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Bobby Whitehead built a business and a life in Hardin County beginning at an early age at the Glen Dale Children’s Home.
His parents died when he was in sixth grade and he spent the next six years at the children’s home. Two of his sisters and a younger brother also lived there, his brother for 12 years.
Now 61, he values his experience at the home.
“I feel like if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Whitehead said.
He’s pretty sure many would say the same thing.
“I had a place to sleep and three meals a day but you had a lot of work to do,” he said, adding everyone had chores including working in a large garden or diary farm.
Hard work is something he’s carried into the rest of his life.
“Growing up in Grayson County, Bobby and his seven siblings learned at an early age the importance of family, church and hard work,” his wife, Patsy, said.
When Whitehead first came to the children’s home, there were 210 residents. He remembers helping the superintendent at the time, Ralph McConnell, by driving him around the state to speaking engagements in churches.
The children’s home has changed its focus and name, and moved to Elizabethtown, but Whitehead still appreciates its mission.
“They are still serving kids in some capacity, that’s the main thing,” he said.
After working with the railroad for 14 years, Whitehead began his 28-year career building homes.
He’s seen many changes over the years, mostly involving making homes more energy-efficient.
“Everyone’s trying to go green these days,” he said.
He likes every aspect of building but primarily enjoys finishing, including painting and tile work. Those are details that make it a custom home, he said.
He likes working with his hands and wouldn’t enjoy sitting in an office all day, he said.
“I build a good quality house and take pride in my work,” he said.
Donald Wise agrees. Whitehead built the home the Wise family moved into in the summer of 1998.
He toured many homes Whitehead had built and all the homeowners said the same thing: “Bobby Whitehead will build you a quality home, he will pay close attention to the overall quality of construction and, in particular, he will focus on fit and finish of interior trim and woodwork.”
“Bobby was the consummate professional in helping us see our hopes and dreams become a reality in our new home,” Wise said.
To those beginning their building career, Whitehead has some advice.
“I would say to someone just getting started in the building industry to build every home like you were going to live in it,” he said. “That’s always been my philosophy.”
He’s built many houses over the years but more importantly built many friendships. Some of those friends are people he had never met before talking to them about building their home.
“If you meet him it doesn’t take long before he’s your friend. In fact, he has a world full of friends,” Pasty said, adding they can’t go anywhere without running into someone he knows.
“I think it’s his personality and sincerity that pull people to him,” she said. “He’s just a terrific guy with a positive attitude.”
Whitehead recently received the Norris “Pup” Robertson Builder of the Year Award from the Home Builders Association of Kentucky.
He sat in the audience for many years when the names were called for the award. From his seat in the crowd, he often thought of the winners “boy, he sure deserved that award,” he said.
But this time it was his turn for recognition and he said it was a good feeling to be honored by his peers.
“It was pretty awesome,” he said. “I was just in shock.”
Patsy said he’s an awesome husband and family man.
“God has blessed me with Bobby,” she said. “Sometimes I ask myself what I did that was so good to deserve him.”
He works hard, loves his family and is a man of integrity, she said.
“Bobby loves to laugh and can always make others laugh along with him by telling some crazy story about something impossible to believe,” she said. “My life is complete because of Bobby and I’m so proud of him.”
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.
Getting to know Bobby Whitehead:
Hobbies: He enjoys cooking, especially grilling steaks. He also enjoys gardening and making tomato juice.
Family: He’s married to Patsy and they have four daughters, a son and 12 grandchildren.
TV: Duck Dynasty
Movies: Anything with John Wayne or Clint Eastwood
Sports: University of Kentucky
Position on local and state building associations: He’s a part of the Lincoln Trail Home Builders Association, serving as president three times. He continues to serve on the board of directors. He also has been a state director for more than 15 years sitting on a variety of committees.