Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Orceneth Asbury Fly (1894-1976)

Portrait from the Hondo Anvil Herald, April 6, 1955.

   A longtime civic leader and prominent citizen in Hondo, Texas, Orceneth Asbury Fly can rightfully be called the oddest named mayor this Medina County city ever produced, and in addition to his two terms as mayor was a druggist in that city for over five decades. Born in Utopia, Texas on February 16, 1894, Orceneth Asbury "O.A." Fly was the son of John Sidney and Annalee (Fisher) Fly. Bestowed the unusual names Orceneth Asbury upon his birth, Fly's unusual name may have a connection to Orceneth Asbury Fisher (1803-1880), a widely known Methodist minister who spent a good portion of his later life in Texas.
  O.A. Fly attended school in Hondo and following graduation from that city's high school continued study at the Coronel Institute in San Marcos and the University of Texas' Pharmacy School at Galveston. Following his graduation in January 1917 Fly began his career as a pharmacist, briefly residing in Laredo and San Antonio before returning to Hondo. He married in May 1917 to Willie LeRoy Barton (1894-1967), to whom he was wed for fifty years. The couple's lengthy union would produce four childrenOrceneth Asbury Jr. (1918-1972), Frances Ruth (1921-2004), William Sidney (born 1925) and the Rev. Richard Fly (1930-1959).
  In January 1919 Fly returned to Hondo and shortly after his return "purchased a half interest" in the Martin Drug Store. Following the purchase, the store underwent a name change to the Fly Drug Co. He would remain connected with this business for over fifty years (retiring in January 1970) and was later joined by his sons William Sidney and Orceneth Asbury Jr., the latter also being surgeon based in Houston. During its existence, the Fly Drug Co. would carry not only medical supplies and pharmaceuticals but also "sundries, candy, tobacco, gift items, school supplies and the like", as well as sporting goods.
   While prominent in Hondo business circles, O.A. Fly also stood tall in city civic affairs, being a past president of the Chamber of Commerce and Hondo Lions Club, a past master of the local Masonic lodge, as well as a Shriner. Fly also was a longstanding member of the Southwest Texas Pharmaceutical Association and the National Association of Retail Druggists.
   O.A. Fly entered Hondo political life in the late 1940s when he was elected to the city council. In February 1953 Fly announced his candidacy for mayor of Hondo, following incumbent mayor Bob Kollman's announcement that he wouldn't be seeking reelection. In April of that year, Fly won the mayorality and would serve two terms in that post. Upon entering the mayor's office, Fly envisioned a bright future for Hondo, remarking
"I want many things for Hondo but especially I would like to see all our streets paved, curbs and sidewalks laid, a federal building, a city hall,  a city library, a large park and city playground. Also, I would like for Hondo to have a zoning ordinance, a standard building code, improved traffic regulations, a stricter enforcement on vaccinating and tagging dogs, a cleaner city and a continuation of the friendly hospitality with which Hondoans make visitors and newcomers feel at home in Hondo."
O.A. Fly at work, from the February 17, 1967 Hondo Anvil Herald.

   Fly's second term as mayor concluded in April 1957 and was succeeded by Dr. Thomas Knopp. In 1967 Fly celebrated not only the five-decade anniversary of his entering the druggist trade but also his fiftieth wedding anniversary. He and his wife were subsequently feted with a large party at their home in June of that year, which was attended by over 150 guests from all across the country. Sadly, just two months following their anniversary, Willie Barton Fly died at age 72. In the year following his wife's passing O.A. Fly remarried to Emilia "Millie" Eckhart, to whom he was wed until her death in April 1974
  In January 1970 the Fly Drug Co. was purchased from Fly and his son William by Dan B. Conoly Jr., with the business continuing under the name Dan's Drug Inc. Following his retirement O.A. Fly continued prominence in Hondo, being a member of the Board of Stewards for the Hondo Methodist Church. He died that city on February 3, 1976, just two weeks shy of his 82nd birthday. He was later interred alongside his wife Willie at the Oakwood Cemetery in the Hondo cemetery complex.

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