You can describe Harry Grider in two words: Work ethic.
If you doubt it, just ask anyone at Lexington Public Schools.
On average, Harry puts in 60 to 65 hours a week there, wearing dual hats as director of transportation and maintenance director.
The clock stands at 26 years and counting.
And that’s not all.
He was also the town’s fire chief and emergency management director “among other things” for 25 years.
That’s a lot of dedication and work for a town he isn’t from.
Harry is originally from Oklahoma City and grew up in the grocery business.
His parents were Gordon and Maxine Grider. They owned and operated Grider’s Discount Foods and in time Grider would manage two of the family’s stores in Norman and Oklahoma City.
In the early 1960s, the elder Griders moved to Sun Valley Ranch south of Lexington.
There they produced silage and grain crops and maintained herds of registered Charolais and Angus cattle which they crossbred.
As a youth, Harry worked with the cattle, learning to artificially inseminate cows.
The ranch also included a feedlot and processing plant.
It was Grider-raised beef that the stores’ customers found in the meat department.
Harry’s interest in the fire department dates from the first time he drove into town.
He met Herb Engdal and would watch him work on a 1965 pumper truck.
It lit a spark in Harry, who soon joined the Lexington Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter.
“I felt like it was something I needed to do,” he said.
Rising in the department, Harry eventually became fire chief.
Harry ran on numerous fires, but some stand out in his memory.
There was a two-story hotel on Main Street that burned.
“It was blazing pretty good” when firefighters arrived, he said.
Harry and another firefighter got inside the building and were able to knock the fire out.
And over the years there were several large grass fires that took the efforts of multiple fire departments working together to extinguish.
It was all about service. Always.
“We got the ISO rating down while I was there,” he recalled.
He was also instrumental in building ball parks in Lexington.
“Anything to improve Lexington” was always on his radar.
Harry lost both parents 40-odd years ago. He married his wife, Kathy, 47 years ago.
They have two daughters – one in Frisco, Texas, and the other in Lubbock.
Amber and her husband, Clint, have three children – Brooklyn, Jacquelyn and Chip. Ashley and Scott have two – Tegan and Jenny.
Kathy is an active member of First Baptist Church in Lexington and owns Natural Look Salon in Purcell.
As the school district’s transportation director, Harry oversees a dozen drivers and a fleet of buses that pick up and deliver students every day.
Add to that maintenance to too many structures to count and it’s no wonder Harry has a schedule few could manage without burning out.
“I don’t spend much time being idle,” he said modestly.
Has he given any thought to retiring?
“Not in the near future.”