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Charmer and farmer, he'll hit 101 next month

Staff writer

Some people just have that “it” factor, and Bob Delk, who will turns 101 years old next month, definitely does.

His face is as soft as a baby’s bottom; his eyes, kind. His laugh, which borders on a giggle, is downright adorable. He’s a charmer and retired farmer.

“He loves people. He loves life,” daughter Shirley says.

He’s lived a century but doesn’t take any medicine. A pacemaker doctors put in earlier this year is his only non-original part.

Bob was born at home four miles north of Peabody.

“My dad was a mechanic and farmer,” he said. “I did a lot of the farming because he was mechanicing. I started running a tractor at age 7.”

Bob’s family grew wheat and sugar cane for cattle feed. Family members played music together at the end of the day and ate big meals that his mother brought to the fields.

His childhood informed who he became.

“My parents were very loving people,” he said. “People loved to come over. We’d have a house full of people playing music. My mom said she was running a restaurant but never got paid for it.”

Beginning at age 10, Bob learned how to play guitar, banjo, violin, and ukulele — “anything with strings on it.”

He’s performed in at least 65 musical groups, including the Plainsmen, or Peabody Plainsmen, for 60 years.

He plays guitar monthly at Hillsboro Senior Center.

“I used to never make a mistake,” he says. “I’m not any good anymore.”

His fans say that’s hogwash.

Bob lived in his boyhood home — “That place is gone” — until he was 23 and married his first wife, Aldene.

“She was a sister to one of my friends I ran around with,” Bob says. “We dated for about two years.”

How did he propose?

“That’s a good question,” he says. “”We just decided to get married.”

They put in 54 years before Aldene died from injuries sustained in a car crash.

He later remarried. After 17 years together, second wife Dorothy died in 2017.

“She had lost her husband,” he says. “I lost my wife. So we got together.”

Bob retired from farming at 88. He rented 600 acres and bought 600, all within four to five miles of each other.

“I always said I’ll farm until I find something better, ” he said. “I didn’t know any better.”

He helped raise four children — three daughters and a son. He enjoys 10 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

He likes to go on day trips and might drive a little fast sometimes — who could say?

Shirley says he used an electric cart for the first time recently at Walmart in Newton and complained, “It’s not going very fast. I have it wide open.”

Bob was an affectionate father.

“He would hug us and kiss our cheeks,” she says. “It was just a good family atmosphere.”

“He’s always making friends,” Shirley says. “He doesn’t know a stranger, and I think I take after him because I just talk to anyone. He’s that way, too. He likes to laugh and have a good time.”

Bob belongs to two coffee klatches — one for men and one where he’s usually the only man.

Friends tease him about how women always are fawning over him.

“Every time you see Bob, he’s surrounded by women,” “Moose” Meirowsky says.

When a reporter confesses to the group that she may or may not have kissed Bob on the cheek when she said goodbye to him the day before — perhaps making some of the ladies of the senior center jealous — one of his friends says, joking, “They’ve all kissed him anyway.”

“I’m just an innocent bystander!” Delk says. “Some of us have it.”

Last modified July 27, 2023

 

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