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Of Character: Bob Hunger of Stillwater was taught early in life to observe strengths where others saw challenges

Bob Hunger  for possible use with Bryan Painter, people of character story.
Bob Hunger for possible use with Bryan Painter, people of character story.

Bob Hunger learned early on that a perceived challenge upon closer look may indeed be a strength.

Hunger, 61, was raised on a dairy farm between Golden and Wheatridge, Colo. This was a state-owned dairy farm “that was associated with an institution that housed mentally and physically handicapped people.”

“Many of these individuals worked on the dairy, so as I was growing up I came to appreciate the fact that everyone has strengths and weaknesses but that there is not big differences between us,” Hunger said. “My father (Albert) especially showed me that through respect – for yourself and for the person with which you are dealing. From mom (Mary), I saw compassion and caring. I believe I truly was blessed to have had that upbringing.

“I would say that because of my upbringing I have always felt an urge or desire to volunteer and help others. That can be done in a number of ways — either through organized community services, through church, or just by doing things on your own.”

Develop friendships

While Hunger tries to do all three, it is his volunteer experience in delivering meals for Mobile Meals that allows him the opportunity to develop friendships with individuals.

“In getting to know the Mobile Meal clients,” Hunger said, “it has afforded me the opportunity to help in other ways such as sharing a meal and occasionally doing small jobs around their residence such as putting in stepping stones or putting a hand rail in a place that will help them walk.”

Professionally, Hunger is a professor and extension wheat pathologist for Oklahoma State University.

When he arrived in Stillwater in the early 1980s, Hunger volunteered for Big Brothers/Big Sisters for several years “and greatly enjoyed that.”

After Bob and Carolyn’s children were born, he switched to the Mobile Meals program in 1985.

Mobile Meals

Mobile Meals is a private, nonprofit agency that provides meals “for the elderly and convalescing,” he said. The agency is supported by the United Way of Stillwater, by the Stillwater Medical Center, and by private donations. Mobile Meals started delivering meals to the Stillwater Community in 1972 with 12 clients served and 3,711 meals delivered. Since then they have delivered over 658,000 meals to more than 5,200 clients.

Hunger’s involvement has included being a weekly driver as well as driving other times when a substitute is needed. He also has been on the board of directors of Mobile Meals as a member, secretary and chairman nearly every year since about the mid-1990s.

In delivering meals to people in the Stillwater community, Hunger has met several people over 100 years old. He’s talked with people who used wagons to get to Oklahoma and those who lived during the Dust Bowl days. He’s met several individuals who helped form the history of their community.

“Often I will stay with the last person I deliver to and eat lunch with them,” Hunger said. “That gives me the opportunity to really talk with them. Currently I am doing that with a couple – the man is 98 years old.

‘Hearing history’

“He and his wife met on a blind date. Talking to him and his wife is like hearing history. For example, he told me about going to southwestern Oklahoma from Arkansas in a covered wagon when he was young and coming to school at Oklahoma A&M in 1934.”

Hunger encourages others to get involved either through a community agency, through a church, or by helping people they know could use some help. It’s important, he said, to remember it isn’t always so much about actually “doing” something physical for a person. Sometime it is also just as important to spend time with a person, letting that individual know you care.

“Food is such an important part of our lives, and bringing a meal to a person that has difficulty preparing a meal for themselves is rewarding in itself,” Hunger said. “However, taking the time to talk with them and share their life experiences is a blessing.”

Often I will stay with the last person I deliver to and eat lunch with them. That gives me the opportunity to really talk with them.”

Bob Hunger,

Related Photos
Bob Hunger, OSU wheat specialist

Bob Hunger, OSU wheat specialist

<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Bob Hunger, OSU wheat specialist" title="Bob Hunger, OSU wheat specialist"><figcaption>Bob Hunger, OSU wheat specialist</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Bob Hunger for possible use with Bryan Painter, people of character story." title="Bob Hunger for possible use with Bryan Painter, people of character story."><figcaption>Bob Hunger for possible use with Bryan Painter, people of character story.</figcaption></figure>
Bryan Painter

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