Helena Magazine

Meet your Neighbor: Bob Van Loan

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Bob Van Loan describes himself as a “practicing retiree” but that hasn’t slowed him down in any capacity since his retirement from more than 35 years of work as a Department of Defense civilian employee.

Bob and Diane, his wife of 35 years, move to Helena after discovering it by mistake in 2007. About six months after his work in government service, the couple left Dallas, Texas and happened to pass through while traveling to view a house in Maylene with a realtor. They instantaneously fell in love with the area and have called it home ever since.

“After we saw Incahoots, Buck Creek, Amphitheater Park, Old Town and the local shopping and dining options, we were pretty sure we had found a community we wanted to belong to. We were absolutely right.”

Although Bob has performed work as a strategic planning consultant and law office manager since his first retirement, he has made himself most known in Helena for his avid involvement with the local community. He first attended a planning meeting for the Buck Creek Festival in 2009, and only deepened his involvement as time went on. This work soon expanded to helping organize Movies in the Park and Helena Market Days, which he is a proud charter committee member of. Bob has also served as both president and vice president of the Helena Business association.

“My proudest accomplishments during that period were, along with Dave Schlueter, the establishment of a working relationship with the Sanford University Brock School of Business as an aid to struggling business owners in Helena, and standing up the HBA version of Helena First Friday with Alan Farmer, Kristi Scozzaro, Henry Neff and a few other key people,” he said.

Bob continues this community involvement and also currently serves Rotary International as an assistant governor for Rotary District 6860 (North Alabama) and as a member of the Rotary Club of Alabaster-Pelham. This past November, Bob was also instrumental in the organization of the first Helena Puzzle Championship, which he helped plan alongside Councilmember Hewy Woodman and Ron Holly.

“We love the friends we have made here,” Bob said. “After decades of station transfers and time spent overseas on deployment, we were ready to settle down and grow roots. We moved so often that we never had the chance to develop a network of close friends. That all changed when we moved to Helena and began interacting with the people who have since become the best friends we have ever had.”