LUBBOCK, Texas — The Love’s Travel Stop in Lubbock, Texas, opened to much fanfare just before Labor Day weekend. It’s a much-needed stop for drivers traveling on the desolate stretch of interstate road between Lubbock and Amarillo in the Texas panhandle, the company said. It’s also a welcome place for gameday fans coming by car and airplane to see their favorite teams duke it out at Texas Tech since it’s also conveniently located across from the airport.
But this Love’s is also important to the company for a completely different and very special reason: it’s the first location dedicated in memory of a Love’s employee.
Robert Arthur, who died June 9, was born in Lubbock on March 14, 1954. He attended Texas Tech University, went to work for a supermarket, then Petro Stopping Centers, then at Love’s in 2003. He spent time in store management when he first joined the company then found the perfect fit for his experience, work ethic and personality on the store opening team in the merchandising department as a divisional merchandising manager.
“He loved his job, and he was good at it,” said Mike Schmitt, district marketing manager, who worked with Robert for nearly 10 years. “Tom Edwards used to brag on him for his flashy displays. And he was a machine. He’d put his head down, always with a smile, and get it done.”
Love’s vendor partners, who are also a familiar part of the store opening team, all agreed that Robert’s willingness to do whatever it takes to get a job done made him memorable, but it was so much more than that.
“He was a very good friend, personally,” said Don Paddock, CEO of KSG Distributing, who worked with Robert for 10 years and caught a flight to Lubbock especially for the store dedication. “He was always glad to see you with a huge smile on his face and a story for you.”
Paul Leland with DAS worked with Robert for six years. “I miss his voice, his laugh. You always knew when he left the building because it got so quiet. There was always a buzz around him.”
Those who worked with him shared stories of Robert’s love for milkshakes and his uncanny ability to talk anyone with access to a blender into making milkshakes for the whole team. He was known for telling jokes, giving nicknames and having “MacGyver”-like skills in finding the right tools to conquer the most challenging retail merchandising dilemmas.
Schmitt took Robert’s unexpected passing in June last year especially hard, Love’s said. He asked the Love family to dedicate the Lubbock store in memory of his good friend.
He worked with Eric Roth and EchoMedia to find the best words to memorialize Robert’s personality and to create a plaque that would hang permanently in the store. He then organized a brief memorial service and asked Robert’s family, including his mom, brother, sister-in-law, daughter and son-in-law to attend.
Click here to view a video and to hear Mike read the memorial plaque and present it to Robert’s family.
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc., based in Oklahoma City, has more than 350 locations in 40 states.