Twenty-five years ago, Jim Rempe started the New Providence food pantry.
This Sunday he'll step down from that position.
"It started out that Jim was down on his luck at one point and he had told God that 'If you help me get through, I will pay it forward,' and that is what he has done for 25 years," said Yvonne Clifford, who is taking over Rempe's position.
Clifford said that the pantry began as a closet in the New Providence Baptist Church. She said that Rempe's dedication has seen those humble beginnings expand to serve more and more people of Putnam County.
"There were seven families to start with and we average around 120 plus per week of families. Not just people, families. The need in Putnam County is just so, so big," Clifford said.
Clifford said that Rempe would go to any length for the pantry.
"He would go to the ends of the earth to make sure the people of Putnam County were fed. He would scrounge stuff from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis to Terre Haute to Chicago. If there was a load of something that he could get -- paper products or food or whatever he'd find a trailer, he'd find some other people and they would be on the road going to get it," she said.
"I know there were times when people couldn't afford their prescription and he would help them out," she said. "He would give you the shirt off his back if he thought that you needed it.
Clifford said that concern for his health is what caused Rempe to step down. She said that she didn't think he could take part in the pantry if he wasn't able to be as active as he is used to being. Clifford said that Rempe has COPD, which requires him to use an oxygen tank at night.
"He was trying to lift and carry something in the warehouse and his face turned purple and he couldn't get his oxygen. Somebody yelled 'Go sit down, Jim.' I think it really scared him," she said. "I told him 'There are portable oxygen tanks,' and 'You're the supervisor, you just point.' He would just say that it's time."
Clifford said that it would be difficult to adjust to Rempe not being at the pantry.
"When he came forward and read the letter that said he was retiring, my stipulation (to take over the pantry) was that they all had to agree that they'd work for me. No one was saying anything, and finally someone said 'Well if we say no will you stay?' They weren't being mean to me, it's just that no one wants him to go," She said.
Clifford said she would miss Rempe.
"He claims he's a grumpy old man but he's not," she said. "He's got the biggest heart of anyone I know.
"He didn't even want us to have a retirement party, but I did it anyways," Clifford said. "He can't really say no when he just shows up and there are all the people.