Duane Allen, born in Paris, Texas, and a member of the famous Oak Ridge Boys, was inducted into the Texas Gospel Music Hall Of Fame in April, 1990. Lou Wills Hildreth arranged for a “surprise” induction at an appearance of the Oak Ridge Boys on the Crook & Chase TV show in Nashville, Tennessee. Lou presented the plaque to Duane on camera, and he responded with an emotional appreciation, stating his love for gospel music and his fond memories of singing conventions and music schools with the Wills Family. He talked about making his first recording on Sword & Shield Records, owned by the Wills Family, with J. Howard Rogers and the SouthernAires Quartet of Paris.
“Duane Allen is a treasured friend, famous as a country music performer, but true to his gospel music roots. In 1998, the Oak Ridge Boys were inducted into the GMA Hall Of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. I was there to share Duane’s joy. Later, when the Oak Ridge Boys appeared on the Gaither Homecoming video series, we welcomed them with great enthusiasm. Duane’s wife, Nora Lee, was there too! When I received an honorary Doctor Of Sacred Music from LBU, a letter of congratulations from Duane Allen was read. At Calvin Wills’ death in 2002, Duane Allen’s detailed letter of condolence and memories reminded us again of how he appreciates his early beginnings as a gospel music singer. We are proud of this “son of Texas” for his achievements in both country and gospel music.”
— Lou Wills Hildreth