Insurance Exec Chad Dillingham Picked for Wildlife Commission; John Groendyke to Step Down After 44 Years

Northwestern Oklahoma insurance executive D. Chad Dillingham of Enid has been appointed by Gov. J. Kevin Stitt to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Pending the state Senate’s approval of his appointment, Dillingham will begin serving an eight-year term as the District 8 representative in July 2020.

Dillingham will take the seat being vacated by Enid businessman John D. Groendyke, who has decided to step down from the Commission after 44 years of continuous service under seven different governors.

“I’d like to thank Governor Stitt for the honor of his appointment to serve the state in this capacity,” Dillingham said. “It is truly an honor, and I am anxious to learn more about the great work being done in wildlife management, conservation, hunter education, and preserving access for all Oklahomans to continue enjoying wildlife and the great outdoors for generations to come.”

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Director J.D. Strong praised the appointment.

“I’ve both bird-hunted and worked alongside Chad Dillingham in the past, and I can say unequivocally that Governor Stitt made an incredible pick in appointing him to replace the ‘irreplaceable’ Commissioner Groendyke. His family and his business are well-respected, and much of that is due to what Chad brings to the Dillingham name.

“The sportsmen and women of this state will soon learn what I most respect about Mr. Dillingham as they watch him make rational, well-reasoned decisions that are in the best interest of growing our state, spreading our outdoor lifestyle, and helping our fish and wildlife resources to thrive.”

Dillingham is chief executive officer and co-owner of Dillingham Insurance, a 93-year-old private business headquartered in Enid and serving clients in 38 states with offices in Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Tulsa. He and his brother own and operate a 1,700-acre cattle ranch in northern Oklahoma.

Groendyke said he was happy with Stitt’s appointment of Dillingham to take over the District 8 seat. Citing Dillingham’s extensive civic leadership experience and his relational skills, Groendyke said, “I think he’ll be very effective and will fit nicely as a commissioner.”

While drawing praises about his appointment, Dillingham also offered praises to the long-serving Commissioner he will replace.

“I’d also like to recognize John Groendyke, who has served the ODWC as Commissioner representing District 8 since 1976 with honor and distinction. John’s 44-plus years of service, leadership, knowledge, and experience is irreplaceable and will no doubt be missed. I know that all Oklahoman’s join me in offering our appreciation for his many contributions and years of service.”

Strong also commented on Groendyke’s legacy within the Wildlife Department.

“No one in the country, let alone the state of Oklahoma, can touch the unmatched volunteer service and contributions to wildlife conservation made by John Groendyke during his unprecedented 44 years on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“When I think about the enormously successful growth we’ve seen in hunting and fishing in this state, coupled with the wise and frugal oversight role the Department has played in that growth, there’s no question that Commissioner Groendyke’s fingerprints are all over it.

“While he would never admit to such a boastful statement, I’ll offer that Commissioner Groendyke has been the North Star for this agency for nearly a half-century.

“Though we’ll suffer a huge blow, I respect his decision to step down as Commissioner when his term expires in July and appreciate his continued support of the Department through his service on the board of the newly created Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation.”

Groendyke said his decision to step down was largely based on the fact that he would be 83 years old after serving a seventh term, and he’s had a great 44 years as a Commissioner. He felt the timing was right for him to focus on other commitments.

Dillingham’s involvement in community and statewide concerns is notable. He is on the Board of Regents for Northern Oklahoma College, the Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy in Oklahoma, and Board of Advisors for the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. He is director of the Denny Price Family YMCA, past chairman and director of the Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce, past director for United Way of Enid and Northwest Oklahoma, past director of the local Boy Scouts of America organization, and graduate of Leadership Oklahoma.

He has worked diligently to support Enid Public Schools, leading promotional efforts for two successful bond issues totaling more than $190 million and recognized with the 2016 Barbara Lynch Community Support Award from the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. He is active in several professional insurance organizations, has served as an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Enid, and is a member of YPO-Oklahoma City, Enid Rotary Club and the Grand National Quail Club.

He and his wife of 26 years, Lisa, have two sons and one daughter ages 24, 21 and 20. He enjoys hunting, fishing, ranching, boating, golf, and tennis, and he’s been an active private pilot since age 16.

“As a lifelong rancher, outdoorsman and hunting enthusiast, I am proud to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity,” he said.

Established in 1957, the modern Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Wildlife Department. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities.