Knicely Done: More than a job for Bob

Published: Feb. 6, 2020 at 9:45 PM CST
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Bob Finlay's work day at The Depot Restaurant and Lounge in Shenandoah, Iowa starts at 7am. But he always there an hour early.

"He comes in and drinks some coffee and has breakfast," said restaurant manager Crystal Leslie in an interview with WOWT 6 News. "Then right at seven he gets to work. Everybody knows Bobby around town."

Bob grew up on a farm near Shenandoah and despite his developmental disability he was always working alongside his dad. Things changed in 1975 when Bob was severely injured in an auger accident. He was hospitalized for several months.

"When he got out of there he was very depressed and very low," explained Bob's sister Jackie Gleason. "He kind of gave up on life."

That's when Nishna Productions came alongside Bob and began to teach him job skills. About the same time Bill Hillman was taking ownership of The Depot Restaurant and Bar.

"I hired Bob and began to teach him the basics like how to use a broom," said Hillman. "For the first two weeks I wasn't sure if it would work out but I began to learn myself and developed empathy. Bob became a good friend not only to me but my family."

Now 35 years later, Bob is still working the dishwasher in the restaurant kitchen along with any other tasks that come his way.

Bob lives independently in an apartment about three blocks from work and his family members still check in with him every week.

"I think he brings out the best in other people," said Bob's brother Dan. "And it also gives other people hope that if you're willing to work for where you want to go you'll get there."

"Bobby is 70," said Jackie. "I ask him 'do you want to retire' and he says 'no.' He loves working, he loves Bill, he loves the people and so he's here until he can't be here anymore."

"If you talk to anybody downtown they'll tell you they're better people because of Bob," added Hillman.

Knicely Done!