Gig Line: Veteran kindness never forgotten

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, January 31, 2024

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We all have one life to live. How we spend it, what we do with the time we are given and how we treat our fellow man within that time is important, case in point:

When I heard about the recent passing of Robert V. “Bobby” Owens Jr., I was sad … he was always a nice man who took time to acknowledge you whether you were in his circle of friends or not. Any time I would see him, we would share the mutual exchange of, “How ya doing?” I thanked him once for having served in our U.S. Coast Guard and in turn he told me that he read Gig Line and that he liked it, which meant a lot, but there is something else I want to share about Bobby that made a lasting impression on me … that gave me another reason to be proud of him and to remember him with fondness.

Having been a Realtor in Dare County for over 40 years, I have had the great privilege of meeting, befriending and representing a lot of people from all walks of life. Many moons ago while serving as rental manager I had received a call from a young couple who were looking to rent a house on the Outer Banks. While I had managed weekly, long term seasonal (student rentals) and year-round, this particular couple seemed especially desperate to find a place to call “home.”

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I had just listed another house in our program that met their criteria and their budget. Of course, an application had to be filled out including references and yes, everything checked out perfectly.

At the time I had only met the husband when processing the paperwork, so after discussing the tenant opportunity with the owners, they were delighted and eager to be of help in my securing their property with the young family.

After we finalized their intent to rent the house, I made an appointment to meet with them onsite whereby I brought the lease agreement, two sets of keys and information about the house I thought might be helpful as the electric, cable and water would remain in the owner’s name. They would, of course, be responsible for the utility bills but at least they would not have utility deposits or additional outlay of cash at the onset. It was an arrangement the owners and the couple were both happy about so all was well.

Because they had driven by the house prior to their commitment to take it, they felt the location was ideal and the floor plan to be exactly as they had hoped. Since I had only met the gentleman but had not met his wife or little boy, I looked forward to helping them finalize everything so they could settle in.

As planned, we met at the house at the appointed time, and I was happy their initial call had resulted in their newly established residence. I had found their references to be commendable and promising and upon meeting them all in person, I was happy things had worked out. I have always cared about my property owners and the families who occupy their homes. Their little boy was about five years old at the time. He was a sweet little fella, shy but very polite and he seemed especially close to his parents. Clearly, they had a loving family.

Not only was I impressed with their young son, but I came to realize the outstanding character of the couple overall. The wife was very pretty and genuinely, nice to talk to and I quickly understood their desire for a one level home … she was in a wheelchair due to a physically debilitating condition.

During my visit, I noticed her calmness, her sense of acceptance of her situation and the love that radiated between the three of them. Upon the wife letting her husband know she had to use the restroom, he immediately scooped her up out of the wheelchair as if she was as light as a feather, took her to the bathroom, waited until she was ready then carried her in his arms back into the living room, sitting her gently in her chair.

While they were busy, I had made conversation with their little boy as Christmas was just around the corner. He clearly stated what gifts he wanted Santa to bring him as if he had no doubt that Santa would. Moments later his parents reentered the living room whereby she was quick to tell me how attentive he was to her needs and what great care he took of her and their son. I sat there in awe … husband was tall and slim but carrying his wife around seemed effortless to him … he said he was used to it … and obviously he was clearly devoted to her. I was impressed with this new family I had just come to know. And I was glad they had called the real estate office I was the broker for.

Here they were just securing the house, no evidence of the approaching holiday and after leaving the house this special family stayed on my mind. Within the following week, I spoke with them a couple of times verifying the account numbers for the water, cable and electric and when I asked how things were going – they were still very happy about settling in. Regarding Christmas, she mentioned they could only do so much for their little fella given the first month’s rent and security deposit but no real complaints, she was just simply happy to be together. She said they had explained to their little boy that Santa would come but not to expect too much this time. Did she gripe? Did she seem bitter given her circumstances? Did she want sympathy? No … not at all, I guess she had gotten used to disappointments in life following her diagnosis.

Still on my mind I wondered what I could do for them on a personal level. After all, the family had just gotten here, and I had not ascertained their intent to acquire any help from anybody – I just knew Christmas was approaching fast and I wanted to find a way to help. So … I called Bobby Owens. I had no idea what he would say and no reason to expect him to do anything. All I was certain about was his kindness toward people and his genuine good spirit. I called him for any advice he could offer me.

Without hesitation he said, “Marsha, I want to do something to help them. I want you to come by here and pick something up to give to them for me.” I said, “Thank you Bobby, that’s really nice but I wasn’t asking you to do anything personally. With time being of the essence right here at Christmas, I just needed your advice.” The couple had not asked for anything, they were an adorable couple that emitted gentleness, love for each other and gratitude for their newfound home and that seemed to be enough.

But Bobby in his sweet, kind way insisted I go by his house and pick up this “thing” for them. He told me he would have a check made out to me to cash so I could get their little boy some toys or whatever I thought best. I responded with sincere gratitude but told him I would prefer no cash and definitely not a check made out to me. I asked him if it would be okay for me to contact the couple and tell them a gentleman in our community had understood they had just moved here and that he wanted to make sure Santa did not miss a stop at their house for their little son. I asked them if it would be okay if he made a check payable to them. They were surprised – no, shocked – and thanked whomever the “gentleman” was and said yes, they would accept a love gift made out to them for their little boy.

So, I called Bobby back and conveyed what they said, and we planned a time that I would run by, which I did that very afternoon. I can imagine he would not want attention or “pats on the back” for his good deed, but I feel compelled to acknowledge his goodness because I believe loving kindness should see the light … the check he had prepared for the couple was for $200. Not knowing what he had in mind, I thought maybe $25 at most but in Bobby’s eyes that would not have been enough. He wanted to make sure the little boy knew Santa had not forgotten him and he wanted to ease the financial concern for his parents. What a sweet man who offered a generous gift. It was an unforgettable act of compassion and a selfless thing for him to do.

I was so excited! I could hardly wait to take the check he had made out to them to their rental home. Here it was, a generous gift for a nice family from a stranger, simply out of the goodness of his heart. The couple was so touched by Bobby’s kindness and all three of us had tears in our eyes. All I could think of was, “Thank you Bobby Owens and God bless you!”

Just a note: If you have not read Bobby’s full obituary on the Twiford Funeral Home website, it is more than worthy of your time. It is reminiscent of “back in the day” in Dare County history and it is beautifully written.

Bobby, Susan Taylor (Meekins) Simpson, Virginia Holloman Meekins, Timothy Frank White, James P. “Jim” Tobin and many other remarkable Dare County people have left our presence on this earth but their goodness toward others and the mark they each made in this world and in our hearts will remain forever.

Thank you all for the calls, texts, emails, and cards regarding my little “Pepper” that I lost recently. You touched my heart in expressing your condolences and I will cherish them always.

Until next time, be healthy, safe, and happy. If you know a veteran who could use some help or if you have a question, please let me know at cell/text: 252-202-2058 or by email: If you need specific answers regarding a V.A. claim, a duplicate form, or wonder what you may be eligible for, please contact Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County veteran service officer, office: 252-475-5604, cell: 252-473-7749 or email: patricia.o’ As our V.S.O., Patty is in “the know,” she’s dedicated to her job and looks forward to helping all of our veterans. Just call her and you will see what I mean!

In this crazy world we need each other, “No man is an island” even if we live and thrive on one! God bless you all, love yourself, each other and most especially, the good Lord, because He sure loves you – and so do I! Stay tuned!