Paying tribute to a magnificent philanthropist, husband, father, board member, and all-around good human-being.
It was in 2003 when board member and long-time supporter, Sherry Trainer, told me we needed to recruit Bob Domec to our board. With a total of seven members on the board, everyone knew we needed new board members.
“Who’s Bob Domec?” I asked.
“What do you mean who’s Bob Domec?” she responded with the level of reproach and indignity that only Sherry could shower upon a person. “Dorothy, you cannot tell me you’ve been in this community for this long, and you don’t know Bob Domec?”
But I had, and I didn’t.
Apparently, everyone knew Bob Domec, and I was one of the few isolated beings in Pasadena, Texas who had not been exposed to this man!
Thank God, Sherry made it her mission to connect us, but then God had already connected us, only I didn’t realize it.
The prior December, Bob’s daughter, Terri, had been diagnosed and Dixie had been instrumental in expediting her into treatment. No matter how much insurance one has or how wealthy one is, a December diagnosis is beyond trying, primarily because our healthcare system sort of shuts down. It’s the holidays…people shrug as if everyone understands. Decisions are fraught with delays; access to doctors is limited, treatment plans seem to be in a permanent ‘on hold’ status until after the new year.
Meanwhile, patients are scared beyond belief, anxious to know the next steps, and ready to get on with fighting this awful disease. It’s Cancer!
Terri was young, too young. Most of all, Terri was Bob’s daughter.
Over the years to come, I would hear him tell the story many times, always with heart-stopping emotion, always with the quiet rage and helplessness at the circumstances and always followed with his palpable almost ‘raw’ gratitude that Dixie didn’t let the holidays interfere with getting things moving for his daughter.
Every time I heard the story, it was the same. Terri was His daughter, His family. Nothing was more important to Bob.
How could I not have known Bob? His generosity was already a bit of a legend in Pasadena as was his incredible community service and his equally incredible business sense.
Two men became a permanent fixture in my life in 2003: my husband Patrick and Bob Domec. Both were real men and both among the most gentle of beings around.
No matter how much I appreciate Bob coming into the life of The Rose, that appreciation is almost insignificant to what he and Elaine gave by their presence and example to Patrick and me in those early years of marriage. Ours was a late-life marriage, one entered after a lot of past history with other relationships, each of us carrying our own baggage, both of us filled with expectations clouded by old hurts and disappointments.
Then we had the gift to be with Bob and Elaine, to listen to their stories and believe me, Bob always had stories to tell, and to watch their interaction and witness this thing called “love” between them.
I’ll admit at first I didn’t understand. I couldn’t quite ‘get it’ why Elaine was so devoted to Bob. Sure he was a great guy, handsome, dynamic, engaging, funny, but she was too. Her attention to his every need, her awareness of his moods, her willingness to let him always take center stage….that kind of behavior from an obviously strong woman was totally baffling to me.
Back then, I was the ultimate feminist (still am, no apologies), championing women’s rights, ever dominate, always on point!
The truth was I had been ‘in charge’ too long, I felt easy in the role of being the boss making the decisions…in business, in relationships. That was the ‘Dorothy’ before she fell in love, before she knew such a thing still existed, but most of all before I had ever had the gift of watching a couple who had been through more life experiences than most would ever know and who were still truly in love with each other.
Now I understand. Only last week Patrick and I had shared one of our favorite ‘Bob’ sayings.
For The Rose, Bob coming on the Board could not have been more exquisitely timed. We had taken on one of the most challenging and taxing dilemmas we would ever face. We were smack dab in the middle of our first $10 million capital campaign, having purchased the Featherwood location in 2002, trying to renovate it—each step plagued with problems and setbacks while keeping our other location open.
All the time, we were frantically looking for any and every funding opportunity to keep us afloat and stable. We only served 30,000 women that year, but as it has been with every year we’ve existed, there were always more women needing help than we had money to provide care.
That is when Bob and Elaine stepped in.
Bob, with his ‘out of the box’ ideas, his unceasing goading, and his determination. The Bob who became visibly incredulous when I dared to suggest we might not be able to do the impossible! The Bob who had a contact with everyone and if he didn’t; would insist I find one.
Bob was uniquely involved in the Pink Goat Society. I will never forget his telephone call. I could barely understand him: he was almost incoherent and kept stumbling over the words. Excited, out of breath, choking back tears, he tried to tell me that Palmer’s ‘pink goat’ had been auctioned off at the Pasadena livestock and Rodeo for $115,000….all for The Rose! That Society existed for several years and raised nearly half a million dollars for us.
Bob, with his laughter. Bob, with his stories. Bob with his gentle prodding. Bob who was behind Casa Ole’s promotion of Make Tuesday’s Matter, which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over its decade long lifetime.
Bob, who helped sponsor and was physically in attendance at every Christmas Luncheon held for our employees…I can still see him and Elaine behind the serving line, dishing up fajitas, rice, and beans.
Oddly, probably the most incredible gift from Bob was his ‘editing.’ This man could read any copy and immediately spot a typo, grammar issue or just a poorly written sentence. He always checked and rechecked our minutes. He edited our annual report long after his tenure on the Board. He insisted, that was his job, and he was sort of good at it. Right. Sort of. The most excited I ever saw my staff was when he returned a copy of the report and found ‘no errors!’ That note became and remains their highest compliment.
He had a way of inspiring folks to be their very best.
Bob brought in another incredible man and human being, Corkey Turner, to be a member of the Board of Directors. Corkey, along with wife Debbie, have been such amazing gifts to The Rose and me personally. Honestly, I’m not sure what we would have done without both those men over those years. The last hug I received on the night Bob died was from Corkey. He had returned to the Shrimp Boil, knowing his friend was gone, just to be sure we…all of us who were still closing down the event…were ‘ok.’
Bob served on our Board from August of 2003 until August of 2015 when health issues forced his service to move to the Advisory Board. He served in nearly every role: director, secretary, vice-chair, and was our treasurer for many of those years. His keen sense of finances guided us through countless audits and budgets. On board meeting days, he and Corkey sat in ‘their spots’ at the end of the table, and as always he was moderately disruptive and always supportive.
Today, Elaine told me our annual Shrimp Boil was his favorite event, and there is nowhere else he would rather have been.
Bob was surrounded by 1,100 people on the night he died. I have received over 100 emails from folks who said they are so glad they had a chance to see him one last time, so glad they had a chance to talk with him, to hear his laughter and to see his smile.
Those were the folks who had received one of the greatest of gifts in this life.
They all ‘knew’ Bob Domec.
CEO & Co-Founder of The Rose
Tribute Gift in honor of Bob Domec