New members share background with local Lions

Pictured from left are Program Chairman Lion David Fetgatter, Lion Rev. Dale Fillmore, and Lion Anthony Nieto. (Photo provided by Dean Craig)

By Dean Craig

Okmulgee Lions


Things aren't always like Baby Bear's porridge--just right, but not to worry because we can usually come up with a contingency plan.  Such was the case for Tuesday's Lions Club meeting when one of our planned program presenters notified our president that he was on his way out of town for a family emergency.  Then the light bulb came on in our president's head because he had just sponsored our newest member of exactly one week, and our program was scheduled to include two new member's 15 minutes-of-fame speeches.  The redeeming grace of the situation is that this new member of one week is Rev. Dale Fillmore, pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, and everyone knows that pastors can fit in for every emergency, and can speak at the "drop of a hat".  So, the show must go on, and it did, and without a hitch.

First up, though, was Anthony Nieto, General Manager of the Okmulgee Times, an Okmulgee County native and a Morris High School graduate, who had taken classes at Green Country Technology Center while in high school.  One of his instructors, Julie Roberds, had sort of steered him in the area of Visual Communication. He enrolled at OSUIT in Information Technology, with a goal of working for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. One of his Morris High School teachers, the late Robbie McMurtry, had become a mentor to Nieto with his artistic ability, which proved to be an invaluable resource later.  

Nieto then switch his major to Visual Communication, at which time he completed his degree. While in college though, he had worked for and interned for an ad agency, but when he was ready for a full-time position, the agency closed.  Here he was, a college graduate without a job, so after about a year of this, he returned to the Morris area. 

He explained that Lion Heather Sumner was working for Work Force at that time, where he had gone to apply for employment, and she just happened to know of a position available at the Okmulgee Times.  Nieto interviewed for the job and went to work the next day.

During the past eight years, he has worked in nearly every facet of the newspaper industry before being appointed to his present position.  Nieto is excited to be a part of Okmulgee Rising, a Chamber of Commerce Board Member, a supporter of Mainstreet, an Okmulgee resident, and now a Lions Club active member.  We are excited to have Anthony Nieto as a new member of our club, but I just wish some of us older Lions had the excitement and energy to keep up with him.

Rev. Dale Fillmore is our newest Lion member of one week, born in California to his Oklahoma parents, a four month resident of Okmulgee, and pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene, who says he feels "at home" in Okmulgee and already feels like he is an "Okie", reversing the trend in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath".  But to explain how he got to Okmulgee from California, and many points in between, would take us on a circumventurous (made-up word not in the dictionary) journey.  But the pastor related that an incident in the third grade almost precluded him being able to speak in front of groups, which is not consistent with being a pastor.


Pastor Fillmore graduated high school in Norwalk, California where he was on the swim team, played water polo, and played clarinet in the band.  He described himself as adventurous, and says his wife believes if he had been born in the 1800's, he would have been a Mountain Man.  But, instead, he felt God's call to the ministry, which he rebelled against for several years before giving in.  So, off to Seminary in Indiana (Church of God, Anderson, Indiana), then back to California before accepting his first church in Montana.  Other churches he pastored were in Washington, Alaska, Kansas, Indiana, Colorado, and finally, a call to the Mission Field in Brazil.  The last eight years in Brazil, he was the Academic Director for a church school because he had more education than any of the other pastors.

Returning to the States, he decided that he wasn't ready to retire, so he and his wife began looking for churches needing a pastor.  His parents had moved back to Sand Springs so he was familiar with Oklahoma because of the many trips to visit.  Thus, their circle was completed about four months ago when they came to Okmulgee.  So, now that we have two pastors numbered among our membership (Lion Rev. Chris Tiews, Trinity Lutheran Church, and now Lion Rev. Dale Fillmore, First Church of the Nazarene), some of us Lions are going to have to "shape up or ship out" (old Navy term).  But living life and loving life is what it's all about, isn't it?  And lending a helping hand along the way, because we might only pass that way once.  That's why we are pleased and honored to welcome these two new members into the fold.  And why don't you consider passing our way at least once, and help lighten the load?  "WE SERVE".


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