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August 24, 2013

DODD: Youth was truly served

“To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature.” — Auguste Rodin

It was a clear fall morning and Bob Allen was not in his office next to mine. That was a rarity.

Except for the week he joined his family at a fishing camp up north, he was as dependable as clockwork. This particular morning was a bit special. Not for you or me. But for Bob it might as well have been a holiday. It was Turkey season.

Bob Allen was one of the people who hired me as the School Enrichment Education Assistant at the Clark County 4-H office. If the truth be told, he was my boss. Bob wouldn’t say that. He would always say I worked with him and not for him.

Either one was my pleasure. I have been in the workforce for four decades. The years I spent working with Bob Allen are my favorite of them. I never felt like I worked a day in the entire two years.

Bob is among the most honorable and decent men I have ever known. He is a dedicated husband and father. He was almost a workaholic in his then-educator position. He was as devoted to working with and guiding young people as anyone I have ever been around. He and I shared that passion.

Now that he is retiring after 34 years I am going to be honest about something of which Bob would never discuss. When you are leading an organization which absolutely requires volunteers, you have to be a special person. You have no leverage on them and they are essential to your success. There were many dedicated and unbelievably giving persons who made that organization go.

However, among long time volunteers there can be competitiveness, fragile egos, hurt feelings and some downright unreasonable behavior from time to time. Bob Allen managed to keep a ship sailing that could certainly lisp from side-to-side upon occasion.

It was an occasional fun time for me when Bob might come into my office to vent in his own special way about some issues that were obviously driving him crazy trying to balance things, especially in preparation for the Clark County 4-H Fair.

In working with Bob and the others, it was a monumental thing to pull off and is especially so when the volunteer coordinating was essential and competitive livestock events became quite competitive.

When Bob might have a frazzled moment, he was almost cartoonish in his venting. I don’t think I ever heard him utter a profane word, but it was almost like he wanted to. I know under some of his pressure I certainly would have uttered more than one.

Bob was an eccentric and lovable character during those times. He was certainly a very patient, Christian-like persona when the time called for one to be.

I know that Bob is one of those people you like to consider a friend in every way possible. On the day that my position and another were eliminated due to budget cuts, there was a lot of emotion in the room. David, Margaret, Sharon, Reba, Bob, Micki and I were a close-knit group.

I held it together until I went to my office and shed a couple of private tears. I knew at that moment that I would never enjoy any paying job like I had the last two years. It’s really a helpless position to be in when there is nobody to blame when a wonderful and personally enriching and rewarding time in your life comes to an end.

When your job was having fun and educating kids, you have been blessed. When you work with someone who devoted as much time and energy to young people as did Bob Allen you have certainly been blessed to work alongside him.

He’s the kind of guy I would have in a foxhole beside me, especially if he was armed with a bow-and-arrow and a hunting rifle.

And you know what made him a special outdoorsman. On some of those crisp fall mornings when Bob Allen is known to traipse through the woods hunting for turkey, he might not be carrying either one. Sometimes the hunt is simply for his love, appreciation and respect of all things in nature. He is a true sportsman.

I wish Bob Allen a wonderful retirement. Thanks, Bob, for two of the best years of my life.

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