Chapter 14 Graduating to Wise County, Texas as a Senior Citizen
Though my work at Highland Park Presbyterian Church concluded November 1, 2004, the preparation for those advancing years had us identifying and purchasing a home on 10 acres in Aurora, Wise County, Texas, in December 1999, about some 50 miles northwest of Dallas. For a couple of those years, we maintained an apartment in Dallas, having two residents. The last couple of years were entirely residing in Wise County, commuting some 100 miles daily round trip, a practice that was my delight finally to conclude!
As this is being written in 2018 it’s our 19th year living here. That is the longest period we’ve ever lived in one location, either for Suzanne or for myself. It’s important to me to add that this is the place where we have experienced the most in God’s blessing in our lives and the most results in fulfilling and interesting participation in community organizations, in genealogical organizations, and in political circles. Though our blessing has been to receive Christian growth in each place we’ve lived and worked, this place has been where the most vigorous spiritual growth in our Christian lives has taken place.
We already had connected in 1998 with the Eagle Mountain International Church, (EMIC) a non-denominational congregation situated on Eagle Mountain Lake in north Fort Worth. It was about 8 miles from our new home. Suzanne joined it in 1998, shortly after locating that church and identifying it was where we were to go. My membership delayed through the completion of my professional staff tenure at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in 2004.
EMIC is the “mother church” of the Kenneth Copeland Ministries, and EMIC is located on the 1,500 acers where KCM is headquartered. KCM is an international ministry involving an estimated budget of more than $150 million annually.
We bought the 10 acers for our Aurora residence from Joseph (Joe) D. & Karen Meadows Warkentine, born in 1947 and 1954. They owned 20 acers, and had divided it, constructing a residence on the southern 10 acers that we purchased. They lived in their home a few more years, but then sold it in 2012 to William Wayne and Kristi Renee Conn Huckabee, who had four daughters. The Warkentine’s relocated to Greeley, Colorado, from where they had originally come. The Huckabee’s sold their 10 acers in 2014 to a man who renovated it and sold it in 2015 to Jacob Lee (Jake) and Lindsey Michel Bruton, who had a toddler son and gave issue to another son by 2016.
This is how our home originally was configured, without the veranda on the parking lot side of the house.
This is how the home appeared after the veranda (party barn) was added on the parking lot side.
Here’s a look inside the veranda where it could be cleared out for social use.
We’ve had several occasions to have neighborhood people, friends from our church or political events. We’ve had elected officials of our Wise County be here and enjoy hot dog lunches with us and our neighbors.
The immediate area around which our new home was situated was a part of a larger section of land bought out here about 1962 for Mr. Beverly Eugene (Gene) Derting and his wife, Helen Burns Derting. They had four sons, Stephen (Steve), Brian, Curtis and Kevin, ages 2 to 15. Their parcel of land was about 150 acers. Over the years, Gene sold portions of the land. The initial purchaser was Mr. Earnest Calvin Smith, in 1968. Calvin was in the construction business, so he built his own house. Later he constructed a house for his Father-in-law and wife at 802 Derting Road East, directly across the street from where our present day home is located. Robert and GayLynn Bodkin reside there currently.
Calvin constructed the home next to them at 806 Derting Road East, also across the street from our home. Our lot is some 300+ feet wide along the street. It was for Calvin’s daughter, who now lives in Colorado. Subsequently, his son Clayt Weston Smith and his wife, Terese Fern Ralls resided there. They divorced, with Terese and their two sons, John and Cooper, continuing to reside there. Clayt moved to their land behind that home, which is an RV Trailer Park fronting on Clayt Drive (named after him).
Three of the four Derting sons still resided in this neighborhood. The eldest, Steven (Steve) and his wife, Janet, are at 513 Derting Road. Curtis is at 505 Derting Road, and Brian is at 311 Derting Road. Kevin and his wife, Melissa, live in Leander, Texas. Steve is a former Mayor of Aurora and the current Chair of the Building and Zoning Commission. His wife, Janet, is a member of the City Council. It has been my privilege and honor to serve the city as Chair of the Historic Preservation Commission. Another couple of our friends residing on Derting Road is Robert & Melba Pitts. He is a former Mayor as well. They were high school sweethearts in the area, went different ways in life, married and each raised families. Later in life, they both were widowed and ultimately married. They are among our cherished neighbors. Ted & Trayce Stevenson are our immediate neighbors. Ted is our home and auto insurance agent! Close by for quick claims!
