Community Heroes: Greene County native remembered for 30+ years of serving community, following return from combat


GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) From 11 years of military service to becoming a pastor for more than 30 years, one Greene County native is being remembered for his love to serve others.

This week, we introduce you to the late Wayland Fillers as this week’s community hero.

“He’s awesome. The best man I ever met,” Steve Fillers explained in the News Channel 11 Greeneville bureau office.

Steve Fillers is a native of Greene County, like his father. He recalled the great impact his father had on his community as a pastor for 34 years. When his father, Wayland Fillers returned from serving overseas, Steve told Pheben Kassahun that he was saved.

He said, “He carried himself well. He was well-known around here, well-respected.”

Fillers said his father grew up poor, which is why he understood the importance of helping his community members when he can.

“If somebody called him out at 2 o’clock in the morning, ‘hey, I need to talk to you, he’d go or he was at the hospital visiting sick people,” Fillers said.

Before he started serving as a pastor in 1974, fillers served his country, having been drafted in 1942. Fillers said his father never spoke about his military service, unless he was asked about it.

Fillers explained, “He was in the 101 Airborne and the 82nd. He rode gliders into D-Day, and he was in the invasion of Holland, and he was in the Battle of the Bulge.”

Being drafted in World War II, Fillers is credited with 11 years, 6 months and 18 days of active service in the army, according to his son.

Fillers said, “When he woke up every morning, he thought about that– stepping over dead bodies on the Normandy Beach and he never got a scratch. He always just thanked God for that, you know.”

The war hero eventually left the Army in 1953 after meeting his wife while on furlough, in London. The two were married for 64 years, according to Fillers, until his mother’s passing in 2009. His father later passed in 2013.

“They went on three dates and got married. He brought her back here and I think that’s the only reason. In order to start a family.” He joked, “My mom, she was a lot easier going but dad, he was a lot more stern.”

Fillers received the Bronze Star Medal, awarded to members for their heroic achievement in a combat zone, along with 11 other medals.

Seven years after his death, his son Steve continues to remind his community why his father is our community hero.

If you know someone who makes our community a better place to live, we want to hear from you! Nominate them to be an ABC Tri-Cities Community Hero! Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to nominate them.

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