Ruby N. Allen was honored as Top Citizen, Top Hand was Ike Fluellen, Educator of the Year was Taylor Miller, and Humanitarian of the Year honors went to the ladies of the Jail Ministry of the Gilmer First Baptist Church. Unsung Hero went to the Upshur County Hospital Auxiliary Volunteers.
Mrs. Allen was lauded for “selfless and creative involvement in many areas” and enhancing Gilmer’s cultural opportunities, with the goal of improving students’ reading.
“She has worked diligently over the past years to help school board members and educators in supporting their efforts to raise our children’s self-esteem and fundamentally shaping the students’ success,” said last year’s recipient, Rev. Huey Jones, who presented the award.
“She greets nervous, anxious men, women, boys and girls with care and concern, helping to make lives comfortable, and she never tires of reaching out to help others in their time of need,” said Rev. Jones.
Mrs. Allen is a faithful member of Zion Hill Baptist Church, and works behind the scenes to serve food to families in need.
“In summary, she has a generosity of spirit that embodies the idea that a sincere heart for others must be inclusive for all and enrich our lives,” he said. He said she has recruited many teenage volunteers to nursing homes and convalescent homes, expecting that we all have a responsibility to be involved and keep momentum going in Gilmer.
Ike Fluellen, one of a Gilmer family of 16 children, graduated from Gilmer High School in 1987. He completed his education in Oklahoma and New Mexico, and then returned to Gilmer to raise his own family.
He is employed by Upshur Rural Electric Co-op, and has served six years on the Yamboree board and two years on the Chamber board.
“Not one to sit back and watch others work, Ike is always in the middle of whatever work needs to be done and worked for the Yamboree and the Chamber long before he was elected onto the boards,” said Dr. Don Warden, who presented the Top Hand award.
“Ike’s creative and ambitious thinking has led to many new ideas for our community,” Dr. Warden said. “He is constantly thinking of ways he can make improvements to Gilmer and benefit our people.”
Dr. Warden reported that Ike said that he just wanted to give back to his community.
“His love of model railroad trains has him thinking of how he can get a caboose onto the square, and believe me, if he’s got his mind set on it, he’ll figure out a way,” Dr. Warden said.
He said Fluellen not only takes the lead in planning and organizing, but is also in the trenches doing the work when it needs done.
Ms. Miller is a teacher in the English Department of New Diana ISD.
She is a 2004 graduate of Hallsville High School. She received Assoicate of Arts and Associate of Science degree from Kilgore College.
She is a 2009 graduate of Texas A&M University-Texarkana with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. She has certifications in Early Childhood 4th grade and middle level education 4th to 8th.
“She is an excellent teacher and assumes many extra roles on her campus,” said Billy Foote. “She sponsors her school’s Student Council and leads the students in service projects for our community, as well as fun activities for the students, and sponsors theme days for school spirit and morale and always participates herself.”
The Baptist jail ministry started 12 years ago, when several ladies started a program to minister to the women inmates in the Upshur County Jail.
Eight women take turns in teaching the Bible to the women every Monday afternoon.
Mel Small, last year’s recipient for his work with Upshur County Shares Food Pantry, said “This is a group of self-sacrificing women who take time to interact with the women inmates and show their love and compassion for those who need encouragement.
“It has been reported that some have been released and come in contact with those who have ministered to them and are quick to show their gratitude,” Small said. “We will never know the far-reaching results of this ministry, yet many lives have been blessed.”
Merle Cross presented the Unsung Hero award.
She reported, “Early in 1967, Gilmer’s own T.J. Ford, Sr., was appointed by the Governor of Texas to be chairman of a select committee to study the needs of aging residents of Upshur County. Mr. Ford asked for the assistance of the Upshur County Extension Service consisting of Evelyn Simpson, John Henry and Willie Thompson.
“They discussed and formulated a plan which included input from Mrs. Dillie Pool, who expressed the need for an organization which could give personal service to patients in the hospital and nursing homes beyond the care given by the doctors and nurses.”
Thorough research was done, including many miles of travel, dozens of letters and other communications with comparable organizations around the state.
By the fall of 1968, a committee of local leaders, which included Glen Bunn, administrator of the Gilmer hospital, had approved the creation of the Upshur County Volunteer Hospital Auxiliary and by January of 1969 “the pink ladies” were trained and ready to begin their work.
“The Volunteers’ work today not only includes handling tasks for patients and visitors, but making blankets for the emergency room, assisting with the Health Fair, and raising money for scholarships for local youth planning to go into the medical field,” Mrs. Cross said.
Currently having 24 members, the Upshur County Hospital Auxiliary volunteers average over 4,800 hours of volunteer service to our community each year.
Charlie Cano, new general manager and CEO of Etex Telephone, was keynote speaker. (A story about Cano’s appointment and other information about him appeared in the Dec. 21, 2013, edition of The Mirror.)