Pictured, left to right: Lion Dolph Hayden, Lion James Thompson, Lion Brenda Thompson, and President Lion R.C. Morrow. Photo by Dean Craig
By Dean Craig Okmulgee Lion
Tuesday's Lions Club regularly scheduled program had to be cancelled and re-scheduled, but not to worry because we had the two newest members waiting in the wings to give their 15 minutes-of-fame speeches. This is the one time that members can boast, brag, complain, or share information they probably wouldn't normally share, and not worry about being fined for "advertising" by the Tail-Twister.
First up was Dolph Hayden, Executive Director of the Okmulgee County Family YMCA. Dolph stated that his grandparents and his parents were all native Okmulgeeans, however, his father got a job in California in the fiberglass industry, and that was where he was born. Another business opportunity presented itself so the family moved to Ohio, where Dolph began his education from kindergarten through the fourth grade, before his parents decided to move back "home".
He attended Okmulgee Schools from the fifth grade through high school graduation in 1979, participating in football and wrestling. He and his wife, Page, were high school sweethearts but her path took her to the University of Oklahoma, while his path took him to the U.S. Navy because he was not all that enamored with school at that time. He spent two years in Memphis and two years in Key West as a jet airplane electrician, flying all over the world as a radar jammer.
Upon his return to Okmulgee, he and Page re-united and married, and he enrolled at "Tech" (as OSUIT was called then) in electronics and "bagging" groceries at Warehouse Market. He continued his education at Northeastern State University, earning a bachelor's degree and, later, obtained a master's degree. Computer Technology was just emerging around that time so he was hired to teach a software class part-time through Green Country Technology Center and OSUIT. He was "hooked" on teaching, becoming a full-time instructor in Electronics at OSUIT for the next twenty-plus years. With his military time, plus his teaching years, he was able to retire at a young age due to the points-system. He retired as the Dean of the Electronics Department.
When the Director position for the YMCA became available, he decided to apply for it, even though he had not worked in the YMCA system, and thinking he probably wouldn't get the job, but he did. So, for the past three years, this has been his passion. When he attended his first Oklahoma Directors' meeting in Oklahoma City, he expected a room full of people. Instead, there were 12. His point was that not many cities the size of Okmulgee has a YMCA facility, particularly not as nicely-built as ours, which speaks volumes for the people who initially supported this project. Continued support of the community is vital, particularly financially. Any support that can be provided, whether financial, volunteer, or just enjoying the programs or the facility, is needed to continue this much-needed asset to the community.
Next up was Brenda Thompson, whose husband James Thompson, has been a long-time active member, not only of the Lions Club, but the entire community. Brenda was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon until her senior year of high school when they moved to California. She married a Californian graduate of Oral Roberts University and moved to Oklahoma in 1977, raising her three daughters in the Tulsa area. Brenda and her girls attended Christian Chapel, an Assembly of God Church, and were very active in all church programs, including Royal Family Kids. This is a national organization that sponsors a week-long camp for foster care children and, according to Brenda, was the reason one of her daughters adopted a child.
Brenda says her area of expertise is in catering, decorating, and planning wedding receptions, banquets, and weekly Wednesday evening meals for 160-190 people. She was employed by the church from 1996-2015 as the Executive Administrative Assistant for the Senior Pastor, the Youth Pastor, the Minister of Music, and any other staff who needed anything. Brenda recently used her talents to decorate the Lions Club Sweetheart Banquet held at Morty's and she did an excellent job. Brenda said that the Lions Club is a natural fit for her because she is accustomed to serving and being of service.
The Lions Club is pleased to welcome these two new members to share in the blessings of service to this community. We still have a few slots remaining for a few more good men and women. "WE SERVE".
P.S. Remember, we will be serving pancakes next Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. We will be looking for you.