ENID, Okla. — Longtime Enid resident Clayton Nolen has two enterprise playing cards he offers out when making new acquaintances.
One has his contact data as a native radio host. The different, which Nolen calls his a “retired business card,” additionally has his contact information — together with traces like “No Business, No Plans, No Worries,” and “Too Healthy to Beg, Too Old to Steal, Too Lazy to Work.”
Indeed, Nolen stated he’s loved having much less to do since he retired in 2014 from Enid Public Schools.
“I tell people … We spend 85% of ourselves going to doctor’s visits, and the other 15% trying to figure out how we’re gonna pay the insurance,” he stated.
While he’s lately taken a slower path, the 74-year-old educator, church chief and civic volunteer has spent a long time serving the Enid neighborhood alongside numerous avenues. He is now being acknowledged for his contributions as a Pillar of the Plains honoree.
Nolen is one of three Pillar of the Plains finalists who might be acknowledged throughout a reception at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 13 at Stride Bank Center. This 12 months’s different finalists are Krista Roberts and Connie Sturgeon-Hart.
“When I think of ‘Pillar of the Plains’ … (it’s) somebody real old, been here for a really long time,” Nolen stated with a chuckle, “and his or her contributions are not just in one area. It’s spread out in many, many different areas and has helped not just establish things but has helped the general public in different needs.”
If Nolen have been to be named 2021’s Pillar recipient, he can be the primary Black individual to obtain the respect.
For years, Nolen has mentored many African-American boys in Northwest Oklahoma, pushing them to achieve success in their jobs, church buildings and households.
By specializing in these three tenets of success, he stated, “They can see a future, and that future can be very positive. And they can see themselves moving up and probably in some of the things they always wanted to do.”
Nolen served as Enid’s Ward 3 commissioner from 1985 to 1989, throughout which he based the still-active Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission; created the general public entry channel that grew to become PEGASYS and was later given to Enid Public Schools in 2016; and handled the buying of the financially struggling Phillips University’s property. He additionally chaired the town’s Police Civil Service and Community Development Block Grant Funding commissions.
“I never thought that I’d be doing it in Enid,” Nolen stated about serving in public workplace. “There was not very many diversities in different positions here in Enid.”
Ward 2 City Commissioner Derwin Norwood, who now represents half of the identical space after ward boundaries have been redrawn, stated Nolen has been a nice advocate for the neighborhood and for the church in Southern Heights, Enid’s traditionally Black neighborhood.
“He really made sure we understood how important it was to get an education,” Norwood stated. “He led by example.”
After graduating from faculty at Central State University, Nolen labored for Enid faculties as a touring speech pathologist for seven years, additionally moonlighting as an grownup schooling trainer.
He quickly took over as director of EPS’ grownup ed program, which was moved from Roosevelt Elementary School to Carver Educational Center and was expanded to daytime and night lessons. He additionally directed academics who made visits to homebound college students.
Nolen later grew to become the chief GED examiner, acquired the Juvenile Detention School and have become the supervisor of the colleges at Sequoyah Boys’ Group Home and Integris Behavioral Health.
He additionally served on round a dozen education-related native and state boards, committees and job forces throughout his 42 years with EPS. Today, Nolen nonetheless serves on solely the Truth and Sentencing Advisory Council for 4 space counties.
“(Education) was my life. It was my livelihood,” he stated. “So I had to support that in any manner that I could.”
Nolen hung up his educating hat in 2014. Nolen’s spouse Varna, is also retired from schooling as a particular ed trainer at Longfellow Middle School.
“It was time. Sometimes you stay at the party too long,” he stated.
Enid’s still-continuing GED program later was relocated to Lincoln Academy when Carver grew to become an early childhood heart, and Nolen stated he nonetheless sees former college students round city, many of whom he stated succeeded regardless of totally different circumstances.
“Seeing a success with your students always made me feel good,” he stated. “You name ‘em, I’ve had them.”
He now additionally hosts “The Gospel Show with Clayton Nolen,” a native Sunday morning radio program on 100.9 FM and 960 AM.
Nolen, a trustee of the Grayson Missionary Baptist Church board, stayed devoted to his church all through the troubling COVID pandemic, which noticed weekly providers transfer solely on-line whereas main renovations that started in 2019 continued on the constructing, Enid’s oldest traditionally Black church.
Services solely started being held in individual once more in November for the congregation, which at this time numbers round 30 to 40 individuals.
A newly accomplished addition, together with renovation of current house, included new handicap-accessible loos, a new pastor’s workplace, fellowship corridor, kitchen, two lecture rooms, a secretary’s workplace and a new entrance off the northeast nook of the church.
Nolen, whose mom handed away in January, started going by her belongings this 12 months. He donated a number of Bibles from her huge assortment to the church, together with a lot of her garments, footwear and piano sheet music.
His pastor and longtime good friend, the Rev. Norris Williams, stated Nolen “has the heart” for the individuals in the neighborhood.
“I know that everything he does is with the intentions of good always,” he stated. “He is a Christian man who believes in his faith.”