The Saratoga Sun -

Not just loafing around

Locals help in collecting and distributing free baked goods to north Carbon County monthly

 


When the mobile food unit from Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies distributes once a month in Medicine Bow’s firehouse, there is usually a truck outside the building giving out bread products.

Brands such as Oroweat, Thomas’ (with many types of muffins and bagels), Entemann’s and Sara Lee are available for free with no limit on how many packages a person can take. The truck stays there until all the baked goods are gone.

Richard (Rick) Wiseman and helper John Mihalek drive to Bosler, about 20 miles west of Laramie, and pick up the pallets of foodstuff Tom (Doc) O’ Connor pulls together by contacting distributors who donate the products.

Wiseman does this for Medicine Bow once a month and pays for the gas out of his pocket, says O’ Connor.

The bread being distributed at the same time as the mobile unit food means Wiseman is allowing people who come from around the county to get these free bakery products, complimenting the food is offered inside.

Wiseman has been doing this for eight months, although the bread has been coming to the Medicine Bow community for seven years.

The person who contacts the donors, O’Connor, born in Pittsburgh in 1948, came to Wyoming in the 1970s. He established stores and businesses in Colorado and Wyoming and that is how he met the distributors he works with now.

His nickname, Doc, is from when he opened a store in honor of his brother Donald. He says his brother told him when O’Connor got rich enough to open his own store, Donald wanted it to be named after him. “Doc” called the store DOC’s Western Village Store, shortening Donald O’Connor to DOC. Customers assumed O’ Connor was nicknamed he became known as Doc for close to 40 years.

O’ Connor has been building businesses since he was 15. At age 17 his father worked for him. His father did so until he passed away.

“I come from a family that brought me up to help people,” said O’Connor about how he got the idea to give out food. “Plus I was a member of the Eagles in Laramie and the mission statement is people helping people.”

At first he concentrated in Laramie with the soup kitchen, Cathedral Home for Children and senior home.

His mother Celia was a good friend to Pat Martin in Elk Mountain who had a son, Scott Martin.

Scott and O’Connor became friends and it was Scott who asked if he could start distribution of bread in Medicine Bow, if he came and got the bread.

For six years Scott did this, but unfortunately he fell down stairs and died not quite a year ago.

Wiseman approached O’Connor about continuing the work Martin had started, so there would be no lapse in bread being supplied. It was Wiseman who started coordinating his time bringing bakery products when the mobile food unit came to Medicine Bow. Martin was more sporadic with his times although more frequent.

“It is a blessing to be able to do this for the town,” said Wiseman. “I want to thank Burnett Trucking and Doc O’ Connor for making it all possible.”

There is also a family in Hanna that goes down once a month to get bread for the town folk where it is distributed in the Hanna Housing Community Center. Again the bread is pulled together by O’ Connor.

O’ Connor has been retired for several years but besides coordinating the bread, he has a website called http://www.comegetit.com where, by appointment, he sells furniture, bikes, electronics and even cars at prices he knows families can afford versus going to regular retail outlets.

“I am a rebel and don’t do things the normal way. I may be retired, but I won’t ever quit trying to assist people who have less,” said O’Connor.

 

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