Texas native Rev. Finis Gene Fluker, who has died in Texas, age 91, held numerous Baptist pastorates during his long life, although he always considered his time behind the pulpit at Lake City’s First Baptist Church as the most eventful and rewarding in his life.
Not coincident-ally, Rev. Fluker’s 13 years at the Bluff Street church from June, 1979, until his farewell sermon on August 30, 1992, was a time of intense renewal at the church which paved the way for subsequent expansion continuing to this day.
When he first assumed the local church pulpit in 1979, he was the first year-round minister at the Baptist Church in more than 46 years.
It was during his tenure at First Baptist that the 1891 church building was painted and interior improvements completed; most notable, however, during his tenure was the congregation’s decision to acquire 10-vacant town lots on Bluff Street across from Matterhorn Motel which allowed later construction of the Baptist Fellowship Hall and residence for the year-round minister and his family.
In addition to his work at First Baptist Church, Gene Fluker and his wife, Etta, were owners of venerable Town Square Cabins adjacent to Lake City Park and worked incessantly improving the resort. Among the couple’s major projects at the resort was meeting federally-imposed deadlines to remove and replace underground fuel storage tanks, as well as rebuilding an enlarged office and convenience store.
Fluker was a life-long member of the Masonic Lodge and during his residence in Lake City served as Worshipful Master at Crystal Lake Masonic Lodge.
He often joked that he was totally enamored of Lake City and, given the right circumstances, would spend the remainder of his life here. He deferred from actually being buried here, he added with a smile, because “the ground was too cold.”
An eclectic businessman, Fluker first worked as an electrician and was moonlighting as a taxi driver in Corsicana, Texas, when he met his future wife, Etta Mae Gilliam. The couple married March 11, 1946.
Mrs. Fluker predeceased her husband on September 19, 2013.
Rev. Fluker began his Baptist ministry in 1948 and, prior to moving to Lake City, served pastorates in Corsicana (1950-52), Mixon, Troup and Tyler, Texas (1952-1962), Farmington and Hobbs, New Mexico (1966-1970), and Trinity Baptist Church, Gunnison (1971-1977).
During his residence in Gunnison in the 1970s, he and Etta were owners of Gunnison Electric & Appliance on Main Street. The Flukers were living in Hobbs, New Mexico, immediately prior to being called to the Lake City church in 1979.
Retiring from the local church in 1992, and selling Town Square Resort in 1993, the Flukers moved to Decatur, Texas, to be closer to their daughter, Margaret Dooling, and grandchildren.
Even in retirement, Rev. Fluker remained active and with his wife co-founded Decatur’s Lifeway Baptist Church in 2008.
He planned retirement from the Baptist ministry on several occasions, first in 2011 at his 65th wedding anniversary, which would have marked six decades as Baptist minister. Undaunted even after the death of his wife in 2013, Rev. Fluker continued in the ministry until ill health prompted a final retirement — 64 years after he initially entered the ministry — in 2015.
According to his granddaughter, Georgetta Dooling Slimp, he continued Biblical teaching at First Baptist Church in Decatur on an occasional basis. “He never missed an opportunity to share Jesus or help someone with a Biblical question… even in his last months when his memory was failing, he would still quote scripture and pray with his family.”
As a result of memory problems associated with dementia, Rev. Fluker spent his final months in a nursing home in nearby Bowie, Texas. He was referred to as “Preacher” in the nursing home and staff always ensured a Bible was close at hand and Bill Gaither music was playing.
At his death, his age was 91 years, 11 months, and 15 days.
Family suggests donations to an organization which provides financial assistance to retired ministers and their families, Mission Dignity, 2401 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas 75201-1498.
Following is the obituary supplied by Hawkins Funeral Home in Decatur:
Finis Eugene “Gene” Fluker, 91, a retired Baptist Minister, went to be with our Lord Monday, July 23, 2018, in Bowie.
Funeral 11 a.m. Friday, July 27, 2018, at First Baptist Church Decatur with burial in Cottonwood Cemetery.
Ken May and Gerre Joiner will officiate and pallbearers will be Louis Dooling, Randy Slimp, Timothy Slimp, Brent Payton, Kendall Payton, Brian Dooling and Dalton Kobs.
Finis was born August 8, 1926, to David and Rena (Sheets) Fulker in Corsicana, Texas. He was united in marriage with Etta Mae Gilliam on March 11, 1946, at First Baptist Church in Corsicana. They were married 67 years.
In 1948 he surrendered to the Gospel Ministry and began his 65-plus years as a teacher and pastor in several states until retirement in 2015.
Finis enjoyed fishing and the outdoors.
He was predeceased by his wife, Etta Mae; son, Tarrant Eugene Fluker; his sisters, Dorothy and Edna Mae; and his parents.
Those left behind to cherish his memory are his daughter, Margaret Dooling, and her husband, Louis, of Decatur; his grandchildren, Georgetta Slimp and husband, Randy, of Decatur, Katie Payton and husband, Brent, San Antonio, and Brian Dooling and his wife, Tina, of Houston; his great grandchildren, Amelia Slimp, Timothy Slimp, Courtney Payton, Kendall Payton, Ashlee Dooling, Kohltyn and Tristin Dooling.
One great-great granddaughter, Emma Alexis; his sisters, Ann, Elaine, Jonnie, Jo, Jane and Ruby; his brother, David; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and a host of friends.