triangle. In the 80’s they cut back from traveling so much and decided to stay home in Sand Springs to raise their two children. After 31½ years with Farmers Insurance, Buntin ended his insurance career as a National Supervisor covering Refurbishment of Salvage and Sales. Buntin and his wife now spend ample time together with their grandchildren!
Buntin’s shared with us how the Sand Springs school system prepared him for a successful career with Farmers Insuranace, “I did not have one teacher that made me feel dumb or stupid or not worthy of being in class or not being good enough or smart enough. “The confidence and the encouragement that those, all of those teachers,…I respected everyone of them because I always felt they were there to help me.” Buntin emphasized one teacher he had in the 5th grade, Julia Martin. She was a constant motivator and encouraged him to always bring her an answer and she would tell him if it was right or wrong. “I wish I could have brought her to North Texas State with me, I probably would have made a few better grades.” said Buntin.
Glenn Buntin left our conversation with these words of encouragement for future Sandites:
“Get up every morning, do your very best, no goal is too high to set. And when it looks like things are not looking good, continue to never give up, fight through it all the way, never think you can lose. You may lose a battle but you’re not going to lose a war. Don’t be discouraged. And put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he will bring you through. But do not give up, don’t ever give up. Love your country, love your flag, and always try to help anybody around you that you can. And always love your parents.”
Read more about the people of Sand Springs here.