This year Bob Funk was honored at the 90th Annual Oklahoma Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony on November 16, in Oklahoma City. Below are some of his remarks after he first thanked his family, friends and colleagues.
I am extremely humbled to be a part of the 2017 Class of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. I’m even more humbled to be selected among so many wonderful people in our state.
I want you to know that 48 years ago I chose all of you. Oklahoma was a beacon of hope for me and my family those many years ago.
I was offered an upper management opportunity to stay in Seattle, or a lesser position to move to Oklahoma. I chose Oklahoma. My dream to be a minister, a rancher and an entrepreneur at the same time made Oklahoma very attractive. Oklahoma is proudly the buckle of the Bible Belt; it has wide open plains for ranching; and it was built by entrepreneurs and free enterprise pioneers. I believed there was no better place to live and achieve the American Dream than in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma truly is a state that cares, loves and prospers together. I’ve seen it time and time again. In good times and bad, Oklahomans are an example for the rest of the world. It’s our values of faith, family, friends and integrity that always shine the brightest. I have worn this cowboy hat for 40 years as an example of Oklahoma’s cowboy ethics.
The people of Oklahoma have supported and embraced my family and our business from the first day we arrived which made it a blessing to make Oklahoma our home. I’ve had the privilege of knowing many truly great Oklahomans. One of the first friends I made when I arrived was Governor George Nigh. He welcomed me and my family so warmly and wished me success in business from day one. Frank and Cathy Keating have also always been there for me as a sounding board and listened to me when we were trying to effect positive changes on many legislative issues in our great state. Politicians today could take a few lessons from George and Frank on how to work together for the good of everyone.
I’d like to thank my first banker, Paul Springfield who provided the first loan to me to start Express. I had $5,000 and then had to mortgage everything I had to cover the $150,000 loan in a business environment with 20% interest and 14% unemployment. Paul believed in me. Back then a banker could make a “character loan.” I’m not sure what kind of character I was then, but that’s what Oklahoma community bankers have done to grow this great state. If it weren’t for Paul and my great loyal employees, there wouldn’t be an Express today. I’m thankful for these individuals and am proud of one of Express’s greatest achievement— employing over half million Oklahomans.
When I travel the world and tell people about Oklahoma, I love telling them about what makes Oklahoma a great place to live — it’s not just sunsets and wide open plains; it is truly our great people. Oklahomans have strong values, servant hearts and a tremendously strong work ethic.
The Oklahoma Hall of Fame is a way to tell the story of Oklahoma through its people. Each person here creates the fabric of our great state. If there is one thing I know for sure from my years in the staffing industry, one person can have a tremendous and positive impact on many others. Great states are built one person at a time, working together to create the greatness that we all enjoy. Oklahoma is at the crossroads of America but is truly the pinnacle of our country.
I leave you with this thought: I truly believe we are only as good as the last person we have helped. My dream as an Oklahoman would be for all of us to continue to impact millions around this globe.
Oklahoma is at the crossroads of America but is truly the pinnacle of the country.
Thank you for the greatest honor of my life and thank you Oklahomans for making this world a better place to worship, work and live.