By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahomans across the state are mourning the recent death of Robert “Bob” Max Augustine Waldrop (November 9, 1952 – August 30, 2019) who “afflicted the comfortable, and comforted the afflicted.” He was 67.
A Prayer Vigil for Bob will be held Friday, September 6, at 7 p.m. and a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, September 7, at 10 a.m. Both events will take place at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church, 7336 W. Britton Road, in Oklahoma City.
Bob was a 4th generation Oklahoman, born and raised in Tillman County in southwest Oklahoma.
Director of Music and Liturgy at Epiphany of the Lord for 20 years, Bob was the founder of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, a co-founder of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, and served as the organization’s first president and general manager. In 2012, he was re-elected president of the Cooperative.
Dev Vallencourt, a vegetable farmer and owner of High Tides & Green Fields, a farm located in Middleberg, Oklahoma, wrote on Facebook, “I first met Bob through the Oklahoma Food Co-op. Over the years, I watched Bob help farmers and ranchers, bakers, soap makers, arts & crafts people, jelly & jam cooks, woodworkers and card creators grow their businesses within the Co-op. It was Bob’s dream and we all worked to make it happen. I never saw him less than enthusiastic. He always saw a way to keep going forward. We all went forward with him. Bob was a farmer, a cheerleader, a visionary, a dreamer, and a giver. The world will be a much poorer place with his passing.”
Nathaniel Batchelder, director of the Peace House in Oklahoma City recalls, “As a founder of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, I’m told Bob wrote the computer program which allows hundreds of people to submit monthly orders from a ‘menu’ of what would be available, and then pick up their order from one of dozens of ‘pick-up-&-delivery’ locations – usually churches.
“The computer program making this complicated matrix of farmers, dairy & meat producers, churches, volunteers, and hundreds of monthly members (customers) was all created, invented, organized and managed by the incredible Bob Waldrop, himself an organic gardener and worm-farmer,” Batchelder added.
David Mueller, co-founder of the Dorothy Day Canonization Support Network, posted on Facebook, “Bob served on the Dorothy Day Canonization Support Network steering committee of the for the past 6 years. This past month as a committee, we sent a letter to every bishop in the United States imploring them to write a pastoral letter on Gospel Nonviolence. The committee was so happy that he [Bob] was able to lend his signature to the letter. We were honored that perhaps his final anti-war action was our collective effort.”
Bob was the editor of Better Times: An Almanac of Useful Information, which was distributed free, mostly to low income families. He was a member of the Oklahoma Food Safety Task Force, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil – USA.
“Bob is so beloved not because he was perfect, but because he was faithful – to God and to the community as it was and how he hoped it would be,” said Lori Walke, associate minister at Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. “He not only inspired such faithfulness in others, he helped us embody it. To live as Bob did is the best way we can honor such a remarkable life.”
The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club honored him with its Earth Care Award for his work in founding the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and the Oklahoma Sustainability Network gave him its Green Shield Award for his efforts to protect Oklahoma’s environment by organizing the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.
Waldrop received a certificate in permaculture design from Dan Hemenway of Barking Frogs Permaculture in 2007, and served as an assistant instructor in the BFPC Online Permaculture Design Course. In 2014, the Permaculture Institute awarded him a Permaculture Diploma in Education, Community Service, Research, Media, and Finance.
“Bob Waldrop’s contributions to sustainable living were huge, with his greatest feat starting the Oklahoma Food Coop,” said Susie Shields Derichsweiler, longtime environmentalist and Sierra Club member. “After he began the rural area deliveries, it was a miracle for many Oklahomans who had no access to local food. He was a mover and a shaker with the Oklahoma Sustainability Network, inspiring many with his concepts and ideas. He became a certified Permaculturist, teaching others the fundamentals in any way he could, especially with his comprehensive digital book, “I Permie” that is still for sale for $1.99. Bob was one of a kind and a hero to many of us for all of his contributions to sustainability education.”
Jim Roth, Dean of Oklahoma City University School of Law and Director and Chair of Phillips Murrah’s Clean Energy Practice Group stated, “I have never met another person more aware of the environmental footprint of humans than Bob. And I’ve never met another person who lived his life with such intention, whether in food supply, energy, permaculture or education, to lessen that footprint and live a life by example. He will be greatly missed.”
Pat Hoerth Batchelder, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Vegie Club Manager for CommonWealth Urban Farms and owner of Turtle Rock Farm near Bixby said, “I met Bob in 2007 at my first Oklahoma Sustainability Network conference. He gave a keynote that year and I was blown away—so much so, that I got a copy of his prepared remarks, and still have them. One of the things he said that day: ‘If you want more wisdom and beauty and goodness in the world, your job first and foremost is to live wisdom, beauty, and goodness in your own life.’ That was at the time we were opening Turtle Rock Farm retreat center. His speech inspired us to include not only spirituality in our mission, but sustainability, and to live it, to this day.”
Hoerth provided The City Sentinel with this quote from Waldrop at the 2007 OSN conference, “This better world is literally rooted in the soil. If we are going to heal the planet, while we of course should do everything, we must not forget that the foundation of any civilization is the soil and the most important people are the ones who grow the food. Without a surplus of food, there is no civilization… All the dollars in the world will not buy you one loaf of bread if there is no wheat growing in the fields, if there is no one to grow the wheat, care for the wheat, and then bring it to harvest and table.”
Rev. Sheri Dickerson, director of Black Lives Matter Oklahoma said, “This gentle giant of a man embodied altruism, human-kindness, compassion, jollity, charity, snarkiness and wisdom. He’s been a doer and servant of community his entire life.”
Waldrop’s obituary says, “Bob was loved by many and will be missed by all. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, c/o Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church, 7336 W. Britton Road, Oklahoma City, OK, 73162.”