Dunlap documentary air on PBS

Published 4:01 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

By Jeremy Weldon

Local businessman and noted conservationist Bob Dunlap is the subject of a feature length documentary film that began airing on Mississippi Public Broadcasting this week.

The program was debuted Sept. 28, 2017, at a premier showing in Batesville Elementary School’s auditorium with about 250 locals in attendance.

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The hour-long film is now ready for television and was broadcast Thursday night on MPB. It will air again Monday (Nov. 5) at 4 p.m. The MPB website has information about future airings.

Dunlap launched Dunlap & Kyle in the early 1950’s. The tire wholesale and retail business started modestly in a mule barn in Batesville with a handful of staffers.

Today the business employs almost 2,000 workers and has annual revenues in excess of $750 million. Gateway Tire is the retail component of Dunlap & Kyle which also has wholesale operations across the nation and does substantial business internationally.

Several Batesville and Panola County citizens are interviewed in the documentary including Tommy Marshall, Harvey Seale, Talmadge Goodnight, Flip Phillips, Buddy Gray, Brent Nickle, Mike Dunlap, Danny Ray McKittrick, and others.

Dunlap’s conservation efforts are legendary. As the film portrays, Dunlap is restoring a 12,000 acre island on the Mississippi River into a virgin forest as it would have looked over 400 years ago when Hernando DeSoto first laid eyes on the Mississippi River.

He also has a 3,500 acre nature preserve in Lafayette County.

The film explores Dunlap’s business acumen, his significant conservation efforts, and his generosity to education, Boy Scouts, and other philanthropic endeavors.

Most in Panola County know about Dunlap’s considerable contributions to the South Panola High School football program, including the scoreboard, turf, press box, and most notably, a large donation for the new field house and locker rooms with an adjoining indoor practice facility.

That facility, currently under construction, will be the only indoor facility of its kind at a Mississippi High School.

Dunlap’s benevolence has also greatly benefited the local Boy Scouts Troop 478 and Cub Scouts Pack 78. He reached the rank of Eagle while scouting in Batesville as a youngster.

Dunlap’s wife, Cyd, is an avid animal lover, and is known for her work with various humane societies. Some of the footage in the field shows Dunlap surrounded by their dogs.

The feature documentary also includes breathtaking photography, especially arial views of Caulk Island, combined  with a moving musical score. Dunlap’s motivation as a conservationist is made clear with this high-quality cinematography.


Among other themes the film focuses on the character of Dunlap and his colleagues who built the company and have contributed substantially to the economic, conservation, and educational well-being of Mississippi.

The film was produced and directed by Oxford native David Crews.