Bob Bess doesn’t stop.
At 82, no one would fault the Grantwood Village resident for slowing down. Maybe take some time off, and enjoy a productive life. That's not what Bess does.
“I’m still going strong,” Bess said.
A lifetime spent devoted to public service and helping will be recognized at the 10th annual Ageless–Remarkable St. Louisans gala. Bess is among a group of 22 older adults that will be recognized at the gala, which will take place Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch. The event recognizes seniors who personify the St. Andrew's Charitable Foundation vision of a society where all "older adults are respected, productive, secure and fulfilled." The gala will also celebrate the work done to reshape the face of aging in the St. Louis region and raise critical funds to help underserved seniors in the area in the last 10 years of the event.
Bess got a taste of public service while living in Crestwood. He spent 16 years serving as an Alderman and eventually Mayor of the city of Crestwood.
“That gave me some experience with people and government," he said. "It taught me that things that couldn't go wrong, go wrong. It was a great experience."
When he was done with that role, he kept going. Bess is currently serving as his community as trustee, as well as Building and Streets Commissioner for Grantwood Village. As the commissioner, he's helped institute a long-term plan to increase the longevity of streets.
When he's not doing city government work, Bess active in the community as a member of many organizations, including the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Run and the Mayor's Ball Committees, and the St. Louis RCGA. In fact, when reached at his home on Wednesday, Bess was talking about plans for this year's Mayor's Ball event.
“I just like doing things, and people let me do them,” Bess said.
Bess said he is extremely proud of his work with the Backstoppers.
He was working at Coca-Cola when Nick Blassie, head of the meat cutters union, approached him one evening. Blassie told Bess he had just come from a meeting that created the organization and that Bess needed to join.
"I said, 'I'll join, how much is it?'" Bess said. "He told me it's $100, and I gave him a $20 down payment and told him I'd pay him the rest. He told me I was the first one because he just came from the meeting."
During his time with the Backstoppers he's been a president, treasure and a board member.
The Ageless-Remarkable St. Louisans Gala is the primary fundraising event for St. Andrew’s and its Charitable Foundation. For the past 10 years, the gala has generated over $1.6 million, which has been used by the organization to enhance the lives of seniors. Tickets are on sale for $175 per person, and may be purchased through St. Andrew’s by calling (314) 726-0111. Event RSVPs can now be made via the St. Andrew’s website at www.standrews1.com.