Jim Qualls retired 21 years ago.
But he really means it this time.
The long-time volunteer head of the Stone County Resource Council will step aside from his duties as truck driver, plumber, electrician, CEO and just about any other responsibility you can imagine this September.
It comes more than two decades after he moved to Mountain View from California for his first retirement, drawn by a cheaper cost of living and good fishing on the White River.
“I think I’ve been fishing three times in 21 years,” Qualls said during a break in his workday last week. “I couldn’t retire in California between the high property taxes and the high cost of living. If I’d stayed in California, I’d still be working. The thing is, I’m still working. I’m just not getting paid.”
The self-described CIO (California-improved Okie) was visiting the Ozarks when a truck driver in West Plains told him about Mountain View.
“So, we came here and looked around and we said, ‘okay, we’re home’ and we spent the next eight years looking for a place to live.”
Without a home to work on in those early days, Qualls had some time on his hands and became aware of a need at the resource council to help unload food trucks. He volunteered for that job for two years, eventually became the driver hauling food on a route mostly between Mountain Home and Mountain View, and in 2002, “I pretty much inherited the whole thing. There was no paperwork or no bylaws, no nothing. They said, ‘you got it.’”
While the SCRC was developed as an agency that would promote communication between service groups in Stone County, its ties are arguably strongest with the Dorcas Clothes Closet and Stone County Food Room.
Qualls said he’s particularly proud of the clothing provided over the years to county residents in need, as well as a growing list of scholarships to local students attending Ozarka College.
“In the way I grew up, clothes were very important to a person’s self-image. And we help get good clothes in the hands of people who need it. For any low-income family who meets the criteria they get one bag of clothes per family member each month, and that’s a big deal,” Qualls said.
Read the full story in the July 21 issue.