For decades, an American man paid for the medicines of fellow villagers who did not have enough money themselves. This only becomes apparent at Howdy Childress’ funeral, as the man himself did not want his talents to be known.
Howdy Childress lived and worked all his life – as a farmer and employee of the local Lockheed Martin plant – in Geraldine, a small town of less than 1,000 people in the US state of Alabama. His family described him as: “a humble, God-fearing man, who would often send handwritten cards to his sick friends or share vegetables from his garden with neighbours.”
But even his family didn’t know Childress’ big secret: Unbeknownst to them, the man had been donating $100 a month to the local pharmacy for decades to people who couldn’t afford their medication. Over the years, he is said to have donated a total of about $12,000, on one condition: that his name not be disclosed.
“I had been a pharmacist here for two years when Mr. Childress pulled me aside and asked if some people couldn’t afford their medicine,” says Brooke Walker. “I said unfortunately it happens a lot, and he gave me the money. Use this the next time that happens,” he said. “Don’t tell anyone where it came from, don’t tell me who needs it. Just say it is a blessing from the Lord.” A month later he came back and did the same thing. Every month for ten years.”
When Childress fell ill and could no longer leave his house, he asked his daughter to make a donation in his stead. “He said, ‘I’ve been doing something for a while, and I’d like you to keep doing it: I want you to put $100 at the pharmacist every month for as long as I live,’” Tanya Nix said. “I wasn’t surprised. He was a veteran and a man of faith. He cared about his community and his country, and was always looking for ways to help others.”
Childress died on January 1 at the age of 80. His daughter says she felt compelled to reveal her father’s secret at his funeral “because it says something about the kind of man he was”. After Chrildress’s story was reported in the US media, according to Walker, several people contacted her to say they would make deposits at his place.