by J.D. Pinkerton
Historically, many Gibson Countians have Middle Tennessee roots, usually from a previous generation.
But the Pulliases are a new crop of transplants. Ken and Terry Pullias came to the city of Dyer 22 years ago from Murfreesboro. From large city to small town, they have made Dyer and Gibson County their own since 1995. After the death of the late Jim Siler, the local State Farm agent, Ken and Terry Pullias took the reins of the State Farm Insurance Agency. Ken said he enjoys the small town life so much; everyone knows each other and cares about each other. Simple times, pushing a cart in Food Rite and talking to folks he meets gives Pullias a great feeling of fellowship.
He and Terry were quick to join the Methodist Church and become mainstays in its legacy. Ken has been with State Farm for over 40 years now. Their daughter, Holly, lives in Murfreesboro and is an investigator for Medicare fraud. Their son, Will, recently completed eight years as a Navy Hospital Corpsman assigned to the Marines. He served two duties overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. He now attends MTSU.
Ken Pullias has been past president of the advisory board for the Carl Perkins Center for prevention of child abuse. He has been the treasurer of the Lions Club for 10 years, is a past president of the Greater Gibson County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Gibson County Planning Commission. Pullias has been a leader of the Boy Scouts since 1997. A Gideon since 2003, he has served as a speaker for the Gideons and is a past member of the Gideons state cabinet.
He is the son of Gray and Eloise Pullias. His mother is age 93 and living in an assisted living , Morningside, in Gallatin Tennessee. His father passed away in 2001. His mother’s maiden name is Roberson.
I asked if he had a nick name growing up and he said, “No, but if you heard Kenneth Edward, you better get there quick!”
He was born April 11, 1951, in Lebanon Tennessee in Wilson County. Growing up he attended church in Castalian Springs, Tennessee at the Castalian Springs United Methodist Church. On a good Sunday, he said, 35 would attend. That was in Sumner County.
The earliest memories growing up in Castalian Springs was that his father ran a portable feed mill. “I can remember at night him on the telephone; we were hardly ever allowed to get on the phone at night, because he had to have that for his business. He would let us go with him if it wasn’t a big deal sometimes. Riding with him in the big Diamond-T truck was a thrill.”
His customers would supply their own hay and corn and he would just back up to their barn and grind it for them. He could add a portion of molasses to the feed mix if they requested. In the winter months his father might leave at eight in the morning and not get home till eight or nine at night, Pullias recalls.
Young Pullias’ most hated chore as a kid working on the farm was gathering eggs. He said you just couldn’t tell what you were going to find when you reached your hand into that nest. “We didn’t have a flashlight; there was no electricity; you might be reaching your hand into a raccoon or other kinds of varmints.
His brother attended Bledsoe School at Castalian Springs; when Ken came along he caught the bus to Gallatin. There he went to Guild School, the elementary school, and the primary school was called Howard School.
His first paying job after he left home was working in the tobacco floors. He would pack the tobacco into baskets then move it onto the floors where the salesman and auctioneers could sell it. He said it was cold work, there was no heat, doors were always open and it was usually in November. His bosses would make him go into this little office about every two hours and get good and warm, then head back out again.
He graduated college at MTSU with a degree in Communications and Journalism. He actually began working for State Farm in 1973. Ken said, “Terry and I got married July 9, 1977, in Murfreesboro. We met at State Farm which was unusual because they don’t like husband-wife teams to work together.”
The hardest choice he ever made was moving to Dyer, “leaving family and friends to the great unknown.”
The most amazing thing that ever happened to him, he was quick to say, was “meeting her”, talking about his wife. His wife has six brothers; one is a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. Another of her brothers was just elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. “We spend our vacations just visiting our families.”
Ken does a lot of traveling and speaking in Methodist churches. There’s no compensation. He explains, “It’s done all for the Lord.”
I asked if he or his wife went through any culture shock leaving the big city and moving to Dyer. Ken said it affected his wife more. She likes to read and couldn’t find a bookstore.
“I grew up out in the country on a small farm. We had a store and a post office and that was it. We were like Currie. We had land all around Gallatin, Tennessee. Daddy had 500-600 acres so we were always busy moving equipment from here to there and back.”
“We’ve been very blessed living here in Dyer. I just enjoy the small town flavor. If you’re in trouble everyone wants to help you. If you have a problem, someone is going to be there for you.
“I have enjoyed working with the youth here. Jamie Sample Tignor of Yorkville and I took the kids to so many retreats like Lakeshore near Camden. It has been a blessed time in my life.”