Wildlife Conservation Commissioner John D. Groendyke of Enid accepts a citation from Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recognizing his 40 years of service on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. (DON P. BROWN / ODWC)
During a celebration marking his 40 years of service on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, John D. Groendyke of Enid drew accolades from Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Wildlife Department leaders and others at the State Capitol on Dec. 13.
The governor praised Groendyke’s commitment to serving for such a long time – five times longer than a single term for Commissioners, which is eight years.
“All Oklahomans should be thankful for his voluntary service for so many years,” Fallin said. “Oklahoma's wildlife resources are by and large in excellent shape, and John Groendyke deserves a great deal of credit for that.
“For 40 years, John has devoted countless hours of his time and attention while serving on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Certainly your service to the Wildlife Commission is historic. There’s not that many people who are willing to serve on a board or commission for that long, and without pay.
“He could be the nation’s longest-serving commissioner,” the governor said.
An audience including family members, fellow Wildlife Commissioners, state Secretary of Energy and the Environment Michael Teague, Chief of Staff Chris Benge, Wildlife Department workers and friends gathered in the Governor’s Blue Room for the program and reception to thank Groendyke for his many contributions to Oklahoma over the past four decades.
Wildlife Department Director J.D. Strong drew laughter in his opening remarks, pointing out the presence of “the longest-serving wildlife commissioner in the nation and what could be the shortest-serving director in the nation.” Strong began his duties with the Department about two months ago.
Groendyke said as he looks back over 40 years, “all I can say is when you’re having fun, it goes by fast.” He said the Wildlife Department is the state agency with the longest-tenured employees who stay because of their dedication and because they like what they do.
He listed some highlights from his tenure that makes him proud. They include the joy of working with an agency where the employees are very professional and display good attitudes; additional public lands that have been bought to provide more opportunities for sportsmen; the development of the hunter education program; and the positive effects of the Wildlife Expo.
The Commissioner said he has been particularly honored to serve as chairman of the Finance and Retirement Committee, saying the fiduciary status of the Department is in good shape.
Wildlife Department Assistant Director of Operations Wade Free thanked the longtime commissioner on behalf of the Department’s employees and presented Groendyke with a handmade knife. The Damascus steel blade was engraved to commemorate the occasion, and the unique handle was inset with a pin marking his 40 years of service.
Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman John P. Zelbst of Lawton recapped his colleague’s background as a business leader and his Commission career. He read from the original 1976 appointment document signed by Gov. David Boren, the first of six different governors who would appoint him to the Wildlife Commission. He serves from District 8, which includes north-central and northwestern Oklahoma.
Groendyke was born in Omaha, Neb., in 1944, but has called Enid home for most of his life. He is chairman and chief executive of Groendyke Transport Inc., the nation’s fifth-largest motor carrier of bulk commodities. He has served on numerous boards including those of OGE Energy, National Tank Truck Carriers, Wentworth Military Academy and Foundation, Oklahoma Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Grand National Quail Foundation, USA Shooting, OSU Foundation and Oklahoma State Fair.
He was inducted into the Oklahoma State University Hall of Fame in 2015 and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2013.
Fallin, who reappointed Groendyke in 2012, stated how remarkable it is that Commissioner Groendyke has continuously served under seven governors. “That speaks volumes of John and his leadership and his commitment and his respect he has gained.”
And she reminded the audience that Groendyke isn’t done yet. “Let me make this clear – John is not retiring. He still has four more years to go on this term,” she said.
The governor read a citation recognizing the Commissioner’s outstanding leadership, distinguished service and steadfast dedication. She concluded by saying, “I, Mary Fallin, governor, do hereby announce Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, as ‘Commissioner John Groendyke Day.’ ”