Alabama town learns farmer secretly paid people’s pharmacy bills | Alabama

A small town in Alabama is honoring a man who paid off his neighbors’ pharmacy bills for years and kept his generosity a secret until shortly before his recent death by picking up exactly where he left off.

Hody Childress, a farmer and US air force veteran, began his anonymous charitable campaign when he walked into a drug store in his home town of Geraldine in 2012 and learned from the owner that sometimes families can’t afford to pay for their medicines.

Childress, moved, responded by handing the owner $100 and telling her to save it for “anyone who can’t afford their prescription”, the local news outlet WVTM reported this month.

“Do not tell a soul that money came from me,” the owner of Geraldine Drugs, Brooke Walker, recalled Childress saying, according to a Washington Post report on Thursday. “If they ask, just tell them it’s a blessing from the Lord.”

Childress went back to the pharmacy, which doubles as a meeting place for many of Geraldine’s 900 residents, monthly over the next decade or so, handing Walker a $100 bill each time for the same purpose and again imploring that she tell anyone who asked that it was simply “a blessing from God”.

He contributed thousands of dollars to his fund at a pharmacy where members of his own family regularly visited without ever knowing what he was up to. It was enough to help two people a month who lacked insurance or adequate health benefits to cover their prescriptions, according to the Post.

Late last year, as he struggled to move around while fighting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other health problems, Childress sensed that he was approaching the end of his life. The 80-year-old, who once worked for the aerospace company Lockheed Martin, needed someone to take his customary $100 bill to Geraldine Drugs, and he entrusted the task to his daughter, Tania Nix.

Nix carried out her dad’s request, telling Walker: “I was shocked – I had no idea that he was helping people at the drug store,” according to WVTM.

Nix elaborated on the conversation in an interview with the Post.

“He told me he’d been carrying a $100 bill to the pharmacist in Geraldine on the first of each month, and he didn’t want to know who she’d helped with it – he just wanted to bless people with it,” Nix, 58, reportedly said.

The heartbreaks Childress had endured made his philanthropy that much more meaningful to his daughter. He had lost his son, Butch, in 1973. He had also lost his first wife, Peggy, whom he would carry into the stands at local football games because she had multiple sclerosis, in 1999, WVTM reported.

Childress died on 1 January, leaving behind his second wife, Martha Jo, two children, three stepchildren and 15 grandchildren, among other survivors.

Nix told those who gathered at his funeral last weekend about what her father would do at Geraldine Drugs. Word of Nix’s revelation spread around town, inspiring Childress’s family, friends and other admirers to start contributing to his fund to allow it to continue.

Geraldine Drugs pharmacist Heather Walker told WVTM that she could not think of a more fitting tribute to Childress.

“There are so many people in Geraldine who have lived longer because of Hody,” she reportedly said. “Hody was a true humble servant who will always be loved.”

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