We recognize that God’s Providence has placed us into an ideal neighborhood in which to live out our earthly lives. For exercise, Suzanne and I walk around the neighborhood on about a two-mile path, perhaps four or five times a week. We have learned the names of all the people by whose homes we walk. There are a little over 60 of them. As we walk, we take occasion to pray for them, that they would be blessed and protected. Our experience is that often we have occasion to chat briefly with some of these wonderful neighbors. That is the glue that is part of holding a neighborhood together and makes for a good community. We even take plastic bags with us to pick up litter along the way! You could say, “Business is picking up!”
The Aurora City Hall is just up the street, five blocks from our home. It’s City Administrator/City Secretary is Dr. Toni Wheeler. She is a life-long resident of Aurora, with her parents having lived here and grandparents lived here. She as a master’s degree and two PhD degrees. She is very qualified to work professional many other places, but she wants to be in her “city.”
One of the early positive turn of events is our getting active in the Wise County Republican Party. Due to turns of events and leaders having other directions, the occasion arose that I was elected the Chair of the Wise County Republican Party. My service was from 2000 to 2008, being elected in four two-year terms.
In those years, a wave of Republican voting preferences grew in Texas and in Wise County. There are 23 local county elective offices in Wise County. The previously all Democratic Party officers began to wane with the election in 1996 of two Republican candidates. That trend grew in the election years of 1998, 2000 and 2004.
By 2004, all the local county elective offices were held by Republican officials. The front page of the Wise County Messenger ran the story and photograph of me holding up the victorious arm of David Walker, candidate for the office of Sheriff. At that time, he became the youngest county sheriff among the 254 counties in Texas, being age 32.
That holding on to occupying all the local elective offices still is in effect in 2018 as this is being written. Part of that success and growth gave me opportunities to become known in our new-found home county, to be an invited speaker at various venues, and to become a writer of articles and letters to the editor that were published in the two major newspapers in Wise County, the Wise County Messenger and the Bridgeport Index.
Not only did that participation enable both Suzanne and me to be elected regularly as Delegates from Wise County to the Republican Party of Texas State Conventions every two years. With our previous participation in Dallas County, both of us have been privileged to serve as Delegates to that State Convention every two years since 1988, except for one time when we were on a trip in Europe and another time when I was in surgery! Our representative service in 2018 made our 14th time to be elected Delegates. In 2012, it was my honor to be elected as an Alternate Delegate to the National Republican Party Convention In Tampa, Florida. Since Wise County had been predominately Republican a couple of decades, it was stated that I was the first people elected to a Republican National Convention who came from Wise County!
Being a supporter of the idea of term limits, as well as seeing to it that young blood in leadership in any organization be given the opportunities to serve, my decision was to step down form the county chair positon in 2008. In 2007, my sights were cast upon a 33-year old lawyer in Wise County who become active in our Wise County Republican Party. He’d served time in the Wise County District Attorney’s office, and then had entered private practice. My private proposal to him was to allow me to mentor him for a year about how to be a county political party chair, with the understanding that my intention was not to run for re-election in 2008. If he did that, he probably would be the most qualified county chair candidate in the Party Primary Election, even though any qualified voter was free to file as a candidate. He agreed, and accomplished a success tenure for our local people and party. Here’s a Wise County Messenger article about that.
A decade later, he has stepped down, having brought along a young man, Eric Marney, to be our new Wise County Republican Party Chair in 2018. Eric has been a political working partner with me several years. He and his family are members of the church where Suzanne and I worship, Eagle Mountain International Church. The photo here shows Eric at one of our Wise County Conventions, following a Party Primary Election, along with Wise Republican Women’s Vice President, Bettye Parker and me.
Some of the documents developed over the years have been for educating the public about government, how political circles move and how to become involved in the governance of your city, county, state or national government. One document was created specifically for one of our teenage granddaughters after she had occasion to visit a political event and to meet several elected officials. Here it is. A more comprehensive 11-chapter course on government and political involvement was developed for schools to use, for home school venues or for anyone wanting to learn more about these matters. Here it is.
