the sheriff's daughter
THE AMAZING LIFE OF GLENN LEWIS
By John Arlon Hawke
DARK HAIRED PATRICIA Dyke’s father operated a ferry at a river crossing in northern Arkansas, but by the time she was a senior in high school, Dad wore a badge and carried a pistol as the county sheriff. Then she met the preacher’s son. Oh, he was a handsome lad doing his practice teaching at a school in Grubbs, full of fire, and hungry for something more than a cotton sack.
When he saw pretty Pat Dyke, his eyes lit up. He had to tread softly, because she was a high school student, and he a senior in college, more than four years older. Society frowned on teachers dating students, especially when her Pa packed a six-gun.
Still, he was a preacher’s son with winning ways, a quick smile, and a personality that would melt stone. One look, and they knew they were meant for each other. He would drive by and pick her up in his car. On their way out of town, she would duck down in the seat lest someone see them and get him in trouble with the school board. And in the back of his mind, of course, there was always the man with the gun.
Three children and six grandchildren later, Glenn Lewis laughs like a boy at the county fair as he tells how he and the sheriff’s daughter navigated the back roads and the social No-No’s on their way to a 50-year marriage.
Arkansas-born Charles Glenn Lewis, 71, was the youngest of seven children born to Free Will Baptist minister Herman Lewis who preached 73 years. Daddy Herman pastored 14 Arkansas churches in addition to his West Coast work in California and Washington. Pastoring as many as seven churches at the same time, he traveled to appointments on foot, horseback, and wagon, and later by bus, train, car, and plane.
Glenn learned to make do, adapt, change, adjust, and all with a good attitude. Two of his brothers became deacons. Older brother Hoover Lewis answered the call to preach, and that gnawed away at Glenn for seven years. He was converted as a boy during a revival meeting and baptized in a creek.
Born to Teach
After finishing high school, Glenn enrolled at Arkansas State Teacher’s College (now University of Central Arkansas) at Conway, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. He soon found himself teaching in Grubbs where he also coached both the boys’ and girls’ junior high basketball teams.
He later moved north and completed a master’s degree at the University of Missouri in Columbia, eventually teaching 10 years. While at West Plains, he taught grades seven and eight in a tiny three-room school outside town, where he was also the school janitor. In time, he became principal in West Plains and did extensive counseling.
Time to Preach
But something chewed around the edges of Glenn’s mind. “I knew I was called to preach a long time before I surrendered to do it,” he said. The preacher’s son finally acknowledged his call, was licensed to preach in 1965, and ordained in 1967.
“I’ve pastored five churches in four states,” Glenn says. “The first three pastorates (Missouri, California, Arkansas) lasted just over seven years combined. The last two (both in Oklahoma) combined for 30 years. We now live in Tulsa in a home I bought while pastoring here, then rented out to a lady for the next 15 years when the ministry sent us somewhere else.”
Glenn is a people magnet. Wherever he goes, people clamor for his attention. His sense of humor and practical understanding of biblical preaching make him attractive, approachable, and welcome. One unique element of his 42-year ministry is that he pastored a California church (Santa Paula FWB Church) that was organized by his dad.
The two most influential people in his life are Free Will Baptist ministers—Herman Lewis (his father) and J.W. Blanks (who was like a father). His favorite author? Another preacher, of course, Peter Marshall. That’s Marshall, not Sheriff.
Running from Death
Something happened 33 years ago while Glenn pastored in Tulsa that changed his life. He became unexplainably sick, so ill that he sought medical help. The family was called in, and the diagnosis was blunt. Glenn was dying and could not live, unless he diverted the stress that had created two large ulcers in his stomach.
He was not a golfer and did not fish or hunt. A Tulsa friend suggested something different—that he work as a valet parking cars at the country club.
“I had to run to get the cars,” he says. “There was no pressure on me, and I set my own hours. The church was aware of my health concerns and concurred with me moonlighting as a valet. I’ve done valet parking at all hours of the day and night for 30 years, running and running and running. Valet parking saved my life.”
‘Thank God for the Board of Retirement’
Glenn entered his retirement years prepared, thanks to the Free Will Baptist retirement program.
“The best thing I ever did to get ready for retirement was join the Free Will Baptist program in 1980,” he says. “I know we can’t do it, but I wish we could require every minister to participate in the program. My dad had nothing after a lifetime in the ministry. Believe me, it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Glenn settled his retirement account in December 2001, opting for a 15-year guaranty. “During the time I contributed to my account, the program increased almost 10% every year. That’s better than 401-Ks and IRAs. You just can’t beat the Free Will Baptist program.”
Glenn’s church contributed to his account. “It’s always better if the church helps,” he says. “Tell our young ministers to get in the program early and contribute all they can. They will be amazed how quickly the account multiplies.”
By the way, the sheriff’s daughter started her retirement account in 1990, and will settle up some time later. After all, she is much younger than the man she married.
Now that he’s retired, Glenn is busier than ever. He has served three times as an interim pastor. He does pulpit supply and conducts hospital visitation as needed.
But he would change one thing about his ministerial career. “Believe it or not, if I could do it all again, I might remain as a bivocational pastor. When I think of all the people I met while teaching that I would never have met as a full-time pastor, I understand how our bivocational forefathers were able to influence so many.”
the glenn davis files
Smyrna Free Will Baptist Church—Alton, Missouri (2 years)
Santa Paula Free Will Baptist Church—Santa Paula, California (2 years)
First Free Will Baptist Church—Pocahontas, Arkansas (3 ½ years)
Airport Free Will Baptist Church—Tulsa, Oklahoma (14 years)
First Free Will Baptist Church—Pryor, Oklahoma (16 years)
Executive Board—Missouri State Association
Executive Board—Oklahoma State Association
Clerk—Missouri State Association
Credentials Committees—Local Associations/Missouri and Oklahoma