Wayland duo serving up kindness for more than two decades
PLAINVIEW – Don’t expect to find Emmitt Tipton in his office around 11 a.m. on Thursdays. And if you’re looking in the chemistry lab for Dr. Harold Temple around that same time, don’t bet on it.
The two have worked at Wayland Baptist University for several decades, and for nearly all that time, they’ve shared a Thursday morning ritual that has touched the lives of hundreds during that time.
Tipton, who serves as dean of students at Wayland and a former business professor, and Temple, professor of chemistry, share a Meals on Wheels route in Plainview, a service project they first started in 1983.
The route started as a project of the Plainview Breakfast Lions Club in the early 1980s under then-president John Matsler. When Temple joined the Lions Club in 1983, he and Tipton picked up the route as their pet project of service for the Lions.
The routine stuck.
“We’ve loved doing it, and our time schedules would allow us to do it, so we’ve just always done it,” Tipton said. “We just made sure over the years not to schedule any classes on the 11 o’clock hour.”
The pair ran a route near 26th and Joliet for the first few years, but since then have had the same basic area, covering the Westgate addition and homes west of Yonkers. The route changes from time to time as folks are added or taken off the rolls, but Tipton said it averages out to about 12 people each week.
Tipton and Temple have the route down to an art, from the moment they pick up the meals and milk carrier from the Covenant Hospital Plainview dock area to the time they return the empty carriers and get back to work. Tipton often drives his vehicle, with Temple in the passenger seat with the milk carrier and address cards.
As Tipton pulls into the driveway, Temple gets ready to grab a meal, rapping softly on the rear window for Tipton to roll it down. After the delivery, they’re back on their way to the next stop.
“We’re a little faster if I deliver,” Temple jokes.
“He moves faster than I do,” Tipton adds with a smile.
Along the route, the pair enjoy visiting with each other, swapping “grandpa” stories or just catching up on life. Over they years, they’ve built quite a friendship and enjoy each other’s company.
But they really enjoy getting to visit – however briefly – with the folks on their delivery route, sharing an encouraging word or asking about family.
“The neat thing is getting to minister to so many people,” Tipton said. “I like to talk and sometimes that slows us down. But we’ve gotten to know so many people over the years.”
“Most of our route is elderly ladies and they are always very appreciative of the visit,” Temple added. “Sometimes we’re the only people they get to see that day.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting all the people you wouldn’t ordinarily know, and I like our chance to visit as well.”
The involvement doesn’t always end once the meals are delivered. Tipton admits he’s made additional visits during the week to some folks he knows just to visit longer. And the two keep a keen eye out for other needs the individuals may have. For instance, the Lions Club painted one lady’s house that was in great need, and they’ve reported the need for repairs or other problems at clients’ homes.
As things arise, from time to time the delivery duo is left alone for the route, and Tipton said he often picks his granddaughter up to help or asks a Wayland student to come along.
Even after these decades of driving the route, both Tipton and Temple admit they’ve just plain forgotten the route every now and then and had to call and remind one another. But except for the occasional memory lapses, everything else has gone smoothly.
“We’ve only dropped one meal in all these years, and I did it,” Tipton laughs. “We had to go back to the hospital and get another one.”
The pair plan to continue the route as long as they’re physically able to do so.
Meals on Wheels provides hot meals during the noon hour for an average of 115 persons in Plainview each day on 11 routes.