Bob Drew is a gentle giant of a man who sold advertising for the Manteca Bulletin to new and used automobile dealers for 13 years — knowing his trade as well as anyone and better than most.
It was Bob’s day at the newspaper office Monday noon where a luncheon was held honoring not only his tenure, but honoring Bob as one of those truly special people of the old school of business professionalism.
When he and his wife Shirley came through the front door of the building shortly after noon there was a resounding chorus from all those who noticed: “Bob’s here,” and they all seemed to be in perfect a capella. He barely got through the front door before he was surrounded by his work friends.
While lunch was being catered by Main Street Café and ready in the back lunch room, publisher Paul Mahony had a challenge in pulling him away from other members of the ad staff who wanted to talk — they wanted their hugs too.
Bob had been a special fixture in so many lives, a quiet mentor for most. The first thing every morning he would do is sit quietly at his desk and organize his day, turning the pages of other newspapers and checking the advertising and news stories for comparison.
Bob was pretty much a self-made man and he did a great job in turning out quite a product in becoming a good salesman and a gentleman anyone would be proud to have part of their own family circle.
He had to leave two weeks ago for a surgery that he couldn’t put off any longer. His doctor told him it would be a good four weeks before he would be completely back on his feet. That didn’t stop him from being there Monday for his luncheon — quietly hurting and still having an eating challenge going into his third week of recuperation.
Few knew just how much he was hurting before his surgery and how he needed to be back home in Stockton Monday where he could get off his feet. But it was obvious he wouldn’t miss being with his peers — his many friends — because of some silly discomfort.
He said of surgery and his retirement, “I stuck around too long, but it’s the people,” that made him do it both in the newspaper office and with his clientele. Bob is definitely a people person — someone who tries to make everyone’s day a little better. He shines when he is chatting with just one person or a group of people.
Drew came to Manteca after serving on the McClatchy Senior Spectrum publication in Stockton more than a dozen years ago. Prior to that he spent years operating his own Diversified General Insurance Agency as a wholesale specialist in all types of high-risk casualty insurance for trucks and autos.
A native of Seattle, WA, he came to Stockton in his early teens with his mother and older brother. He went into the U.S. Air Force in 1957 and served four years. Drew served in aviation supply from the former Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento to Okinawa and finally to Edwards Air Force Base in the California desert.
National advertising representative Michelle Davis complimented Drew as being an “incredibly generous man.”
“He always took time to explain things to me when I was a newbie,” she said.
Dennis McCoy — a former staff graphic artist — said he had laid out most of Bob’s car ads for him for a period of four or five years.
“He was easygoing unless I really screwed up and that wasn’t too often,” McCoy chuckled.
Another ad rep, Sandra Cruces remarked, “I have learned a lot from him in his old-school advertising sales techniques,” she said. “I will miss him very much.”
Composing room regular Linda Zwemke responded when asked for a comment, “Bob Drew — Wow! To me Bob Drew is one of a kind — very easy to work with, very old school,” she said.
Advertising sales woman Doreen Wyenn said, “I’ve known Bob for 10 years. He’s just always been a super wonderful guy. Always very encouraging.”
She said she knew him at the Bulletin when she was working in advertising for the Tracy Press years ago.
Bob said nothing became more important to him than being friends with his peers and his clients.
Kay Garcia, in charge of special sections, said she and Bob could be at each other one minute and be the best of friends the next. “Bob is a fun guy,” she was quick to admit.
In his heyday working with staff members like classified advertising manager Marge Craig, Drew had as many as 116 accounts between the auto dealers and real estate. That was until a new manager came on board and decided the accounts should be taken away and broken up into territories.
Bob is a man who has to be busy doing something. He has pretty much given up pool and golf but there is a two-year-old grandson in the mix now. Little Gabriel Logan is going to be seeing a lot more of his grandfather.
He and wife Shirley want to do some traveling up to Idaho where her sister lives. Bob said he is looking forward to that but says he’ll be back in town doing something. Jesting he said it could even be in the form of a greeter at the front door of Wal Mart — but maybe closer to his home in Stockton.
He couldn’t get away without cutting a large carrot cake with its special inscription — adding that someone obviously knew this was my favorite, he said.