H. Dustin "Dusty" Fillmore, Sr.
July 1, 1931 - November 11, 2020
Fort Worth, Texas - H. Dustin "Dusty" Fillmore, Sr., devoted husband, father and grandfather, went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on November 11, 2020 as a result of pancreatic cancer.
Service: Due to the COVID pandemic and resulting restrictions, Dusty's family will hold a private burial service.
Dusty was born to Hartson W. ("H.W.") and Versa Ann Fillmore in Sudan, Texas on July 1, 1931. Not long thereafter, H.W. moved his family to Wichita Falls, Texas where he continued his law practice for the next 48 years, until his death in 1979, eventually serving as both a County Court at Law Judge and District Court Judge in Wichita County. Dusty's uncle and H.W.'s brother, Clyde Fillmore, also practiced law in Wichita Falls, practicing there for 64 years until his retirement in 2000, eventually serving two terms as the District Attorney of Wichita County.
Dusty graduated from Wichita Falls High School (a/k/a "Old High") and, at the age of 17, left Texas to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. In 1949, when class was called off due to Northwestern's first-ever appearance in the Rose Bowl, Dusty hitchhiked by himself from Evanston, Illinois to Wichita Falls, Texas, armed only with brass knuckles (which are still in the family), returning unannounced to his parent's home in Wichita Falls. A Texan at heart, Dusty eventually left frigid Evanston for the relatively balmy climate of Wichita Falls. As he would often remark about his return to Texas, "I've only recently thawed out from my time at Northwestern."
Returning to Texas, Dusty served in the United States Air Force, being honorably discharged in 1954. He also attended and graduated from Midwestern State University. He then attended the University of Texas School of Law, graduating from there in 1956.
It was at the University of Texas that Dusty met and fell in love with Nancy Chambers. Dusty and Nancy married in December of 1956.
Dusty's legal career took him to Dallas, Wichita Falls, and finally Fort Worth. In 1957, Dusty began his service as an Assistant District Attorney in Dallas County under famed District Attorney Henry Wade. There, Dusty excelled in trial practice, developing and honing the skills that made him a fierce trail advocate, a deadly-effective cross-examiner, and one of the greatest at delivering the final argument.
After leaving the Dallas D.A.'s office, Dusty returned to Wichita Falls where both his father and uncle had successful law practices, with Dusty joining his father's law firm in 1960. From there, Dusty launched what would become a 42-year career as a civil trial lawyer, representing clients and trying cases in civil courts all over Texas. In the process, Dusty would earn a nation-wide reputation as one of the best and most honorable and respected civil trial lawyers in Texas. Dusty tried and prevailed over some of the best lawyers in the country, including famed Texas trial lawyer, Joe Jamail. A testimony to Dusty's character, Mr. Jamail and he ended the trial as friends even though Dusty had defeated him in the court room.
In 1975, with Dusty's client-base expanding all over Texas, and particularly in Fort Worth, Dusty and Nancy moved their family to Fort Worth. By that time, the family included two sons: H. Dustin ("Dusty") Fillmore, III and Charles W. ("Chad") Fillmore, both of whom followed in their grandfather, great uncle and father's footsteps, became attorneys, and now practice law together in Fort Worth at the Fillmore Law Firm, LLP.
From 1975 until his retirement in 2002, Dusty served as one of the premier Fort Worth trial attorneys. Because of his preeminent skills and commitment to the highest ideals of the practice of law, Dusty received numerous awards and accolades. Among them were his induction into The American College of Trial Lawyers and The American Board of Trial Advocates. In 2005, the Tarrant County Bar Association awarded Dusty its prestigious Blackstone Award - an award given in recognition of a legal career that exemplifies professional excellence, integrity, and courage. As the Bar President wrote when announcing the Bar's choice:
"Dustin's consistent integrity, skill and knowledge have served his clients well. He is an outstanding trial lawyer, a credit to the bar and to his family, and is deserving of the highest honor which the Tarrant County Bar Association can bestow."
Dusty was indeed a "lawyer's lawyer," one who exemplified all that is good about the practice of law, especially as a trial lawyer.
But if you asked Dusty to tell you his top priority in life, he would not say "the law," or "trying cases," or flying (Dusty was an accomplished private pilot as well), or politics (he had strong opinions there too), or even "my family" (whom he loved dearly). Dusty's number-one priority was his relationship with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Dusty knew very well that he was a sinner saved by God's grace. Dusty saw himself in the words of that favored hymn of his, "Amazing Grace," as the "wretch like me" whom God had saved. Dusty struggled mightily to comprehend God's incomprehensible grace toward him.
