BY C.L. HARMON
While sitting at Dale Tate’s dining room table, he and I coined a new phrase Celebrity Citizen. It seemed appropriate after looking at his home office wall and seeing all the appreciation plaques and awards he has received over the years. He’s the gentlest of souls and one who reminds us that we all make a difference. Sometimes that difference comes as strokes of a paint brush on a canvas that create a masterpiece slowly one stroke at a time. Such has been for Tate as well, but it has been one word at a time, one knock at a door on numerous doors and one smile at a time over the course of 79 years. Like most people around this community, I know Dale because I see him at In N Out or run into him around town. But I didn’t really know Dale until I took all those ‘one at a times’ in and saw them in the perspective that can only come from looking backward over a life. The interesting part about this story and its theme of recognition, is that Tate did not ask for this recognition, another person asked the paper for the story. This, I believe, has been the case in those other times as well when he received recognition from his peers. The most interesting part of recognition is how people often view those whom they feel deserve recognition. It seems society looks at those who make significant impacts in relatively short times as those worthy of praise, but Mannford has remembered that it is the small stream that cuts a giant canyon over time and this they have recognized in Tate. Tate is a true ‘Mannfordite’ having graduated from the old Mannford school (old town) in 1956. Since then he has made it a goal to volunteer his time and efforts to better the community. One of those certificates is for 20 years of service as a firefighter, which started in the old town. Another accomplishment includes being a founding member of the Lion’s Club. His contributions to that organization earned him ‘Lion of the Year’ in 2004. He has also received the Service Star from Chamber of Commerce, been the Lions’ mascot, the grand marshall, among several other certificates of gratitude. What sets him apart from so many others is his willingness to follow through in his endeavors. This is a rare quality these days. For instance, his tenacity to keep pushing for donations, which were instrumental in getting the pirate on the water tower, light posts at the school and various streets around town and donating American flags to the city for holidays (through the Lions Club). In addition, he has taken his own money and purchased pirate flags which have been given to all the sporting teams in the school including the band and the cheerleaders. “I liked it. I made a lot of good friends and worked with some good employees,” he said. about working at In-N-Out in Mannford. Tate started with Vernon Butts 36 years ago when Butts bought it from his father-in-law. This accomplishment alone, is a true testament to his ‘finish what you start’ motto that he has lived by and proof that he is Mannford’s Celebrity Citizen. As for what may be his favorite accomplishment, this would seem to be the bridge that is now a permanent part of the school landscape. Through his desire to see that vision come true, Tate worked with Melvin Pulliam and Ray Goodman, among others to see it materialize. Not only is this accomplishment a quaint addition to to small town, it has great significance to Tate because it is a part of his home where he grew up. That bridge was donated by Pulliam who had saved it from the old town. Tate feels that all those involved in the project were able to bring a small piece of history to the community he loves; a remembrance, if you will, for a man who will forever walk across the hearts of a community he calls home.