Every Month for Years, He Handed Her $100. Now, His Secret Is Out

Alabama farmer Hody Childress quietly paid locals' pharmacy bills for around a decade
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2023 8:27 AM CST
Updated Jan 22, 2023 7:15 AM CST
Every Month for Years, He Handed Her $100. Now, His Secret Is Out
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Ivan Melnikov)

Hody Buford Childress' obituary is a rather unremarkable one, just three brief paragraphs in the Jan. 4 edition of the Sand Mountain Reporter listing his age (80), day of death (New Year's Day), and information on survivors and funeral arrangements. But what Childress did in secret for the last several years of his life in his small Alabama town was anything but unremarkable, and the pharmacist who co-conspired with him to pull off his scheme of generosity is now letting everyone know about it. Brooke Walker, the owner of Geraldine Drugs in Geraldine, a town of fewer than 1,000 people, tells the Washington Post that about 10 years ago, Childress strolled into her store and asked her an unusual question.

He wanted to know if there were ever people who couldn't pay for their meds—and when Walker replied in the affirmative, he made a surprise offering. "He handed me a $100 bill, all folded up," she says. Childress told Walker to put the cash aside and use it to pay the bill for someone who couldn't afford it, asking her to use her own judgment in deciding who received the money, per AL.com. "He said, 'Don't tell a soul where the money came from. If they ask, just tell them it's a blessing from the Lord," she tells the Post. And that was just the beginning: Walker says the secret payments continued for years, and that even when Childress wasn't feeling well enough to make the monthly trip to see her, he'd send the $100 with someone else.

"They would hand me money and say, 'Hody said you would know what to do with this,'" Walker says, per an account by one of Childress' relatives on Facebook. It wasn't like Childress was rolling in dough: Daughter Tania Nix tells the Post the Air Force veteran was a farmer who'd been living off his modest retirement funds and Social Security after leaving his job as a Lockheed Martin product manager, and that he'd faced many challenges in his life. Nix's little brother and grandfather had died in a 1973 tornado, and both Nix's mother and her stepmother had predeceased her dad. "He never complained," though, per Nix. "He never lost his optimism."

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Weeks before he died, Childress "could feel that the end was near," per WVTM, which notes his health had been declining from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other maladies. And so he finally revealed his secret arrangement with Walker to Nix, who says she was "shocked." She tells the Post that although she's not positive why her dad decided on the perpetual pharmacy donations, she suspects it might have to do with how expensive her mother's medications had been when she was sick. After Childress died, Walker also started publicizing what he'd done, and now all that publicity has led to locals stopping by the pharmacy to drop what cash they can spare with Walker to continue his plan. "We're calling it the Hody Childress Fund, and we're going to keep it going as long as the community and Hody's family wants to keep it alive," Walker says. (More uplifting news stories.)

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