Betty Kahlor, food bank director since 2008, died Saturday

KINGMAN - The death on Saturday of Betty Kahlor has unexpectedly left some pretty big shoes to fill.

Kahlor, 73, was executive director of the Kingman Area Food Bank since 2008, and served as a volunteer there for five years before that. The food bank, located at 2930 E. Butler Ave., provides food for low-income households and other people in need.

"She loved that food bank," said Terri Steele, Kahlor's daughter from California. "Her heart was really in service for others. She'd be at the food bank between 5:30-6 a.m. the four days she was there. She was passionate and tireless, and the only things she loved more than the food bank was her family and the Lord."

In fact, Kahlor died on the day of the National Association of Letter Carriers' 23rd Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. People were asked to place nonperishable food next to their mailboxes to be picked up by carriers.

Donated food is distributed to local food banks in the area of collection. For Kingman, Golden Valley and surrounding communities, the food is taken to the Kingman Area Food Bank. Last year, more than 29,000 pounds of food was collected.

Kahlor also died the day before her 74th birthday, and the day before Mother's Day. Steele said her mother was supposed to undergo surgery to fix a hiatal hernia because she was having trouble eating, and doctors instead found inoperable ovarian cancer.

Noreen Frisch, a good friend of Kahlor and a member of the food bank's board of directors, said Monday that she had just left the food bank and everyone was standing around wondering how they would find someone to replace Kahlor. Frisch said Kingman was very lucky to find her.

"She was a dynamite lady and had a heart of gold," said Frisch. "It will be hard to find someone to fill her shoes. They'll need to have compassion, motivation and a passion to help others in need. It's a lot more than just sitting at a desk."

Kahlor knew that. She was instrumental in making sure the hungry were fed at Thanksgiving after a driver accidentally crashed his truck into the rear of the warehouse Nov. 19 and destroyed a critical interior support beam.

No one could be inside the building until the beam was repaired, Kahlor was told, so instead of panicking, she went into action and hired an engineer. He drew up repair plans and he and a construction crew completed the work at about 10 p.m. Friday.

That work was not done in vain. An estimated 300 low-income families - totaling about 700 individuals - were provided turkey and all the trimmings Monday and Tuesday, said Kahlor. It was those small victories that make the job fun for her.

She also recently got a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation after applying to its corporate office. The money will go toward a new freezer and walk-in cooler at the food bank.

Currently, Kimberly Turner is serving as interim executive director until the food bank's board of directors meets to choose a replacement for Kahlor. Turner is the agency's assistant manager and has worked there nine years.

"Betty was a very special person to us," said Turner. "She brought the food bank into the 21st century with computers and writing grants to get more money. She was the kindest, most generous person I ever met, and I miss her already."

Turner said the food bank has 34 volunteers and provided food for 13,636 families from July 1, 2014, to the end of April.

That's a total of 28,327 individuals during that time, said Turner. About 500 senior citizens show up every Thursday for food.

The food bank also serves as a warehouse for 40 other agencies in the Kingman area, including Search for His Sheep Ministries, a small church located at 3886 Castlerock Road in Kingman. Kahlor had been a member there for about four years.

The Rev. Danny Willis said Kahlor not only served as the church's treasurer, she and the food bank stocked the church's food pantry with items for the hungry. The church has a huge food ministry and gave out 77,000 pounds of food last year, mostly because of the food pantry.

"I spent a lot of time with Betty before she died, and she was concerned about what would happen after she was gone, especially to the children," said Willis. "The last thing she said to me was, 'Take care of my babies.' It's been a real strain losing her but we'll get through it somehow."