Welcome back. Continuing from last week’s column, what kind of person can draw two past Oklahoma governors, George Nigh and Frank Keating to a Christmas party at his house, along with Garth Brook’s guitarist Ty England, champion bronc rider Billy Etbauer and a dozen more well-known folks? Well, as I promised to tell you last week, they all came to see a man whose home is now in Yukon, Oklahoma but his story doesn’t start in Oklahoma though but rather in a small town called Duvall just outside of Seattle, Oregon.
The date was May 14, 1940 and the occasion was the birth of a baby boy but life started out rough. With a father who milked cows for a living and a mother who suffered a crippling nervous breakdown soon after his birth, the boy was raised mostly by his sister who was only four years older. Religion always played a big role in the boy’s early years but in 1949 after attending a revival meeting led by Christian crusader Billy Graham his faith became central in his life. An athlete in school, the boy exceled in several sports as well as academics, eventually graduating from Pacific University in Seattle in 1962. He went on to the University of Edenborough in Scotland which had the world’s foremost seminary. While he was studying there he also worked part-time and traveled through much of Europe, making many new friends whom he is still close to sixty years later. After graduation the boy, who was now a young man, moved back home to Duvall where he started working and got married but he had bigger dreams. First of all, he wanted to serve god, then he wanted to help other people and have his own herd of cows. All of this would come to him but not without hard work.
He got the perfect job to help other people at Acme Personnel and from sun up to way past sundown he worked finding employment for people who needed it. In 1968 Acme offered him a job in Oklahoma which he took. By now Acme was the largest job placement company in the country but financial trouble was brewing for the firm. With good credit, a proven work ethic and he would say god’s help, the young man bought Acme Personnel and turned it into Express Employment Professionals. It was a big gamble and for several years during the early 1980s it looked like the new company might not make it. There was also another problem because this full-grown man could not restrain himself when it came to giving to others. By the 1990s he had his own ranch and as was his way, became particularly interested in helping young people get involved in farming and ranching donating millions in scholarships over the years but he supported many other endeavors as well. From the arts to feeding the hungry, he was willing to chair any worthwhile event or organization that benefited others.
Meanwhile his stature in the business community continued to grow and along the way he was invited to become a director and then chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. Yes, the boy who had wanted to help others had achieved all he dreamed of and even today as he has gotten older, he still wants to assist those in need. Friends his work in life has not gone unnoticed and last Sunday was a tribute by his friends who came from near and far to wish this man, Yukon, Oklahoma’s own Bob Funk, a Merry Christmas. Now you know the rest of this Christmas story and if you want to learn more about Mr. Funk check out the Express Employment Professionals website.
You can also make a visit to the Copan Café and out in the back pasture are some of Bob’s prize-winning cattle that café owners John and Donna Chaney bought from Bob’s Express Ranches. Next week a story about a rancher from Bartlesville and how he made his way into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Till then have a happy New Year and I’ll see ya down the road…