Bear Creek Smokehouse has announced the passing of family patriarch Bobby Shoults. He was 79 years old. Bear Creek Smokehouse specializes in smoked meats; Shoults had worked in the meat industry since the 1950s and helped build the company to become a nationwide distributor of meats and other gourmet food items.

He had inherited the business from his parents, founders Willard and Nellie. The business now employs more than 50 people, including Shoults’ son Robbie and grandson Hunter, reports the Marshall News Messenger.

"We just want to thank everyone in the community that has reached out to our family during this difficult time," the Shoults' family said in a statement on Monday provided by Hunter Shoults' wife Stacia Shoults.

"Losing Bobby unexpectedly has been heartbreaking for each and every one of us. We are beyond sad and devastated about this loss. Bobby was such a special, one of a kind person that was truly the leader of our family. He led by example in every aspect of his life. We leaned on him daily for advice and guidance, we depended on his wit and his humor to lift our spirits, and we looked forward to his smile as he walked through the door - he could light up a room."

Shoults’ obituary can be found here. If desired, the family requests memorials on behalf of Bobby Shoults be made to Medina Children’s Home in Medina, TX. (21300 TX 16 | Medina, TX. 78055).

Source: Marshall News Messenger; Downs Funeral Home