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Ever since he was a little kid, Fran Fillerup has been taking "gas" about his name. Now, as he starts his career as the city's associate planner, his colleagues say he retains a great sense of humor about it.
FARMINGTON — Johnny Cash's famous song "A Boy Named Sue" may have introduced a generation of music fans to the pain of peculiar names.

Farmington isn't exactly home to a person with a name made popular through song. Rather, it's home to a city employee whose name resonates well with current business news.

Early summer 2008 already is in the record books as the season of gas price hikes, pain at the pump stories and news photos of depressed-looking people filling their vehicles' tanks and preparing to dig deep to pay the costs.

Through all of the $4-a-gallon gas heartache is a bright note: An employee of Farmington's Planning and Zoning Department who has been "taking gas for my name all of my life."

Who is this man?

Meet Fran Fillerup, the city's planning consultant to — yes — the oil and gas industry, among other job duties. Named after a long line of Francis Fillerups who all went by the shorter first name of Fran, Fillerup and his brother, Anders, share a sense of humor about their last name.

Enough of a sense of humor that they collect miniature gas pumps and have gas pump-themed ties.

"When my brother found out that a gas pump was for sale, he bought it and put it in his front yard," Fran Fillerup said. "You've got to have a sense of humor."

He remembers the lame jokes school mates made about his name, and wisecracks since then.

"Fillerup this, fillerup that," he reminisced.

"He takes it very well," said Carol Sloniker, one of the city's building inspectors.

"He's got a wonderful sense of humor," said administrative aide Shaw Krass.

Then came the spike in gas prices, and with them, a renewed focus on his name.

The name has nothing to do with gasoline, adopted as it was by an immigrant during a time when people relied on coal and wood as heating fuels, and horses and trains for transportation.

The Fillerups are of Danish descent. A great-great-grandfather, not named Francis, moved to America during the 1880s. Perhaps nostalgic for his homeland, he decided to adopt the name of his home town — you guessed it, Fillerup — as his last name.

Fran's not sure of the exact details of his ancestor's decision. They're lost in the mists of the nearly 150 years between the two men.

Finished with his schooling and starting his career working for the city, Fran Fillerup doesn't have a family just yet. His brother, married and father of a young child, compiled a list of first names to combine with Fillerup just as a joke.

"They didn't use any of them, though," Fran said.

Cornelia de Bruin: cdebruin@daily-times.com