Governor Jared Polis joined members of the Colorado Black Legislative Caucus to read a proclamation in honor of ‘Daddy’ Bruce Randolph, restaurateur and beloved community leader. Daddy Bruce started the Thanksgiving food giveaway in the 1960s to help feed the needy of Denver. November 23rd marks the 55th Anniversary of the annual tradition, which has helped feed over 10,000 families.
“I’m thrilled to honor Daddy Bruce Randolph and the incredible legacy he has built. Denver-Feed-A-Family is a tradition that has impacted Colorado families for the last 55 years and I commend Elder King Harris, Reverend Ronald Wooding and the Black Legislative Caucus for keeping it going. I’m honored to designate November 2019 as Colorado Feed-A-Family Month in Honor of Daddy Bruce Randolph,” said Governor Jared Polis.
“How many families have gathered around their dining room table before a holiday feast, courtesy of Daddy Bruce Randolph and the annual tradition he started,” said Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver), Chair of the Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus. “His legacy lives on in the street that was named for him, Bruce Randolph High School, and the annual food giveaway which continues to feed thousands even after his passing.”
“Daddy Bruce Randolph was a giver. He created good jobs in his community, he inspired everyone around him by being a successful black business owner in the 1960s, and he provided a holiday feast to thousands of his neighbors when they needed it most,” said State Representative James Coleman (D-Denver). “By bringing the community together to feed its hungry and homeless, he created a legacy that could outlive himself.”
The 2019 Denver Feed a Family Thanksgiving distribution will be held this Saturday, November 23, from 8am-5pm, at Bruce Randolph St, between Vine St. and Williams St. To nominate a family to receive a food distribution click here or to volunteer to distribute food click here
or , go to: www.epworthfoundation.org or call 303-296-6287.
About Daddy Bruce Randolph
No one personifies the charity of Thanksgiving more than Daddy Bruce, the restaurateur who provided holiday feasts for the needy of Denver for more than 30 years before his death in 1994 at the age of 94.
Bruce Randolph opened Daddy Bruce’s Bar-B-Q in 1963, at the age of 63, on the corner of Gilpin Street and East 34th Avenue. For many years he donated his own time and money to serving Thanksgiving dinners. He later took in donations and many local celebrities — including members of the Denver Broncos, police department, and clergy — helped Daddy dish out tons of turkey, ribs, dressing, potatoes, and yams. He also gave away clothes and food on his birthday, Easter and Christmas. One year he dyed 25,000 eggs for an enormous Easter Egg hunt.
Bruce Randolph was born on February 15, 1900, in Pastoria, Arkansas, where his family lived on a small farm. His parents separated when Randolph was young, so he lived sporadically with his grandmother, Laura Hurt, whom he credits for his barbeque sauce recipe and his spiritual belief in Christianity. His grandmother and father both were Methodist ministers.
After picking cotton for his step-father for a dime per week, Randolph left home at the age of 15 and went to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was hired as a water boy at the bauxite mines before talking his way up to becoming a mule driver. When Randolph was 18 or 19, he would buy a hog for $5, use his family recipes, and sell barbeque sandwiches for 10 cents.
Known as a dapper dandy, Randolph married his first wife, Polly, in 1924. The two had two sons, including Bruce Jr., who worked with him at the Denver eatery before starting Daddy Bruce’s Bar-B-Que in Boulder. It was this son who first dubbed him “Daddy Bruce.” Randolph’s wife and other son died, and he moved in with his sister and helped his uncle, a doctor, collect bills, riding by horseback around the region.
Daddy Bruce remarried, but the marriage ended in divorce. He became a bootlegger during Prohibition, selling whiskey in Coke bottles for 50 cents.
He eventually drifted to Denver,Colorado, where he became a shoeshine man. He later became a janitor, but when replaced by a service, went into the food business. Designing his own barbeque pit, which he asked an engineer to draw for him, Randolph borrowed $1,000 from the bank and set it up in his son’s backyard and started a catering business. He began feeding the hungry in the late 1960s with a Thanksgiving dinner for 200 people at City Park, where he had carried his portable grill and dished out holiday dinner. It became a tradition.
Randolph opened his Five Points restaurant in 1967. In 198,5 a section of 34th Avenue, from Downing to Dahlia streets, was renamed Bruce Randolph Avenue.
“I don’t like these things,” Randolph said at the time of the street-naming ceremony. “I’m not a speaker; I’m a cooker.”
His Thanksgiving give-away meals grew astronomically year after year.
“What Daddy Bruce Randolph knows is worth telling,” wrote the late Rocky Mountain News columnist, John Coit. “He gives away tons of ribs and turkey at Thanksgiving, feeding the multitudes. He does this because Jesus did it.”
Randolph had said that growing up he did not even know when Thanksgiving was. Daddy Bruce died in April 1994, after which the community collected $13,000 to bury him. The money that was left over was used by the Rev. Gill Ford, then of Salem Missionary Baptist Church, to buy food for the needy at Thanksgiving — a fitting memorial to the man. Eventually the event was sponsored by Epworth United Methodist Church and the Epworth Foundation, continuing to grow each year as it celebrates the man who started it all.
Story of “Daddy” Bruce Randolph provided by Epworth Foundation.
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