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News Release

Jan. 12, 2022

Bolin honors family through gift to Agricultural Learning Center

As the owner of an auto and truck parts business his grandfather started in 1951, Rob Bolin came to know the importance of agriculture to northwest Missouri.

“Most of my customers are agricultural-based,” said Bolin, a 1983 Northwest graduate and long-time owner of Bolin Auto and Truck Parts in St. Joseph, Missouri. “My ‘fleet’ is the successful farmer today who has multiple semitrucks, numerous tractors and an assortment of different vehicles. Those agriculture fleets are vital to our business.”

Family and Northwest are important to Bolin, too. All those reasons inspired his gift toward the Agricultural Learning Center, a lynchpin addition to the University’s R.T. Wright Farm. Last July, Northwest opened the 29,500-square-foot multipurpose facility, which enhances the School of Agricultural Sciences and its curriculum with laboratories, a kitchen, classrooms, and study spaces as well as a large exposition space and an outdoor education plaza.

With a $50,000 gift to support the project, Bolin and his wife, Sue, joined the University’s Homesteaders society, a group of public and private donors providing gifts of $25,000 or greater toward the ALC.

“We are extremely grateful to Rob and Sue for their generous support of the Agricultural Learning Center,” Laurie Long, a senior gift planning officer at Northwest, said. “Rob is a die-hard Bearcat. His ongoing interest and involvement have helped to advance many University initiatives through the years. When the ALC provided an opportunity to broaden our students’ agricultural experiences, Rob quickly joined the cause as a Homesteader.”

The couple dedicated their gift to Rob’s parents and provided for the facility’s Robert Bolin Family Kitchen.

“Our roots are pretty deep in northwest Missouri and agriculture,” Bolin said. “My great-grandfather was the former mayor of Bolckow and a grain thresher with steam engines in the Bolckow area during the Great Depression. There’s a strong connection in my family to northwest Missouri and agriculture.”

Bolin earned his bachelor’s degree in business management at Northwest, where he was a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and one of the University’s first student ambassadors when Chuck Veatch, then Northwest’s director of admissions, launched the ambassador program.

A native of St. Joseph, he joined Bolin Auto and Truck Parts as a salesman after his graduation from Northwest. He soon advanced to a management role and began serving in 2004 as president of the third-generation business. Last September, Bolin sold the 70-year-old business to FleetPride, where he now serves as general manager.

Simultaneously, Bolin has stayed closely connected to Northwest. He was a member of the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors from 1995 to 2002, which included a term as its president from 1998 to 2000. The Northwest Alumni Association honored him in 2007 with its Distinguished Alumni Award for his professional success, service to the University and community involvement in St. Joseph.

Bolin says he’s grateful for numerous skills and lessons learned at Northwest, both during his time as a student and through his volunteer service as an alumnus. He fondly remembers learning intricacies of finance as a member of the Foundation Board’s Investment Committee.

“There was such a learning curve, and it was so exciting,” Bolin said. “That was before you had laptops and all this stuff. We were analyzing our own data and it was really great – a fantastic learning experience. Not all grads get to do that kind of thing and realize there are opportunities at the University, post-graduation, that can help you so much in life. I really encourage more people to get involved with the Foundation Board, Alumni Association and Bearcat Booster Club – give something back.”

For more information about the Agricultural Learning Center and making a gift to support Northwest, contact the Office of University Advancement at 660.562.1248 or visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215