By RENEE FITE
After retiring, some people find a hobby, others get a second career, and there are those who want to give back to their communities.
Lloyd Spyres firmly believe that as we end our primary career, we can have great influence on our community by volunteering to help others just starting theirs.”
Spyres retired from the National Weather Service as a meteorologist at the Tulsa Weather Station, as well as his second career in water and rock-scaping, in which he worked all over the U.S. installing waterfalls and massive boulder retaining walls. Locally, he installed the waterfall on Town Branch on Water Street, a waterfall along the creek near the city swimming pool and the boulder retaining wall from the swimming pool area on South Street to the bridge.
In his third career, he’s a travel agent with Vacations R Us, a business he owns with wife Linda, which also affords him the opportunity to give back to the community.
“It makes no difference of your financial or social position, at the end can you say, ‘I helped my brothers and sisters when they were in need,’” Spyres said.
Growing up in hard times, everyone always helped everyone else, he said.
“My favorite volunteer was my Scout master. I later became a Scout master, and also had an Explorer group in weather,” he said. “Some of these explorers went on to become TV meteorologists and others went into different fields. I still have contact with some of them.”
Along with Kiwanis, the most recent organizations he has volunteered with are Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a Northeastern State University basketball fundraiser and “Feed My Sheep.”
“With CASA, I like being able to be a stand in at court hearings for children who cannot speak for themselves,” he said. “The NSU meet-and-greet night helps young people who come from all over the country and for most it is their first time away from home. Do you remember how it was on your first time?”
His most fulfilling volunteer work, he said, is something he does one evening each week at the First United Methodist Church.
“We are at home in the Episcopal Church. Several churches in Tahlequah have banded together to form ‘Feed My Sheep,’ which feeds around 200 people every Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m.,” he said. “It is non-denominational, non-cafeteria style meal. Everyone sits at a table with place settings, are served and each table has a volunteer host who interacts with the people at their table.”
Politics and religion are not discussed, he said.
“I am a table host and Linda is a waitress. All denominations are represented in both. This is the most fulfilling of my volunteer works,” he said
Tahlequah has been home to the Spyres since 1989. They were living in Locust Grove and Linda wanted to finish her degree, so they thought it would be best for her not to have to drive every day.
“Also there was very little stimulating conversation there that Tahlequah has so abundantly,” he said.
Spyres is the father of six children, five sons and a daughter; nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“Even back when our children were growing up, Linda and I felt that basic family values were fading away. We decided that we would restore as many as we could,” he said.
On school nights, bedtime was 9 p.m. and always a special family time.
“We would always tell stories as they went to bed,” he said. “I would give them a choice whether they wanted a true story, a make-believe or a guess, whether it was true or make believe,” he said. “A few years ago, Linda told me, ‘You ought to write those stories that you told the kids because after you are gone, no one will remember them.”
One day when he had nothing pressing to do he decided to write down a couple of stories. Eventually, Spyres compiled enough stories to fill a book of “Grandpa Lloyd’s Stories.”
Another volunteer opportunity inspired Spyres to rediscover one of his talents, storytelling. Kiwanis started a program where volunteers would go to elementary schools and read from the books that were in the classrooms.
“To our surprise, most of the books were mainly pictures, not much of a story line, and you could read every line in their books in less than five minutes,” Spyres said. “I told Linda the next time we went to read let’s take a couple of our stories to see how they go over.”
Linda was reading one of the stories and a second grader said , “there are no pictures in this story.”
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