The Woodward News

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July 13, 2014

Jones wraps up career with Southgate United

Woodward, Okla. — Next week will see the end to almost a half century of meat cutting for Bob Jones, who is retiring July 18 as the meat department manager at Southgate United.

Bob, who was raised near Hollis, said "I was adopted when I was 6 years old by cotton farmers, Mildred and Cecil Jones. It was hot, chopping cotton and pulling cotton. I decided there had to be a better job. That's what got me into the butchering business."

Jones graduated high school in 1966 and from the Southwest College of Meat Cutters in Oklahoma City in 1967. He went to work for United Supermarket in Walters.

After a year at United he was going to be drafted so he joined the Air Force, where he served four years and finished his tour at Altus Air Force Base.

He went to work for the Altus United Supermarket and has been with the United Stores since, a total of 46 years.

"A few months ago I got to thinking about retirement,” Jones said. “I turned 66 and decided I was going to retire. I prayed about it - what I was going to do. I said, 'God, I have been at this a long time and it's going to be a rude awakening. You might have to send me a little sign about what to do.' I always brought in some seasoning from a spice company and mixed seasoning to season steaks. They (customers) asked me to put my spice on their steaks. They'd say 'Put your Bob's gourmet seasoning on our steaks.'

"The company that I was getting the seasoning from quit making it. My wife, Rhonda, said she thought she could come up with that recipe. She's a good cook and she did. My son-in-law told me I ought to start packaging that. So we set up a little shop down on Main Street called Bob's Gourmet Spice. We got it put into a few restaurants and stores. That is what I am going to do when I retire, promote it, put it in more stores, demo it."

Jones has enjoyed his long career with United.

"They are good people,"he said. "I have had four people retire while working for me. Had really good employees over the years. Good young men and women, too, that have gone on to college and got their careers.

"I've got two pharmacists and an accountant who started out with me and worked while they were in college and then went on to their jobs. Now I see all of them and their kids and grandkids.

“One of my best memories is probably when we had that ice storm a few years ago. That day was probably one of the busiest we’ve ever had. Everything shut down and we had generators and we were able to stay open. All the cases were shut down but we sold all the meat. We didn’t lose anything. It was amazing that we didn’t. We just opened the doors, let the cold air in, put the things out in buggies. Everything sold. You know the people were so nice. You usually see things like that and you think people are gonna panic. But everybody was trying to take care of everybody. We stayed open nearly all night.”

In retirement, Jones said he plans to spend more time with his six grandchildren. He has grandchildren in the Houston area, a granddaughter in Woodward and a granddaughter going to college in Kansas.

"My four-year old granddaughter told us that I was going to spend more time with her,” Jones said. “I will have a little more vacation time. I will definitely spend a little more time in church than I have been. I don't really have any hobbies. I am going to take up a little more fishing and hunting. I did get my lifetime fishing license. I miss doing that. Seems like the busiest times at the store are during those seasons. I am really going to enjoy being off holidays."

The Red River Ranch promotion wagon is providing rib-eye sandwiches for all the employees Friday in Bob’s honor.

“We will miss him. The customer’s will miss him. He goes out and tells them how to cook and season their meat so it is tender. He is the best meat dept. manager around.” says Lavoy Lechuga, store manager.

"I don't have any regrets about retiring. I do enjoy it and will miss it," Jones said

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