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Now that's a fan

If you’ve eaten lunch at Jaspers, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Dean Wilcox.

The 86-year-old Central Point resident has eaten at the Medford burger joint almost every day for the past seven years.

“The people here are absolutely great,” he says, grinning. “They’ve spoiled me rotten.”

He’s missed a day here and there, but Wilcox has taken the term “regular” to the next level. It’s odd when he doesn’t show, employees say.

“If we know he’s not going to be in for a day because he’s going to a funeral or some car show or something, we do put it on the schedule that he won’t be in that day," says owner Janet Lopez.

Wilcox came to Ashland from Iowa in 1944 and moved to Central Point in 1960, where he’s lived since. He worked as a trimmer until 1992 at Double Dee Lumber on Blackwell Road.

His two daughters and son still live in the area.

On Monday, he sits at a corner table, munching on a Buckaroo burger — his go-to, a quarter-pounder, $4.29 — chatting with Lopez. When he first started coming in, Lopez struggled to remember Wilcox's name. He introduced himself the first two times he came in, but it hadn’t stuck yet. So she guessed.

“I knew it was a ‘D,’” Lopez says, reenacting those guesses. “‘Don?’ ‘No.’ ‘Dang it.’”

Repeat. “Dang it Dean” had his nickname. He kept coming back, day after day, month after month, year after year.

“He’s faithful, almost every day,” says manager Shelley Ledezma. “Even if he goes out to lunch someplace else or has a doctor’s appointment, he still shows up in the afternoon just to maybe have a milkshake or get an iced tea, say hi.”

Wilcox has a special rabbit cup for milkshake leftovers. When Jaspers serves tacos, employees bring in hot sauce from a fast-food restaurant for Wilcox, as he prefers it. They’ve also had birthday celebrations for him.

At one point, employees put up a joke advertisement for a “Dean Burger.” Cost: $100.

“Nobody ate one,” Wilcox says.

Wilcox has sat with travelers from all over, including London and New York. Once, some patrons from Wisconsin knew his name before he knew theirs.

“After my birthday, last August, Janet put me on Facebook,” Wilcox says. “So I was sitting there by myself, and two women and a guy came in, and they’d only been in Oregon 20 minutes and they knew all about me.”

Mostly it’s a one-time meeting, vacationers whom Wilcox will never see again.

“I need a secretary to keep track of all the people I’ve met here,” he says.

Employees say having a fan like Wilcox is hard to describe.

“There are no words for how special that is,” Lopez says. “I mean, Dean is an icon here. He is. And people who have shared their table with him, just, they love it.”

She turns to Wilcox and smiles.

“I don’t know what possessed you to come in, but we’re glad you did,” she says.

“I was hungry,” he says, finishing another bite of his Buckaroo.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

Jaspers owner Janet Lopez shares a laugh with Dean Wilcox, who has eaten lunch there nearly every day for the past seven years. Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta