THE VILLAGE, OKLAHOMA -- It's not often that you can get a city manager to lie on camera, but that's what Bruce Stone did for us Monday.
Before you get too upset though, you should know the reason for his deception, and for this gathering of The Village city employees.
They all filed into the city council chambers to surprise a fellow worker, and to honor him for a half-century of service.
"I'd say he's an institution as far as The Village goes," said Stone.
Larry Walton hired on a s a mechanic in March of 1966.
His few minutes of fame, up to now, was being the first in the city to volunteer for the polio vaccine when it came out in the 1950's.
He liked his job.
Four years later he became Public Works Director, and there he stayed.
Explaining the breadth of his responsibilities, Walton listed jobs that fall beneath the Public Works umbrella.
"Street Department, Sewer Department, Municipal Garage, Parks, and everything in the world you can think of," he said.
In fact Walton is the only Public Works Director The Village has ever had.
It's been 16 years since his last sick day.
He knew too much not to be suspicious about Manager Stone's phone call, but he was still overwhelmed that his 'village' would put up such a fuss.
"I thank the Lord and I thank all of you," he told his family and co-workers through tears. "And I'm sorry I'm just a little bit emotional."
Proclamation but no promotion, some people might get the idea that Larry is retiring in his early 70's.
There's still a lot to do, he says, and since when do you retire from the Walton family?
Larry told us, "Back in 1970 just before I took the job of Public Works Director, I prayed to the Lord that he would guide me and he did."
Companies used to give gold watches to long-term employees.
Larry got something better.
The Village that raised him asked him to get back to work.
People around here need him too much to let him go.
At his lunch celebration Monday, March 21, city leaders told Walton he could stay on the job as long as he wanted.