Angels Way Retreat

How do you turn tragedy intro triumph? You might want to ask Phyllis Dragus. She's had to do it more than once.

The first thing you notice about Phyllis is just how glad she is to see you, even if you happen to be a total stranger. She cordially invites you into her home, which is also one of her businesses, the Bear Creek Bed and Breakfast in Luther, Oklahoma.

The second thing you notice about Phyllis is the amazing love affair she has with life, an attitude that's even more admirable, considering the tragedy, pain and loss she's had to overcome. Phyllis' stepson, Jonathan Dragus, was the police officer killed almost two years ago near Penn Square during a high speed chase.

"Jonathan and I were very close," said Phyllis. "Now that he is gone, I think of him as my special angel. His death has inspired his father and me to open our bed and breakfast up to other families of fallen heroes like Jonathan. We're even changing the name to ‘Angels Way' in his honor. We provide a free two to three day retreat, where police officers' surviving loved ones can mourn in private, in a place surrounded by nature and harmony. We've learned first hand how important that is to the healing process."

In addition to caring for her guests' needs, Phyllis also will be close at hand to provide counseling to the grieving families, doing what she does best-offering hope, understanding and inspiration at a time when there seems so little for which to live. It's a feeling that Phyllis remembers all too well.

In a fit of rage, her husband broke Phyllis' fingers, hoping to end her joy of sewing. Then, in a period of only four months, her two brothers died and she lost her mother to lung cancer.

"There were just too many crises. I was so overwhelmed," said Phyllis. "After having it all, I suddenly had nothing and no one. To save my child's life, I walked away with only the clothes on my back. Once my son was safe, I seriously contemplated suicide. There seemed no way back.

"Then, a social worker walked in and asked me what I wanted to do. I hadn't thought about it, but I answered that I wanted an education. He said three words that made all the difference in the world: ‘Consider it done.'"

With the social worker's spark of encouragement, Phyllis' flame began to rekindle inside her. After initially being rejected for financial assistance at the University of Central Oklahoma, she went back the next day, selling herself and her abilities a little harder. She walked out with a full scholarship.

Today, Phyllis is happily married to Paul Dragus, whom she calls the love of her life. Just shy of her degree in history, Phyllis has resumed her career in costume and fashion design. Her accomplishments include being the designer for four motion pictures and thousands of onstage and offstage productions.

Some of her award winning period clothing is displayed in her bed and breakfast. They add an extra special touch to the charming log cabin structure and surrounding pastures, home to the other great loves in her life-her horses.

While she was in the welfare system, Phyllis was asked to tell her story as a way of inspiring others. For more than eleven years, Phyllis has been speaking to DHS classes of graduating social workers.

"I want them to know that the people they will be helping are true victims," said Phyllis. "They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. These graduates are beginning one of the most important jobs there is-giving people back their lives."

Soon, Phyllis will be manufacturing products under the name "Angels Way." All the profits will go to assist families of police officers who were killed in the line of duty. She hopes someday to extend her services to families of firefighters and other fallen heroes, as well. She is also writing a book based on her life.

"I had to lose it all before I realized what really mattered in life," said Phyllis.

"I've learned that God gives us all a talent or ability that helps us survive. Discover it, stay focused on it and don't let anything stop you. But also remember He gave us our talents and our experiences to share with others. That's the true joy of life, helping others turn scars into stars."

To contact Angles Way call 277-7782.

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