ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Known to some as the Dr. Pepper Man at the West Texas Fair & Rodeo, and to many others simply as Van, Eberle Van Meter passed away in early September. His work for both 7-Up and Dr. Pepper took him to the fair, where he reportedly loved working the most.
“That was daddy’s Christmas. He got to see all of his friends, he got to shake hands, you know,” said Van Meter’s daughter, Chrystal Holman.
Van Meter first joined the fair workforce in 1958, a job he worked dutifully for 64 years. Whether it was a malfunctioning vending machine, a cooler lacking ice or a full on power outage, he was the go-to guy.
“Say your electricity went out here… Or gas is out… If somebody was harassing you… You talked to van,” said longtime friend and Co-worker, Mac McCarthy.
McCarthy said he and Van Meter met on his first day of work at the PepsiCo plant. He said Van Meter was the hardest working, yet most tenderhearted man he knew.
“He’d do anything for ya, he loved ya,” McCarthy affectionately recalled. “But he would tease the living dogs outta ya if he could.”
Holman said her father passed down a good work ethic to his children, “Daddy always said that life is a circus and if you want to maintain your life, you have to learn how to juggle.”
This work ethic and outlook on life, not quite two weeks after his departure, is being passed down. Van Meter’s oldest son, Shane said he is taking over his father’s responsibilities – but these tasks are nothing new for him.
“I’ve helped him since I was a kid… Ever since I was little bitty,” Shane Van Meter explained.
Even though Van Meter’s work will be taken care of by his son, his absence was still fresh Tuesday and will never quite be filled, as McCarthy noted just days after Van Meter’s passing.
“I was out here Sunday and I walked around and said, ‘where’s Van?’ And then I started crying because he wasn’t here,” McCarthy revealed.
Family, friends and fairgoers know the show will go on, even if Van is supervising from a distance.
“Van, try to behave yourself up there in Heaven,” McCarthy added. “Because I know Jesus is gonna take care of you, so you better behave yourself up there.”