Enid resident and best-selling author Johnny C. Quarles died Sunday morning of natural causes. He was 62.

Quarles began his writing career in 1988, writing more than 12 novels, all of which were set in the West. Several of his books were listed on the New York Times best-seller list. He later turned to writing screen plays for television, most notably the series “Lonesome Dove.”

Quarles was born in Ohio, later moving with his family to West Virginia and New Mexico. Following his service in the Army, he worked for Frisco Railroad. He owned Chances R. Restaurant, and in 1978, he went to work for KGWA as a sports announcer for Enid High School.

He married Wendy Frey, current director of PEGASYS, on April 11, 1981. He also worked as a sports announcer and morning talk show host in South Carolina for two years before returning to Enid. He was novelist-in-residence at Phillips University from 1995 to 1998. He was an EJRT football coach and also coached women’s softball and youth baseball.

Quarles is remembered by friends as a dedicated coach and asset to the Enid community.

“He’s probably one of the most admired coaches that I have known in the last 30 years and also one of the best authors of western novels, which is a rare combination,” said Doug Faulkner. “He trained so many young men who went on to become very well known football players throughout the area.”

Faulkner said he met Quarles when his son was playing football and the two became good friends. He called Quarles one of the best youth coaches Enid ever had.

“I think (it’s) an incredible loss to everyone who loves athletics and also loves literature,” Faulkner said. “A great loss to all of us.”

“Johnny was the definition of the good old southern boy. He loved being around people and talking football,” said friend and sports writer Bruce Campbell. “When he did a football game, it was like he was talking with friends. He was a unique individual. I can’t remember when he didn’t have a smile on his face.”

Billy Smith met Quarles in 1973, when both men worked for Frisco Railroad. Smith said Quarles was a great coach and two were friends for years.

“John liked to have fun. He was a fun guy to be around,” Smith said. “I’m going to really miss John.”

All three men said Quarles was an avid fan of Alabama’s Crimson Tide.

“I know he was big Alabama fan,” Smith said. “He thought Bear Bryant was the only coach there was.”

The service for Quarles is 10 a.m. Wednesday at Emmanuel Baptist Church. Arrangements are by Brown-Cummings Funeral Home.

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