Editor's note: The 2018 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet will be held Saturday, March 2, at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia.
The phrase “pay it forward” is a bit overworked, but there’s no better way to describe the manner in which Corfu’s Bob Stocking goes about the business of community service and volunteerism.
Stocking, 83 and getting younger every year, is the 2018 recipient of the Geneseean of the Year award from the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.
He will be honored at the chamber’s 47th annual Awards Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on March 2 at the Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road in Batavia.
Nominated by longtime friend and neighbor Penny Arnold, Stocking (who has lived in his Angling Road farmhouse since 1945) has made a difference in the lives of people of all ages – from the children who have found their way as 4-H Club members to the elderly who have found comfort and friendship in HomeCare & Hospice, Genesee Cancer Assistance, Mercy Flight and Crossroads House.
Through it all, he raised a family as a top-notch tractor-trailer driver for 41 years, endured the death of his 48-year-old son, John, to a hunting accident in 2008 and now, with the help of his daughter, Tracy, takes care of his wife of 63 years, Donna, who has health problems.
Stocking also has assumed the role of helping those who need to clear out their homes due to the loss of a parent.
Every day brings a new adventure, a new challenge to the Stocking household, and Bob continues to be up to the task.
“Over the years, people have helped us,” he said. “The first auction barn dance that we did was for Hospice, which had taken good care of my mother when she passed away. I wanted to do something to repay them.”
So, putting his words into action, Stocking agreed to chair an annual fundraiser at Bontrager’s Auction Barn on Wortendyke Road – this year’s event to benefit Crossroads House is set for Oct. 12 and, as you would expect, Bob plans on selling the bulk of the 225 available tickets.
Stocking, per Arnold’s nomination, jumped into it feet first.
“In the beginning the (Bontrager) employees agreed to share the chairing of this event, but Bob always seemed to take on the task,” she wrote. “There have been five wonderful events which have helped (the agencies listed above) … Chairing this event is no small task. Bob held meetings at his home and delegated many of the tasks, but has had his hands into many of the aspects of the event.”
Arnold went on to write about Stocking’s many hours on the phone and spent delivering tickets, and has turned the event into one that people look forward to and raises quite a bit of money for the designated causes through ticket sales, donations and a pie auction.
“Todd Jantzi (of Bontrager’s) has been great to us by donating the facility and helping in other areas,” Stocking said. “Other businesses donate to us and it has become a very successful event. Last year, we raised $5,000 for Crossroads House and we’re going to do it again.”
Stocking said the main reason he does this is “because all the money stays in the county.”
“It’s important to me that we help those in Genesee County,” he said. “With some things, you never know where the money goes.”
He said that a couple he met in Tops Market one day came up to him and thanked him for running the dinner-dance at Bontrager’s.
“They told me that they got some of the money that was donated to Genesee Cancer Assistance for gas and other expenses. That meant a lot to me,” he said.
Stocking’s generosity has touched young people who have participated in horse shows through 4-H at the Genesee County Fair by giving them and their animals rides to the shows in his horse trailer, providing accessories for training and donating trophies to the fair that were won by Tracy during her years showing horses.
“We used to have 25 horses and 25 cows,” said Stocking, who also operated a tack shop, “but now we have a dog and a cat.”
Stocking was active in the East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department for many years (he’s a lifetime member) and once donated a steer to its carnival to raise money.
In her nomination, Arnold wrote that Stocking, who became a grandfather figure to her daughter, Danielle, is “honest and trustworthy … someone that always helps out other people but doesn’t do it for the acknowledgment … he does it from the heart.”
When he was contacted by a chamber employee, Stocking said he didn’t realize he had won, but thought he had been nominated.
“I never expected anything like this in my entire lifetime,” said Stocking, who said he will have 14 people, including son, Robbie, who lives in Virginia, at the ceremony. “It’s a big, big honor to have something like that. I just do it to help people.”