I'll Be Seeing You Bob Pettus
Bob Pettus was a wonderful man. He was my boss. He was my mentor; he was my friend.
As I sit here and read this obituary, I can't believe I was lucky enough to... know this wonderful, accomplished & generous man. I met him when I was 14 years old and over the next 20+ years our paths crossed numerous times. I worked for him in high school and college at Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated and with the NASCAR Family Festival. At the age of 14 I had no idea what a big roll he'd play in my life.
In 2013 when I lost my best friend to suicide, I turned to Bob. His son Robert told me "please call Dad; he loves you; he can help you through this." I was very hesitant to open up to anyone, but I finally called him. It was a pivotal point in my healing.
Over the next 3 years Bob & I would meet at Rusty's Deli at Quail Corners and sit and talk. He'd always order a plate of fries and a burger and a Coke in a glass bottle. We'd talk about life, the ups and downs; he'd tell me stories of his grandkids, growing up and raising his kids, racing cars in TN and how he barely finished high school. Keep in mind this man is on the Board of one the largest companies in the world. You'd never know it by his simple ways. He was a simple man. He liked to hunt and fish. He liked his burgers & fries and a Coke. We shared lots of those over the years.
He would always show up to meet me looking like a kid; I think that's why we got along. He was 30+ years older than me, but a kid at heart. I'd say "Bob how old do yo feel?" He'd say "about 35." He'd show up wearing a baseball cap and tennis shoes & he had this pickup truck he loved. We sat on the bed of the truck quite a few times and had talks. Talks about life & death & about God. I'd show up in tears and on the verge of a breakdown, but by the time I'd leave, Bob had me laughing and feeling ridiculous. That was Bob. That laugh. That grin. It was contagious.
Bob would talk to me about his relationship with God. That's one thing about Bob I never questioned: his faith with the Lord; it was clear as day. I really admired that about him.
Last Fall when my mother Maja Banks Norman became ill with cancer for the 2nd time, I called Bob. They had worked together for years at Coke and my mother thought the world of Bob, especially for all he had done for me. He came to the hospital that night. That's 1 thing I could count on; Bob would be there if I needed him. I didn't ask often but when I did, he was there for me. He came to the hospital & brought his grandson. They both prayed over my mother. It was a beautiful prayer. I felt like the Lord blessed my mother that night. A few days later, my mother walked out of that hospital. It was a miracle.
Later that night Bob & I stood in the hallway. Tears ran down my face as I thanked him for coming. He told me to be strong, my mother needed me. I nodded and squeezed his hand and fought back tears. I could barely stand, but I told him I'd be strong. We hugged & I promised to be in touch. That was the last time I saw Bob.
My heart goes out to Marilyn & Robert & the entire Pettus & Coca Cola family. I feel like we were all just together saying our goodbyes to Julie. I suppose that's the one thing I can find peace in. I know Bob is with Julie.
Robert said to me the other day "Dad is dancing with Julie and only knows the beauty of heaven right now." Yes Robert, I'm sure heaven is beautiful right now.
I'll be seeing you again Bob.