In 2008, the Texas Federation of Republican Women conducted a training seminar at our Wise County Courthouse. It was led by Toni Dashiell, who at the time was President of the Texas Federation of Republican Women. One of the things she sought to motivate we “students” was to use Facebook as a networking tool. Up to that time, I had steered away from joining Facebook. So, she convinced me to start an account. So, the Dwight Albert Sharpe Facebook account was started a decade ago (at this writing).
It did prove to be a wonder took for me to make and to maintain connections from loved ones, from friends and from people of distant acquaintance with whom continued connection had not been maintained. Today (2018), there are over 2,800 friends connected with me.
In addition, it has been an easy place to lodge photographs of personal, family, community activities and of political activities. Today, there are over 300 photo albums in my Facebook account, which may contain over 3,000 photographs. Browsing through it can enable one to see the variety of activities we’ve enjoyed.
Today, Toni is on the National Republican Party Committee (RNC). There are one committeeman and one committeewoman, elected at Republican State Conventions in Presidential Election years who comprise the 100 members of the NRC. Here is how you can see who serves on the NRC from your state.
My website has a Political Page posted with photographs and brief narratives covering our political activities and experiences since living in Wise County. It’s a lot of material, and takes a while to scroll down through it. However, it is a comprehensive illustration of what we’ve been doing in the political realms.
Our current Sheriff, Lane Akin, here is being congratulated by Charlie Huff (a member of our home church, EMIC) as his 2016 first time Sheriff election has been confirmed.
Lane has an impressive career resume serving Texas Ranger Service, Highway Patrol, Law Enforcement at D/FW Airport, and various other security and law enforcement roles.
One of our officers with whom Suzanne and I have grown near and dear is our Texas Congressional District #12 Committeewoman, Kay Granger. Kay formerly served as Mayor of Fort Worth. She currently is Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference. Some of her active pursuits are in this website.
Kay serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, which is a significant budget-building role of the Congress. She Chair’s that Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense. She also serves on the Energy & Water Development and Related Agencies SubCommittee, as well as on the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.
Kay has been a staunch advocate in supporting our government’s favorable diplomatic relationships with the nation of Israel, a cause near and dear to our hearts. Suzanne and I are members of Christians United For Israel, which is a political advocacy group that lobbies Congress to relate well to Israel (CUFI). Suzanne and I have been a part of CUFI’s visit on Capitol Hill to Kay’s office, along with the Senior Pastors of our Church George & Terri Pearsons at EMIC. Here we are on one of those visits.
Kay’s roles on military oriented Congressional assignments enabled her to accomplish achieving the naming of one of the Littoral Combat Ships after Fort Worth. The USS Fort Worth was Christened December 4, 2010 at the Lockheed Martin facilities on the Menominee River in Mariette, Wisconsin. It was my pleasure that Suzanne and I, along with representatives of the Nimitz Squadron of the Texas Navy, to be present for that Christening. Here is a copy of the article published by our Wise County Messenger.
On August 6, 2012, there was the ceremony in Fort Worth called the Weighing of the Anchor. Here is the article published by our Wise County Messenger.
The Dedication and the formal launching of the USS Fort Worth into military service was on September 22, 2012. Again, Suzanne and I were privileged to be present for this event. Here is the article published by our Wise County Messenger.
Our interest in the CUFI organization, supporting relations with Israel, goes back to the summer of 2006, the year it first generated its Washington Summit conference. That’s what became an annual conference of people gathering to hear outstanding speakers, etc. We attended the 2007 Summit and have attended a total of about nine of them over the years. The speakers were people such as Israeli Prime Ministry Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Vice President Michael Pence, etc. Their conferees run about five or six thousand.
In 2012, we had an interesting thing happen. First, let’s go back to when we lived in St. Louis, 1972-1982. Our daughter, Tiffany, developed a friend in her junior high age school classroom. Michelle Greer was her name. Over the years, our family has kept in touch with her through a number of
Our life in Wise County was enhanced for us when our son-in-law, daughter and our five grandchildren moved in April 2007 to reside less than three miles from us. That has been such a blessing to us to be so close to this part of our family.