BATESVILLE, Miss. — Dunlap & Kyle Co. Inc. has made its home in Batesville for more than 93 years. Over that time, the company has built a reputation for providing jobs and supporting the community, mostly thanks to its leader, Bob Dunlap.
"The business is really important to Batesville and has been for a long, long time," Del Phillips, superintendent of the local South Panola School District, said.
"He's been such a big asset to this community and Mississippi. It's hard to put into words what it all means because he's done so much in so many different ways. Our community is forever changed because of it. …
"The things he's done to help the school system and the children in this community is unmeasurable," said Phillips, who has worked in the school district for 28 years, including as high school principal.
Dunlap not only has supported school athletic programs, but he also has helped students in need.
"Years and years ago, we had kids that would come wearing the same sweatshirt three days in a row, and I knew the only reason they were wearing it was because it was all they had," Phillips said.
"I remember one day I came out here (to visit Dunlap), and we were talking and visiting, and I told Bob about that. He never hesitated, and said, 'What do we do to fix that?'"
Phillips noted the high school didn't have the funds to help in such situations, so Dunlap wrote a check to put in the school account so when a student needed something — a coat, shoes, a dental appointment — the school could pay for it on their behalf, Phillips said, noting that Dunlap told him, "And if you run out of money, you come back."
Phillips said he was touched by Dunlap's donation.
"It was a selfless thing he did, that he didn't have to do. It helped a bunch of folks that he will never, ever meet.
"He helped a lot of kids, and no one knew, … " Phillips said. "When he does things for people, he does it because he wants to do it for those people, and he doesn't even know them.
"He's just doing it because really, truly, he is trying to be a humanitarian and helping other people he'll never know. He's done that with college scholarships; he's done that with just an untold number of things over and over again."