Philanthropist allows story to be told in excellent documentary
Between 200 and 300 people gathered for the premier showing of Business Conservationist, a documentary about Batesville native Bob Dunlap, his business and contributions to conservation and education. The film was shown Thursday evening at the Batesville Elementary School Auditorium.
Filmmaker David Crews of Oxford recorded and produced the piece that includes interviews with many of Dunlap’s employees, long-time friends, educators as well as those he assisted along the way.
The Elementary School site was appropriate. Dunlap spent his entire 12 years of schooling in that building that has served the Batesville area well over 100 years.
Most know that South Panola’s football stadium is named in his honor, but few knew the multitude of people who he has helped whether it be assisting with education through tuition assistance or by recognizing individuals with a strong work ethic and giving them a job.
That assistance was made possible by Dunlap’s family tire business, Dunlap and Kyle. The success there has morphed from a mule barn to a company with wholesale warehouses and Gateway Tire Stores throughout a multi-state region employing 2,000 people with over $700 million in annual revenues. He credits the success to current and former employees and by always giving customers a good product for a fair value.
Dunlap’s conservation efforts play a major role in the piece with footage at his beloved Caulk Island, a 12,000 acre property surrounded by the Mississippi River where Dunlap has been responsible for having over a million hardwood trees planted. He has also used extensive conservation practices on his current home property, Cambridge Place, in Lafayette County.
Dunlap’s benevolence also extends to the Boy Scouts and Humane Society. He reached the rank of Eagle while scouting in Batesville and fittingly, members of the Batesville Troop 478 showed their appreciation by presenting the colors, seating guests and leading the pledge prior to the premier.
Dunlap’s wife, Cyd, is an avid animal lover, and heads the Oxford Lafayette Humane Society of which they are also benefactors. Footage included in the documentary often shows Dunlap surrounded by their dogs or being friendly with the camp kitty.
Premier attendees included most of those interviewed by Crews for the piece, fellow workers as well as their offspring, including the second generation of Dunlap and Kyle family and business associates.
Danny Ray McKittrick is the son of Dunlap’s late “right hand man,” Glenn McKittrick, and played a large role in finally persuading Dunlap to go along with production.
The piece is slated to be shown on Mississippi Public Television in the spring of 2018. Probably no one knows the complete extent of Dunlap’s philanthropy, but the documentary will give viewers a better idea of how a man through his business is leaving a mark on a region’s flora and fauna—and that includes you and me.