You Can Take It With You…and Then Give It Away

Dear Reader:

I remember several years ago doing a blog post on Hershey’s candy bars in connection to my mother’s love of them. She always had some stashed around her house or apartment. It was a pleasure she looked forward to each night.

Apparently mom was not alone. Bob Williams of Long Grove, Iowa was in the habit of eating a banana, half a chocolate bar, and a glass of milk each day. He is 94 years young this year and famously known throughout this small Iowan town of Long Grove (850 residents) as simply “The Candy Man.”

It started small…really small. One day at the Dollar General instead of getting his one Hershey bar for the next day he got three. He had just seen a documentary on the expression “paying it forward” and he decided to give it a try. This time he bought three bars, kept one for his meal the next day, and gave the other two bars away to people passing by him at random. That was 6,000 Hershey bars ago.

“You’d think I’d given them keys to a new car…Honest to God these people were thunderstruck.”

“It made me feel warm and needed again…a feeling I wanted to keep.”

For 39 years Bob Williams taught psychology in nearby Davenport…today he makes weekly Saturday trips to the Dollar General...he buys 2 cases of Hersheys for $45 dollars on $5 dollar discount day. On these days he hands one bar each to the two cashiers and then one to the person behind him in line…before heading out to pass out the rest.

Hershey’s has recognized Bob for his warm-hearted, homespun philanthropy by sending him a check for $1500. On his last recent birthday (94)  Hershey’s Incorporated sent a representative to his birthday party. He was told by the representative that Hershey’s considers him the “North Star” of chocolate kindness.

Bob was married to his beloved wife Mary Elizabeth for 68 years and loved giving her chocolates. She died in 2012 at the age of 88. Every day he stops at a special bench with her name on it to visit and just talk with his wife.

When people stop and tell him he is doing this because “You can’t take it with you” he just smiles and replies: “You can take it with you…if you remember to also give it away.”

And what does he get in return. “Hugs…lots and lots of hugs…when you are 94 that’s the best gift of all.”

“A lot of people have said we need more sharing and smiling and patting people on the back,” Williams told the local newspaper The Register.

“I hope everybody picks up on that. We need to lighten up and smile a bit more. Share whatever you can with people.  (And then with a grin) “There is no charge for that last bit of advice.”

Source: Title picture: Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sweet story: Iowa man, 94, passes out Hershey’s chocolate bars to residents  (Davenport Daily News)


A memory lane photo…was going through a shoe box of old cards and photos …and found this Valentines picture in a card from Eva Cate….so cute!








About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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3 Responses to You Can Take It With You…and Then Give It Away

  1. bcparkison says:

    You come up with the best stories.


  2. Beverly Dufford says:

    This is a terrific story. True stories are the best kind as you well know. You know there are so many ways we can give something away every day even if it is just a smile. You already do so much of this from writing this blog every day, which brings a smile, gives inspiration or just makes a day better for so many, to doing some kindness for someone who is least expecting it. You inspire others to do the same. I think so often of the poem called “A Thousand Years from Now” which I believe I have shared once on your blog. Have a good day and share it, and I am going to try to do the same.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I would love to read “A Thousand Years from Now” again…I do remember it when you sent it and love it. If you still have it…send it once again. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your kind words touch me always, Jo…but darling look in the mirror and see the reflections of so many who have followed your path.


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