CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — His name was Bob and served his country in the Korean War.
But to many people in the Chesterfield community, Bob was the man you always saw when you went to the Chick-fil-A at Chesterfield Towne Center.
Bob (his family requested we not report his last name) was such a constant figure at the mall, that when the 85-year-old Navy veteran passed away last month, the fast food restaurant set-up a table to honor their number-one customer.
“[Bob] dined with us nearly every day we were open. No one is exactly sure how long Bob has been coming to Chick-fil-A, as he was already well established when I took over this business in 2005,” Chick-fil-A owner/operator Adam Roeger posted on Facebook. “We have placed a card out for well wishes and we’re already on our second card! So if you have a fond memory, we would be honored to have you sign it. I’m sure Bob would as well.”
Patrons ended up filling three cards worth of messages. Front, back, and center.
Lisa Schutte Keaton, one of Bob’s nieces, expressed her thanks to those who cared about her uncle.
“Thank you to everyone being so kind to him and listening to his stories,” she posted on Facebook. “You helped him more than you know! Thank you Chick-fil-A for being so good to him and all of us.”
Donna Cowardin, one of Bob’s nieces, called her uncle an outgoing, but very private man.
“He would talk to anybody,” she said.
Later in his life, when declining health rendered him unable to drive, Donna and her husband would take Bob to Chesterfield Towne Center so he could hold court at the food court.
“People from all around, all walks of life would come by and say hello,” Donna said. “I can’t believe the range of people who stopped at the table to talk with us.”
Bob, a 1951 graduate of Benedictine, served on aboard the U.S.S. Union from 1952 to 1954, Donna said.
He went on to sell insurance.
A job in which, no doubt, he honed his people skills.
“He so appreciated the love he received from people at the mall. He felt like those people were his family. It was a big part of his life. They were what he did everyday,” Donna said. “These people who came up to him, did not go by what he looked like. They went by what was on the inside. And what was on the inside was a big heart. There are some really good people at the Chesterfield Towne Center.”
Bob had a very specific order, according to Chick-fil-A management.
He always ordered a Chick-fil-A deluxe sandwich with American and Colby Jack cheese, a large sweet tea with a splash of lemonade, a 20-ounce Icedream cup with a cone on top, and two of every sauce, honey, and crackers.
The restaurant hosted Bob’s family for lunch following his funeral.