Going to the bank was an unpredictable experience for me back in the early 1970s through most of the 1980s. For it was then that I didn’t know what I might run into once I entered the premises.
I was the editor and publisher of the community newspaper, and working with the local bank was strictly a matter of business. But once that part of the business was completed, I was often beckoned into the president’s office. That’s when things would take a different twist.
The president, Thomas C. Dunlap, was always busy. His desk was filled with a variety of different matters he was working on. But my visit rarely had anything to do with those matters. No, Tom had other things on his mind.
You see, Tom was the kind of person who loved life. He wasn’t a banker who lived just for the business world. Not hardly. Tom was drawn to the little things in life as well as the big things. In fact, I think he was more attracted to the little gadgets that most people took for granted and hardly paid attention to.
I remember a period or time when he and his wife, Aloha, lived part of the year in Florida. Tom would commute from Florida to Iowa. I believe it was back in the mid-1980s. One day when I stopped in at the bank, Tom anxiously called me to his office. He pulled out a Swiss army knife and set it on his desk.
“This is the neatest invention you’ve ever seen,” Tom told me as he picked it up and handed it to me. I looked at it and couldn’t fathom what he was so exited about.
“Not only does it have a pair of a scissors,” he said, “it has a tweezers and it has a toothpick!”
I didn’t know what to say in response, so I just listened.
“Ever since I been flying back and forth to Florida,” Tom said, “I’ve had this problem with eating because they never offer toothpicks. Now I have my own toothpick!”
That was Mr. Thomas C. Dunlap – bank president, town leader, adventurer, traveler, pilot, holder of numerous prestigious titles and positions – more interested in a pocket knife than any fame and fortune that might come his way.
Tom will, no doubt, be remembered for the many wonderful things he accomplished and rightfully he should be. But I’ll always look back on the days he would invite me into his office and pull something out of his pocket and excitedly explain what a wonderful object he had recently discovered.
Tom left us April 24. He had logged in nearly 94 years of adventure and, I’m sure, continued making a multitude of discoveries right up until his last day. Bless you, Tom. You were truly someone who enjoyed life to its fullest!
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.