An advertisement for a writer's retreat.

I generally avoid promoting my own books, but I can’t help but mention one that has my name on it, because it’s not the only name. I’m just the co-writer, the style man, the interviewerer-story teller, the shape-it-up guy.

The story is all Bob Barker’s. Not Bob Barker from The Price is Right, though they sometimes get each other’s mail. This Bob Barker lives in Fuquay-Varina, which is also home to the Bob Barker Company — the world’s largest supplier to jails, prisons, and other detention facilities, including Camp X-Ray at Guantanomo Bay.

Bob and his wife Pat built the business from scratch, made it a good corporate citizen in the community, and then turned it over to their children. To celebrate the company’s 40 years in business, Bob decided to publish his memoirs, and asked me to help. I was happy to do it.

Bob and Pat are members at Woodhaven Baptist Church near Apex, where I got to know them when I was pastor there. Bob recently served as chair of the trustees at Campbell University, his alma mater, where several facilities now bear his name. Aside from building a powerhouse business, Bob has also sold china and crystal, worked in the nuclear industry, edited and published the Western Wake Herald, and served as mayor of both Apex and Fuquay-Varina. In the early 1970s, was a state senator — the first Republican elected from Wake County since Reconstruction.

Bob’s story is a real Horatio Alger tale — a child of the depression, he was dragging a plumber’s tools around a mill village in Cherryville, N.C. for 25 cents per week at age five, and tried just about every legal means known to man or boy to lift himself out of poverty by the proverbial bootstraps. That included paper routes, wringing chicken necks on Saturdays, setting up bowling pins, running a “dope wagon” that sold soft drinks and snacks, and a stint as a dishwasher when he was 10 years old — in a restaurant owned by Al Capone’s former getaway driver.

If you’d like an inspiring summer read, check out Bob’s story, cleverly named I’m in Cells: the Captivating Story of Bob Barker and the Bob Barker Company. It’s available at Amazon, several independent book stores, and through the Bob Barker Company.

It may just capture your attention.

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