Amazed by God and His grace, Dusty loved the Lord and avidly studied His Word, devoting himself to a genuine pursuit of God and His holiness. And Dusty wanted anyone who was near him to know and love the Lord and His Word too.
Dusty made sure his family attended churches where the Bible was faithfully preached and the God of the Bible faithfully lifted up. He highly valued the preaching, teaching and friendship of his longtime pastor and friend Dr. Joe Sahl (pastor of Believer's Fellowship Bible Church, Fort Worth) as well as his friend David Jacks (pastor of Christ the King, Fort Worth). He listened to recordings of and read works by preachers whom he greatly respected, especially Dr. S. Lewis Johnson of Believer's Chapel Bible Church (Dallas), John F. MacArthur, and R.C. Sproul, each with whom he had correspondence.
Dusty cherished the doctrine of sovereign (or irresistible) grace and made it his mission to try to help everyone within his sphere of influence to understand, see the beauty of, and love that important truth. Admittedly, he did so occasionally to the point of mutual but harmless irritation.
Later in life, Dusty served in Kairos Prison Ministry where he befriended and mentored many men in prison. A small testimony to the Lord's work through Dusty in that ministry is the extensive correspondence he maintained with the men, even long after he lost the ability to make the trip to and from Tennessee Colony, Texas. Those men continue to testify to the great blessing Dusty was to them and to their understanding of and love for the Lord.
For the last several years of his life, Dusty also participated in Bible Study Fellowship ("BSF"), where he was a blessing to the men in his several small groups. His sons still regularly hear Dusty's former BSF classmates expressing their admiration and appreciation for Dusty's knowledge of Scripture and his commitment to the Lord.
Not to lay down the plow before it was time, at the age of 85 Dusty started and led a Bible study at Trinity Terrace Retirement Community where Nancy and he moved in 2016. Dusty continued to lead the study until his health made it impossible for him to do so, even with the help of his faithful friend and co-leader in that ministry, Jim Turner.
While far from perfect, Dusty was a genuine Christian, well aware that his right standing before God was by grace, through faith, all of which was the gift of God. Dusty's relationship with and commitment to the Lord are what truly defined him. In short, his identity was in Christ.
With the passage of time, Dusty lost his youth, his pilot's license, his job as "daddy," his law practice, his driver's license, his companionship with his loving wife (due to Nancy's dementia), and ultimately his physical health. But time could never steal Dusty's active faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ:
'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
'O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?'
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:54b-56
Dusty was indeed a "good and faithful servant" of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though he is dead, yet he lives - now more than ever! John 11:25.
Dusty is survived by his loving wife (of 64 years) Nancy. Dusty is also survived by his son H. Dustin Fillmore, III and his wife Susan and their children and spouses: Dustin and Adriana Fillmore, Nathanael and Camille Fillmore, Sara Fillmore Beach and her husband Thomas, and Benjamin and Lucy Fillmore. Dusty is also survived by his son Charles W. Fillmore and his wife Susi and their children and spouses: Courtney Fillmore, Emily Fillmore Schoen and her husband Austen, Chad and Lauren Fillmore, Hartson Fillmore and his fiancé Olivia Schoening, and Hillary Fillmore. Dusty is also survived by his granddaughters, Micki Peak and Elizabeth Harris and their spouses and children. Finally, Dusty leaves behind countless loved-ones and friends whose lives he has blessed and who have blessed him.
The family is very thankful for those special people who took time to love and care for Dusty in his final days. Pastor Joe Sahl, Pastor David Jacks, and Bill Fearer spent many hours with Dusty discussing Scripture, the surety of God's promises, and our glorious future as Christians. Their companionship and fellowship were greatly appreciated by Dusty and his family. The family is also very thankful for Dusty's hospice nurses, especially Erin, who was so attentive, gentle, supportive, loyal, pleasant, and comforting to all. The family is also very thankful for Dusty's care providers from Nurse Next Door, and especially Maia, Niccia and Lee. What a blessing all of the care providers have been to Dusty and his family in these last days!
Finally, Dusty's family wants everyone to know that they are not grieving their loss like "people who have no hope." I Thessalonians 4:13. While there is sadness, there is also great joy.
In light of this, please do not send flowers. Dusty's family would appreciate your prayers instead. If you feel moved to do something beyond praying, Dusty's family would welcome donations made in Dusty's memory to Dusty's home church, Believer's Fellowship Bible Church of Fort Worth (https://bfbible.org